Is Zach Collaros becoming Khari Jones 2.0?

Khari Jones and Zach Collaros have a lot in common.

Both have awed CFL fans with their remarkable arm talent, escapability under pressure, and gun-slinging mentality. Both enjoyed Most Outstanding Player-calibre seasons (Jones won the league’s M.O.P. award in 2001, while Collaros would have won it in 2015 had he not suffered a torn ACL). And both may one day be seen as players who’s careers were sadly short-lived.

Jones shone brightly during his time as a CFL starter, but his success was fleeting due to his reckless style of play. Joining the Blue Bombers as the club’s starter in 2000, Jones’ career was done by 2005. He never suffered a major injury (on the record, at least), but the punishment he took was astounding. The 2001 Grey Cup game I wrote about last November was particularly brutal, but not entirely atypical for a Jones performance. The Indiana-native, now the offensive coordinator of the B.C. Lions, would stand in the pocket until the last possible moment on what seemed to be virtually every passing down. He routinely took gut-wrenching shots from opposing defenders, many of which would not fall within the rules of today’s game.

Zach Collaros plays the game in a similar fashion. The Ticats have allowed a league-worst 57 quarterback pressures this season, a result of shaky offensive line play, a depleted receiving corps, and Collaros’ inability to make quick decisions with the football. The Cincinnati product has taken a ton of shots from opposing defenders over the past four-plus seasons and there’s evidence the abuse has already taken a toll.

Below I’ve compared the career statistics of Jones and Collaros over their first five years as CFL starters (for Jones, 2000-2004; for Collaros, 2013-2017). The correlation in both the ascent and descent of their respective careers is striking.

Completion Percentage

Passing Yards/Game

  Touchdown Passes/GameRushing Yards/Game

Perhaps the most intriguing statistical correlation is that of the last category — rushing yards per game. Khari Jones continued to move the ball with his feet as his career progressed, averaging almost twice as many rushing yards per game in his final season as a starter (13.7) as Collaros has in 2017 (8.2).

This can be seen as a positive or negative sign for Ticat fans. On the one hand, it’s an indication that Collaros has become one-dimensional player — as we can see from the chart, running the ball was a large part of Collaros’ success in 2014 and 2015, his best seasons as a starter. On the other hand, it may be an indication that Collaros is looking to extend his career — while Jones never shied away from taking the extra punishment that comes with running the football, Collaros is looking to stay in the pocket at all times.

Either way, there’s no arguing the career trajectory of Zach Collaros is beginning to mirror that of Khari Jones. Age works in Collaros’ favor — Jones turned 34 in 2005, while Collaros will turn just 29 later this month — but defenders are also bigger, faster, and stronger now than ever before. Collaros has also suffered a major injury, something Jones was never forced to deal with.

The human body can only take so much punishment before it no longer allows athletes to perform at peak level. It’s entirely possible that this slump in Zach Collaros’ career will one day be forgotten — that he’ll soon recapture his 2015 M.O.P. form. It’s also possible that Collaros, not unlike Khari Jones before him, is on the verge of being done.

John Hodge

John Hodge

John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.
John Hodge
John Hodge
About John Hodge (323 Articles)
John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.

13 Comments on Is Zach Collaros becoming Khari Jones 2.0?

  1. Solara2000 // August 12, 2017 at 11:04 am //

    Interesting article. I think a full 2017 season will be more telling as to what ZC’s career will look like.

  2. Personally I think that Collaros is a LONG way from being done but only time will tell. Hopefully before the end of this season the answer to the question is going to be much clearer.

  3. Billinburlington // August 12, 2017 at 11:29 am //

    As a Tiger Cat fan I find it difficult to accept the premise of the article that Collaros’ career is possibly on the on the wane- my instinct wants to say it has just begun. The statistics provided are interesting – the correlating trend lines are insightful. Would be interesting to add same stats for a H. of F. QB such as Anthony Cavillo, as well as team defensive stats such as time defence is on the field. Thanks for the insight.

    • They are interesting, correlations usually are, though there are always lots of other factors to look at. I think comparing other current starters who’ve had a similar career length to date, as well as the first 5 seasons of some past QBs (successful ones and those who fizzled out) would be very interesting too.

      Would have loved to see what Jones may have done had he become a starter in the league much younger than he was.

  4. IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 12, 2017 at 11:48 am //

    I think good things are ahead for him. Whether it’s in Hamilton or somewhere else remains to be seen. Just a bad situation right now.

  5. stupid useless article

  6. The people who say it’s a useless article or bash the article can’t accept the fact that you may be correct Mr Hodge. I’m sure over the next couple games with June at the controles or at least “secretly”at the controls we will see what quarterback emerges as the starter June Jones was brought here to change the offence and it starts with the qb if he is up to par

  7. Perhaps an improvement on the offensive front line at both tackle spots would improve Collaros play on the field

  8. With the large CFL field it is speed that determines the winners from the losers.Only the play of speedsters Aultman and Saunders will turn this game around for the Cats as they almost did against Edmonton.You can coach all you want but it is speed that succeeds.

    That’s why Chris Williams has been the most valuable player in the league for several years now.The Cats need o-line protection and speed with the receivers and running backs.With speed will come wins.May the shield of the CFL greats protect Aultman and Saunders tonight.

  9. I think the telling stat for any quarterback would be how much time they have to throw or how often they are sacked – the offensive line often dictates the success of the team.

  10. Yes some good correlations, or examples, but at 29 Collaros career is far from over. Look at the protection he gets, and maybe instructed NOT to run. He sure can run fine east & west, running from blitzing. Last game against E.E. Collaros showed he could still run if needed. What about Anthony Cavillo? Hamilton had no patience for him, but with Montreal and a good O Line, he won 2 G.C.’s Don’t want to see Zach go, but his contract sucks on the cap. Maybe after this season, a trade or release, could be in the cards? Still has 12-games left, Ti-Cat’s have dug themselves in a big hole. When when Cat’s get their injured players back, and coaching gets stabilized? Hoping for a turn around, and this fan is not ready to throw the towel in on Zach Collaros yet. OSKEE WEE WEE.

  11. Collaros should not run the ball; it is the job of the running backs. Zach is to take the Cats to many Grey Cups, he is not a short term fix,but to succeed in Hamilton as part of a longer term dynasty.

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