Jason Barnes was the ultimate difference maker in the Argonauts 25-22 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last Wednesday at Rogers Centre. The fourth year CFL slotback recorded four catches for 72 yards including a 37-yard touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to lead the Argos to their second victory of 2012. On the opposite end of that 37-yard touchdown was quarterback, Ricky Ray who spent nine seasons in Edmonton as a member of the Eskimos prior to coming to Toronto this season. Three of those nine seasons were spent alongside Jason Barnes who seems to have developed a good rapport with his all-star quarterback since breaking in to the CFL with the Eskimos in 2009.
As each year goes by, Ray and Barnes seem to mature together and continue to develop in to one of the most lethal tandems in the CFL. Following the trade that brought Ricky Ray to Toronto from Edmonton late last year, Jason Barnes signed with the Argonauts as a free agent to team up with his favorite quarterback. Ray was dealt to Toronto on December 12, 2011 as an early Christmas present for new Head Coach, Scott Milanovich. In exchange for Ray, the Eskimos received quarterback Steven Jyles, kicker Grant Shaw, and a 2012 first round draft pick.
Barnes signed with the Argonauts as a free agent on February 14, 2012. Jason was brought in mainly to give Ricky Ray some familiarity with his receivers and help with his transition from Edmonton to Toronto. Each and every step of the way, Barnes and Ray have stood by one another and this is the opportunity for each of them to showcase their skills as the main weapons in the Argonauts offense. Barnes is considered to be the Argos best receiver and so far in 2012 he has shown spurts of solid play while other times, it has been a mix of dropped passes and some inconsistent play. Jason currently has eleven catches on the season which is something not to be worried about considering last season he only had fifty total catches but still managed to put up great yardage and touchdown totals. The 37-yard touchdown reception last Wednesday was his very first as a member of the Argonauts and capped off what was by far his best game since joining the Argos.
As for Ricky Ray, he has been nothing short of spectacular since arriving to Toronto. In his very first home game as a member of the Argonauts on July 7th against the Calgary Stampeders, Ray threw for over 400 yards and had an incredible 75% completion percentage. In week three in Hamilton, Ray passed Doug Flutie for seventh on the all-time CFL passing list. Ricky’s statistics so far this season speak for themselves and exhibit truly how good he has been through four weeks of play in this CFL season. Heading into this week’s matchup against the Montreal Alouettes, Ray currently has 1,262 yards passing along with six touchdown passes and four interceptions.
Ray and Barnes have really developed a close relationship, especially over the last couple of seasons in which Barnes has developed in to one of Ricky Ray’s main targets. In Edmonton last season, Barnes recorded fifty catches for 869 yards (career high) with seven receiving touchdowns (career high). Ray also had one of his best statistical seasons as a member of the Eskimos in 2011. Ray threw for 4,594 yards along with twenty-four touchdown passes and only eleven interceptions.
While Ray has been in the league longer and has already won multiple Grey Cup titles, he continues to have the drive and motivation that is necessary in order to be able to capture yet another championship ring. Ray definitely wants to prove that he is indeed one of the best quarterbacks in CFL history and I’m sure his good friend Jason Barnes has no issues helping him out with that.
Based on their history together and the journey they have taken through the CFL, it is certainly fair to say that Ricky Ray and Jason Barnes seem to have a unique connection with one another. Now that Barnes is Ricky’s main target in Toronto he should have a tremendous statistical season. As for Ray, he should continue to put up incredible numbers and many Argonauts fans hope that these two former Eskimos can make it feel just like old times and lead their team to a Grey Cup title this November.