Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Round-Up: Rodriguez and Patrick In; Davis Out

If you’re like me you’ve been busy this week watching the triumphs of our Canadian hockey teams, the dominance of our curlers/women bobsledders and the emotional journey of Joannie Rochette… and by that of course I mean definitely not watching women’s figure skating and likely watching something far more manly like ice dancing or 2 man luge. Amid all this Olympic hoopla, it was a busy week in Riderville so let’s get to it… The big news that everyone is talking about is the trade with Hamilton. We acquired Prechae Rodriguez in exchange for Adam Nicholson, a 3rd round draft pick in 2011 and the neg rights to kick returner Chris Williams. I’m somewhat torn on this one. On one hand it’s a typical Taman trade in that we trade a Canadian and a draft pick for an American. That said it’s not like Nicholson is a huge loss and a 3rd round pick is a relatively small price to pay. Now I am in the minority who think that Rodriguez is overrated. Yeah he was the East’s Top Rookie in 2008 but he is a one trick pony… jump ball deep is his only play. However, even with his limited repertoire he is an upgrade over Gerran Walker so he should have a positive impact on our offense. It’s by no means a Tillman-style fleecing of the Cats but all in all I would say it’s a decent trade. In order to facilitate the trade, Jason Clermont was asked to take a pay cut. This is hardly unexpected given Clermont’s reduced role last year. Clermont, being the business minded fellow that is, probably agreed to the pay cut on the condition that the new coaches purchase their houses through him… likely putting him ahead at the end of the day. We also officially re-signed James Patrick and Marcus Adams. To me Patrick is a huge signing. He started the season slow but developed into an impact player down the stretch and into the playoffs (much like Sean Lucas did in 2007). I believe he will continue to improve and be an impact safety (something this team hasn’t had in many years). Closest thing we’ve had was the “impact” of Scott Gordon hitting a lineman on his way to coming nowhere near the QB on a blitz. But along with all the arrivals, there was a major departure. After spending the previous 43 decades the other teams’ most elite play makers like Geroy Simon, Ben Cahoon, Terry Vaughn, hell, I think he's been around so long that he probably even had a few battles with Willie Shakespeare (who by all accounts ran quite the hook and go), Eddie Davis announced his retirement yesterday. While you hate to see a player of Davis’ calibre go, at 37, there’s no denying that he was starting to slow down. His knowledge of the game was second to none but physically you could see that he was starting to lose a step last season. Davis leaves with a legacy as one of the best DBs in Rider history (Barracuda history as well). While his leadership will be missed, with the presence of Lance Frazier and the emergence of Chris McKenzie (not to mention the fact that the rest of our secondary remains in tact), we will be fine. So farewell to Eddie and many thanks for your contributions to the team over the past 9 years. There was also another departure in the CFL that saddened the Rider Prophet. Michael Bishop was released by the Bombers this week (pause for moment of silence). In 2010, Bishop reached hilarious new lows on the football field. From completing only 8 passes with the season on the line, to being so dumb he required the plays to be called via whiteboards, to knocking himself unconscious on his own blocker… the entertainment never seemed to end. Now who will fill my days with hilarious ineptness and repeated failure?

CFL Ins and Outs

In: OL Jason Jimenez (free agent signing)
Out: OL Dan Goodspeed (released)
It came down to math on this one, Jimenez was younger and likely cheaper and Goodspeed had a $90K bonus due on March 1. Plus Bob O’Billivich was the one who originally brought Jimemez to the Lions. Goodspeed was a Taman guy, so you connect the dots. Not that I really want us to sign another OL the wrong side of 30, it’s just the odds of it happening are good.

In: WR Gerran Walker, DL Alex Buzbee, DL Ejiro Kuale, Leon Joe (free agent signing)
Out: QB Stephen Reaves (cut)

Walker may not be the best receiver but he’s still pretty good. He’s fast and has pretty good hands (when he’s not returning kicks) so he should have a positive impact on the Argos offense… the impact would be even greater if the Argos had someone who could actually throw the ball to him. I would like to make an unbiased recommendation that they bring back Michael Bishop.

Out: DB Kelly Malveaux, DB Lamar Herron, DB Bradley Robinson, DL Jerome Haywood, OL Garrick Jones (cut)
Wow, that’s quite the collection of terrible players. I’m shocked that the Esks’ D was as terrible as it was when these were calibre of players they were reduced to fielding.

