Another week in the CFL and another four … blowouts? In a week that might have sharpened the playoff picture, the CFL’s teams defied expectations by disappointing (we’re looking Ottawa’s, Saskatchewan’s and Toronto’s ways here) or surprising (Montreal and Edmonton both scored in the 40s?).
On the other hand, the Calgary Stampeders were once again the Calgary Stampeders in doing what they’ve done since week one: Win.
Game by game, here’s what last week looked like from the South.
Montreal Alouettes 43, Ottawa RedBlacks 19. Not since week one has the Alouettes offense looked this good – and not since that opening week game has Kevin Glenn spread the ball among his receivers so well. As though five TD passes weren’t impressive enough, even with the shredded Als receiving corps, Glenn hit four different players for scores, and once again involved Brandon Rutley and even Jean-Christophe Beaulieu out of the backfield. This formula works when your lineup features a coverage magnet like Duron Carter – especially a happy, two TD-having Duron Carter.
Calgary Stampeders 31, BC Lions 9. BC Lions picked a bad time for an off-week, as the “rubber match” of three games between these squads in 2016 was all Calgary, all the time. It seems we can’t still quite coronate Jonathon Jennings as the future of the CFL when stat lines like 10-of-22 for 153 yards with zero TDs happen.
The knock on Jennings is his nervous play under pressure, but the View says the pro quarterback has got to learn to handle pressure, by staying cool like Trevor Harris, by learning to take a pounding a la Mike Reilly or just by having an awesome offensive line like Calgary’s (which, incidentally, allowed exactly zero Lions sacks after giving up four and three in the previous meetings between the teams).
Offensive woes aside, though, Wally Buono and his charges must address these Lions’ propensity for letting up in the second half: In the four games since their bye, the Stampeders have been outscored 79-39 after the first 30 minutes.
Finally, kudos to the Calgary defense, now acknowledgeable as the CFL’s best in 2016: Some really nice pass rushing from the Stamps, including three QB sacks, against a top OL.
Rod Black’s Weekly Crime Against the English Language. CFL viewers were spared the syntactical attack of Mr. Black this week. Some of us were lost without him…
Who is Duron Carter’s dad again? Where is Rod Black when you need him.
— Sandra 🙂 (@smilingsandra) August 20, 2016
Matt Dunigan was willing to fight the well fight against English, however! Here’s Sergeant Dunigan during the Saskatchewan-Hamilton game, promoting his own “Precision Playbook” spot on TSN’s halftime show:
“But when you only got like 45 seconds or a minute to do that stuff in, you know, you gotta kinda have to kinda vanilla ice cream it up a little bit and, so, you can’t get too detailed. But it is fun doing those things…”
“Vanilla ice cream” as a verb? No, as the phrasal verb “to vanilla ice cream [something] up”? (Shudder.)
Edmonton Eskimos 46, Toronto Argonauts 23. As with the Alouettes, who would have suspected that these Eskimos were capable of scoring 46 points in a single game? More believable is the flipside consideration, i.e. this Argonauts defense is certainly capable of surrendering serious points to a quarterback with a minimum of support.
Coming into this game, the Argonauts D was middle-of-the road in most statistical categories (though dead last in special teams yardage surrendered); it took a struggling, staggering offense to remind us how football defies easy quantification.
After the disastrous opening pick-six, Mike Reilly was escorted to a line of 26-of-30 for 362 and three TDs against just one more interception. His still-porous offensive line allowed three sacks (including two from – stop me if you’ve heard this before – Saskatchewan Roughriders castoff Shawn Lemon), but was rushed far less frequently or efficiently than he’s seen this season.
It’s tempting to blame the 2016 Argonauts woes on Logan Kilgore or low attendance rates, but the grueling truth is that this team is substandard in way too many areas to feel positive about the short-term future – and you can pile the whisperings about Ricky Ray’s impending retirement right on there, too.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 53, Saskatchewan Roughriders 7. The Saskatchewan tailspin continues. (Can The South call it a tailspin if it began at ground zero?). While in the preseason, most reckoned the Riders wouldn’t be morphing into winning ways until the season’s second half, such hopes now seem overly positive on the cusp of the backstretch.
Chris Jones’ roster woes and CFL-mandated penalties are merely end results of the future-mortgaging the old front office signed off on to win a Grey Cup. Canadian LB Justin Capicciotti has gone from anchoring the Ottawa defense to the Saskakatchewan second-string; no. 1 overall draft pick/camp holdout Josiah St. John is still getting schooled on a regular basis. Heck, even the Brandon Bridge signing was an attempt to put a Canadian slightly above warm-body level to fill out this holey roster.
