Friday, November 16, 2018
This and That
--Welcome to Friday and the usual thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order.
--The dirt has been placed on the Saskatchewan Roughriders 2018 coffin. At least I think it has. The conversation about why this team has basically centred on the inability of the offence to move the football. As a friend said to me earlier this week, imagine the 2013 offence with this defence. Having the likes of Durant, Dressler, Sheets and Getzlaf to be on the other side of the ball from Jefferson, Hughes, Gainey and Eguavoen would have been a formidable force indeed, but it's not happening.
While Rider fans are optimistic about what the team can do if (and its a big IF) they can retain some of their key free agents, I am left to wonder about the CFL as a whole and what type of players we will see in the league when training camps open in May if they open.
As Chris Jones alluded to during his Tuesday end-of-season news conference, it is becoming tougher and tougher to find players because of the new Alliance of American Football. Not only will the NFL take away some players who are CFL free agents, but so will the AAF. By listening to what Jones had to say Tuesday and what others have said already, getting a player to continue his career in Canada is no longer an easy thing to do. What does this mean for the quality of play in the league? You could drop the number of Americans and add more Canadians, but would the fan appetite be there. If Rider fans aren't going to come to Rams games, are they going to come games with more USports grads just because it is professional football?
Those efforts to recruit players are also being sabotaged by a league that is putting a salary cap on football operations staff and no longer allowing mini-camps. That is a head-scratcher. Scouts may find themselves out of work and players that can be found at mini-camps will no longer be found at a time when you are trying to get talent. The league seemingly is draining that opportunity away. It makes no sense to this blogger.
--When it comes to 2019, there are many questions the Riders will have to answer in the following months with the biggest one perhaps being who is the quarterback. I don't see Zach Collaros or Brandon Bridge being back. When it comes to Collaros, I am almost certain he won't be back. I found it interesting that on Tuesday, the Riders trotted out Willie Jefferson, Marcus Thigpen and Brandon Bridge to speak to reporters. Where was Collaros? Where was the team's highest paid player? Apparently, he flew out Monday night or Tuesday morning. Hmmmmmmm! I guess he wanted to hightail it out of Dodge as quickly as he could. Good on Bridge for coming in and answering questions as well. He could have declined after his performance on Sunday, but he stood at the podium and answered every question.
While fans sit there and wonder what the plan is at quarterback, I have to wonder if that guy is right under their nose. How would you feel with Nick Marshall being the quarterback in 19? He can play the position and play it quite well. He did quarterback Auburn to an appearance in the 2015 national championship before losing to Florida State. I think Jones, John Murphy and Jeremy O'Day can find a defensive back to replace Marshall on the corner. It is no secret this team has to develop a young quarterback. That young QB may already be here with a year under his belt despite the fact he spent a majority of his time on defence.
--Fans also aren't happy with the fact offensive co-ordinator Stephen McAdoo will be back. Did you really expect he wouldn't be? He has been tied to the hip of Jones for years. He was the OC of the team that won the Grey Cup with Jones in 15 and he was the OC of the team that led the league in touchdown passes in 2017. I don't think his schemes and gameplans have changed. It can all be traced back to Collaros, who as Rod Pedersen rightly stated on the Sportscage was maybe never ever at 100 percent.
Go back to the hit that almost folded him in two during the pre-season game against Calgary. A couple of weeks later he was hurt in Ottawa although it was revealed he had been hurt from that hit against the Stamps. You know the rest of the story. It makes me wonder if we ever saw the real Collaros. It also makes me wonder if we had gotten Jeremiah Masoli from Hamilton if this team might have won 14 or more games this year.
--Enough about the Riders. Let's go to the division finals this weekend. I have Calgary and Hamilton, but I have done some flip-flopping on the Eastern final. At the end of the day, I think the Ti-Cats can get it done, but if it comes down to a Lewis Ward field goal chance at the end, Ottawa will be on their way to Commonwealth. As for the West Final, Winnipeg squeaked past a Saskatchewan team that had very little to no offence. They now face Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stamps. The Bombers haven't won a meaningful contest in Calgary since 2003. They are 3-19 against Calgary since 2009 and two of those wins were at the end of the season when teams knew their playoff fates. Calgary takes it.
--What do we think of the decision by the CFL to add an 8th official? Yes, if like me you just shake your head. As the CFLPA basically stated "Is this the best you can do"? They aren't even giving this extra official a flag. He will just be an added body on the field. This is why the CFL gets mocked the way it does and the thing is they have no one to blame but themselves.
--Week 11 NFL Lock of the Week -- Saints over Eagles
--Week 11 NFL Upset of the Week -- Titans over Colts
--I just want to make sure I have this right. Sportsnet is the home of the NHL, but TSN does the Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies live TSN is home of the CFL, but you won't see the CFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony live. Will we see the player awards live this year next week in Edmonton? Do I just over-think some of this stuff?
--No names will be mentioned on either side, but there are some really good CFL/Rider podcasts out there and some really bad ones. I had the misfortune to check out a really bad one this week. What CFL/Rider podcasts do you check out? How many do you listen to?
--Both Alberta NHL teams should be playing their number 2 goalies a lot more. Is Cam Talbot or Mike Smith a bigger disaster? Greasy doesn't even start to describe the game-winner by the Habs at the Saddledome Thursday night.
--When Montreal is in Western Canada, their fans come out in droves as you know. I asked Global Edmonton's Quinn Phillips ( the daughter of the legendary Oiler broadcaster Rod Phillips) this week if its more annoying when Montreal or Toronto comes to town. She didn't hesitate to say Toronto and say it with great authority. I agree!
--Some day the Green Bay Packers will win in Seattle, but Thursday was not that day. Mwah hah hah!!
--That's all I got. Have a great weekend!