Out: RB Ian Smart, DB Lavar Glover, DL Nautyn McKay-Loescher (cut) LB JoJuan Armour (retired)
No real surprises here.

In: QB Stephen Jyles, WR DJ Hall (free agent signing) LB Thaine Carter (2009 draft pick signing)
Out: QB Michael Bishop, QB Casey Bramlet (cut)

Again, I can’t put into words the sadness that Michael Bishop’s unemployment is causing me. Hopefully another Indoor Football League team will sign him this year… I’m looking at you Austin Turfcats.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Goings On

With the Olympics in full swing, football has taken a back seat of late. But personally I’m starting to tire a bit of the winter games. Maybe it’s the fact that Canada’s performance in pretty much every single event seems to end with Brian Williams telling us that “Canada came up just short” or “… and a disappointing finish for Canadian athletes”… not the least of which was Martin Brodeur ruining what was otherwise a pretty good effort by our hockey team by inexplicably trying to repeatedly play the puck with all the finesse and talent of a Lithuanian mountain goat.

I mean sure, we still have curling and ice dancing (you know, the manly sports) but I think we need something to take our mind off the Olympics for awhile. So let’s check in and see what’s been happening in the CFL…

Things are still fairly quiet on the free agent front other than it sounds like Chunky Adams has agreed on a new contract. Still no word on our other free agents. Apparently Gerran Walker is mulling over contract offers from the Riders, Lions and Argos. For some odd reason he wants to go to Winnipeg but LaPolice has stated that they are not interested. They are also not interested in James Patrick which is great news for us. At this point, unless BC backs up a truckload of money, Patrick should end up re-signing here because his other options are fairly limited.

Word is Larry Zierlein is the leading candidate to become the Riders’ new O-line Coach. Zierlein spent the last 2 years as the OL Coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has a fairly extensive coaching resume so he seems like a good hire. He is also a senior (64) which should push the average age of our coaching staff to highest in the CFL (seems like an odd goal to me, but what do I know). Interesting story about Zierlein… he once accidentally forwarded a pornographic email to commissioner Roger Goodell (among other high ranking NFL officials). Given Zierlein’s age, I believe that it was legitimately an accident. He probably didn’t even realize what he was doing and was just attempting to tap a message out in Morse code since he couldn’t locate the rotary dialer.

The Argos have started clearing house, releasing Kerry Joseph, Cody Pickett and Zeke Moreno. While it’s hard to argue with any of these moves, they do create a pretty big problem for them… they have no QB (unless you want to count 3rd stringer Stephen Reaves ***Edit: They just cut Reaves too***). I guess to be fair it’s not like the Argos had a legitimate QB last year anyway so they aren’t really any worse off.

It does beg the question though… just who the hell does coach Jim Barker plan to play this year? Word is they are pursuing Gibran Hamdan who played with the Bills last year but you’d have to think they have their eye on at least one QB with CFL experience. There aren’t any on the free agent market so that points to a trade. There is a team out there that would be a logical trading partner but there’s one slight snag… they are owned by the same guy. BC needs to dump either Buck Pierce or Jarious Jackson but the optics of a trade between the Braley owned teams are sketchy at best. Personally I could care less. There have been ridiculous trades between teams with different owners (most notably Hamilton sending Troy Davis and Dan Comiskey to the Esks in ’05) so its not like different ownership ensures fair deals. Besides Pierce and Jackson aren’t that good anyway so even if the Lions only get a few rolls of tape in exchange they likely come out ahead in the deal.

The Ti-Cats have landed free agent all-star Sandro DeAngeles. They needed a new kicker to replace the recently released Nick Setta and Sandro marks a huge upgrade. But given that he doesn’t punt the Ti-Cats now need a punter. I’m hoping they find one who is tough enough to continue the longstanding tradition of beating up DeAngeles.

