Week 8 in the CFL made little sense – and this CFL pick ‘em duffer was 3-1 regardless. That was part of the general senselessness. But first…
Vacations are the worst. No, really. You come back and you’re immediately diving back into the metaphorical excrement, as you find yourself somehow impossibly behind in all aspects of life. Mysterious it is that time doesn’t actually stop while you’re off the clock; quantum physicists may someday address this issue.
Luckily, on this trip, there was plenty of time for CFL football viewing. And bizarre it was…
Edmonton was shaky on both sides of the ball and won. Future Most Outstanding Player (and perhaps the best player in the CFL) Zach Collaros wowed in his return, helped his Hamilton Tiger-Cats run up 38 points and lost.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders defense played their best game of the season – and lost, defeated by the Calgary Stampeders behind an almost-mediocre performance (plus a couple of nifty fourth-quarter drives) from Bo Levi Mitchell. And the Montreal Alouettes … well, some CFL results you can always depend on.
Kicking off week 8 was…
Edmonton Eskimos 23, Montreal Alouettes 12. Look, the cliché about Montreal having to win games on the defense’s backs (and linemen and LBs) is well established: The Alouettes D must win these games, because the shredded offense sure won’t.
Of the scads of bad news the Alouettes received this game, perhaps the worst is the revelation presented by Jason Maas for Mike Reilly and his Eskimos offense, namely to simply leave the Montreal defense on the field. For a unit that averages about 35 minutes on the field this season, 36½ minutes was just enough to tucker out the Als D and allow Reilly & Co. to romp (well, relatively) in the second half.
The Esks’ first three drives – each of eight or more clock-grinding plays – were a blueprint for teams with effective running games, e.g. the Calgary Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In a pass-happy league, teams’ll be running against the Alouettes more and more nevertheless.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 34, Toronto Argonauts 17. The previous View From The South column took some criticism for labeling the Bombers “hot” after a “mere” two gaming winning streak since the switch at quarterback to Matt Nichols. So … can we can them hot *now*?
On this Friday, CFL watchers got the Bombers most expected early on in the season: Andrew Harris finally emphatically looked like a guy in the discussion for top CFL running back with 19 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Clarence Denmark (Where’d they find this guy again? Mr. Jones, are you regretting this release any…?) was ridiculous enough to imply that perhaps he needn’t participate in a full off-season with seven catches for a fantasy football league-winning 195 yards and 2 TDs.
Nichols was “merely” an economical 17-of-28 for 246 yards with two TDs against one pick – but it says here that the guy’s now 3-0 as a starter in 2016, with Winnipeg drawing Montreal after this week’s bye.
Oh yeah, and the defense picked off Logan Kilgore about uppity-billion times (OK, “just” five times — but here’s to thinking it felt like uppity billion to Logan Kilgore…) in the aftermath of this home-field apocalypse, some are calling Kilgore’s five interception game a “learning experience.”
“Yeah,” Os sardonically replied, “for the Bombers defense.”
My Favorite and Least Favorite CFL Fantasy Players (This Week): Favorite – In the Fantaseh format, Tiger-Cats QBs; if you play daily fantasy, substitute “Zach Collaros.” Despite the opening-drive fumble, Collaros fantasy-outscored every CFL QB except Jonathon Jennings this week; awesome. Sadly, he couldn’t help the pathetic Rouge, White & Blue team in the CFL Podcast Family League who dropped to a pitiful 1-8, but it was nice to get all those points anyway.
Meanwhile, on my solo team in an all-USA CFL league, Justin Capicciotti disappointed again with a measly 4 points in the Fantaseh game. In switching to Saskatchewan in the off-season, Capiccotti has gone from one of the top Canadian defensive players to getting playing time simply because he’s Canadian while Jones attempts to at least simulate meeting the Canadian/international player ratio.
Calgary Stampeders 19, Saskatchewan Roughriders 10. Two questions Riders fans have surely been contemplating since the weekend: What does it take to beat these Stampeders? And while the Riders *ever* gel this season?
As the defense held Bo Levi Mitchell to a (mostly) mediocre performance of 298 yards and zero TDs plus one interception, even sacking the man twice (a feat accomplished prior only by the BC Lions this season), it was all to no avail. A demoralizing 64-yarder to Simon Charbonneau-Campeau in the fourth re-re-reestablished the Stamps’ rep as the CFL’s never-say-die outfit.
The lesson: If you’re playing Calgary, you’re playing through the whistle. Never *ever* takes your eyes off this offense. Not even with a head coach mucking the Canadian/international player ratios about – perhaps out of desperation, perhaps simply due to shredded roster – will these on-field terminators stop.
BC Lions 45, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 38. Damn, Goodpaster was right again. As CFL fandom’s sole Collaros skeptic going into this game, I for one was certainly not expecting 38 points from the returning QB’s Tiger-Cats against the reputedly scary BC D. Yet, here we are, going into week 9 and talking more about Hamilton’s loss in this game than the Lions again spinning a scoreboard behind the consistently improving Jonathon Jennings (this dude is better every week!).
