Brandon Bridge doesn’t just want to make an impact. He wants to make an immediate impact.
The Toronto-born Bridge chose the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the Ottawa Redblacks, signing a deal in Regina on Wednesday as the team’s third-string quarterback and run the offence’s wildcat packages.
It was the wildcat packages, and an opportunity to make an immediate difference, that was one of the selling points in choosing Regina over Ottawa. The Redblacks also pitched the 24-year-old on joining their squad.
“Coach Chris Jones said I could come in and help out the team right away,” said Bridge. “Ottawa was saying I could come in at quarterback, definitely, they said they wanted to groom me and help out.
“I felt like, if I could come in and help out a team right now, why not show off my talent?”
Bridge will get his chance on Saturday as Saskatchewan (1-5) hosts the Calgary Stampeders (4-1-1). It will also be a chance for the Roughriders to bounce back from a 35-15 loss in Calgary last week that put the Stampeders in first in the CFL West.
READ MORE: Saskatchewan Roughriders sign Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge
“We need to go out there and beat a team that’s certainly going to be desperate but also that’s ready to play and take it on their home turf, which is tough,” said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson to the team’s website. “Our guys will have a big challenge and hopefully they’re up for it.”
When asked why he wanted to sign Bridge, Jones said it was because of his ability to run the football effectively and his confidence in doing so.
“That’s what we’re looking for: guys that know when they step on the field, that they should win,” Jones said.
The second-year QB also said it was important that he stuck to his guns and didn’t take up other teams’ offers to switch positions to receiver.
“When people say I can be a great receiver, I’ve never understood that, because in football, we always say, ‘the eye in the sky don’t lie.’ And I have no film showing I can play receiver,” said Bridge. “But I’ve shown film where I can be an effective quarterback at the college level and obviously at the professional level.”
Bridge joins the Roughriders after spending 2015 and the first four games of 2016 with the Montreal Alouettes. In both seasons, he was used mostly in short yardage situations.
He set a milestone last year among Canadian quarterbacks in the CFL: Bridge started for the Alouettes in their Nov. 8 game against the Roughriders. It was the first time a Canadian-born QB started since 1995. In that game, he completed 21-of-30 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He rushed the ball six times for 45 yards. The Als lost the game 30-24.
“If I had taken that receiver route, then I would have shut down a lot of dreams. I really want to open doors for kids that are in CIS or even down south playing that quarterback position,” he said of being a Canadian quarterback in the CFL.
“Obviously the message that’s kind of being sent is ‘get ready to play another position.’ But I really want to fight and break that whole barrier for our Canadian nation, for people that want to play the QB position.”
He had some support from one of football’s most decorated passers.
“Damon Allen said, ‘it’s not going to be easy for you,”‘ said Bridge. “He said that when he came into the league, it was hard for him to break down that whole barrier for him playing the QB position.
“(Allen’s) like, ‘just stick to your guns and a team will definitely give you a shout.’ And obviously Saskatchewan and Ottawa were the teams that called me for a QB position.”