Breaking News the Toronto Argonauts have acquired future Hall of Fame Quarterback Ricky Ray! Ok so not really, but in reality that’s exactly what is happening. The Argos were quiet at the CFL trade deadline this season but when Head Coach Scott Milanovich announced that Ray would start this upcoming Friday against the B.C. Lions it was one of only a few cards Milanovich still has left to play. Whereas a new player can come in after a trade and upset the chemistry of a locker room, Rays return to the field after off season shoulder surgery can potentially provide what this team needs most, stability. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind for the Double Blue. Road/home games in Ottawa and in Hamilton were ridiculous obstacles the team was forced to overcome. The last two games in Hamilton weren’t even close. Calgary left the Double Blue battered and bruised and last week Montreal kicked the life of whatever little life the team had left. But with 2 games left a sense of normalcy has returned to the Club. Home games in Toronto. A game day routine that is predictable and void of unnecessary obstacles. That game day routine can only help a team that has lost its identity. Some might argue that deciding to make a quarterback change now rather than waiting to see after the team plays an actual home game is a little rash. But that opinion can only come from someone who isn’t in the locker room. From someone who doesn’t know the current mental and emotional state of the team. Cue the Ray announcement. In no way is it an indictment on Trevor Harris. Harris is having a great season but in a QB driven league and a team looking for a major reset, no roster move at any other position can have the impact that a quarterback change can have. A season ending injury to Quarterback Zach Collaros has deflated Grey Cup dreams in Hamilton, the same would happen in Ottawa if Henry Burris got hurt. A healthy and successful return by Ricky Ray would have the opposite effect.
We’ve seen from our baseball brethren the Toronto Blue Jays what trade deadline acquisitions can do to a team that is floundering and going through the motions. But football teams can’t overhaul their roster in a couple of days and expect any form of success. But the return of Ray and hopefully the eventual return of Kicker Swayze Waters for that matter can be a boost to a team whether they were traded here or are simply returning from injuries. Frankly, “going through the motions”, is an incredibly generous way to describe the Argo effort against Montreal at Tim Hortons Field. But Ricky Ray has an opportunity to change that. He’s an experienced veteran Quarterback who has thrown for over 52,000 yards in his CFL career. He’s a timing passer perfectly suited for the Argo offensive system that play more off of rhythm and progressions rather that deep bombs down the field. Last season while the wide receiver position for the Argonauts was an absolute carousel Ray still managed to complete TD passes to 8 different Receivers. That means that any talk of a lack of chemistry should be null and void over the last couple of games given that the receiving core has largely remained intact throughout this season. In fact given that Tori Gurley has been benched this weekend should tell us all just how ready Ray is. If there was any doubt would the team really bench their leading receiver?
More importantly than Rays physical talents the 13 year CFL Veteran will have an encyclopedia of experiences and game situations he can go back to and use once and if adversity strikes. Perhaps Harris hit the wall and couldn’t get himself out of his own funk. Life isn’t always fair and neither is football. Harris didn’t lose his job and the future is very bright for the Waldo Ohio native. But this is frankly a move that if not done now can’t really be done at any other time. Harris allowed Ray to recover from his surgery as much as he possibly can for this season. And while there are no guarantees Ray will make a stellar debut Friday against B.C. his experience and football intelligence are invaluable this late in the season. There are 2 games left in the regular season and there was nothing the Argos could have done to re-energize this team as it prepares for the playoffs more than giving the ball to its Hall of Fame Quarterback.
written by Anthony Ciardulli
follow Anthony on twitter @comicanthony