Last season in the CFL, the Ottawa RedBlacks’ stunning worst-to-first performance dominated Canadian sports-news headlines; could this year’s story be the defending champion Edmonton Eskimos’ first-to-worst slide?
Sure, we’re not even halfway through the season but sheesh, did the Green-and-Gold look brutally bad against their Grey Cup nemeses. We’d say “Just ask Mike Reilly,” but the quarterback get his proverbial bell rung so many times in the Ottawa game that the dude probably still can’t hear you for the ringing in his ears
But naturally, Reilly’s folly was but one of the storylines from this week’s CFL action – so let’s talk some results.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 37, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 11. So first the Bombers stumble and bumble their way to a 1-4 start while scoring approximately 98.6% of their points in garbage time. Tentative-unto-phobia about throwing a pass of more than 15 yards, the starting quarterback is replaced, and the Bombers are energized by the change enough to win in week 6 against the reeling Edmonton Eskimos (who the Bombers appear to have body-snatched, incidentally) – no huge surprise there. Additionally, Winnipeg would be playing week 7 without leading WRs Weston Dressler and Darvin Adams.
On the other side, having played the best 30 minutes of football the CFL has yet seen this season in week 5 – victimizing who else but the Eskimos in the process – plus getting a bye … well, Jeremiah Masoli reverted to pumpkin status, going 27-of-46 for 335 yards with zero TDs against three interceptions. All Masoli’s counterpart Matt Nichols had to do was get on the same page with Clarence Denmark, a guy who hasn’t played since getting released by Saskatchewan in May. (Does Chris Jones say “oops”? He might be saying “oops” about Denmark…)
And sure, going 23-of-31 for 246 yards and a pair of TDs was nice – particularly when prime RB Andrew Harris finally showed the game we’ve expected since week 1 – yet it was barely needed. Winnipeg dominated all aspects of the game in ways we thought impossible for them, what, three weeks ago? The Bombers bested the Ticats in turnovers (5-1) and QB sacks (4-2), among the more compelling statistical measures.
Question: Who are these Tiger-Cats? (Try to answer without using the words “Zach” or “Collaros”.)
This Week’s Stat That Certainly Means Nothing: Winnipeg is now 2-1 in weather-delayed games this season.
BC Lions 38, Montreal Alouettes 18. Was anyone really fooled into thinking the Alouettes could hang in against one of the CFL’s top two teams? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
While some teams (with the aforementioned Eskimos, Bombers and Ticats providing prime examples) are impossible to read this season, the narrative stays nearly the same for Montreal week after week. Maybe it reads better in French, but geez, same old same old in English.
The story goes like so: The CFL’s stingiest defense keeps hope alive until ultimately tuckering out due to an under (at best)-performing offense; in this game, Glenn was a not-so-huge 2-of-4 for 20 yards in the fourth quarter. Combine this with the three sacks allowed plus two fumbles and the now-traditional ridiculous no-chance challenge from Jim Popp and yeah, the Alouettes defense in particular wishes football were three quarters long. Or one.
On the other side, another week means another statement from BC that their Orangemen are Grey Cup contenders. Again, the Lions easily bested an opponent expected to give them some difficulty – we’re talking that West-to-East Coast travel, not the Als – while Jonathon Jennings enjoyed one more week of development. Here’s to thinking that the league’s other seven teams won’t be thanking Mr. Popp for this loss any time soon.
Weird Canadian News Story Of The Week. Huffington Post Canada (three words that should never have merged) this week reported study results that collectively were surely found shocking South of The Border: Apparently, some “dozens of Canadian organizations” have in the past 12 months paid “Ransoms To Hackers.”
Undertaken by US-based Osterman Research, the study surveyed executives at 125 Canada-based SMEs; among the findings were that some 44 companies had suffered a “ransomware” attack, and 33 businesses had paid ransom fees of up to $50,000 (presumably Canadian dollars, but that’s nevertheless a lotta money).
Can you imagine this caving in on a mass scale in the US? Ha! This is America! You try that s*** here, Mr. Hacker and I’ll send Chuck Norris to virtually roundhouse kick you in the cyberballs. Or shoot you. Or just build a firewall. A tremendous firewall. The most luxurious firewall you’ve ever seen, you won’t believe how good it’s gonna work. And … whoa. Sorry, got a bit carried away there…
Calgary Stampeders 35, Saskatchewan Roughriders 15. The secret to the Stamps success is no secret at tall: As long as Bo Levi Mitchell is upright in the pocket, this team is good for 14 wins a season. Once again, Bo took zero sacks allowed, and the Stamps OL has still allowed just one against any CFL team not named “BC Lions.”
And now Bo is 27-6-1 over his past three seasons as Calgary Stampeders starting QB.
Rod Black’s Weekly Crime Against The English Language. Canadian CFL fans are, on the whole, an incredibly nice lot. Most derision from smarmy Americans aimed at any player, team or coach in the league is roundly ignored. There is, however, one man that even casual CFL fans cannot resist ripping into, and that’s TSN’s Rod Black.
In an industry comprised of those who have wrestled with the English language, Rod is a demi-god of linguistic manglement. This item will attempt to highlight one (just one!) of Mr. Black’s more memorable voyages down twisty pathways of grammar. Rod’s words of wisdom this week?
