Friday, December 24, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
With all the hulabaloo surrounding Christmas there has not suprisingly been next to no CFL. Despite rumours ranging from "the job had been offered to Milanovich" to "The Riders plan to ressurect the corpse of Vince Lombardi", the Riders have not made any decisions on a new coach and are unlikely to until after the holidays.
So other than Travis Lulay briefly being courted by the Dallas Cowboys before deciding to sign a 2 year extension with the BC Lions, there is nothing to talk about.
Should something come up I'll be sure to do a post on it in a not so timely fashion.
SJ Green – Worked out for Vikings and Eagles
DJ Bolden – Vikings, Steelers and Packers
Phillip Hunt – Vikings, Patriots and Browns
Friday, December 17, 2010
Brendan Taman has said their shortlist is down to 6 candidates that they are considering. We’ve already discussed Hall, Berry and Marshall. So let’s talk a bit about the other 3.
The first is Corey Chamblain who is currently the DB coach for the Stamps and has been with them for 3 years. Prior to that he was DB coach in Winnipeg, did some work in NFL Europe and was a special teams coach in the NCAA. He’s definitely a candidate out of left field but everyone seems to talk very highly of him. I think he’s an extremely long shot to become HC but his interview may have been more an attempt to lure him to the Riders as a special teams coordinator (please, please, please, please, please) or some other form of assistant.
The second is a familiar name, Bob Wylie who is currently the OL coach for the Denver Broncos. Wylie was our OL coach in 2009 as well as for the Bombers before that and has also served as a TE/OL coach for a few other NFL teams as well as some college experience. He is widely respected as one of the better O-Line coaches out there. While Wylie as head coach would make for an easy visual transition from Miller for the fans (old guy, heavier set, fairly calm and quiet, if he shaved his moustache and wore some designer glasses you’d never notice the difference), it would be a big jump from OL coach to head honcho. We likely won’t know more about Wylie until his Denver Broncos finish embarrassing themselves. I would rank his chances as slightly above Chamblain’s though I wouldn’t mind having him back to coach our O-line.
That last name is the most recent and the one that is generating the most discussion…Als Offensive Coordinator Scott Milanovich. I’ll admit that I was excited when I heard we were actually going to interview him. He is THE name when you talk about coordinators ready to take the next step. Coordinating an offense that appears in 3 straight Grey Cups will tend to elevate your status.
This isn’t Milanovich’s first shot at a HC spot. He was previously strongly considered for the job in Edmonton that ultimately went to Richie Hall and the job in Toronto that ultimately went to Jim Barker. In both cases it was Milanovich’s choice to withdraw from contention. With Edmonton it was because Maccioccia was not going to give him freedom to choose his own assistants (what a genius decision that turned out to be) and with Toronto it was because they offered him peanuts for salary. So that tells us 2 things if we are serious about Milanovich. 1) We gotta pay the guy. I doubt this will be an issue, we have money and the HC of a top team like the Riders should be well compensated. 2) We need to be prepared to part with some or all of our assistants. Taman has stated that the new coach will be given freedom to choose his own staff but I still wonder if the organization is prepared to make a hire that may lead to big changes fresh off a Grey Cup run.
If nothing else I’m glad to see we are putting serious effort into the search for a new HC and exploring a number of options… especially ones that might result in Daley being fired.
One note of caution should we end up hiring Milanovich (who needs a nick name because after typing Miller for 3 years I would find it tough adjusting to a long and complicated name like that): I think we all need to temper our man-crush type infatuation with him. He may be a bright young coach with loads of potential but there is still a great deal of risk should we hire him. Fact is he has never been a head coach so there is no guarantee he will be the second coming of Kent Austin. He might have rookie struggles like LaPolice did last season and he might even fall flat on his face as some rookie coaches have done. Don’t assume that because he comes with a lot of hype that he is flawless.
Hiring a coach is a lot like getting to choose only one present out of a pile of them. We are pretty sure that Richie Hall’s present sucks while we have no idea what Milanovich’s (damn that’s tough to type!) is. We think its good but won’t know for sure until we open it. Given the choice I would rather take the present that you don’t know about over the one you know is likely crap.
Other coaching news from across the league…
- Mike Gibson has been hired as the new RB coach in Calgary. That’s too bad since there were rumours that Mike Kelly might be in consideration. The circus that man brings with him would have given me ample offseason content for my blog.
- The Adam Rita reign of incompetence has finally come to an end as his contract was not renewed and Jim Barker has assumed the GM duties. Which is good for the Argos and the CFL in general but once again bad for this blog as Rita’s boneheaded recruiting decisions provided me a ton of things to mock in this space (really not a great news week for me).
In addition to the much publicized Andy Fantuz NFL workouts, there are a few other players that have upcoming workouts down south.
- Mark Restilli will work out for the Jets
- Chad Owens is getting interest from numerous teams
- Emmanuel Arceneaux is also reported to be getting some looks
CFL Ins and Outs
Out: QB Kerry Joseph, WR Derick Armstrong, DB Jason Goss, DB Randee Drew, WR Skyler Green
As evidence by the list of above cuts, it’s the offseason for an Eric Tillman led team. That means that anyone the wrong side of 30 or with a salary exceeding $80,000 and no Canadian passport should be very afraid.
Out: DB Shawn Gallant (retired)
Now who will be the designated “don’t screw up the coin toss” guy in Winnipeg?
Monday, December 13, 2010
I could tell the offseason had officially set in when I went looking for Rider news and the closest thing I found was an article on how much money Fantuz Flakes raised. Yes I’ve been reduced to reading about cereal to get my Rider fix. I wonder how long before I start charting the correlation between the barometric pressure and the Riders’ second down conversion rate?
