The move comes after Mitchell broke his fibula on a hit from former teammate Charleston Hughes in Calgary’s opener against the Toronto Argonauts. Mitchell tried to overcome the pain the following week, but ended up throwing four interceptions against the BC Lions as the Stampeders fell to 0-2, the team’s worst start in more than a decade. .
“Unfortunately, that wasn’t good,” Dickenson said Tuesday of the Texan’s status in the immediate future. “He actually has a broken leg, a fibula – a bone fracture. He played the whole game [versus the BC Lions] with that. At the time we knew he was in pain… so we’re going to put him on six games and hopefully he heals quickly.
Mitchell joked that Hughes could have hurt him even more.
“When I looked at the play I was like, ‘Dude, you really stopped,’ he said. “You could have killed me on that room.” “
Now 25-year-old Canadian quarterback Michael O’Connor is tasked with righting the Stampeders’ ship and at least keeping the team in contention until Mitchell returns. O’Connor won the 2015 Vanier Cup with the UBC Thunderbirds. In his rookie season with the Toronto Argonauts in 2019, he threw for 173 yards and a touchdown.
The Stampeders’ offense has seemed out of sync so far this season, plagued by penalties and mental errors. After that Week 1 loss to Toronto, Dickenson said he felt Mitchell had lost confidence in his receivers as the game progressed.
Calgary is under 14 points per game and has only one passing touchdown this season. While Kamar Jorden has come back strong and leads the team with eight catches and 153 yards, Hergy Mayala and Josh Huff – both of whom were set to make great strides with the starts of star receivers Eric Rogers and Reggie Begelton after 2019 – do have only 14 catches 152 receiving yards combined.
O’Connor is now tasked with building that chemistry – and in a hurry.
“I’m just talking with them through the games and the different looks that we’re looking forward to and how they’re going to go their routes,” O’Connor said of his work with the first team reps this week. “It just helps build trust because knowing where they will be and how they will travel their routes is important. Just meeting them and going through it gives you more confidence as a quarterback. “
Jorden, who has made 160 catches since joining the Stampeders in 2014, has played down adjustments to catch the ball from one quarterback against another.
“Everything should flow no matter who is at the quarterback, and really everything should flow no matter who is on receiver,” he said. “Obviously, these are small things, aren’t they? Every quarterback has their stuff and it’s our job as receivers and quarterbacks to communicate and if someone else is around to tell us what they like, what they don’t like. not, where he wants us, where he expects us. These are things you have to learn.
If there is room for optimism, it could be in Mitchell’s assessment of his protege, which included a reference to a quarterback who won four Gray Cups during his stellar CFL career. .
“Mike reminds me of a young Ricky Ray,” Mitchell said. “It’s big in the pocket, it’s calm. He won’t be a hoo-rah guy when he throws a big pass and he won’t keep his head down when he throws a bad pass. I think he’s calm and has that attitude towards himself. He throws a nice ball and has a strong arm. He’s a bit more mobile than you might expect from a bigger guy.
“To me he understands the playbook really well… Mike is going to stand right in that pocket and take punches when he needs to and do what a great quarterback should do. He has vision on the line and the ability to see a lot, move the ball, distribute it to receivers and help the offense.
As for the team’s overall offensive philosophy, Dickenson doesn’t want O’Connor to be hesitant – despite the big scene Friday night against the visiting Montreal Alouettes.
“I’m not in the business of playing it safe,” he said. “Be aggressive. Go for the throws that you think are there. The main thing is to pay attention to discipline and the little, little things and then whatever you see trust your eyes and let it rip.