Who is Brandon Bridge? We’re about to find out

There’s no question that Brandon Bridge belongs as a quarterback in the CFL. Just how good is he and what is his role? That’s still the question and soon enough we’ll have an answer.

The Riders did what they had to do on Wednesday and signed their Canadian pivot to a one-year contract extension. As it stands right now, Bridge is probably the favourite to be the Riders starting quarterback in 2018 depending on what happens throughout the rest of the offseason. If no one else is brought in, then the starting job is likely Bridge’s to lose, though the competition will be (and should be) open once camp opens in the spring.

Bridge set career benchmarks in 2017 appearing in 12 games passing for 1,236 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. They’re not earth-shattering numbers but as far as I’m concerned Bridge was the Riders best quarterback after Labour Day and he should have been the starter for most of the back half. Veteran Kevin Glenn had a hot start to the season and was my pick for the team’s most outstanding player nominee at that point but he wasn’t able to sustain anything close to the pace he set through the first nine weeks of the regular season.

Does this mean that Bridge is destined to be a true starting quarterback in the CFL? No, but he’s also certainly not clearly “just a backup” either.

There’s no question that Bridge has his pros (size, strong arm, mobility, etc…) but he has some weaknesses that we’re all aware of too (accuracy, throwing motion, etc…) That being said, Bridge did enough last season to earn the shot he’s about to get. Now it’s time for Bridge to put up or shut up when it comes to being a starting quarterback in the CFL.

For both sides, the one year deal works. The Riders haven’t handed the keys to Bridge, giving them flexibility at the position. The one year deal likely leaves some money on the table making sure that Chris Jones and the rest of the management team will have more cap space to properly surround Bridge with the talent to make him successful. This is even without considering any possible ratio changes the league makes for next season concerning Canadian quarterbacks. If Bridge starting suddenly affects the ratio, then that’s a big deal for a team that has average (at best) Canadian depth.

The single-season pact works for Bridge as he’s basically betting on himself. If he has the kind of year I’m sure he expects, then he’ll be able to cash in next year when he’s proven once and for all that he’s a legit starting quarterback in the league. It’s a gamble because if things don’t work, Bridge will have missed out on a few dollars, but considering he would probably have to re-negotiate his deal or face getting cut if a longer-term deal didn’t work out, it’s not a risky gamble in the grand scheme of things.

The CFL could be looking at their first starting Canadian quarterback in a long time. Or not. Either way, the debate surrounding Bridge’s ability to be a starting quarterback should soon have an answer.

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.
Joel Gasson
Joel Gasson
About Joel Gasson (179 Articles)
Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.

22 Comments on Who is Brandon Bridge? We’re about to find out

  1. Let’s hope that he works on and improves the weaknesses that were pointed out at the NFL camps.
    If they change the ratio rule to allow a QB it is imperative that they reduce the overall Candian ratio.
    I can see the league saying, “yes we will make a Canadian QB count for the ratio BUT we will also be reducing the number of Canadian required on the ratio”
    Ratio reductions is long overdue, just not enough talented Canadians and the Canadian draft is turning into the hunt for the biggest “O” linemen.

    • I’ve been saying this since Ottawa came back in the league. There are fewer Canadians playing football but we are still tying to maintain the same number of Canadians on the ratio that we did years ago.
      Great idea, make the QB count against the ratio but let’s cut the ratio significantly.
      I want to see more Zylstras, Carters, Ellingsons.

    • Didn’t Bridge only try out for one NFL team? I don’t recall any scouting reports on it either. And for years some CFL teams have been starting more than the minimum number of Canadians because there is so much good depth in the league.

  2. greenonions // December 21, 2017 at 2:04 pm //

    Seven starting Nationals should not be a big stretch & I think the ratio is fine where it is. Should the QB count? Yes – as long as he starts. If he’s taken off, just like injuries to Nationals now, the team has to adjust on the fly. There was a problem when Ottawa came in but not to Ottawa. They got 2 Nationals from each team which has served them well. I think there should be an increase to the roster but, unlike when Ottawa came in & they increased the roster, it should not correspond with an increase in Nationals on the roster.