Meanwhile, nearly every week sees a Chris Jones castoff or two contributing to their non-Roughrider team. What does Jones think when the voices behind the highlight clips are again mentioning Shawn Lemon or John Chick or Clarence Denmark or…?
The Tiger-Cats, that other team bearing great expectations for the second half, certainly seems prepared. The last of the Collaros skeptics, i.e. this guy, was quelled by the man’s effortless-looking 23-of-30, 381-yard, five-TD performance. Wasn’t this dude, like, injured two weeks ago?
Simply put: CFL, beware. As the song says…
This Week’s Stat That Should Have Riders Fans Pondering: In the past four weeks, the Riders have scored 15 points or fewer in every game. In 2015, the team was held to 15 or fewer four times all season.
And onto next week’s games!
BC Lions at Ottawa RedBlacks. BC Lions win; let’s consider last week an anomaly. Also: If a quarterback controversy happens in Ottawa when Trevor Harris returns, it’s of the RedBlacks brain trust’s own making. The grueling truth is that Henry Burris has just not looked good since that freak injury, with his history of burning bridges with certain previous CFL teams, may be reading writing on the wall rather than the playbook. That writing certainly notes that Burris’s destiny in a week or two is the bench and that his future with the RedBlacks is short indeed.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Montreal Alouettes. About the only justifiable reason to go with the wildly inconsistent Alouettes here is the list of injured Bombers who will not be suited up as hoped/expected coming out of the bye week. DBs Chris Randle and Macho Harris, CB Julian Posey, receivers Weston Dressler and Ryan Smith, O linemen Jeff Keeping and Paddy Neufeld are all likely to sit out the Montreal game. Of course, the Bombers have done fine without most of these guys in the three-game run since installing Matt Nichols – and there’s a compelling argument to be made for keeping certain replacements in the starting lineup. No matter who plays, The South is figuring on a Winnipeg win.
Weird Canadian News Story Of The Week. Folks in North America and Europe are well familiar with stories of “boat people,” those immigrants whose homelands have become unlivable enough that that escape on the open ocean via a couple of 2x4s paperclipped to plywood is preferable. But what about “inflatable raft people.”
Last weekend, some 1,500 Americans – many without proper identification or shoes – in an attempt to escape the impending
dictatorship presidency of Clinton/Trump, survived the arduous eight-mile journey from Lake Huron, Michigan, to the Ontario border, only to be turned away by Canadian authorities and bused home.
The would-be immigrants used the flimsy pretense of an annual event known locally as the “Port Huron Float Down” as reason for the thousand-plus caravan of motor-less rubber rafts, but according to authorities, no official record of any such event exists.
The would-be emigres were hastily deported back across the US border by bus within two hours of the landing, blamed on windy weather conditions which took the boaters “off-course.”
Since coverage of the international incident failed to include any interviews with the disenfranchised Americans, we’ll just make up a quote here. “It has been my dream to come here since [insert feared presidential candidate] announced his/her candidacy,” said Joe Smith. “Here, you hear no gunshots and can smell the fresh poutine everywhere – truly a wondrous land. They may deport me today, but I shall return someday to stay.”
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Edmonton Eskimos.
— Os on football (@CFLpass) August 20, 2016
My Favorite and Least Favorite CFL Fantasy Players (This Week): I was going to do the cute thing and just say Hamilton QBs/Zach Collaros for both, who was good for a ridiculous 67 points in the Fantaseh format, but instead I’m going with all of them. I hate all the players on both my teams and on every team in both leagues.
Here Joe Pritchard and I are, the token Americans in an otherwise all-Canadian fantasy league representing the Rouge, White & Blue and The Grueling Truth. But no matter how good our Collaros-led lineup is, we take the L. Why? Our opponents are averaging 185.5 points per game against us; that’s more than 8 ppg better than the league leader averages!
What the f*** are we supposed to do?
I hate f***ing fantasy football.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Calgary Stampeders. Yes, Zach Collaros is awesome and his Tiger-Cats have in 1½ weeks morphed into a carnivorous monster looking to consume mortal football teams. Yet … perhaps the Stampeders aren’t mortal.
In week 8, the Stamps played a terrible game and won nevertheless; in week 9, they played arguably the second-best team in the CFL (to this point) and made it look easy. And one more time: *This team hasn’t lost since week one.* Down South, we are literally not getting off this horse yet. Calgary wins.
Next week: Henry Burris is traded to Saskatchewan; he is released by Thursday.