Toronto Argonauts: Is Ricky Ray’s Starting Job Under Threat?


Toronto Argonauts: Is Ricky Ray’s Starting Job Under Threat?

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It’s safe to assume that not much was expected from Trevor Harris, when he came in as starting quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts. With Ricky Ray scheduled to miss six games, most fans just hoped the team would stay above water in his absence.

However, it turns out that this Harris guy isn’t too bad. In fact, you could go as far as to suggest he has been sensational during his two games under centre for the Argos.

The 29-year old produced a Ray-esque performance in week one, completing 24 of 27 passes, for 347 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, in a 26-11 win over the Eskimos. He was so efficient, his 88.9 completion percentage was the second-best ever in the 143-year history of the Double Blue.

Harris then followed this up with an effort, which showed his ability to deal with adversity. After entering the fourth quarter down by 10 points, he brought his team all the way back, tying up the game with a last-minute 85-yard touchdown drive.

Jun 26, 2014; Toronto Argonauts quarterback Trevor Harris poses for a photo. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Then in overtime, the Waldo, Ohio native worked his magic with two touchdown throws, helping the Argonauts beat the Roughriders 42-40. When it was all said and done, he completed 30 of 38 passes, for 267 yards, four touchdowns and just one pick.

Despite his success, Harris has managed to remain level-headed, as evidenced when speaking to TSN after the game: “I just want to be the best possible back-up I can be.

“Ricky Ray is one of the best quarterbacks ever in the CFL. My job is to steer the ship in the right direction when he’s not available.”

Regardless of these comments, at what point do we ask if Ray’s hold on the starting job is under serious threat? I appreciate it has only been two games, but if Harris continues to perform like this, Scott Milanovich will have an unexpected situation to contend with.

Now, you may all be thinking I’m getting way ahead of myself – and perhaps I am. However, let’s not forget that Ray will turn 36 before the end of the season.

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At some point, Milanovich and the Argonauts need to consider the future. Plus, we’ve been here before, as recently as two seasons ago.

During the 2013 season, Ray suffered an injury, which forced him to miss eight starts. Zach Collaros stepped in and impressed, including one stretch where he won four consecutive games on the road.

Collaros ended the 2013 campaign with some stellar statistics, completing 66.2 percent of his passes, for 2316 yards, 14 touchdowns and just six interceptions. However, after failing to negotiate a new deal, the Argonauts were forced to release him.

As we all know, Collaros proved he was no fluke the following season, taking the Tiger-Cats all the way to the 102nd Grey Cup. Ultimately, they came up four points short, but Hamilton appears set at the quarterback position for many years to come.

Now, this is not to suggest that the Argos should have picked the 26-year old over a three-time Grey Cup champion. It was perfectly understandable at the time, why they went down the path they did. (Ray set several CFL season records in 2013, including best-ever completion percentage and lowest interception percentage.)

Regardless, things are different now, with constant reminders of Ray’s advancing age. Ever since coming to Toronto in 2012, he has battled various injuries, which have forced him to miss significant playing time. (The only exception was last season, when he missed just one game.)

I must stress that in no way am I trying to suggest the three-time CFL All-Star is washed up – just last year, he led the league in passing yards. On top of that, Harris may well come crashing back down to earth during the next four games.

However, at some point soon, the Argonauts have to prepare for the post-Ricky Ray era. Otherwise, they risk a decade of being second-best to Collaros and the Tiger-Cats, and wondering about what might have been.

Next: Argonauts Trevor Harris deserving of award