“The only way to get experience is getting experience.”
Ottawa RedBlacks 23, Edmonton Eskimos 20. After talking with others about this game, I’ve decided that I must have seen a telecast from an alternate universe.
Dramatic? Sure, if you’re Mike Reilly’s doctor or significant other, both of whom were cringing as the guy peeled his staggering self off the turf for the nth time. The numbers say that Reilly was sacked twice, but unofficially the hits were positively higher, with one roughing the passer penalty called on Zach Evans after a smackdown that drew blood. By the time of this writing, Edmonton media is reporting that Reilly is fine, but for how much longer will he take the punishment his line is forcing him to eat on a weekly basis?
Promising for the short-term future? Certainly, if you’re an offensive lineman or cornerback looking for work; the Eskimos must have some openings, if you’re willing to sign cheap.
Vindicating for Henry Burris against his real or imagined national media critics? Of a sort; a W’s a W, as they say. One can’t help feeling, however, that some corners of medialand reflect the opinion of many an Ottawan, i.e. the RedBlacks need Trevor Harris at the helm again.
Exciting? Absolutely. If you can’t get enough of penalties. Few things outside of Winnipeg weather will slow a game down like 27 penalties – and despite 10 on the RedBlacks defense alone, the Edmonton offense went TD-less.
Congrats for the win, I guess. Just … not so ugly next time, mmmmmkay?
And moving onto next week…
Montreal Alouettes at Edmonton Eskimos. Despite allowing 38 points to BC, the Alouettes are averaging just 24 points allowed per game. Not great, but the Eskimos OL has not inspired confidence over the past three weeks; one can easily imagine fewer than three TDs out of this offense. I know I can. Alouettes win by managing to hold a halftime lead.
Bonus prediction: We’ll be seeing more than a cameo appearance by James Franklin in this one. (Also look out for rookie LB Alex Ogongbemiga, just arrived from Saskatchewan and quite possibly the next Chris Jones cut to prosper with another team in 2016.)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Toronto Argonauts. So the Argos went and signed former Alouettes QB Dan LeFevour, eh…? That’ll certainly be a game-changer. Not. And here’s a line I didn’t think I’d be using this season: The Blue Bombers are hot right now. Factoring in Toronto’s distinctive lack of home-field advantage and sparse crowd, you gotta reckon Winnipeg wins.
My Favorite and Least Favorite CFL Fantasy Players (This Week): Veteran fantasy football players know of the curse of owning two teams. Sooner or later, you’ll be depending on a key contributor for one team while facing off against him on the other.
Such was the case for my teams with Greg Ellingson this week. As the leading stat-getter in a game ruled by penalty yardage, Ottawa’s Ellingson was good for 30 points. Enough to make or break a team, which he did to me. I love fantasy football, and I hate fantasy football all at the same time!
Calgary Stampeders at Saskatchewan Roughriders. In the few CFL home-and-home series, speaking purely empirically, one would guess that a split result seems by far the most likely outcome, even with an obvious disparity in quality. One can imagine Chris Jones adapting and pulling off an upset in this particular situation against any of the CFL’s teams … except this one.
See, the Stampeders of the 2010s don’t fall for the trap game, they don’t get complacent, they don’t underestimate the opposition. And the great majority of the time (see that impressive Mitchell-related stat above again), they win. And the Stampeders win this week, too.
Ripping Off “Tuesday Morning Quarterback”. Certain old-timers and/or long-form sportswriting geeks may note some evolving similarities between View From The South and Gregg Easterbrook’s long-running column “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” previously published online by Salon, ESPN and the New York Times in turn.
First off, I’m a huge fan of the TMQ columns, becoming devoted to the point of refreshing my screen repeatedly for minutes before and after the expected deadline awaiting the glorious column’s arrival. Second, this is the 21st century, so, as a fan, it’s not “ripping off,” it’s “referencing” or “paying tribute to.” In addition, no trademark or copyright law exists for general formatting of online sports columns, so I think this rubric is fair game.
I should also note that if you’d like to re-resurrect “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” here at TheGruelingTruth.net for this season, we’d love to have you, Gregg. One caveat: We probably pay a lot less than ESPN, The Atlantic, etc. Unless, um, zero is not actually a lot less…
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at BC Lions. Zach Collaros? Yes, Zach Collaros will, according to rumors in local media, be starting for the Tiger-Cats in this game after being laid up for a calendar year. (Though returning the franchise QB against this smart ‘n’ surly bunch of Lions seems kinda dicey and thus not to be taken for granted.) It’s just too bad he can’t play defense, too.
Color me skeptical if you must, but at this point in time Hamilton has still shown too many holes particularly on the defensive side thus far in 2016 to count on an immediate resurrection of fortunes – especially after last week’s dismal showing. BC Lions defend home turf. Collaros’s big game comes in week 9 or 10 if he sits for this one.
Next week: 62-year-old Paul Bennett comes out of retirement and suits up for the Blue Bombers; he picks off LeFevour’s first pass for a TD as a freak injury to the QB sidelines him for the rest of the season.