Riders coaches tasked with getting Zach Collaros back to MOP form: Chris Jones

Dan Ralph, Canadian Press

Chris Jones says it will be up to the Riders coaches to get Zach Collaros back to his 2015 form when he was the overwhelming favourite as the CFL’s outstanding player.

Collaros was the league leader in passing yards (3,376), TDs (25) and passer rating (113.7) when he suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Jones-coached Edmonton Eskimos.

Collaros returned midway through the 2016 campaign but lost his final 12 regular-season starts – one short of the league record – prompting interim Hamilton coach June Jones to name Jeremiah Masoli as his starter. It paid off as, following an 0-8 start, the Ticats finished 6-4 under Masoli.

Jones signed a three-year deal as Hamilton’s full-time head coach at season’s end. And the day after Collaros was dealt, Masoli opted against free agency to sign a two-year contract extension with the Ticats.

But Jones isn’t concerned about Collaros’s dubious streak.

“He was 41-1 in high school with two state championships and won 70 per cent of his games at Cincinnati, who never wins in football,” Jones said. “Up until his injury, he was, quite honestly, the best player in our league.

“It’s our job as coaches to find out what he does and let him do a bunch of it and get him back on track.”

Jones never anointed Collaros his starter following the trade. Instead, Collaros will compete against veterans Brandon Bridge of Mississauga, Ont., and Vernon Adams Jr., along with youngsters David Watford and Marquise Williams for the No. 1 job with a Riders squad that fell one game short of last year’s Grey Cup.

“There’s no doubt it will be really good,” he said. “We’ve got guys like Brandon and Vernon Adams and two guys no one has even heard about.

“Marquise Williams started ahead of Mitch Trubisky (Chicago Bears first-round pick) for three years at North Carolina . . . and David Watford was a three-year starter at Virginia (before transferring to Hampton) who reminds me of Henry Burris. We’ve got five quarterbacks and look forward to seeing the competition.”

Last season, Jones rotated Bridge with veteran Kevin Glenn, who was released after the Collaros trade. Jones said he’d have no issues doing the same with Bridge and Collaros, should it play out that way.

“Best players play and I mean what I say,” Jones said. “If I need to put Brandon in or Brandon needs to start a game that’s what I’ll do.”


10 Comments on Riders coaches tasked with getting Zach Collaros back to MOP form: Chris Jones

  1. Collaros will return to MOP form, given good protection that he didn’t get last year in Hamilton and as long as he stays healthy. Durability is his question mark.

  2. Blue Rules // January 11, 2018 at 11:22 am //

    I hope the best for Zach, rust & injuries are hard to shake off, age doesn’t help either, if Zach can get in a groove and regain his confidence early shades of old may shine through, however same can be said if he struggles out of the gate. Big gamble, big gain???. Will see soon!!

  3. George Porge // January 11, 2018 at 12:48 pm //

    I hope Collaros gets back into form as well. He was an entertaining QB when he was healthy and playing on a good team.

  4. Scottsask // January 11, 2018 at 1:22 pm //

    I’m very comfortable and extremely excited about the qb situation. Whom ever the starter is will be pushed by an extremely capable backup. Also as far as Zach’s injury history is concerned, there was a qb that played for the Argos last year that strung many injury plagued seasons together and ended up winning a Grey Cup last year, now what was his name? Oh yeah it was Ricky Ray.

  5. Scottsask // January 11, 2018 at 1:25 pm //

    Well pst the age of 30 I might add, which Zach has yet to reach.

  6. Cooolaros! Can’t faze him. 2018, won’t be able to stop him.

  7. What I’d do if I were the Riders HC is get Zach to Jeff Garcia’s camp like Dickenson advised Bo Levi M to do in the off season before the Stamps decided the next TC as to who was to be the starter – Tate or Mitchell.

    Both Dickenson and Mitchell credit that month at Bo’s own expense as being highly desirable.

    If I were the Lions, I’d be sending the rattled Jonathan Jennings there too.

    No one is better with QBs than ex CFler and NFL QB Jeff Garcia in getting their training regimen right.

    “Stamps QB studied with one of the greats

    “We worked out at 5 a.m.,” says Mitchell, who won the starting job over Drew Tate in training camp. “Got some classroom in. Went to throw at 8:30, whether it was on the field or in the sand. Got some receivers and running backs and got some conditioning in. Then went back to the classroom.

    “It was a good long day.”

    Call it gridiron boot camp, with Garcia serving as the celebrity drill instructor.

    “You know what it showed me? Commitment, because I know Jeff’s thing isn’t cheap,” says Stamps assistant head coach Dave Dickenson, who backed up Garcia in Calgary at the beginning of his playing career. “I know when Jeff is down there, he’s working hard. I was able to speak with Jeff three or four times this off-season

    “I was very impressed with Bo’s work ethic. I mean, he did it on his own. He took money out of his own pocket to go down there and get around some big-time quarterbacks.”

  8. Scottsask // January 11, 2018 at 3:13 pm //

    Smart move. Garcia was one of the greats.

  9. What a novel idea.I can not believe I am in agreement with Coach Jones and not June but Chris.Would it not be a more sure way or a least a shorter route to try and turn around a struggling QB that you know has played at a MOP level in the CFL than try and see if a another guy actually processes that ability? Collaros seem to get the blame for the 0-8 start when clearly the whole team was struggling under Austin just imagine if Collaros was given a fresh start with the New Head Coach and the improve level of play from the whole team what might have been,just maybe we might have been better than 6-4 say 8-2 who knows but I thought changing the QB simultaneously with the change at HC was risky did things turn around because we changed HC or QBS but Cat fans will never know what could have been.If Chris Jones and his staff can get Collaros back to his MOP caliber of play they have a real great shot at the Grey Cup. In Hamilton they will have to wait and see if Masoli processes that ability risky thought for a team with a 18 year Grey Cup drought.

  10. OldBaldGuy // January 12, 2018 at 11:59 am //

    The guy the Riders should keep a close watch on is Marquise Williams. He might be the sleeper in this whole bunch.

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