CFL Ins and Outs


In: DL Jean-Philippe Gilbert, DB Will Poole, DB Jason Shivers, DL Michael Landry (free agent signing)

Out: LB Derrick Pope (cut)


In: DL Kenny Pettway (free agent signing)


In: DB Willie Middlebrooks (re-signed)


In: WR Adarius Bowman, OL Ryan Donnelly (re-signed). QB Adam DiMichele (free agent signing)

Out: DL Michael Landry (cut)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Round-Up

The Riders officially announced its coaching staff yesterday (with the exception of an O-Line coach). As expected, Doug Berry was named Offensive Coordinator, Bob Dyce was named Receivers Coach and Jim Daley was named Special Teams Coordinator. While I have concerns over Berry’s temper and ability to lose the locker room, I think he’s smart enough to do well in his position (just keep him away from the Head Coach spot). Dyce I know relatively little about but am willing to give a chance. However, the hiring of Jim Daley makes me have serious doubts about the intelligence of our decision makers.

Seriously what on his resume jumped off the page and screamed “this guy is a good hire’?!?!?! He was a failure as our Head Coach. He was a failure as Winnipeg’s Head Coach. And most recently was a failure as Defensive Coordinator in Edmonton. C’mon Man! I never thought I’d live to see the day where Alex Smith would be a significant upgrade on Special Teams.

It seems Stephen Jyles has finally made up his mind and will be headed for Winnipeg. This should have been a no-brainer for Jyles as Winnipeg offered him a legitimate chance to start while we did not. However, much like when he was on the field, Jyles was hesitant to look away from his first option, took a long time to make a decision and probably ended up accidentally faxing his signed Bomber contract to Ken Miller.

Unlike many, I didn’t actually mind Jyles (other than the fact that he was abysmal at the one yard plunge). I think given a chance he could develop into a legitimate starter. Don’t get me wrong I’m happier with Durant (who is way smarter than Jyles), I’m just saying I don’t hate the guy. I think this is a good move for both sides. Jyles gets a chance to compete for a starting spot (and quite frankly if he can’t manage to best Michael Bishop he should probably just retire) and we give our young QB prospects (Harrell, Bell and Bergquist) a chance to shine. While some are concerned that we have zero experience now should (god forbid) Durant get hurt, I’m not so worried. Let’s not forget that Durant was a nobody when he got called into action in 2008 and that turned out alright (save for the part where the Argos crack his ribs and Bishop ends up ruining our season). I’m confident that one of our guys will step up in camp and establish himself as a viable back-up.

A bit more light has been shed on the decision to bring in Dominique Dorsey. I, like many, was wondering about Jason Armstead in all of this. Well it seems Armstead is pushing for a new contract (presumably including a pay raise) which isn’t the best way to endear yourself to the new GM (particularly since the new GM already cut him once in his previous job). My guess is that Armstead probably just heard that we offered 100K to Jyles and reasoned that since he was more proficient passer (he did complete 100% of his pass attempts in 2009 and scored a TD on 100% of his regular season passes), he should be making at least that much.

The Toronto Argonauts have fired Assistant General Manager/Director, Player Personnel Gregory Mohns as well as Coordinator of Canadian Scouting Miles Gorrell. What shocked me about this was the fact that the Argos have a designated position for Canadian scouting. Given that they haven’t actually scouted a Canadian in many years I wonder what the hell Mr. Gorrell has been doing all this time. I would also like to know how I go about applying for this position because it would be one of the easiest jobs ever.

Jesse Lumsden will soon compete in the Olympics as part of our Bobsledding team. This could be a big moment for Lumsden because if he manages to complete one run he will have surpassed his accomplishments as an Edmonton Eskimo.

That’s it for now. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday Update

Here’s a quick update on what’s going on

- Taman has managed do his first useful act as Rider GM. He has signed Tad Kornegay to a new deal which is great news! Unlike our previous signings who were in no danger of leaving, fresh off a Western All-Star nomination, Kornegay definitely had interest from other teams.

- The other big news was the signing of Dominique Dorsey to a 1 year plus an option, 125K a year deal. I’m a bit torn on this one. On one hand, adding a former Special Teams Player of the Year who is a threat to score at any time is a good thing. On the other hand, I’m not really sure we needed him. Dorsey is a great kick returner and decent change of pace back. Thing is we are loaded with “change of pace” backs (Foord and Charles) plus we already have quality returner in Armstead. Dorsey is not an every down back and that is what we really need (remember the last time we tried that? He’s performance got him shipped to Winnipeg). So while I don’t mind having a talent like Dorsey (who is still fairly young) on our team, I don’t think we really needed him and should be focusing on other priorities. Especially since Jim Daley will use his limitless ineptness to somehow squander Dorsey’s talent anyways.

