In the midst of Zach Collaros’ concussion with Brandon Bridge in as the starter, Roughrider fans could be heard singing a similar refrain: why are all the passes being thrown by Brandon Bridge so short? And doesn’t Roughriders offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo have any plays that see the ball thrown more than 10 yards?
Well, since Collaros has returned to the offence, the answer to the latter question is yes.
There’s been a stark difference in the Roughrider offence since Collaros returned to the lineup little more than a month ago.
Not only is there a winning record when the pivot is behind centre, but the number of long throws made by Roughrider quarterbacks has gone up significantly, though McAdoo insists those plays never disappeared.
“It’s always been there, it’s just the right timing,” McAdoo told reporters after practice on Wednesday. “Everybody looks for you to throw the ball down the field 20 times but … what’s the odds of you making completions and things of that nature because if not I’m putting our defence in a hole and that’s not what I’m here to do.”
The odds, as it turns out, are just like passes over ten yards, which are a lot more likely when Collaros is in at quarterback.
Take, for example, Brandon Bridge’s four starts for the Riders this season.
Against Montreal he threw nine passes over 10 yards, versus Hamilton just two, against B.C. five and four against Calgary.
In Collaros’s last four starts – with the exception on Edmonton where he made just eight – there was a sharp increase in balls thrown 10 yards or more. Collaros threw 14 of them at home against Calgary, 13 out in B.C. and 17 against Winnipeg last week.
McAdoo said it doesn’t come down to talent or trust because he trusts both men equally.
“Zach has more experience. You’re talking about a starter for years,” McAdoo said.
One he’s seen steadily improving game over game. Collaros has yet to throw over 300 yards this season, and while that does bother McAdoo, he’s happy as long as they’re winning football games.
“Of course you want to end up with 500 yards per game, 350 passing and 150 rushing. Everybody wants to do that, but it’s not going to work out that way all time and I’m putting our team in the best situation.”
The best situation is not leaving the defence in a hole and requiring them to fight back hard to keep points off the board. It’s getting first down after first down, extending drives and, of course, scoring points. This is what keeps the other team’s offence off the field and the Riders have gotten better and better at it as the season has gone on.
McAdoo has also led the offence to solid clock management and contributed to the team’s 3-1 record since Collaros has returned. It may not be risky playcalling, but that’s never been what it’s about.
“When the other team is on the field, I’m useless. I’m on the sidelines so I’m not calling plays so my thing is to stay on the field no matter how it looks to the outside person,” McAdoo explained.
“We’ve got some new parts that have been put in and they’ve jumped in and there’s going to be a little growing pains with some of them,” McAdoo continued. “But I think they’ve done a pretty good job at it and I think we’re progressing.”