The Ottawa Redblacks are not rushing into deciding on a starting quarterback for the 2019 season.
Dominique Davis signed a two-year contract extension in January which all but signalled the end to the Trevor Harris era in Ottawa. Once Harris moved on to the Edmonton Eskimos during free agency, the Redblacks inked Jonathon Jennings.
Davis spent the 2018 season in the nation’s capital backing up Harris, starting one game and knows the offensive system. Jennings broke into the league with the B.C. Lions and has more starting experience than Davis.
The 29-year-old Davis started Ottawa’s Week 21 game against the Toronto Argonauts last season completing 16-of-23 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown in the Redblacks 24-9 victory. Throughout the 2018 schedule, Davis played 18 games completing 24-of-39 passes for 373 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while rushing 40 times for 73 yards and six touchdowns.
The 26-year-old Jennings played in 10 games for the Lions in 2018 after agreeing to a restructured contract last off-season. He threw for 1,628 yards, eight touchdowns, seven interceptions while adding 36 carries for 226 yards. But the Indianapolis Colts were still interested enough to work Jennings out in December.
The competition between Davis and Jennings to be the starting quarterback has been close.
“Our No. 1 thing is going to be who gives us the best chance to win – period. That would be our No. 1 criteria. Jonathon and Dominique are getting the opportunity to win the job and they both look like guys you can win with,” Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell said on TSN radio in Ottawa.
Both Davis and Jennings are mobile, dual-threat quarterbacks who have the ability to make plays with their legs. Similar skillsets is part of the reason why Ottawa paired the two pivots together. If there needs to be a change at the position Campbell can make the switch knowing the offence can run in a complementary way.
“I’m a defensive coordinator by trade and I know one of the most frustrating things ever is if you’re on defence and you do everything right, and you cover everybody, and the play breaks down for the offence, and the quarterback uses his feet and goes and runs for a first down. Those types of plays are frustrating for the defence,” Campbell said.
“We definitely have guys that are capable of doing things like that. You don’t live by doing that all the time, but if it extends drives or slows down the pass rush it’s always a good thing to have a mobile quarterback.”
Campbell won’t be making a choice on his starting quarterback until closer to the start of the regular season. The Redblacks open the year on the road against the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders on Saturday, June 15.
“We’re going to let this thing play out and keep going,” Campbell said.
“It’s made a big difference for Dominique in that he’s already been here so he knows the terminology and all that is a big thing for the quarterback and knows the coaches. Jonathon everyday gets more up to speed with everything.”