Four years later, the Riders fix a big mistake by signing Zack Evans

Not long after the doors of CFL free agency swung open, the Riders got ExZackly what they needed (I’ll show myself out after this) when they signed defensive lineman Zack Evans.

By signing Evans, the Riders finally fixed an error they made four years ago when Evans was lost to the Ottawa Redblacks in the expansion draft. The mistake wasn’t made by Chris Jones, but they haven’t really been able to fill the gap left behind by Evans (and to a lesser extent, Keith Shologan, who in all likelihood wouldn’t be on the team today whether he was left unprotected or not), it became his to fix.

At the time of the expansion draft, then-general manager Brendan Taman and head coach Corey Chamblin believed they could shed Shologan’s salary in the expansion draft by leaving the fan favourite and long-time Rider unprotected. Naturally, Ottawa jumped at the chance to take one of the games best defensive tackles. That move was a head-scratcher at the time, but Shologan was never really the same since leaving Riderville, so in retrospect, Shologan was likely removed from the roster at the right time. Without Shologan, Taman and Chamblin didn’t feel like there was a need to protect Evans either, as they intended to go American at the position in 2014.

Needless to say, that decision didn’t work out.

Since heading to the nation’s capital, Evans not only became a better player but you could argue he has grown into one of the better Canadian defensive tackles in the CFL. As you know, if you can find one, like Hamilton has in Ted Laurent, you hang on to them. The potential was always there for Evans, and he should never have been exposed in the expansion draft in the first place. If Evans was still in green and white for the last few seasons, that would have made a huge difference to the team’s ratio. Instead, there’s been a revolving door of both Canadians and Americans since that draft in December 2013.

With Evans now in the fold, there’s no question the Riders have one of the best defensive lines in the league. Jefferson and Hughes are as terrifying a duo as you can find on the ends and now there’s someone who can provide that push up the middle to allow them the others to go to work. That’s what this team has been missing since the end of the 2013 season. It also gives Jones options when it comes to the three- or four-man fronts.

Evans also helps with the ratio as he is a sure-fire starter, the more of those a team has the better. In a perfect world, you’d like to see a team start more than the required seven, as it makes replacement much easier should an injury remove a Canadian from the game. The Riders are getting there.

Evans is back where it all began for him. He never should have left in the first place.


Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.
Joel Gasson
Joel Gasson
About Joel Gasson (187 Articles)
Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.

23 Comments on Four years later, the Riders fix a big mistake by signing Zack Evans

  1. Hind site is 20 20. The team could not protect everyone
    The red blacks did a good job of drafting. Between the draft and free agents the riders lost a lot of there championship team.

    • Taman was a crappy GM…one of the worst. Only had four winning seasons that were above 500% in 11 years. His average winning percentage was 43.9% over 11 years. In his last season as the GM of the Sliders Taman was 00.00% at 0 and 9 before he was fired. What took so long for Taman to get fired as the Slider GM, a position which he held over six seasons, you ask? The Sliders like losers which Taman was even as the GM of the Bombers (where he lasted five seasons).

      • Who are you to comment on what people like? Usually, it’s insecure people like yourself that love to interpret other people without even knowing them. Wow, I cannot believe some of the slime that comes on here to talk nonsense. They have nothing better to do than run people down. You’re an absolute embarrassment. Furthermore, it’s slime like this that because they fester so much inside, it actually makes them feel better when they try to run other people down for no reason at all. Ever heard of the old saying, “Winner takes all?”. In your case, it’s the loser takes all. If you have nothing better to say, then get lost.

  2. Truenorthern // February 24, 2018 at 5:21 pm //

    Hindsight is 20/20. Zack being taken was a suprise and no one predicted he would develop like he has.

  3. greenenvy? // February 24, 2018 at 6:06 pm //

    Zack Evans 2017 is not Zack Evans 2014. Be happy he is back with the Riders this year. He is arguably their biggest addition, with apologies to Collaros, but we don’t really know how Collaros will perform.

    • Nonsense – Evans is just another Canadian “D” lineman that can plug a hole but doesn’t get any pressure on the QB, dozens of import players better than him.
      Collaros has the ability to be a game changer, a QB is the most important player on the offense.
      A “D” lineman like Evans is just one of 5 up front and likely the weakest of the 5.
      Ottawa made no effort to re-sign him because they want a player who can be dominant and get pressure on the QB.

  4. Don’t forget The clueless Jeremy O’Day was in on this transaction 4 years ago riding along shotgun beside his mentor Brendan Taman.

  5. I agree greenenvy, st the time I didn’t see him developing into the player he is today. Glad he’s back in the fold.

    • I hope he’s a better player than he was in Ottawa last season. He was invisible, not penetration and not many tackles. He ended up doing spot duty in and out.
      He’s turned into just another Canadian to fill a spot.

      • You are right I watched him last season in Ottawa and they would rotate him in. They were trying to get a player in his position to get some pressure.
        He just doesn’t have it but as a Canadian he will fill that hole with the Riders.
        Not a dominant player.

  6. Keep your pants on big guy. I’ve watched Zack for the last four years, since he came to Ottawa. Solid, reliable, durable, not to mention outstanding community guy……but Twd Laurent he isn’t. Look at the numbers….averages about 25 d tackles and 5 sacks a year. Good, solid addition and nice to see him able to go home, but not worth $170,000 a year and in reality not much better then the guy you had there before.

