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The Weekly Say: Can Franklin resurrect his career?

TORONTO — Two years ago James Franklin was widely considered the most coveted quarterback prospect in the Canadian Football League.

By this point in 2017 it was clear that Franklin’s future in Edmonton was murky, with Mike Reilly carving out what many believed would be a long career wearing the green and gold. The Argos, with Ricky Ray‘s career nearing an end, put their future in the hands of Franklin, acquiring him in exchange for Canadian offensive lineman Mason Woods.

Arguably, the biggest asset the Argos have given up with Franklin is time. Two years of development, with only eight starts and plenty of uncertainty to show. While going back and forth between Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, have the Argos seen enough of Franklin to make a definitive call on his future?

With Franklin set to make his first start since Week 3, there are a few possible outcomes for the Argos. Franklin could emerge as the team’s starter of the future; he could play well the next few weeks and net the Argos something on the trade market in October; or he could struggle and fall back down the depth chart.

From the quarterback’s perspective, it’s time once again to sink or swim. More in the Weekly Say.

Do you believe James Franklin will resurrect his career as a CFL quarterback?

Donnovan Bennett: Yes. He has two things on his side, youth and ability. What he hasn’t had is a sustained opportunity. He is still only 28, which is not old for a modern day QB. It took a couple stops and life lessons before Anthony Calvillo found his way. Franklin could do the same. A football scouting phrase is “talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling.” Franklin has both and so that will afford him opportunities to assert himself.

Jamie Nye: I believe it’s definitely too early to count him out. There are plenty of quarterbacks (see Anthony Calvillo, Vernon Adams Jr.) who just need the right situation with the right coach and they can do amazing things with a little bit of confidence. I’m not going to say ‘yes – he’ll be fantastic’. Plus, he’s barely had a ‘career’ yet.

Don Landry: I believe he’ll do that, yes. I’m just not absolutely sure it’ll happen in Toronto. What I mean is that I don’t know if he’ll show enough down the stretch of this season to really stand out but even if he doesn’t, he’ll get a chance to do so somewhere in 2020.

Chris O’Leary: Yes, but not in Toronto. Franklin showed tons of promise in Edmonton but he hasn’t been able to stick as a starter in Toronto under two different head coaches/offensive coordinators. A fresh start is a part of the solution for a quarterback that at 28, could still have a lot of football in front of him.

Davis Sanchez: Nothing I have seen to believe in James Franklin.. at least yet.

Jim Morris: No, I don’t think so. He’s had several chances and hasn’t proven himself.

Fan Poll

Will James Franklin resurrect his career?

Was the Alouettes’ comeback the best you’ve seen in the CFL?

Sanchez: Best I have seen.

O’Leary: I think so. It’s strange how many of the comeback games I thought about over the last few years featured the Als. There was Montreal’s win in Calgary this year; Winnipeg vs. Montreal in 2017 and Montreal in Calgary in 2015 (both Als losses). The other game that came to mind was Toronto coming back from 24 down in the third against Ottawa last year. I’d put Montreal’s comeback on Saturday ahead of that Argos win. I think both teams involved in Saturday’s game are better.

Bennett: This year? Yes. Think about who they did it against. Not just a good defence but a good running game. Andrew Harris is the best running back in the league. Chris Streveler is the best running quarterback in the league. Winnipeg should have been able to run the ball and shut the game down. The fact that the miracle in Montreal happened versus that team makes it all the more impressive.

Morris: The best comeback I saw was last year when the BC Lions beat Hamilton 35-32 in overtime. The Lions marched 59 yards in nine seconds to tie the game, then needed a field goal in the second overtime to win. Bryan Burnham caught a touchdown with no time on the clock, then scored a two-point conversion to send the game to overtime on a tiptoe catch that needed to be reviewed and overturned.

Nye: The best comeback I’ve witnessed was when I was eight years old. The Riders were down 26-6 to start the third quarter. There was an onside kick, two touchdowns to Don Narcisse in the final two minutes – including on a third-and-10, a Calgary fumble to give the Riders the ball back and Dave Ridgway walk off field goal. 32-29 the final. All I truly remember were the roars of a half full Taylor Field as fans left early. It was my first OMG moment as a young CFL fan. Thanks to Rob Vanstone and Steve Daniel for the specifics.

Landry: The greatest comeback I ever saw was Hamilton’s against Toronto, in the 1986 Eastern Final. It was a two game, total points series and the Argos took a 31-17 road victory into the second game at Exhibition stadium. Toronto proceeded to jump out to a quick 15-3 lead in the second game, to go up by 26 total points. The Ticats mounted an incredible comeback, surging into the lead in the fourth quarter before the Argos took it back again. But a late game touchdown drive gave Hamilton a 42-25 victory in game two, and a 59-56 win in total points.

Fan Poll

Was the Alouettes' comeback the best in CFL history?

Is the Lions’ two-game win streak reason for optimism?

Landry: Yes, it is reason for optimism. They took care of a weaker foe with great authority, which you’re supposed to do. Had they eked out wins or even split, there’d be no optimism to speak of. But they are trending up, most definitely. Next steps are to hang with the big dogs. They get a chance to do that in Week 16, against Montreal. That game will say a lot about just how optimistic the Lions should feel.

Sanchez: Yes. There are at least core pieces to work with moving forward. Not sure I feel the same about Ottawa.

Morris: Wins are never a bad thing and give the team some confidence. I still don’t think the Lions are capable of beating teams like Calgary and Saskatchewan, or Edmonton if Trevor Harris is playing quarterback.

Bennett: Not really. It was just proof that they aren’t as bad as Ottawa. That isn’t a high bar to clear. Given the difference in QB salaries on each team I’d hope that would be the case. Their offensive line has come together and their defence has been more fundamentally sound but this was a team that came in to the season with Grey Cup aspirations. A home and home sweep of the CFL’s worst team shouldn’t be a reason for celebration.

Nye:Ottawa has been so bad lately, I can’t say there is optimism for the Lions until they start to beat some teams contending for the playoffs. All they have proven is they aren’t the worst team in the CFL.

O’Leary:It only establishes Ottawa as the worst team in the league. If the Lions can win against a better opponent like Montreal this week or Edmonton or Sask before the season’s over, I’d buy into the optimism.

Fan Poll

Is the Lions' two-game win streak reason for optimism?