James Franklin has played very well, himself, while also receiving some help from the underwhelming play of Matt Nichols.
Eskimos’ head coach Chris Jones and his staff determined the first-year pivot earned a better grade than the six-year veteran in last week’s loss to the Tiger Cats, earning himself his first-career start when the Toronto Argonauts visit Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night.
This change comes as a surprise to no one as Franklin, 24, had already appeared in relief of Nichols on three separate occasions this season. The Missouri product has been a pleasant surprise thus far, throwing five touchdowns versus only one interception, ironing out to a stellar 106.1 quarterback efficiency rating. Taking over in the second half, Franklin played a major role in Edmonton’s week four victory over Winnipeg and week eight win in Montreal, providing the offence with a spark and unique play style.
Nichols, meanwhile, has been relegated to familiar backup duties. Despite his 5-2 record as the starter in 2015, he’s only thrown eight touchdowns to ten interceptions, consistently looking out of sync with his receivers and tentative to take shots downfield. The offence simply doesn’t seem to run effectively with Nichols at the controls, and this change should bring new life to a unit that has heavily relied upon the defence to win football games this year.
Although Franklin is expected to make many of the mistakes that come with starting a rookie quarterback, it should be mentioned that Nichols still appears to be make those same errors, anyway, without learning his lesson. Franklin’s long-term potential isn’t super relevant here as he’ll only be playing until Mike Reilly returns from injury, however, unlike Nichols, he should improve from week to week until no. 13 returns.
The Oklahoma City, OK. native also offers a similar skillset to that of Reilly, whom the offensive scheme is built around. Franklin is very mobile- he rushed for 61 yards against Hamilton- and has shown his aggressive mentality as a passer in limited action. Nichols is the complete opposite, and teams have already figured out how to stop him.
Chris Jones and co. can’t really go wrong with starting James Franklin. It was only a matter of time until they pulled the plug on Matt Nichols and turned to the youngster to keep the ship afloat.