While news is generally extremely hard to come by until after Christmas, there are still a few noteworthy things that are going on.
One is the news that Andy Fantuz will be working out for a number of NFL teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings. After leading the league in receiving this year, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. I mean, hell, both Dominique Dorsey and Ryan Grice-Mullen managed to get NFL tryouts so it’s not like they set the bar overly high. Now Fantuz didn’t manage to catch on down south last year when he tried, but at that time he had yet to complete a full season as a pro. This year he’s proved that he can go the distance, which is a definite boost to is resume. Despite the fact that Fantuz is a tweener (to slow to be a WR, to small to be a TE), I think that he will generate some offers. But at this stage of his career he needs to see something in the form of a signing bonus before he’ll consider making the jump. Unlike the Jordan Sisco’s of the world (who can be wooed south by nothing more than a plane ticket), Fantuz makes good money in the CFL so he won’t give up the guaranteed money unless he is offered a serious shot. Jason Clermont went through this exact thing a few years back and once he did the math, decided that the CFL was the best choice for him at the time. Hopefully Fantuz has had a chat with Clermont.
As with all Riders auditioning for the NFL, I wish him the best of luck… but selfishly hope he doesn’t make it.
The other story is Riderville is of course the ongoing “search” for a head coach. It is basically down to 3 candidates Doug Berry, Richie Hall, and Greg Marshall. Here’s a quick rundown of what I see as the pros and cons to each candidate
Pros: Previous HC experience. In just 2 years turned a 5-13 team into one that made it to the Grey Cup.
Cons: One year after almost winning the Grey Cup he had completely lost his locker room and was fired. Seems to be a disconnect between him and Durant
Pros: He’s a nice guy. Players respect him. One of the more respected defensive minds in the league.
Cons: Was repeatedly passed over for HC jobs (with good reason) and when he finally got one he was fired after 2 disappointing years (highlighted by a losing record and zero success in the playoffs).
Pros: Umm… err… He worked here before? Taman likes him?… Seriously I got nothing.
Cons: The fact that he has no pros.
Honestly if you look purely at their resumes, Doug Berry should win in a landslide. The fact that Greg Marshall is even in contention is somewhat puzzling (unless it’s become a new league rule that Marshall has to be passed over for at least one HC opportunity per offseason). As for Richie Hall, I like and respect the guy but if you take the emotional attachment out of the equation, there is simply no football related reason to hire him as HC. Not one… unless you are in the faction that assume that his dreadful experience in Edmonton somehow taught him the skills he needs to magically become a winning head coach all of the sudden. Much like Rich Stubler, he is a guy that will always excel as a coordinator but is not cut out to run the show. He’s Danny Barrett 2.0 so if mediocrity is your goal, Hall is your guy.
I certainly have some concerns about Berry but he is head and shoulders above the other candidates in terms of qualifications (though given Richie Hall’s small stature that may be a poor choice of words). Let’s just say that if this were an alley fight, Berry has shown up with a handgun, Hall came armed with a pointy stick and Marshall brought a whistle so he can call for help.
Here’s a quick rundown of coaching moves on other teams
- As expected, Edmonton hired Kavis Reed as their new head coach. Reports are that Reed will make Rich Stubler his D Coordinator and Marcus Crandell his OC.
- Chris Jones and Dave Dickenson will be staying in Calgary as the DC and newly appointed OC respectively. I never got the obsession with Dave Dickenson as a HC candidate. Two years ago he was getting his head knocked around as a player. I don’t buy into the notion that he is suddenly the 2nd coming of Austin. In time I bet he will develop in a great coach but he’s a little green just yet.
- The Ti-Cats will make Khari Jones their new OC.
- Despite reports to the contrary over the weekend, Marc Trestman will not be taking a job with the University of Miami and will stay with Montreal.
When it looked like Trestman was on his way to the NCAA, it got me thinking about the churn among CFL head coaches. In the past 6 years there have been a minimum of 2 HC vacancies each offseson and a total of 18 openings. That’s pretty amazing for a league with only 8 teams.
CFL Ins and Outs
*** If a team is inking contract extensions before January it is a sign that they are under the salary cap for 2010 and have some extra $ left over.***
In: DL Odell Willis, LB Pierre Luc Labbe (contract extension)
In: LB Juwan Simpson, LB Keon Raymond, DB Brandon Smith (contract extension)
In: OL Jesse Newman, LS Doug McCullough (contract extension), DL Sean Ortiz, DB Doug Goldsby (free agent signings), DL Adam Baboulas (2010 Draft Pick signing), OL Nick Hennessey, DB Daylan Walker, WR Edward Britton, WR Nick Moore (practice roster players whose contract was picked up for 2011)
TorontoIn: WR Steven Turner (2010 Draft Pick signing) OL Andre Barbour, WR DJ Boldin, QB Matt Grothe, OL Michael Warner (practice roster players whose contract was picked up for 2011)
Saturday, December 11, 2010
The League won’t be releasing the official list of players eligible for free agency in February until sometime in the new year. For some reason there are a few teams that are trying to keep their lists confidential for now.
But since you are likely like me and going through CFL withdrawal, I have done some digging around and come up with a list (that is by no means complete or official) of players who are eligible to become free agents or are entering their options year. That should appease your football appetite for the time being.
Note: The “option year” will soon be a term of the past. Only contracts inked before the new agreement with the Player’s Association was signed will be eligible for the option year as we know it.
