This is CFL playoff football and it’s late in the week, so let’s just get right to it. Last week in the CFL playoffs, it was…
Edmonton Eskimos 24, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 21. The wind-chilly yet sunny conditions at Tim Hortons could only mean one thing: The CFL playoffs are indeed upon us. Could it be that some players weren’t ready…? After all, in a game featuring Zach Collaros and Mike Reilly in which no TD passes are thrown, you know something is amiss (so to speak).
Ultimately, Eskimos quarterbacks totaled just 23 attempts, with James Franklin going 2-of-4 in relief on the injured Reilly, but The South reckons Edmonton didn’t need a big passing game, thanks to John White. White has been an absolute beast down the stretch; all he did for the Esks on this day was pile up 160 yards on 20 carries and 2 TDs – not to mention a late dagger (more on this below). Insane!
The Edmonton offensive line, source of concern all season, has actually become impressively adroit at least in the area of run blocking. Allowing just two sacks might’ve made this one of the better games the Esks OL has played this season in terms of pass protection…
For the Tiger-Cats, poor Zach Collaros went 20-of-31 for 236 yards and an interception. Brian Tyms was ultimately his top target with eight catches for 147 catches while an all-star trio of Luke Tasker, Andy Fantuz and Chad Owens (who’s admittedly been out for forever or so) collected metaphorical dust on the sideline. Unfortunately for Collaros, though, history will mark it as just another disappointing performance within a disappointing Ticats season.
One lesson these Ticats – as well as the Toronto Argonauts – taught us this season, it’s that attempting an entire CFL team’s hopes on a single quarterback, regardless of age, injury history or level of play, is a mistake.
Statistic Of The Week That Will Further Bum The Collaros Family Out. One of the following stat lines is Collaros’, the other is Jeremiah Masoli’s. You can find out who’s who here. But it really doesn’t matter.
QB A: 232 of 347 passing (66.9%) for 2,938 yards and 18 TDs against 8 interceptions
QB B: 230 of 332 passing (69.3%) for 2,695 yards and 15 TDs against 12 interceptions
Plays of the Week. Sure, the BC Lions-Winnipeg Blue Bombers semifinal game had its share of great moments, that game felt more about the collective relentlessness and willpower of the Lions than flash and individual effort. In contrast, highlight clip-worthy moments flowed freely on the East side of the tournament.
Heck, in the fourth quarter alone, we got…
• Drake Nevis’s would-be game-changing TFL. On the play from scrimmage directly following Reilly’s exit from the game, substitute James Franklin immediately did what any sane QB would in such a situation: Hand the ball off to the red-hot running back. Well, Nevis wasn’t allowing that, and smeared White behind the line…
• Jeremiah Masoli’s touchdown. Not only was this some slick heads-up improvising, not only did this score get the Ticats to within three points with five minutes to play, but the delicious irony of seeing a dude who was considered a placeholder all season score the only TD from a Hamilton QB in the playoffs makes this one all the more enjoyable.
• The game-tying roooooouuuuuuuuge! Anybody who doesn’t love the rouge needs to watch this. On, again, one seriously cold day, Ticats kicker brett Maher just nails the kickoff, followed by hustling Hamilton special teams players trapping Shakir Bell to knot up the score in a classic 9-point turnaround. Plus, we get to hear Rod Black attempt to say “huge rouge.”
• John White’s dagger ultimately made the Ticats’ late-game effort count for naught. On the play immediately following his own fumble and recovery, there was this, the CFL play of the week:
Rod Black’s Weekly Crime against the English Language. The South can’t decide whether it would be better to have Rod Black calling one of the conference games for TSN this weekend. The comedy value is excellent, but the damage to the English language – which in Rod’s not-so-nimble elocution often resembles meaningful language only in passing – is truly excruciating.
The South supposes that the moment (on “second down and manageable”, as he’d have it) got to be too much for ol’ Rod in the fourth quarter. Apropos of nothing came a torrent of phrases that, had Rod not shown propensity for this sort of verbal marring in the past, might have been taken for a stroke: “Here we are on this sunny, cool, windy November day and the postseason is upon us after 20 weeks of play. Canadian Football League in 2016…”
But Rod was just warming up. After the above dagger, Black rode the rapids of the stram of consciousness: “18 carries, 164 yards, two touchdowns now the Eskimos, they’re still not done here yet, though. A lot depends on what happens, and … timeclock violation.”
Also, Canadian Football League in 2016.
BC Lions 32, Winnipeg Blue Bombers 31 was a nice barnburner to cap the doubleheader. Winnipeg’s game, as anyone talking about this game beforehand talked about, was all about the turnovers – or so we thought. The South honestly thought after one quarter that Jonathon Jennings had already nailed his own team’s coffin shut with a young QB’s mistakes resulting in two quick turnovers and an 11-0 Bombers lead.
