Danny Mac is the least of Ticats' problems

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:01 PM ET

HAMILTON -- Danny McManus is running just a moment behind for an interview in the Tiger-Cats dressing room.

"Sorry," he says. "I was a little late getting the sushi."

McManus is 40 now, and like Damon Allen, a sure-fire Hall of Famer with better than 50,000 yards gained up top.

But the sushi thing would not surprise a vociferous portion of the Tiger-Cats fan base who can now add "eats unmanly foods" to a list of McManus faults that already includes "throws too many interceptions" and "can't run."

A straight-up guy, McManus is also a straight-up quarterback.

Everywhere about the CFL, quarterbacks misdirect and roll out. In Vancouver, Dave Dickenson dashes about. So does Henry Burris in Calgary and Anthony Calvillo in Montreal. Someone once remarked that Damon Allen looks like the only guy wearing skates on the pond.

Danny McManus, by comparison, stands in the middle of the pocket and draws on you with still formidable arm speed. Every play is High Noon.

"I've said it many times," Ticats coach Greg Marshall said. "If we give Danny time to throw, and he has guys open, he doesn't miss. He is as accurate a passer as there is in the league."

But 1-8 does not lie, even if two of those games and much of another were left in the shaky hands of backups Marcus Brady and Khari Jones after McManus hurt his right throwing thumb. So, are the playoffs possible?

"Yeah, we're not eliminated yet," McManus said. "Right now, the hole we've dug is pretty deep, but we just have to keep working to get out."

That hole has swallowed up the quarterback position, as well.

McManus has thrown for only six touchdowns and incurred nine interceptions. Allen, by comparison, has 18 majors and seven interceptions.

But if McManus has let them down, the Ticats have also been handcuffed by a terrible performance from what was supposed to be one of the league's better secondaries, the disappearance of running back Troy Davis' game, poor special-teams play and a highly infectious case of dropsies among the receivers.

Owner Bob Young concedes he was seduced by the improvement of last year's team and failed to upgrade. It's hard to blame all of that on Danny McManus.

Marshall isn't. Instead, he fingers a poor game plan in the opener in Montreal, dropped balls and missed reads by receivers.

"The reality is, we're still young at a lot of positions," the coach said. "Our defence is young but getting better. We don't have the experience B.C. or Toronto has and when things don't go well on the field, people point to the quarterback."

"With all the criticism he has taken," guard Wayne Smith said, "he'll still point the finger at himself than anyone else."

The numbers are hideous all right. But complaining about McManus' lack of mobility is like saying a bird can't cook.

"You use what tools you have," Smith said. "Danny's release and knowledge of the game. That's his escape mechanism."

"People say he can't run," said Marshall. "Well, he couldn't run five years ago or 10 years ago. He never did use his feet to make plays but what he does have and still has is arguably the best arm in the league."

With a year left on his contract after this one, and no imminent usurper, McManus' tenure in Hamilton seems set to continue into his ninth season.

"It's been a tough go," he said.

"But it's nothing like the 1-17 year (2003). There were a lot of distractions off the field (the Tabbies were taken over by the league). This year, we've got the players who can make plays. We just weren't making them."

And so of Danny McManus, the sushi-eating quarterback, you can say this: you may not always like his game, but you'll always know where to find him.


Videos

Photos