- Stephen Jyles is currently mulling over competing offers from the Riders and Blue Bombers. Both offers are reportedly around $100K/season. So the decision will likely come down to playing time for Jyles. Here his role is clear. He is Durant’s back-up and will only play mop-up duty barring injury. In Winnipeg, the starter’s spot is wide open and he will be given every opportunity to compete for it under the guise of his old OC LaPolice (not to mention that his competition includes the likes of Michael Bishop so the bar won’t be set overly high). I could really care less whether he stays or goes. Either we get a veteran back-up or one of our young prospects gets a chance to step up. That said if Jyles turns down a legitimate chance at starting to stay here as our back-up, I would have serious concerns about his competitiveness and drive. A 2nd string QB should be hungry for playing time and eager to show his skills, not content to sit on the bench and botch the occasional 1 yard plunge.

- The Riders currently also have contract offers out to Chunky Adams (pretty much a done deal), James Patrick (who is said to be leaning towards re-signing), Eddie Davis (negotiations have come down to money) and Wes Cates (who is rumoured to be headed to Toronto).

- The Argos sent PK Sam to the Stamps for in exchange for Jermaine Copeland. This is a brilliant move by the Stamps. Copeland is aging and coming off a career season that he is unlikely to replicate. His value is at a peak. So trading him for a younger and cheaper receiver who is already playing pretty good football is a great move. From the Argos perspective I can see the value in adding a proven veteran when you are trying to rebuild an offense… though unless they plan to play Copeland at QB they are still stuck with the same problems as last season.

- Edmonton and Hamilton swung a major trade as well. The Esks sent Maurice Mann to the Ti-Cats in exchange for DB Chris Thompson. I think this is a good trade for both teams. Mann will give Hamilton’s offense a boost and help open up some room for Arland Bruce. The Esks secondary has been atrocious since the Ottawa Renegades last played so they need all the help they can get.

- I’m shocked to report that interest in free agent DB James Johnson has been thus far on par with the Norwegian hockey team’s offensive output.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sentimonies Of Unspecified Date And Time

As you’ve no doubt figured out by now, the Rider Prophet does not work on statutory holidays (same goes for non-statutory holidays, quasi-holidays and ones that, quite frankly, I completely made up). If our supreme overlords in the legislature have determined that I should abstain from work for a day to celebrate my family, who am I to argue? (Though admittedly I took some liberties and interpreted “celebrate” as “lounge around” and “family” to mean “nobody”).

Anywho there’s lot’s to get you caught up on in terms of player movement and coaching changes so let’s get down to it…

I am by nature a calm individual (except on game day) and rarely get overly pessimistic about offseason departures. Having lived through the past 3 offseasons where big name departures such as Kenton Keith, Kent Austin, Kerry Joseph, Richie Hall and Mo Lloyd have become the norm, the subsequent huge onfield success during the season will tend to reassure you that everything will somehow turn out alright. But even I, the most level headed of people, have my limits.

Losing all your offensive coaching staff and 3 of your biggest impact players on defense is a tough pill to swallow coming off a Grey Cup appearance but we’ve faced similar situations in the past and made out okay. So why is it that I’m starting to worry now? Well under Tillman’s guidance there was always a solid backup plan. Austin leaves… Miller and LaPo move up, Mo and Anton leave… Kornegay and Rey Williams step in.

Admittedly Taman and Miller do have some sort of plan but it seems to revolve around picking up other teams rejects. Need an offensive coaching staff?... Hire Doug Berry and Bob Dyce (who both couldn’t cut it in Winnipeg) and Jim Daley (who has only had the term “successful” used in the same sentence as his name when his mother successfully gave birth to him). Need to replace 3 of your best defenders?… sign Kelly Bates. The way things are going the Riders’ next move might be to replace all their company vehicles with Toyotas (I here you can get a great deal on used newer models these days).

About the only thing keeping me going at this point is my hope that Ken Miller knows what he’s doing. He’s earned my trust over the past 3 seasons and now that trust is being put the test… and if things keep going like they are, my liver will be put to the test too.