At that point, we’d recall that BC Lions did not play well from behind in 2016 – or so we thought. Until this game, they’d been a shabby 3-4 when behind at the half, 9-2 in all other games.
But 45 minutes – even 30 – is a lot of football left to played, especially if the likes of Wally Buono are on the sideline. In the final three quarters, BC produced no turnovers for Winnipeg to exploit; they kept Winnipeg out of the end zone in the second half; and Buono, who’s been terrible at challenges, even redeemed himself brilliantly, earning his team 50 yards on a pass interference call in the third quarter.
And in the end, BC Lions turned expectations upside down: The Bombers were +2 in TO differential and lost the game.
Beforehand, The South anticipated much emphasis on the running game, which we got: Jeremiah Johnson took 11 carries for 110 yards, including a 40-yarder; Chris Rainey contributed seven carries for 40 yards; and even Jennings ran with the ball nine times for 43 yards. The Bombers had to know the run was coming, but couldn’t stop it – more running is certainly in the game plan against the Stampeders.
And now it’s Bombers fans’ turn to say “Wait ‘til next year!” All things considered, though, this fanbase has got to be not unsatisfied to utter the phrase so late in 2016…
Canadians in the NFL. After missing all of 2015 with an MCL sprain, former CFL Most Outstanding Rookie and Most Outstanding Lineman Brett Jones finally got a start for the New York Giants last weekend in a gig getting seriously high-profile media coverage: The Regina native was name-dropped before the national telecast of the game in the US as a substitute on a pretty lame Giants OL.
So how did it go? Bad question. Jones went down with an unspecified calf injury on *the first offensive possession* for the Giants. Worse yet, he’s already been ruled out for this week’s game against the Chicago Bears.
Now that’s gotta be frustrating…
Random Thought About Our President-Elect. So The South saw were big-time Trump For President donor/New York Jets owner Woody Johnson has been named to the official Presidential Inaugural Committee. My god, what if everything the man’s done since 1983 has actually been about landing an NFL franchise…?
Edmonton Eskimos at Ottawa RedBlacks. Okay, usually The South relies on bookmakers for wisdom with regard to predicting outcomes – after all, they’re the ones who base their livelihoods on getting this stuff correct – but the movement on the pointspread for this game is wacked. The line opened on Sunday evening with Ottawa a one-point favorite; 24 hours later, *Edmonton* was laying 2½ or 3 points. Now (five days later), it’s Eskimos giving 1½ points.
Making this more confusing was this week’s Grueling Truth CFL Pick ‘Em Show panel: Each of us figured we’d be alone in going with the RedBlacks, and yet it was unanimous.
What are we missing here? While Ottawa hasn’t shown more than flashes of brilliance in the second half of ’16, as they back into the playoffs on a 3-4 run, but Ottawa beat Edmonton both times during the regular season, no matter who started at quarterback. Starting at quarterback in this game, by the way, in Henry “The Ageless Wonder” Burris himself.
On the Eskimos part, The South would guess John White can win them this game. But Edmonton will need to somehow control the pace, keeping down the frenetic style Burris prefers because this year the Esks just ain’t holding steady in a 60-point game. I’m saying Ottawa wins in a shootout (the Eskimos and RedBlacks ranked 7th and 8th in the CFL in passing yards allowed in 2016).
Weird Canadian News Story of the Week. Comic book geeks – and those paying attention while attending movie with comic book geeks – know that Wolverine of the X-Men is Canadian, but did you know that Spiderman is as well?
Or at least one version – a real-life, crime-busting version – is, anyway. Those of you neolibs getting set to expatriate yourselves to Canada (yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre) can take comfort in the fact that the Great White North is in fact protected by your friendly neighborhood wallcrawler.
Check out street performer “Peter Parkour” help store security and cops in Toronto take down an ornery shoplifter – by sitting on her until reinforcements arrive.
And now, sing along! Everybody!
BC Lions at Calgary Stampeders. Anybody else ready for an intense game? The Stampeders’d better be. With schedule (Stamps starters have been mostly off for two weeks already) and homefield advantage (the temperature in Calgary is forecast for about 20°F at game time, a good 20 degrees colder than it’ll be in Vancouver at that time), the Stamps main enemy will be complacency: The last important game this team played was on September 24, a week 14 win against the Blue Bombers.
Once again, the South is expected to see *a lot* of carries given to Jeremiah Johnson as Buono attempts to limit the potential damage done by Jennings’ seemingly inevitable mistakes. Statistically speaking, the Stamps boast the no. 1 rushing defense in the CFL. While much of this is likely to the opposition so frequently having to play from behind, the extra week of preparation will make the difference for a very talented lot in Calgary. All signs point to a boring but reasonable prediction that the Stampeders win.
Next week: The Grey Cup. That is all.