Alouettes’ GM Danny Maciocia believes CFL must take ‘good, hard look’ at rash of QB injuries

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Montreal Alouettes’ general manager Danny Maciocia believes more investigation is needed to figure out the causes behind the current slew of quarterback injuries in the CFL.

“I don’t know (what’s causing it). Actually, that’s the study that we’re working on right now,” the long-time coach and executive said during an appearance on TSN 690 this week.

“We’re trying to figure out why this is happening because I’ve never seen it (this bad). I mean, it’s not only the starting quarterbacks, it’s the number two guys that are going down across the league too.”

With Winnipeg’s Dru Brown making his debut in Week 11, the Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts are the only two teams remaining in the league who have started the same quarterback in every game this season. However, even the double blue have battled injury, with Chad Kelly exiting their only loss of the season early with a busted ankle.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ottawa Redblacks and Hamilton Tiger-Cats have all lost their franchise pivots long-term, and are now down to their third-stringers due to injuries to their backups. Even the B.C. Lions were briefly forced to turn to Dominique Davis with both Vernon Adams Jr. and Dane Evans knocked out of action.

“We’ve been, I guess, fortunate. We’ve been blessed that we haven’t been hit with all of that,” Maciocia said of his own franchise.

“But having said that, right now we need to take a good, hard look at why they’re going down and then maybe you want to address the ratio a little bit differently moving forward, where you put your Americans, where you play your Canadians. It’s gonna be an offseason project as far as I’m concerned but clearly, this is something that we’ve started to take a look at, and we’re gonna keep a close eye on.”

While they’ve avoided the season-long devastation suffered by many of their opponents, the Alouettes haven’t escaped the blood bath of 2023 unscathed. Quarterback Cody Fajardo is expected to miss his second consecutive start this week with a banged-up left shoulder, leaving quarterbacking duties to Caleb Evans.

Evans made his first start of the season in Week 10 after Fajardo was ruled out following warmups. He completed eight of 13 pass attempts for 149 yards, one touchdown, and one interception while rushing for 66 yards and two scores on 11 carries in a blowout win over Saskatchewan.

The Louisiana-Monroe product is no stranger to relief duty, having made 13 starts for the injury-ravaged Ottawa Redblacks during his first two professional seasons. The results were less than stellar, with the youngster throwing 16 interceptions compared to just nine touchdowns. Still, Maciocia viewed Evans as a potential steal when plucking him off the free agent scrap heap.

“I saw a young quarterback that was all of 24 years old and had an opportunity to start some games in Ottawa in situations that were far from ideal. There were some games that he clearly struggled but a lot of players would struggle having to deal with what he dealt with, injuries and coordinator changes and head coaching changes and all that good stuff,” Maciocia explained.

“I also saw a guy that won some football games. Actually, he beat the Montreal Alouettes if I’m not mistaken. We also saw someone that can manage a football game, that can make plays, not only with his arm but with his feet.”

In a year where healthy passers are rarer than honest politicians, the acquisition could prove critical. Even under normal circumstances, an experienced backup can be a CFL team’s most important signing. That’s a point driven home to Maciocia by a close friend and Canadian football legend.

“I’ve had this discussion with Wally Buono. He always says, ‘Danny, at the beginning of every year, make sure you’ve got a quarterback in-house that can win you two to three games,'” Maciocia remarked. “Well, he’s already won one.”

Evans will get another shot to save the Alouettes (5-3) from the doldrums of a quarterback-less existence when he faces his former team, the Redblacks (3-6), on Saturday, August 19 at 7:00 p.m. EDT.