Almost as concerning as the abrupt decline in the quality of our coaches, is our lack of activity when it comes to re-signing our free agents, or other teams’ free agents, or anybody at all for that matter. You could point to the fact that Andy Fantuz, Stu Foord, Chris Szarka, Jocelyn Frenette and Marc Parenteau have all re-signed as a sign that Taman is at least doing something but let’s be realistic here. The Fantuz contract was negotiated by Tillman so all Taman had to do was manage to fax it to the league (which he managed not to fail at). Foord, Frenette and Szarka were such no brainer/easy signings that they probably would have just written up and signed their own extensions and slid them carefully under Ken Miller’s pillow as he napped. Parenteau is a quality player but given our current depth at OL (and the recent Bates signing) it is devoid of logic from my perspective.

Hopefully the coming days bring better news our way… in the meantime, repeat after me “In Miller we trust. In Miller we trust. In Miller we trust.” (It doesn’t have the same ring as “In Tillman we trust” but I guess it will have to do.

CFL Ins and Outs


In: Andy Fantuz, Stu Foord, Chris Szarka Marc Parenteau, Jocelyn Frenette (contract extensions)

Out: Rey Williams (signed with Pittsburgh Steelers)

Well that probably permanently puts to bed Andy’s NFL aspirations. If he couldn’t get an acceptable offer (or any offer for that matter) in a year when NFL handing out contracts to anybody to who registered a solitary CFL stat, he probably never will. Too bad for him… great for the Riders.


WR Amarri Jackson (free agent signing)

Out: OL Cedric Gagne-Marcoux (signed with Toronto)
I got nothing.


In: WR Obed Cetoute, WR PK Sam, LB Raymond Fontaine (contract extension) WR Brandon Rideau OL Cedric Gagne-Marcoux, DB Byron Parker (free agent signing)

Out: K Justin Medlock (signed with Washington Redskins)

Last year the Argos offense was minimal at best. Due to their lack of a decent QB they had to rely on Medlock to put up the few points they actually managed to score. Now they still don’t have a viable QB and have lost Medlock… putting their chances of scoring in 2010 roughly on par with the attendees of a Star Trek convention (though in both cases scoring on themselves is very likely).


In: WR Kerry Watkins, FB Kerry Carter, DL Jermaine McElveen (contract extension)

Out: DL Keron Williams (signed with BC)

Als manage to keep 1 of their 2 top free agents and I’m surprised at which one it was. I always thought that Watkins would jump at the chance to leave the Als as he’s never really been happy there. I’m guessing that there wasn’t a huge market for him (Esks and Argos would be about the only interested parties) so given those meagre options it was a good call to stick with the perennially successful Als.


In: DL Keron Williams (free agent signing)

Out: DL Ricky Foley (signed with Seattle Seahawks)

Foley’s departure leaves a huge void on the BC front 4 but the signing of Keron Williams definitely fills that void. Williams is probably the biggest free agent acquisition of the offseason.


Out: DB Byron Parker (signed with Toronto)

I called Parker back to Toronto 2 weeks ago… a fact that is way more impressive when you ignore the fact that at the same time I predicted Parenteau’s and Watkins’ departure from their respective teams.


In: WR Aaron Hargreaves (contract extension)

Out: DL Pat MacDonald (signed with Seattle Seahawks)

Pat MacDonald joins the likes of Dudley Guice on the list of NFL signings that I have never heard of before and wonder what they did to manage an NFL shot.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Round-Up

Just about to skip town for the weekend so you'll have to settle for rapid fire comments on this week's CFL news.

- The Riders signed OL Kelly Bates and cut Antonio Hall, Bobby Harris and Denatay Heard. While none of the cuts surprise me the Bates signing does. Not sure why we would need another really old O-lineman, particularly one who couldn't cut it in Winnipeg. Unfortunately signing over the hill rejected veterans is one of the cornerstones of Taman's appraoch to football

- Rider fans were maybe willing to forgive Paul LaPolice for taking a promotion and leaving town, but the forgiveness may soon run out if he continues to poach our entire coaching staff. He has made Jamie Baresi his OC and Kavis Reed will be his DC.

- Fear not though, the Riders are set to hire Doug Berry as their new OC. He's actually a decent hire provided Miller can keep Berry's temper and ability to lose the lockeroom under control.

- I don't like how this is shaping up. All the Rider coaching staff is headed to Winnipeg and we're slowly acquiring Bombers (Taman, Berry, Bates)... its as if the teams are covertly switching places. And if that's the case we are getting the raw end of the deal.