Free Agents: DB Lance Frazier, DL Kitwana Jones, DB Chris McKenzie, LB Sean Lucas, OL Wayne Smith, OL Gene Makowsky, FB Neal Hughes, OL Jeremy O’Day, LB Mike McCullough, OL Joel Bell, DB Daniel Francis, LB Kye Stewart
Option year: LB Jerrell Freeman, DB Omarr Morgan, RB Wes Cates, RB Hugh Charles, LB Tad Kornegay, SB Jason Clermont, SB Weston Dressler, SB Andy Fantuz, DT Keith Shologan, DT Marcus Adams
Free Agents: WR Kelly Campbell, DL Walter Curry, WR Skyler Green, DB Jason Nugent, LB Tim St. Pierre, DB Chris Thompson, K Justin Medlock
Option Year: Ricky Ray
Free Agents: QB Jarious Jackson, DB Tad Crawford
Option Year: DB David Hyland, Emmanuel Acreneaux
Free Agents: OL Ben Archibald, DB Brandon Browner, DB Dwight Anderson, WR Romby Bryant, FB Rob Cote, S Wes Lysack, LB Keon Raymond, DL Tom Johnson, DL Tearrius George, DL DeVone Claybrooks, LS Randy Chevrier, WR Ryan Thelwell, DB Milton Collins
Free Agents: QB Anthony Calvillo, RB Avon Cobournem WR SJ Green, WR Andrew Hawkins, WR Danny Desriveaux, LB Chip Cox, DL Anwar Stewart, DB Jerald Brown, DL JP Bekasiak, K Damon Duval, QB Chris Leak, LS Martin Bedard, DL Shawn Mayne, KR Larry Taylor, WR Ben Cahoon
Option Year: DL Jermaine McElveen, QB Adrian McPherson
Free Agents: DB Geoff Tisdale, WR Chris Bauman, OL Alexander Gauthier, OL George Hudson, OL Brian Ramsay, DL Matt Kirk, DL Jermaine Reid, WR Steve Schmidt, WR Adam Nicholson
Free Agents: DB Jonathan Hefney, RB Yvenson Bernard, LB Joe Lobendahn, OL Obby Khan, FB Jon Oosterhuis, DL Dorian Smith, RB Daryl Stephenson, DB Shawn Gallant, DB Keyou Craver
Option Year: Phillip Hunt
Free Agents: WR Bryan Crawford, DL Ronald Flemons, DL Kevin Huntley, DL Eric Taylor, WR Jermaine Copeland, DL Adriano Belli, OL Shannon Boatmen, WR Chad Rempel, OL Jeff Keeping, DB Lin-J Shell
Option Year: Chad Owens
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
This being our 4th, we are pleased to offer awards winners our most lucrative prize package to ever (not that that’s saying much). Winners will receive an official Rider Prophet shirt of their choosing as well as one night with Man in the Bush, no questions asked.
Best Player Name
This season, my nod for best player name goes to BC rookie Solomon Elimimian. Elimimian’s awesome name was made even better by the fact that almost nobody in the media could pronounce it properly. At first when he was a back-up player this wasn’t a big deal as his name was uttered with about the same frequency as “And the Blue Bombers win!” However it wasn’t long before Elimimian’s onfield play placed him in the spotlight and people were forced to repeatedly try and say his name… and repeatedly fail.
Previous winners: Craphonso Thorpe. Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha
Quote of the Year
At the start of the year this year’s winner wasn’t even playing football, he was serving drinks in California. But thanks to the inexplicable collapse of Louie Sakoda we were introduced to one of the greatest Rider characters of all time… Eddie Johnson.
Blessed with one of the finest moustaches seen in Riderville since Ray Elgaard and a leg that could send a punt almost into orbit, Johnson quickly won over the fan base. But when a microphone was put in front of him Johnson transformed from a well-liked punter into a super star.
There are too many great quotes to pick just one but here’s a sampling of his greatest interview this year… bear in mind that he spent the entire interview combing his moustache.
When asked about how he ended up in Sasakatchewan…
Yeah Craigslist. You can find anything you want on there, pretty much. I put it in the classifieds, and actually the personals too. It said “Punter for hire. With ‘stache. Willing to travel. Willing to travel light. Single. No one will be mad if he leaves the state.”
When asked about the difficulty of punting in cold weather…
Tell me about it. It doesn’t travel as far, that’s for sure. Actually what I like to do is when I have the ball in my hands I give it a little... give it a little ‘stache. Ball gets scared. Ball travels farther. That’s usually how it works.
Here's hoping Eddie Johnson stays in Saskatchewan for years to come
Previous Winner: Jason Clermont, Mike Abou-Mechrek x 2
Play of the Year
Hands down the play of the year goes to Ron Flemons for treating us to this beauty…
Botched Call of the Year
It was hardly a banner year for officiating in the CFL so there were many candidates for this award this. While this year’s winner didn’t have a huge impact on the outcome of a game (unlike some other botched calls), it gets the nod based purely on how ridiculous it is that the call was botched.
The convert is generally regarded as the easiest play in football. It’s pretty much automatic. That’s why it was such a surprise to see Argo kicker Grant Shaw miss a convert attempt… at least that was the ruling on the field.
A closer look at the replay showed the ball clearly went through the uprights and should have counted. I have no idea what the refs were looking at when they called it a miss. For managing to screw up a call on the easiest play in pro-football, this call gets placed above all others in 2010.
The Commercial I Didn’t Get Sick Of Seeing Even Though TSN Made Me Watch It 54,297 Times Award
Unfortunately it was once again slim pickings for this award. Wendy’s and Tim Hortons continue to inundate us with their craptastic commercials that honestly make me less likely to buy their products (advertising money well spent).
Fortunately, as with every year, there were a couple commercials that renewed my waning faith in advertisers. Honourable mention goes to Egg Management Fee but hands down this year’s award goes to Old Spice for treating us to this…
And following up with this one and even letting Ray Lewis in on the fun.