Goodpaster’s argument – in siding with Dieter Brock and pro coach Eric Schmidt on last week’s Grueling Truth CFL Pick ‘Em podcast – was that the return of a franchise-level quarterback not only immediately improves the offense, the defense is subsequently allowed to take more chances against the pass, playing aggressively with no fear of keeping pace on the scoreboard should a high-risk play go awry. It’s an opinion based in experience and knowledge, but still deflating for obstinate bastards like me.
On the other side, even the casual observer is wondering just what Wally Buono is taking at halftime these days; just as in the Calgary game in week 6, the Lions defense had feet off the pedal and nearly threw away another sizable halftime lead. Is this about fantasy football?
Weird Canadian News Story Of The Week. You might think that Americans would have a stranglehold on cutesy TV commercials humanizing demonic megacorporations, but it seems our neighbors have learned a trick or two. Check out the commercial spot posted here for bikinis — I mean, resource mining.
KWG Resources paid for the ad, which looks as though it was shot for about $150 (Canadian) and implores Canadian citizens to happily allow the plundering of natural resources via the magic of boobs. (What’s that? You didn’t click the link before and now you’re doing so? Fine, we’ll wait.)
While apparently hoping to appeal to the Millennial generation – as though those young whippersnappers invented gazongas or are the only ones young enough to appreciate a fine pair! Ha! – KWG instead shows the company has about as little respect for its target audience as for the Canadian environment itself. KWG president Frank Smeenk has been widely quoted as explaining away this bubble-headed silliness with “Sex sells.”
Fair enough, but just one question: Dude, what are you selling?
This Week’s Stat That’s Gotta Mean Something. Saskatchewan has scored a total of 16 points in the third quarter this season. Sixteen, Coach Jones? What’s going on at halftime over there? If the Riders continue turning in slack-ass second-half performances (and thus losing), Jones’s decision-making will become more and more criticized; he may soon find himself having to answer to, say, the team GM and/or president. For the record, these positions are currently held by Chris Jones and Chris Jones, respectively.
As for next week’s games…
Montreal Alouettes at Ottawa RedBlacks. What else can one say except “This could get ugly”? RedBlacks QB Henry Burris is now a bye week removed from his notorious halftime blowup and has an extra week of healing to his injury. On the other hand (so to speak), the Alouettes defense may actually prefer seeing the old-fashioned, hyper-kinetic Burris offense so as to capitalize on mistakes and get off the field once in a while. Of course, the RedBlacks probably can’t make enough mistakes to keep the Als’ offense in this one. Redblacks in a walk.
Calgary Stampeders at BC Lions. Has BC even peaked yet? Unless they’re playing Calgary, the Lions rarely seem to play a 60-minute game in 2016 thus far. And this week, I for one am just not feeling it for these Stampeders. Underestimating the Stamps is certainly dangerous for one’s prospects in CFL pick ‘em, but this could be the rare wakeup call delivered to John Hufnagel’s guys. BC wins fairly decisively, thus stirring up the Calgary hornet’s nest for weeks to come thereafter.
Rod Black’s Weekly Crime Against the English Language. The language tribunal here at The Grueling Truth, i.e. me, was perhaps too beery after the Alouettes game (12 freakin’ points?) to care much about Rod Black’s assault on English, noted only minor major infractions of grammar this week plus a couple cringe-/chuckle-worthy other gems which the penalty is, what, 50 lashes with a wet participle…?
Such punishments will be determined upon arraignment of the subject. For the time being, the tribunal notes Black’s most meaningless utterance during the BC Lions-Hamilton Tiger-Cats game as:
“I’m sure there’s a little inhale on the Lions sidelines every time that happens.”
Whereas I’m sure “inhale” is not a noun.
Also note these odd words for Jeremiah Johnson: “He can sing, he can dance, but mostly he can score touchdowns.”
My personal favorite/least favorite, though, was certainly the decidedly uncomfortable-sounding description of two quarterbacks – it may have been Zach Collaros and Mike Reilly; I don’t know, for my brain melted when Black concluded with, “They’re tough as nails, and they’ve got stones.”
To which Duane Ford heartily agreed.
Edmonton Eskimos at Toronto Argonauts. Yeesh, this one’s for the DVR. Crazy to think that, with both offensive line and secondary playing as poorly as they are, the Eskimos could still whip off a two-game winning streak. We’ll pray the challenge-flag delays are kept to a minimum as Edmonton wins and Kilgore’s learning experience continues.
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Yet another test for Coach Jones. (This dude is gonna age, like, 27 years before season’s end.) Not only is Collaros as good as advertised already, he hasn’t played in a year and he’s armed with a new offensive coordinator. One wonders what game film Jones’ll be derived his gameplan from. The promise the Riders D showed last week might be enough to keep things close, maybe, but the inevitable second-half malaise will set in to ensure that the Tiger-Cats win.
Next week: Chris Jones says, “Screw it. What are they gonna do, fine me?” and announces a roster composed solely of Americans for the Hamilton game. Riders win, 30-28, and Riders Nation is collectively very confused.