    • BigRedMachine // December 21, 2017 at 2:44 pm //

      Agree 100% that starting qbs should count against the ratio. Would also give a Canadian qb a little hands up in the form of an extra import O Lineman or receiver that other import qbs would not have.

      • I agree with both of you that a starter should count towards the ratio and as a starting Canadian, as one of the 7 starters iow, but I’m not sure the backups should be part of the ratio. In fact I don’t think they should. There was a reason why the QBs were exempted from the ratio and I’m not sure that’s been discussed enough. There was a time when teams were “cheating” on the third QB, back in the late 70s and early 80s iirc. There’s very little chance a 3rd QB is going to play meaningful minutes and teams were sticking a Canadian in that spot so they could have an extra American backup/special teamer, but this ended up stunting the development of good QBs. A #1 would go down and then your #2 would start, but the the new #2 would be someone they just pulled off the practice roster who hadn’t been on the sidelines with the team holding the clipboard and learning and developing, and if he ever had to go in it was often a disaster. I think it also dissuaded young QBs from coming to the CFL or staying here, because they’d much rather be on the sidelines in uniform with the team learning and developing rather than in street clothes. It can take several years to develop a QB and that time on the roster as a #3 is an important part of that process. I think it’s VERY important that we don’t do anything to disrupt that development process and dissuade good QBs from coming up. Rewarding starting Canadians by including them in the ratio will still give Canadian at the backup level and edge, but only the ones who have true starter’s potential. There wouldn’t be anymore “cheating”, iow. There would be no advantage to sticking a Canadian who isn’t very good in the #3 spot, but if he has starter’s potential and you can develop him to that level then you get the benefit of him counting towards the ratio.

  3. Sources Say // December 21, 2017 at 2:16 pm //

    I guess I’m more patriotic than some of you but I hate the idea of reducing the number of Canadian starters. The Canadian content is what makes the CFL different but it sounds like you guys all want NFL farm teams.

  4. Interesting article by Cauz with Derek Taylor’s predictions/views on the CFL website. His take :”Brandon Bridge may be further away from being a star than we hope”. Of course you mentioned the reasons, Joel – inaccurate, bad throwing motion. He is extremely lucky he hasn’t had more interceptable balls caught. Even so, his INT% is only better than 3 starters last year – Riders’ own Kevin Glenn, who has 45 INT’s in his last 57 games, Darian Durant & Jonathon Jennings.. The latter 2, not surprisingly were on non-playoff teams & had horrible seasons. He’s young, everybody’s hoping for him, but I don’t see him as being ready to lead a team. I have to agree with Taylor’s comments that he doesn’t see Bridge as being anything better than a Top 6 passer at some point. James Franklin, who Bridge is often compared to, has a career INT% of 0.05% vs Bridge’s 2.61%, with about the same # of passes. Franklin, who is known to throw a good deep ball, has had a throwing coach every off-season in Edmonton & has continued to hone his mechanics. Bridge has to get somebody to correct that throwing motion of his. As Taylor has said before, his completion % is due in good part because his receivers are making catches despite poor throws. In his final game vs Edmonton, the TSN commentators remarked a few times that Bridge should have been intercepted 3 times in that game alone – 2 easy drops by DB’s & 1 pass where the receiver played defence to prevent an INT. At any rate, we will see what unfolds this year. If the Riders go into 2018 with the current crew of QB’s, they better hope Adams or Williams are viable options just in case Bridge doesn’t pan out.

  5. Some of Glenn’s problems was the Riders not handling and not adjusting to QB pressure and Brandon Bridge looked pretty good for the most part and as good as many Americans who’ve been given starting roles over the years.