Fans Choice Douche-Bag of the Year
You the fans have spoken and with an overwhelming 52% of the vote, have chosen Dwight Anderson as your Douche Bag of The Year. He’s obnoxious, loud mouthed and barely tolerable at the best of times. One of his shinning moments this season came here at Mosaic Stadium when a Stampeder coach had to run onto the field and drag Anderson off because he was celebrating a turnover and didn't notice that Calgary was trying to get a play in before Miller could challenge.
Previous winners: Mike Kelly, Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy
Most Insulted Sports Figure
With perennial winner Michael Bishop being absent from the CFL this year, this category was wide open. Though admittedly just because Bishop wasn’t in the CFL it didn’t stop me from taking a shot at him from time to time.
It was in February that the Riders announced the Riders announced that Jim Daley had been hired as their Special Teams Coordinator. At the time, I was less than impressed because Jim Daley is a perennial failure when it comes to coaching. I knew that with Daley running the show our special teams would be far from the best… however I underestimated the embarrassing lows that he was capable of taking our special teams.
Not one week went by where there wasn’t some monumental screw up on special teams, whether it be repeatedly letting defenders through to block our kicks (one of which cost us Luca Congi), employing kick returners who had no clue how to actually catch a ball, allowing big returns for TD, failing to defending fake punts (even though a blind guy in the nose bleeds saw it coming a mile away) or his revolutionary kick return scheme that involved absolutely no blocking… in fact I’m not sure why we even bothered having the other 11 players on the field because they clearly didn’t do anything.
For all the reasons listed above Daley became the name I cursed and insulted above all others.
Previous winners: Michael Bishop x 2, Marcel Bellefeuille
Monday, December 6, 2010
Our offense will be powerful under Miller and Berry
Our passing attack will be downright scary.
Fantuz, Dressler and Bagg, that’s tough to defend
Oh and don’t forget Getzlaf and Prechae my friend
Top passing attack…Other than the fact that I’d prefer to forget Prechae... 1 point
As for how well I think we will run the ball,
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all
Our run game was an afterthought… 1 point.
Cates will block well and catch the odd pass
But the 1000 yd mark he will not surpass
He did block well and did catch the odd pass. As for the 100 yd thing, honestly who saw that coming?… 0.5 points
Through the air is where our games will be won
Durant’s reign as an all-star is far from done
Our games we’re won through the air, but Durant failed to repeat his all-star status… 0.5 points.
Andy will stay healthy and many TDs record
On his way to a deserved Top Canadian award.
He finally played a full 18 and was not only the Top Canadian but also the top receiver in the league… 1 point.
On defense there is worry that pressure we will lack
With no Baggs or Chick how will we get a sack?
While our sack totals will likely not match last year’s pace
Mullinder and Hawkins will still get in the QB’s face
Sack totals were down but Hawkins and Mullinder weren’t exactly all-stars… 0.5 points.
Etch will get pressure no matter what he has to do
With schemes that might make you think he’s been sniffing glue
I think we can all agree on the 2nd line… 1 point.
A veteran LB in the middle should help stop the run
With Tad and Sean flying around, to watch will be fun
Well it looked good in theory, but our run defense was far from fun to watch… 0 points.
Our secondary will remain strong despite losing Eddie
Omarr and Lance will keep this unit steady
The unit was fairly steady, though that was at times in spite of Omarr… 0.5 points
And watch for Patrick this year to breakout
Best safety in the West, without a doubt.
Nailed it! Not only the best in the West but easily the best in the league… 1 point
We will start the season strong, like men on a mission
Getting an early leg up on the competition
Started 3-0… 1 point
We will be well on our way in our Grey Cup pursuit
And fans will start planning the parade route
Pretty sure that did happen… 1 point.
But it won’t last forever and we will start to struggle
I wish something rhymed here better than juggle
Struggles came late in the season but they were mighty… 1 point.
Come Labour Day we will be in a tight race for first
With a couple key injuries that need to be nursed.
We still had a shot at 1st at Labour Day, though there weren’t many key injuries… 0.5 points
For the Bombers, Stephen Jyles into action will be thrust
Because Buck Pierce will have already been concussed.
Replace “concussed” with “dislocated elbow” and I’m bang on… 1 point
Jyles will struggle, shocking as that may seem
In the 2 game series we will reign supreme
Swing and a miss, we won the first but were thoroughly embarrassed in the rematch… 0 points.
Other than a couple bumps we will play great down the stretch
Our D will be firing on all cylinders under the guidance of Etch
Strike 2. We played like ass down the stretch and our D was far from firing on all cylinders… 0 points
Our late season momentum we will maintain
A 12-6 record, first place yet again!!
I’m trying to find a way to award myself partial points here but am coming up blank… 0 points.
West Final at Mosaic for the second year in a row
Against Richie Hall and the Esks in the prairie snow
The only part of that statement that was correct was that a playoff game did take place at Mosaic in the prairie snow… 0 points.
We will fall behind early and things will look bleak
But pull even late on a QB sneak
Then just as time seems to be running out
Fantuz will win the game on a nice corner route.
If you replace Fantuz with Clermont and corner route with slant its pretty close… 0.5 points.
Then a convoy of green will be headed west
For a 2nd chance to prove that we are the best
Correct… 1 point
This time around there will be no mistake
In a sip from Lord Grey’s mug will the Riders partake.
Grey Cup Champs in 2010
There will be much rejoicing across the prairies again
Well that last one was unfortunately just plain wrong… 0 points
So you’ll hear me exclaim as I dash into the night
Go Riders Go, Let’s hope I’m more than 67% right.
