Offensive coordinator Jason Maas promises and expects a lot of work from Cody Fajardo in the next three weeks. And then the 19 weeks of the CFL season.
Fajardo is one of four quarterbacks (soon to be five with Monday’s arrival of Paxton Lynch) in camp. But Fajardo will be significantly busier than the rest.
“The difference for him will be the first six days of camp he’ll get about 350 reps to everybody else’s 120,” says Maas. “And we have to split the reps between the other quarterbacks. So if you think about that number, that should blow your mind.”
Maas expects big things from Fajardo throwing the ball–he was the CFL leader in pass yards in 2019 after all. And Maas has plans for Fajardo’s legs, which produced eight TDs on designed runs in 2019.
“It gives you options,” Maas says. “If your quarterback can pick up a few first downs with his legs that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense. And that’s just in our drop-back game he can do that, let alone if you do have some runs for him in a game plan.”
Just as Fajardo gives Maas multiple options for his attack, Maas has multiple plans for deploying the rest of the offense.
“I believe in changing formations, using the personnel groupings, moving people around, not making the defense feel ever comfortable, playing fast. Those are things that I like to do.”
And play action is among those things. Only one current CFL offensive co-ordinator has called play-action more than Maas (the Elks Jamie Elizondo). And Maas says we can expect to see plays run out of three or four different personnel groups.
“We want to use everybody,” he says. “Every skill set we have on offense we people to feel involved and feel appreciated.”
1s and 2s
Watching the first two days of practice you notice interesting players working in groups with starters from 2019. Dickenson doesn’t like to call the groups “number ones” and “number twos”, as you may hear in common football parlance. He refers to them at the “A”, “B” and “C” groups.
“We don’t necessarily have a depth chart just yet,” says the head coach. “And I challenge the coaches–I say this every year to them–let’s reserve judgement for one week.
“In the first two to three days I don’t like to even have a personnel meeting with the staff,” he adds. “Because I don’t want to know their opinion until about day 4 or day 5. It’s not that I don’t value their opinion but I think the cream starts to rise day 4, day 5, day 6. And usually those first two days if you’ve decided who you like and who you don’t like, a lot of the times you have to change your mind.”
Notable players working in “A” groups so far: Brett Boyko at left guard, Pete Robertson at defensive end and Oluwaseun Idowu at middle linebacker.
LJ McCray update
McCray, who started at the field corner in 2019, remains on the Riders suspended list. Coach Dickenson explained McCray’s situation:
“LJ’s got some stuff going on and we haven’t had a whole lot of luck convincing him to come up just yet,” says Dickenson. “So that’s why he’s suspended. He’s got some things he’s dealing with right now–personal things, nothing that’s all that bad–but stuff that he needed to take care of. And coming up an playing football just wasn’t in the cards for him right now.”