Chad Kelly set remarkably high goals for himself ahead of his first season in the CFL. He expressed his desire to not only be the starting quarterback of the Toronto Argonauts but to throw for Doug Flutie-like numbers and become the face of the league.
Nearing the end of his rookie season, the 28-year-old has reset his goals to focus on one thing: winning the Grey Cup.
“It’s to win the Grey Cup. That’s what we’re focused on is to win the Grey Cup,” he told 3DownNation on Wednesday. “That’s what we set out 30 weeks ago: to do this, so it’s been a long season. We’re blessed to be in this position and to go out and just perform.”
The 28-year-old was a high-profile signing for the Argos this past off-season. Not only was Kelly a star over two seasons at Ole Miss and an NFL draft pick but he is also the nephew of legendary Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Jim Kelly.
The six-foot-two, 216-pound passer started the final game of Toronto’s regular season after his team had already clinched first place in the East Division. He threw for 264 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception and ran the ball six times for 35 yards and one touchdown in a 38-33 loss to the Montreal Alouettes.
Kelly also saw the field this past weekend in Toronto’s 34-27 victory over Montreal in the East Final. He threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to DaVaris Daniels on what initially appeared to be a short-yardage play on second-and-one. He plans to be ready if called upon on Sunday while also working to support McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the team’s starting quarterback.
“(Throwing a touchdown pass) felt amazing. I couldn’t believe it happened and you’ve gotta be prepared, you’ve gotta be ready. You just never know when your time is going to be called,” said Kelly. “I just gotta be prepared. I’m gonna be Mac’s biggest cheerleader on the sidelines and just be ready at all times.”
Bethel-Thompson came to the CFL later than most players. Though he is only in his fifth season in the league, he is already 34 and there are rumours swirling that he may retire after the season. His longterm partner, Chinaka Hodge, is the head writer of Ironheart, an upcoming television show for Disney+ that will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Kelly is interested in potentially becoming the starter next year, though he’s focusing on this season for the time being.
“Any quarterback wants to be the starter. You’ve gotta prepare, you’ve gotta be ready when your time’s called. God has a plan and obviously I think this team has a plan as well. I’m going to be ready and I can’t wait for that moment to come.”
Now that he’s spent a year studying the Canadian game, it appears as though Kelly has developed a new appreciation for how much work goes into becoming a successful CFL quarterback. When asked what advice he would give to high-profile college quarterbacks looking to play north of the border, he advised that they be ready to put in plenty of hard work.
“I think the biggest thing for them is the understand how big the playbook is. It’s gonna be a little bigger than what you’re accustomed to. There’s 12 players, so it’s going to make the language a little bit more difficult. Pre-snap, there’s going to be a bunch of guys in motion, so if you decide that you’re going to come up here, make sure you’re coming up two or three months early to get a head start on the playbook,” said Kelly.
“I remember looking at the rules of the game. That’s two weeks in itself just to really understand the rules of how things work and what can happen with what the waggle is and whatnot.”