Admittedly my average took a hit this year as even with the very questionable arbitrary half points I awarded myself I sill fell short of my standard 67%... 0 points
So this year I managed 12 points out of a possible 22 for a 55% accuracy rate. I’d offer up some sort or explanation or apology but let’s be honest… if you still expect accuracy out of my after all these years, you are obviously very delusional.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Yesterday the career of one of the premiere coaches in Roughrider history came to an end as Ken Miller announced he was stepping down from Head Coaching duties (though he will stay on as VP of Football Operations). It hardly comes as a surprise as Miller has been embracing the pro football grind while most people his age are drinking prune juice, watching Matlock, considering the use of adult diapers and talking endlessly about what is wrong with kids these days (though that may be a bad comparison since other than the prune juice I pretty much just described me). At the ripe old age of 69, Miller is probably long overdue to step away from the sidelines.
Though I’m not surprised by his decision, I am disappointed. It sucks to lose a coach of Miller’s calibre. While he may not enjoy the “rock star” status that names like Austin, Hufnagel and Trestman do, his resume places him in some pretty elite company.
Here a list of his accomplishments that is by no means exhaustive:
- He was the offensive coordinator for the Riders in 2007 when they won the Grey Cup.
- Under his guidance Kerry Joseph was named MOP, Weston Dressler was named Most Outstanding Rookie, John Chick was named Defensive Player of the Year and Andy Fantuz was named Most Outstanding Canadian. Awards that hadn’t been seen in Saskatchewan for decades.
- He led us to back to back Grey Cup appearances. Something that no Rider coach had done in over 40 years.
- In his 3 season as Rider head coach they never finished lower than 2nd place and never won less than 10 games. This includes 2008 when all his best players broke their legs and he had to win games with Michael Bishop under centre. This includes 2009 when the season was overshadowed by our GM being charged with sexual assault. And this includes the 2010 season which followed the most heart wrenching Grey Cup loss ever and included the departure of 4 elite defensive starters. It was never easy for Miller but he always delivered results regardless of the obstacles in his way.
The only thing missing from Miller’s resume was a Grey Cup ring as a head coach… though he was within a hair of it twice.Bottom line is, he was a great coach and he will be missed.
This coaching carousel is nothing new to the Riders. In fact its been a long time since we’ve had even remotely the same coaching staff in consecutive seasons. In 2007 after finally discovering a coach that could lead us to the Grey Cup he left for the NCAA. In 2009, after finding a coaching staff that could once again get us to the Cup, our offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and QB coach to another team. And now after once again getting to the big show our head coach retires. My kingdom for some consistency.
But as Eric Tillman once said that’s the risk you run when you employ good people. The last time we had consistency was between 2000 and 2006 and the only reason we had consistency is because our coaches weren’t good enough to be coveted by other teams. Given the choice I guess employing a carousel of good coaches is the preferred option.
The Riders have said they will do "a complete search" for a new head coach and I'm sure they will go through the motions for appearance sakes but realistically that's all it will be... going through the motions. If you honestly believe that we won't be hiring internally you are somewhat delusional.
A new head coach will want to hire his own assistants and that means turfing our existing staff. So basically it comes down to either promoting Doug Berry or parting ways with him. And if you really think Brendan Taman is going let Doug Berry go, you are sadly mistaken.
While I have some concerns over Berry's temper, how he lost the last lockeroom he was in charge of and his insistence on trying to make Durant a pocket passer the fact remains he's the most qualified (unless of course you'd prefer we give Etch or Daley another chance at head coaching). He's got head coaching experience and took a team to the Grey Cup.
So as we say goodbye to someone who is bound for the Plaza of Honour, you have 2 months to get used to the idea of Doug Berry running the show.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Here are this year's nominees:
Ricky Foley - Nominated for publicly announcing he was going to re-sign with BC only to change his mind at the last minute and sign with Toronto. As a bonus act of douche baggery he later publicly stated his displeasure with how Toronto was using him, adding that he preferred how the Lions used him.
Avon Cobourne - Nominated for questioning the fact that Andy Fantuz was named Most Outstanding Canadian, saying that unlike Fantuz, Stala had a catch in every game... conveniently ignoring the fact that unlike Stala, Fantuz led the league in receiving.
Jason Jimenez (two-time nominee) - Nominated for the same thing he was when he won this award in 2007... attempting to seriously injure an opponent with an unnecessary and dangerous cut block behind the play and showing zero remorse for it.
** The only fun thing about this one was watching the same BC players and media who defended him in 2007, vilify him this time around.
Dwight Anderson - Nominated for... well just for being himself.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Riders 18 – Als 21
The trip home yesterday was a somber one… well except for when we stopped at McDonalds and Media Consultant was denied service because he wanted lunch food at 10:55am and the lunch menu didn’t start until 11:00am. We also saw a guy who looked exactly like Gimli from Lord of the Rings. But other than that and more to the point of my story… it was a somber trip.
For the second year in a row, I was in the stands to witness the Riders come up short in their bid to bring home this franchise’s 4th Grey Cup.
If you had told me before the game that we would have the lead at half time, I would have put my 2007 Grey Cup Whiskey on ice because I would have been sure that I would sipping on it later (well maybe not sipping).
If you had told me before the game that we were going to hold Anthony Calvillo and the potent Alouette offense to 2 TDs I would have placed my order ahead of time for Riders Grey Cup Champs 2010 merchandise.
If you had told me before the game that Marc Parenteau was going to account for half our TDs… I would have laughed in your face.
For me, analyzing the outcome of the game is as simple as this. In order to win you need 2 of your 3 phases to perform well. Given that our special teams never performs well (or anything that even resembles well), that means that our offense and defense by default both need to play well. Our defense played extremely well on Sunday… unfortunately our offense did not. You simply can’t beat an elite team like the Als with only one phase of your game working… it’s really that simple.
