The last time Jarious Jackson started a game in the Canadian Football League was more than two years ago. He’s better known as a 2nd-and-1, goal-line pivot. But he did an admirable job last Friday in throwing a touchdown pass and running for another score as the Toronto Argonauts downed a desperate Winnipeg team 29-10, a game which likely sealed the Blue Bombers’ fate for the 2012 season.
The Argos may need Jackson to go again on Thanksgiving Monday at Rogers Centre against Saskatchewan, and that’s when things will get interesting. It’s not known at this point if starter Ricky Ray will be able to play because of a strained ligament in his left knee sustained in a collision in the opening quarter of Toronto’s 31-10 loss to the Montreal Alouettes on Sept. 23.
In his performance in Winnipeg, Jackson certainly looked like he’s capable of leading the team in Ray’s absence. He went 17-for-28 for 155 yards, and rushed seven times for another 51 yards. Of course, it’s easy to look good playing a squad wracked by turmoil such as the 2012 Bombers. It’s another story to repeat the performance against a Roughriders team which has a much more threatening defence to go with an offence which seemed to have its way with the Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions through three quarters last Saturday in a 27-21 victory. That game turned from a laugher to a nail-biter in the closing stages as the Lions mounted a last-minute comeback that ultimately failed.
Jackson has spent a long time holding a clipboard on the sidelines. He was almost exclusively a short-yardage and end-zone signal-caller during five of his six years with the Lions. The exception was in 2007, when injuries to both Dave Dickenson and Casey Printers gave Jackson his chance to be a starting quarterback. As in Winnipeg last week, he performed admirably in the 11 starts he got that year, compiling a 9-2 record and throwing for 2,553 yards on 167 completions, with 18 touchdowns and only 10 picks.
While he has two Grey Cup rings to show for his time on the West Coast, at 35 he’s destined to be little more than a backup. So Jackson should enjoy his time in the sun because head coach Scott Milanovich will surely hand the ball back to Ray as soon as he is ready to play again. At least Jackson can return to the sidelines knowing he did well when called upon, and that’s what every athlete hopes to do for their team.