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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / How Crucial are CFL’s Teams Backup QBs? Very!

How Crucial are CFL’s Teams Backup QBs? Very!

Publish Date: 07/25/2016
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

Think your team is going to the Grey Cup? Hopefully they’re packing at least two quarterbacks.

I did some research on how many quarterbacks played an extended amount of time for each of the last 20 Grey Cup winners, and it turns out half of them played two quarterbacks at least enough to have two quarterbacks at or near 100 pass attempts.

The reasoning for how I drew the line around this number is the following. 600 pass attempts is a decent ballpark estimate of the amount of pass attempts a CFL team makes in a given season. Teams play 18 games, so if we’re using 600 as our number, that comes out to 33.3 passes per game. That comes out to 100 pass attempts every three games. I figure if a quarterback is throwing around that many passes in a season, they’ve seen significant playing time for one reason or another.

Here is the list of the last 20 Grey Cup champions, along with how many quarterbacks were around or over 100 pass attempts.

1996: Toronto Argonauts

1, Doug Flutie


1997: Toronto Argonauts

1, Doug Flutie


1998: Calgary Stampeders

2, Jeff Garcia and Dave Dickenson


1999: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

1, Danny McManus


2000: BC Lions

2, Damon Allen and Doug Nussmeier (94 attempts)


2001: Calgary Stampeders

2, Marcus Crandell and Ben Sankey


2002: Montreal Alouettes

1, Anthony Calvillo


2003: Edmonton Eskimos

1, Ricky Ray


2004: Toronto Argonauts

2, Damon Allen and Michael Bishop


2005: Edmonton Eskimos

1, Ricky Ray (Jason Maas threw the only other three passes the team threw, by far the smallest total for backup quarterbacks on this list of Grey Cup winners)


2006: BC Lions

2, Dave Dickenson and Buck Pierce (Jarious Jackson also threw 80)


2007: Saskatchewan Roughriders

2, Kerry Joseph and Marcus Crandell


2008: Calgary Stampeders

1, Henry Burris


2009: Montreal Alouettes

1, Anthony Calvillo


2010: Montreal Alouettes

2, Anthony Calvillo and Adrian McPherson (McPherson totaled 94 attempts for the season, with other players combining for over 60 more attempts.)


2011: BC Lions

1, Travis Lulay


2012: Toronto Argonauts

2, Ricky Ray and Jarious Jackson


2013: Saskatchewan Roughriders

1, Darian Durant


2014: Calgary Stampeders

2, Bo Levi Mitchell and Drew Tate


2015: Edmonton Eskimos

3, Mike Reilly, Matt Nichols and James Franklin


I would say the biggest thing I take from all this is that it’s great to have a top QB, but it’s a long season, and even the best teams should be ready to go to their bench at QB for an extended period of time, if the need arises. Half of the Grey Cup champions over the past 20 years have had to, and with the way quarterback injuries have been occurring over the past few years, it may become a necessity rather than a luxury.

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