For the second week in a row I was floored by how well our defense played. Limiting Calvillo to 2 TDs is quite an accomplishment. Jerrell Freeman was yet again an absolute monster. The only thing that would have made his performance better is if he had secured that pick he almost had. We got pressure on Calvillo (which is not easy to do) thanks in large part to the play of Shologan and Chunky. Our defense was the only reason that game was remotely close. Hats off to them. My only knock on our defense is that we have an obvious weakness at both cornerback spots. Not surprisingly a future hall of famer like AC was able to exploit it.
By contrast, I was floored by how flat our offense was. Our passing attack which has been our strength this season, turned in a bad performance at the worst possible time. I'm not sure if it was our play calling or Durant just struggling (likely some combination thereof) but our passing attack was non existent. Untimely drops by Getzlaf only compounded our struggles. Cates ran like a champion but with no passing attack to balance it, it was mostly for naught in the end.
And that was pretty much it in the end. No passing game, no championships. Sucks to say but unlike last year where I thought we were the better team, the better team won this year.
Other random thoughts:
- Did anyone else get flashbacks to '07 on that one Fantuz run where he refused to go down?
- Did anyone else get flashbacks to Brett Favre on that game ending Durant INT?
- Leron Mitchell's broken leg was one of the most gruesome things I have ever seen in football
- I am quickly developing an appreciation for Rider fans that endured the early 70s.And this ends another great season of Rider football. Though I'm sure players and fans alike are disappointed at not winning the Cup, I think you'll still have to be happy with the season. Not many teams could overcome losing half their coaching staff, 2 all-star DEs, one of the best DBs in franchise history, and their starting MLB all at once and still repeat as West Division Champs... especially after the heartbreaking way last year ended. It's truly an amazing accomplishment I applaud the team for their effort, their heart and their resiliency and congratulate them on another great season.
We have an outstanding team in our province and we are very proud of them.
Ending aside, I have great memories of Grey Cup 2010 from the great parties, to the BC fan who accosted us in our hotel room that we are pretty sure had rabies, to Media Consultant making Ricky Santos pout like a little girl because he didn't know who Santos was when he was met him at casino. Good times were had by all... though given that the Riders are now 0-2 in Grey Cups I attend, I think it would be best if I stay home next year
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I could write pages on this being a rematch of last year, our chance at redemption, a chance to re-write history... but quite frankly I'm sick of all that talk.
Whether we like it or not (and if you like it there's something wrong with you), nothing can change what happened last year. It's over, forever etched in history and above all, it's in the past. This is a new year and 2010 is all that matters, o that's what I will focus on.
The 2010 CFL season will end the same way it began, with a battle of the league's 2 best teams. This game has a weird build up. I can't remember the last time a team that was favoured was expected by so many people to lose. The Als are a very good team but the majority of people are expecting the Riders to win. In fact the Als have some big conspiracy theory that the league wants the Riders to win. While it may be true that a Rider victory is better for the league financially than an Als repeat, it's a little far fetched to think that they are going out of their way to make it happen.
As for the game itself, I expect 1 thing... an all out aerial assault on both sides. On one side you have the ageless wonder Calvillo and his cast of talented receivers. On the other side you have the pass happy RIder offense matched up against an Alouette pass defense that is actually very crappy or le brutal as the French might say. It is one of their few weaknesses. And they also have a tough decision to make in regards to how to cover the Rider receivers. If you play them straight up Fantuz and Dressler will make big plays. If you focus your attention on those 2, Getzlaf and Koch will hurt you. Pick your poison.
For whatever reason Dressler always has monster games against the Als and with the added incentive of playing in his first Grey Cup I expect another one this week.
The Als have the best run D in the league so I don't expect a big game from him. I just hope that like last week he makes every yard count.
Defensively, the Als are as tough to stop as we are. That said, last week I watched our D shut down the best O in the league with their most inspired performance of the year. If they can bring that intensity again tomorrow it could make for a long night for Calvillo. The pressure will be on our secondary to step up.
As always I am just praying that our special does just enough not to screw us over. Please, please, please.
I expect an extremely close game that will come down to the very end. But when the final whistle blows I know that we will see the Green and White hoist the Cup for the 4th time ever.
Riders by a Weston Dressler TD.
I am currently working on my sentimonies on tomorrow's Grey Cup but for now here are some random thoughts on my Grey Cup experience so far,
- On the drive up I realized that Randy Travis has a lot of songs about bones (Out of My Bones, Digging Up Bones)... I wonder if he is secretly some sort of serial killer
- Despite the terrible condition of the highway between Chamberlain and Dundurn, we did not see one Highways vehicle. I guess they didn't think that stretch of highway might be busy this weekend.
- We went to Riderville last night where I found a bartender who poured the rye very generously (very generously). In retrospect maybe he was trying to get me drunk and take advantage of me. Can't say i blame him.
- Thanks to the large amounts of rye I couldn't figure out how to operate the shower this morning so I was reduced to having a bath.
That's what's been going on so far. Now as I try to remedy my pounding head with coffee and Bailey's I will attempt to put together some coherent thoughts on the game.
Wish me luck
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Here is a question by question breakdown of how Chris Schultz (who gets paid for his football analysis) fared against the foremost sports related-prognosticator in the country…
1. What new player will help his team the most?
Schultz’s Pick: Jamall Lee
Prophet’s Pick: Buck Pierce
I’ll admit due to the inevitable injuries that cut short Buck Pierce’s season his impact was not all that long lasting but in just 5 games he did pass for over 1000 yards and rushed for another 237. Jamall Lee appeared in 9 games racking up just 16 rushing yards and 99 receiving yards.
