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Matt Dunigan

TSN CFL Analyst


Is Mike Reilly's playing style sustainable?

Let's first define Mike's playing style. I'd describe it as aggressive, tenacious, entertaining, unpredictable, and tough with a "no holds bar," in your face kind of mentality. Fair enough? I could add more superlatives, but I think you get the picture. I believe this guy is a winner and applaud his interpretation of how to play this great game we call Canadian football.

A long successful career is not just based on how you play the game. Now, it certainly could lengthen a career if you chose to avoid contact by running out of bounds at the first sight of a closing defender, or slide feet first before maximum yards were gained. Each player/quarterback is different. Each player has certain strengths and capabilities. There are many obstacles, many variables and so many breaks that must go your way in order for a long successful career.

These obstacles, variables, and breaks come in many forms: injuries, teammates, coaches and the systems you are involved with. A perfect example of this is what happened to Edmonton's starting running back John White a week into training camp.

He ruptured his Achilles and is done for the year. This could impact the team and Reilly's overall productivity, which could ultimately impact how long a guy's career lasts. But that is part of it and the game stands still for no one. So is this good or bad for the Eskimos, Reilly and his career? Only time will tell but again, that is a perfect example of how quickly things can change and the variables that are so hard to predict, can happen!

There are certainties that must be in place for Mike Reilly, or any other quarterback for that matter, to have a long successful career. Desire, commitment, dedication, and a willingness to subject yourself to the process day-in and day-out, week-in and week-out, year after year. Maybe the most important characteristic originates between the ears, and that's mental toughness and aptitude.

Reilly will continue to learn and absorb the new offensive system under Stephen McAdoo and man-oh-man did things get a whole lot better for the Eskimos last year when Reilly was saddled up with Coach McAdoo. As mentioned earlier, mental preparation and aptitude is what is going to separate one quarterback from the next at this level. By submitting to the process and being able to digest the endless amounts of information from week to week is so critical for a successful and long career.

Absorbing the information is one thing, disseminating that information when all hell is breaking loose around you and executing at an alarming rate of speed when the game is on the line, is another. Let me assure you, this guy Reilly, can, and as a fan like you, I hope he does for a long time!

We were all introduced to James (Silky) Franklin (Missouri) at the Northern Kickoff in Ft. McMurray and how about this kid? A quarter and a half of a preseason game does not give you a complete picture of a player’s ability or make a career, but he confirmed what many were saying in Edmonton: this kid has poise and makes throws. I like it a lot!

Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois) looked like he has some scoot and play making ability.

Justin Goltz (Occidental) helped his cause with a strong performance, leading the Esks’ offence to a come from behind victory. 

And finally, Matt Nichols (Eastern Washington) really did nothing to solidify his job as No. 2 behind Reilly. I was expecting more. His interview with Farhan Lalji on the sidelines mirrored his hesitance on the field. He seemed unsure and I believe the race for the No. 3 and now the No. 2 spot is wide open!