    Would one more year with the experienced Kevin Glenn and Brandon Bridge tandem help Bridge become the no. 1 QB. Jones is seemingly taking a page from the Hugh Campbell play book with his QBs as the Wilkinson – Moon transition is a parallel and then there was Damon Allen.

    If the Canadian QB is on the field, he should count as a Canadian. It’s a minor change that won’t lead to the loss of Canadian jobs.

    The key factor with the scarcity of Canadians that the longer term CFL International grasp is that (other than the QB position) the thing that drives all salaries higher is to quite an extent what Nationals get paid.

    If you eliminated the ratio or lowered it to where it was meaningless, you’d see salaries for players in the toilet and that in my view would lead to the demise of the CFL and the Canadian game and make it a farm league for the CFL. If that’s you want to achieve – call for the ratio to go.

  6. QB is all about experience and a good O line etc. BB has the ability to ‘make things happen’. When KG is getting killed back there BB makes things happen behind the same line against the same D. Throwing on the run in desperate situations and then we use stats to judge re: picks. Never gets to play when the going is easier. Known as a poor practice player so is one of those players who needs the game pressure to perform. Start him and see what happens.

  7. I suspect that Bridge’s biggest issue is between his ears. Humility is not his strength. He talks a good game, but as the story says it is time to show he can do it.

  8. Bridge will be fine , he was thrown to the WOLVES in Montreal in his rookie season and showed flashes. During his time with the Riders so far he has grown each year and will take another step forward this coming year, as pointed out ; Qb/oline/rb’s/and recievers all play an important role in working together. Remember BB had limited time playing with our 1st string starting RB Marshall who is a good blocker and can pick up blitzes well, Bridge also has worked well already with signed receivers Holly/Rosevelt/Bagg. I am certain that the Riders will bring back Grant/Bailey /Moore and possibly Demski before season start, again Bridge had good chemistry with Grant during the season I am certain as Bridge retains NFL aspirations he will make sure he has a throwing coach during the offseason and into the playing season. The Riders have indicated they are already as well into the process of hiring a QB coach , in my mind if Kahari is not in the MTL offensive coordinator race , he might well surface in Sask as QB coach where did well in that role prior to moving to BC lions. regarding ratio I don’t see that rule changing anytime soon as currently it would benefit only 1 team –the Riders— and in a highly competitive western division I cant see other western team governers supporting a change that would give only the Riders currently a competative advantage possibly .

    • BigRedMachine // December 21, 2017 at 6:21 pm //

      You’re right about the ratio change only benefiting one team currently but I do think there is a groundswell of support for a ratio change. I think they might make it effective a year or two in the future to allow other teams a chance to develop a Canadian qb.

      • justforkicks // December 22, 2017 at 12:19 am //

        Like any other position it only benefits the Riders if the player works out. Provided that he only counts if starting which it should be.

  9. Rick cowan // December 21, 2017 at 6:24 pm //

    Grant is already signed for next year I hope they bring Bailey back and Chris Getzlaf

  10. Bailey yes, but Getzlaf is simply done.

    • agreed chris , bless the man is more then likely done. I think it was a nice gesture by jones and the riders to bring getz back on the practice roster , suit him up for 1 game in new mosaic , confirming him as one of the pieces of the team that built mosaic. now ball is in chrises court to retire wit grace o his relationship with the club has been mended, would be nice for chad owens to get into a similar position with the argos and retire with grace at seasons end this year.

      • greenonions // December 22, 2017 at 1:23 am //

        Can’t agree more. You could add a few more to the list. Willy from Mtl. Fantuz from Hamilton. Chick as well.They”ve had their run.

        • BigRedMachine // December 22, 2017 at 9:37 am //

          Fantuz I could see giving another chance to. Before his injury at the end of 2016 he was having a career year…

  11. Riders still need a first line QB Bridge is mediocre at best (66%), KG has also become mediocre as well (age), unless Riders can bring a quality QB in for 2018 they will be forced to continually rotate BB & KG throughout most games. BB is young and still developing, but it will be a long year if don’t pick quality QB.

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