2. What player’s departure will hurt his team the most?
Schultz’s Pick: Keron Williams from Montreal
Prophet’s Pick: Barron Miles from BC
Montreal still had one of the top pass rushes in the CFL.
BC struggled to find a suitable replacement for Miles.
3. What 2010 draftee will have the most immediate impact?
Schultz’s Pick: Cory Watson
Prophet’s Pick: Rob Maver
Cory Watson – 17 catches for 277 yards and a TD
Rob Maver – Led the CFL in kicking points.
4. Who will be the next big-name player to retire?
Schultz’s Pick: Gene Makowsky
Prophet’s Pick: Anthony Calvillo
The jury is still out on this one. Though to be fair, at this point, I would say Schultz has the better shot at being right.
Winner: Undecided but leaning towards Schultz
5. Who is likely to take a step back this season?
Schultz’s Pick: Henry Burris
Prophet’s Pick: Jermaine Copeland
Schultzy was so close on this one… you know except for the fact that Burris had one of his best seasons ever and is the West nominee for MOP. By contrast Copeland turned in his least productive season in 8 years.
6. Who will emerge as a star this season?
Schultz’s Pick: Prechae Rodriguez
Prophet’s Pick: Arkee Whitlock
Whitlock was on pace for over 1300 yds and 10 TDs when his season was cut short due to injury.
Rodriguez was on pace to accomplish very little when his season was cut short due to getting cut.
7. Who will be the comeback player of the year?
Schultz’s Pick: Kelly Campbell
Prophet’s Pick: Casey Printers
Even though Campbell really didn’t have a stellar year, he still did better than the embarrassment that was Casey Printers.
8. Which team will have the biggest QB controversy?
Schultz’s Pick: Toronto
Prophet’s Pick: Toronto
Realistically, the way Cleo Lemon played this year would have created a QB controversy on any other team in the league but Jim Barker stuck with him for some misguided reason leading to no controversy.
Winner: Both wrong
9. How many RBs will crack the 1,000 yard barrier?
Schultz’s Pick: 5
Prophet’s Pick: 5
The correct answer was 5… I can only assume Schultz was looking off my paper and copying my answer on this one.
Winner: Both Correct
10. Who will be the league’s top Canadian this season?
Schultz’s Pick: Calvin McCarty
Prophet’s Pick: Andy Fantuz
Seriously?!? Calvin McCarty?!? This was your pick for best Canadian in the League? Wow. I mean sure McCarty was the top Canadian on his own team but that’s pretty much by default since the Esks are so devoid of Canadian talent that a pulse and a Canadian passport is all it takes to get that nomination. Compare that with Fantuz who is a lock for the Most Outstanding Canadian award after leading the league in receiving… Calvin McCarty? What were you thinking?
11. Who will be the outstanding defensive player?
Schultz’s Pick: Barrin Simpson
Prophet’s Pick: Markeith Knowlton
Simpson is a far less embarrassing pick that Calvin McCarty and actually turned in a very good season, leading the league in tackles. However, Markeith Knowlton turned in an even better one on route to being named the East Nominee for Defensive Player of the Year.
12. Who will be the outstanding offensive player?
Schultz’s Pick: Darian Durant
Prophet’s Pick: Casey Printers
Durant led the league is passing yards and was the top rushing QB.
Casey Printers wasn’t good enough to last the season without being cut.
13. Which team has the league’s best defense?
Schultz’s Pick: Montreal
Prophet’s Pick: Hamilton
Hamilton allowed the 2nd least points this season.
Montreal was 5th
14. Which team has the league’s best offense?
Schultz’s Pick: Saskatchewan
Prophet’s Pick: Montreal
Montreal scored more points and gained more yards than Saskatchewan and were the 2nd overall offense in the league (Sk was 3rd).
15. Which team will surprise this year?
Schultz’s Pick: Toronto and Winnipeg
Prophet’s Pick: BC
Schultz tried gaining an unfair advantage by picking 2 teams when he was only asked for one… but the second team he picked ended up being the worst team in the league so no such advantage was gained.
Though BC and Toronto both finished 3rd in their divisions I will give the edge to Schultz because expectations were only moderately above zero for the Argos coming into the season so making the playoffs is more surprising for them than the Lions.
16. Which team will disappoint?
Schultz’s Pick: Hamilton
Prophet’s Pick: Calgary
Swing and a miss by me. Hamilton did have a pretty good regular season (they saved the disappointment for the playoffs) but unless they’ve recently changed the definition of “disappoint”, you can really classify the league’s best team through the regular season as having a disappointing season. (Though the Stamps did make up for it with their disappointing loss in the West Final).
17. Which team is facing the most pressure?
Schultz’s Pick: Hamilton and Edmonton
Prophet’s Pick: Saskatchewan
Even though he once again cheated by picking two teams instead of one, I will call this a draw since all 3 teams mentioned faced a ton of pressure.
Winner: Both Correct
18. What game on the schedule do you look forward to most?
Schultz’s Pick: Labour Day
Prophet’s Pick: Labour Day
I may rag on Schultzy a lot but even he knows enough about the CFL to know that Labour Day weekend is best weekend of the year.
Winner: Both Correct
19. What 2 teams will miss the playoffs?
Schultz’s Pick: It’s too hard to tell.
Prophet’s Pick: Toronto and Winnipeg
By virtue of providing an actual answer I win this one, as an added bonus I was half right.
20. Who will play in the Grey Cup and who will win?
Schultz’s Pick: BC beats Montreal
Prophet’s Pick: Saskatchewan beats Hamilton.
BC to win it all is almost as laughable as Calvin McCarty for top Canadian… almost. While I realize that Hamilton didn’t make the cup, at least the team I picked to win it all actually made it to the Grey Cup.