    • Well Handler, Evans & Ceresna were 2nd only to Sewell/Cummings in pressures last year which puts him in pretty select company. No he’s not in Laurent/Sewell company but you don’t get too many of those. Still a solid DT, something the Riders have been missing. A very good signing even at 170K IMO.

    • I agree he is overrated, didn’t do much in Ottawa last season. No great loss for Ottawa and not a step up for the Riders.

  7. Riders will need a good defense they will b on the field alot with Collaros at QB who fumbles and throws pick after pick

    • Hard to say what to expect from Collaros. There were high expectations for Durant coming back in 2016 but he wasn’t what he was in 2013. Collaros likewise is 3 years removed from being very good but is attempting to come back at a younger age. My feeling is he will do well BUT I don’t know if he’ll get back to his 2015 level again. That may be too much to expect. I think the Riders know the Glenn/Bridge combo wasn’t taking them over the top so that’s why we’re here. It’s a big gamble but from recent signings it looks like Jones is bringing in older veterans & emulating Taman. The West will be tough. I personally think Stamps, Eskimos & Bombers look stronger right now. Questions on OL, LB & those 3 don’t have QB questions that Riders have. Not one of their 3 starters at LB will be back unless Muamba has change of heart – very unlikely. That’s a big hole in the middle of the defence.

      • Also a big question mark at left tackle if the Riders can’t convince Campbell to sign. And if the criticism of Bond is correct and he does not have the athleticism and the mobility to play the blind side. It takes more than just size and wing span to play left tackle. With a quarterback that has been struggling for a couple of years, left tackle could be a crucial position in Collaros’s return to success.

    • Maybe … but then again, he is no longer stuck in the Austin pass happy, ignore good RBs offense.

  8. Rick Cowan // February 25, 2018 at 3:30 am //

    The Riders do have a strong linebackers back Eguavon is back he was a starter so was Moncrief they started in the playoffs so get your facts straight guys

  9. OldBaldGuy // February 25, 2018 at 8:49 am //

    I agree with the other comments about hindsight. Any brainiac can criticize 4 years after the fact. Riders gambled a bit and did’t think that they would lose two Canadian DTs. At expansion you can only protect so many and Taman was never an expert on Canadian talent.

    • But is Evans really worth $170k? a good Canadian player but not great and not as good as the international players around him.

  10. Pennyrocker // February 25, 2018 at 1:31 pm //

    Evans will be alright coming home to the Riders and playing with Jefferson and Hughes after all you cannot double team 3 players.

    Chris Jones way to build a good QB put Bridge as a backup behind Glenn and if that didn’t suck. Go out and find someone worst with Collaros. Bridge will learn how to come from behind at least 20 points down in order to win.

  11. Truthfully I was pissed right off 4 years ago when Taman and Chamblin did not protect Zack. When they hadn’t protected the other Canadian D-Tackle Keith Shologun. I seriously couldn’t believe the Riders lost both Canadian Tackles at the exact same time.
    Earlier that week I was Happy that Ottawa was getting back into the league. Then in a flash I was so pissed at Ottawa I hated their existence. That was also the point I started to turn on Taman and Chamblin. I thought Chamblin understood how important local SK young men were to the team but I was wrong. When the Riders has 5 Regina starters years ago. You could see how their influence affected the other players. Both Canadian and American.
    Just as I promise everyone you will see a difference in Einnipegs players. Having 3 Winnipeg starters on offence is huge! Even LeFrance will pick up his game.
    Anyway slowly but surely from that early 2014 Ottawa expansion draft my sports man love for the GM and HC started to change. It didn’t take on a huge hate as SK started out at 8-2. Then when DD was really hurt at the Labour Day Rematch in Winnipeg. (I will not refer to that rematch game each year with disrespect. That disrespectful name of the rematch should just go away) You could see all the fractures on the roster. Without DD to carry the team. Every weak spot shone like a spot light and the move to bring in a retired QB solidified my distrust and dislike if Taman. At that point when Chamblin would speak it was like he had changed. The winning coach of The previous year Grey Cup was no longer humble. Instead he was more defiant and was drawing lines in the sand all over the place. Chamblin shut down media access to the team. Started up closed practises and answered too many questions with questions. When the Riders went 0-9 in 2015 after DD went down in the1st qtr with a non tackled or even touched Achilles season ending injury. It was difficult to listen to Chamblin on the Radio. You could tell his whole demeanour was nothing to what the man was during 2013 and previous. Which eventually lost the team around loss 5 or 6. When the new Riders President announced he had fired the GM and HC after losing in Toronto to the worst team in the league. Combined with Chamblin berating his starting QB on National TV. I felt that finally someone in the organization grew some kohonos and assembled the board an unanimously agreed both should go. Had Taman said after the 6 loss he agreed with the Predident. He would have staid on. But because he supported Chamblin until loss 9 where he said it was time to go. It was too late.
    So all that junk and crap is long gone behind the team and all Rider fans have moved on. This is the perfect time for Regina’s lost Son to come home. (Lost to stupidity)

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