Roughriders’ Dickenson shrugs off concern about Fajardo’s head-first sliding

Photo courtesy: Arthur Ward

Some Saskatchewan Roughriders’ fans gasped when they saw their resident rock-star quarterback juking and jiving all over the field Saturday night in the Riders Week 2 win over the Tiger-Cats.

Some coaches would cringe at the mere sight of their QB diving head first the way Fajardo was in the area of much bigger and stronger linebackers launching themselves as missiles.

Once upon a time, New York Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan even went so far as to bring New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi to practice to teach his prized young quarterback, Mark Sanchez, how to slide feet first.

Sanchez never did pan out in The Big Apple and maybe he’s not the example Fajardo needs to follow, anyway. But Fajardo says no one has ever said anything to him about it on the sideline and he doesn’t expect to change his ways anytime soon.

“Most of the time when you slide with your feet first, you lose a couple of yards. When you dive head first, they take it where the ball is at, so I think that’s me trying to get every yard that I can,” Fajardo said.

“Also, I know if I dive head-first, at least I can see the contact coming and duck under it.”

Sliding feet-first doesn’t guarantee safety, either. Rider fans know that all too well from the last hit Zach Collaros ever took quarterbacking the Green and White three plays into the 2019 season when he was knocked out by Hamilton’s Simoni Lawrence.

Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson liked what he saw from Fajardo all around in Week 2 and believes if it ain’t broke, he’s not about to try and fix it.

“I shrug it off. I mean it is football and it’s a rough game and we’re doing everything we can to move the chains and move the ball without putting guys at undue risk,” Dickenson said.

“But that’s Cody and that’s his game and I think if you take that away from him, he’s not going to be as effective. We’re going to let Cody play the way he sees fit and he played a pretty good game, I thought.”

That gun-slinger, let-it-all-hang-out style of football has so far worked just fine for Fajardo and the Roughriders and so he’s unlikely to change any of it, anytime soon.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.