Here’s your final tally…
Rider Prophet – 14 correct answers
Chris Schultz – 7 correct answers (only 4 of which I didn’t also get correct)
Undecided – 1
So in the end it wasn’t even close. By an overwhelming majority, I proved to be the superior football mind. That said winning a battle of intellect with a former lineman isn’t exactly an overwhelming challenge.
Trust me, I’m a prophet!
Monday, November 22, 2010
Riders 20 – Stamps 16
A brief chronology:
December 1, 2009 – Rider Prophet states: “Mark my words: Buy your Edmonton Grey Cup tickets when they go on sale because the Riders will be back there next year.”
April 16, 2010 – Rider Prophet purchases his tickets for Grey Cup, officially putting his money where his mouth is.
June 30, 2010 – Rider Prophet sates in his Official 2010 Prophecies that the Riders will play in the Grey Cup
November 19, 2010 – Rider Prophet predicts the Riders will beat the Stamps in the West Final.
Conclusion: Believe the Prophet!!
Ladies and gentlemen if you can stop shaking with excitement long enough to read this, I will try my best to stop shaking long enough to type it.
We are going back to the Grey Cup!!!!!!
Despite being written off by the so called experts and pundits and facing off against the best team in the league in their home stadium in weather that would likely have halted most seal hunt expeditions… The Riders would not be denied.
In typical Rider fashion we started out by handing our opponents a double digit lead. Not really sure why we feel the need to repeatedly do this but something always seems to click when it happens and the team starts playing their game, taking control and never looking back.
I would like to acknowledge our defense for turning in an absolutely outstanding performance. As a unit they were much maligned throughout the year but when it mattered most they rose to the challenge and played like champions. They completely eliminated one the league’s premiere running attacks, they got consistent pressure against a talent-ladden O-line, they put a strangle hold on an elite group of receivers (leaving Arjei Franklin as the Stamps top receiver) and most importantly they held the held the most potent offensive attack in the league to one solitary TD and allowed only 5 measly points over the final 3 quarters. Absolutely Outstanding!!
In particular, Jerell Freeman played an outstanding game. He racked up 9 tackles (one of which was a thunderous shot to Cornish), 1 big sack and prevented a sure TD by never giving up on a play (more on that display of mental retardation later). I have liked Freeman from day 1 and its nice to see him stepping up when we need it the most.
Offensively, it took a while for them to get going. Durant looked extremely shaky and indecisive in the first quarter. But much like how our team needs a 10 point deficit before they get their head in the game, Durant seems to need to run the ball and take a hit before he calms down and starts playing his game. When Durant took off and ran for the first time (and made Dwight Anderson look like he should be at home playing with his tea set in the process) you knew he was ready to roll.
Our offensive game plan was very well thought out in my opinion. We knew they were going to key on Fantuz and Dressler and we accepted that and exploited them elsewhere. Namely with Chris “The Stampeder Killer” Getzlaf who made the Stamps look like fools for trying to rely on second rate HBs to try and cover him one on one. Not only did we accept Fantuz’s role as a high profile decoy we also exploited it. More than once we kept Fantuz in to block which handcuffed Browner to the line of scrimmage where he could have little to no affect on the play. Really smart move on our part.
Other special mentions go out to:
- Our O-line who gave Durant enough time lay down, have a nap, solve complex quantum physics problems and make waffles on some plays. Calgary has a strong front 7 and while there were a lot of balls batted down, protection wise I thought the hoggies played well.
- Cary Koch who certainly didn’t look like rookie who was playing in only his second playoff game ever.
- Wes Cates. We didn’t run the ball lots but when we did, he got 5 yards guaranteed. And late in the game when we needed to kill the clock he was at his best. +
On both sides of the ball I though the team did a great job of stepping up and making plays when required. Special Teams… well that was a different story.
I hate to harp on negatives at such a joyous time but what an embarrassment this group is. We consistently made life hard on our defense by spotting the Stamps the ball at mid-field every time they were on offense. I’m amazed at how often our D was able to bail us out of those situations. Yet again our return game was non-existent. Our blockers must be on some kind of mind altering drugs since the only people they appear to be blocking are imaginary. And as for Grease-Mullen… I have never sworn so much in my life! What the hell were you doing?!?!? If it weren’t for some lucky bounces and a miracle save by Jerrell Freeman there is a very good chance that someone may have killed Grease-Mullen already… it may have even been me. Look our returns don’t go anywhere any way so why don’t you just save what little mental capacity you have and concentrate only on securing the ball. I can’t believe that someone tasked with the relatively easy job of replacing the perennially embarrassing Dominique Dorsey could somehow manage not to look good by comparison. As a sign of my thanks to Jerrell Freeman for saving the day (and my heart as I was about to have coronary) I offer you a night in a hotel room with my fiancée no questions asked, I’ll even pay for the hotel room.
Special teams aside, I was extremely impressed with the heart and effort displayed by our team yesterday. They refused to give up and succeeded against tremendous adversity as a team. They are truly deserving at a second chance at the Grey Cup and I can’t wait to be there in person to cheer them on… this will be a long, long week.
I’d just like to end by pointing out that John Hufnagel and the Stamps have no one to blame but themselves for the damage caused by their undisciplined play. Hufnagel allowed and even encouraged his team’s cockiness and tendency to push the limits of the rules all season. And low and behold when it mattered most he couldn’t reign in his team and get them to play within the rules. Discipline is a mindset and a culture, not something you can turn on and off as you please. One coach made discipline a priority all year and one did not… it should come as no surprise as to which coach is headed to the Grey Cup and which coach is headed home. You reap what you sow.
It’s amazing how much sweeter victories are when they are over the Stampeders.
Okay that’s enough typing… back to shaking with excitement!!!!