To ask if Ricky Ray has been a success with the Toronto Argonauts sounds absurd, and I would have agreed with you up until yesterday. Unfortunately, my dirty little secret (i.e., reading and enjoying Toronto Sun articles written by Steve Simmons) has finally caused me to at least consider the question.
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In Steve Simmons’ latest edition of
how to wind up Toronto sports fans
his Saturday column, he remarked that Ray only has a 15-15 record through 30 regular season games for the Argonauts. After cleaning up the mess caused by dropping my Tim Horton’s sponsored coffee, I checked and it turns out that the long-time sports columnist was on the money.
As such, I decided to do my due diligence and analyse the star quarterback’s time with the Double Blue a little closer. After all, believe it or not, as journalists we are trained to always be objective with our reporting. (It’s a nice theory, eh?)
Simmons compared Ray’s record to Doug Flutie‘s tenure with the Argonauts. During two seasons in Toronto, the six-time CFL Most Outstanding Player went 27-9 and won two Grey Cups.
January 26, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; former Toronto Argonauts quarterback Doug Flutie (right) talks to Team Rice quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (9) before the 2014 Pro Bowl against Team Sanders at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
However, it seems a little unfair to compare anyone to Flutie, who is often considered the greatest CFL player in the history of the game. (But if we are going to do this, consider that in 2005, Ray broke Flutie’s CFL record for completions in a season.)
Anyway, back to Ray’s won-lost record. Of the 15 losses, two include games where he started, but lasted four and six pass attempts respectively, before he had to leave through injury.
In other words, the former Edmonton Eskimo had little to do with the outcome. So, while the losses will always be attributed to him, you could argue he’s really 15-13 as a starter.
(Not amazing, jump-out-of-your seat stats, but at least is sounds better than a .500 record.)
Verdict: Okay, maybe I’m reaching a little bit. On the fence.
Some people would say (apologies for channeling my inner-Bob McCown again) all the gaudy statistics in the world mean squat if you’re not winning games. However, even more than the NFL, the CFL is a passing league, meaning there is at least some importance in this area.
Along those lines, Ray can rightly argue that to question his time with the Argonauts is preposterous. His first season was a success, breaking the 4,000 yard passing barrier despite missing four games and finishing with a quarterback rating above his career average.
However, it’s 2013 where the two-time CFL all-star really proved his worth. Yes, he only played 10 games, but where do you want to start?
In that one year, Ray set league records for completion percentage (77.2%) and passer rating (126.4). On top of that, the guy threw 21 touchdown passes against just two interceptions while his passing yardage per game was easily above his career average.
Verdict: Need we say any more? Success!
This is where you really judge Ray, or indeed any quarterback in general. In many respects, this is the best place to go, to make your decision on if the 2005 Grey Cup MVP’s time in Toronto can be considered a success. (Making the rest of this article pretty much a waste of time.)
November 25, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray (15) calls out instructions to teammates on the bench in the game against the Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Simply put, Ray has qualified for the playoffs in both seasons he’s been under centre for the Argonauts, including one East Division title. On top of this, the 34-year old has made it to the East final twice and, more importantly, won the 100th Grey Cup.
In fact, let’s add Ray’s 3-1 playoff record to his 15-13 regular season stats, and he’s suddenly 18-14 as a starter with one Grey Cup ring. It certainly sounds a lot more impressive now, doesn’t it?
So, overall I think it’s safe to say the three-time Grey Cup champion’s time in Toronto can be considered a success. (Which means I’m right back to where I started before I read Simmons column. For the love of…)