- Training camp is to be held in Saskatoon this year. This will simultaneously decrease work productivity in Toon town and increase internet usage in the Queen City

- The Riders are apparently going to hire and Assistant GM. My question is... if Miller handles all the big decisions and Taman outsources the grunt work to his assistant, what exactly will there be left for Taman to do? Not that Taman having nothing to do would be a bad thing.

- The Argos introduced David Braley as their new owner and Jim barker as their new coach. That may have been good news if not for the fact that they proceeded to announce that Adam Rita would be kept on as GM, which is a bad enough decision to trump pretty much any good news.

- The Esks traded DL Eric Taylor to Toronto for Andre Talbot anf WR Brad Smith. This is one of those rare cases where both teams seem to have got screwed over in the deal. Argos D was pretty decent it's just their offense that sucked so trading away 2 Canadian receivers for an American DL a bit odd . And as for the Eskimos the recievers they recieved in reutrn aren't really that good. I guess this is what happens when Adam Rita and Danny Maciocia cut deals.

- Free Agency opens Monday and I'll have coverage of what goes on all day.

NFL Watch
- Duval works out for Bengals and Jets
- Ricky Foley will sign in the NFL its just a matter of where
- Pat MacDonald got a tryout with the Seahawks as a long snapper. (I know. WHo?)
- Rey Williams got a tryout with the Steelers. (As a pour another stiff drink to help cope)

CFL Ins and Outs

Out: DB Jordan Younger (cut)

In: DL Charleston Hughes (contract extension)

In: RB Emmanuel Marc (free agent signing)

In: LB Javier Glatt (free agent signing)

In: DB Davis Sanchez (free agent signing)
Is anyone shocked that Dirty Sanchez opted to sign with the Lions? It’s as if it was meant to be

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rider Prophet Roughrider Trivia Challenge – Round 2

It’s a pretty slow news day so I decided that in place of my regularly scheduled Sentimonies I would change things up a bit today by testing your football knowledge.

Below are 10 trivia questions that will test you knowledge of the Riders and of the CFL. If you think you have what it takes, email your answer to by this Friday. Whoever gets the most correct answers will be the winner (though I suppose that goes without saying).

Unlike my first Trivia Challenge, there will actually be a prize awarded to the winner. The winner will be awarded a shirt of their choice from the Rider Prophet Store. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck.

Trivia Challenge Round 2

1. Name the only 2 Canadians to ever be named the League’s Most Outstanding Player.

2. How many undrafted Canadians dressed for the Riders this season? Name them.

3. Of the Roughriders’ Canadians that were drafted, who was the lowest drafted player to score a TD in 2009?

4. Who was the Riders’ lowest drafted Canadian defender to record a tackle in 2009?

5. Weston Dressler was only the 2nd Rider to ever be named Rookie of the Year. Name the other.

6. How many times was Ray Elgaard named Most Outstanding Canadian?

7. Other than John Chick, who is the only Rider to be name Most Outstanding Defensive Player?

8. The Riders have retired 8 numbers. Whose numbers are they?

9. Who was the last Rider to be drafted in the NFL?

10. In the 2000 NFL Draft, which of these 3 were drafted first, Anthony Malbrough, Tom Brady or Spergeon Wynn?

Bonus Question: Do you win friends with salad?

**One last not on contest eligibility you should be aware of**

The following people/groups are not eligible to participate in this contest… employees of Rider Prophet Media (because that just wouldn’t be fair), residents of Quebec (as per standard Canadian contest rules) and Latvians (just because I can).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Roundup

Here are some random news and thoughts to close off the week….

- So we go from Tillman, LaPolice, Chick and Baggs in 2009 and replace them with the likes of Taman, Crandell, Kitwana and Stadnyk for 2010. That’s gotta be somewhat concerning even to the most optimistic of fans.

- As crappy as the departure of LaPolice is for Rider fans, imagine how Greg Marshall must feel. The man has now been in contention for that job the past 3 times they’ve had an opening and has been passed over each and every time. You’d think at some point Marshall would get the hint that maybe the Bombers don’t want him.

- As I suspected, it sounds like Joe Womack won’t be accepting the scouting job the Riders offered him. Unlike Marshall, I think Womack got the hint that he wasn’t really wanted.

- I will be shocked if LaPolice doesn’t entice Steven Jyles to sign with Bombers

- Generally when players can make the NFL they head north (to the CFL). Well what happens when a player can’t crack the CFL? … Apparently they head even further north… at least that’s what Teale Orban is doing. After unsuccessfully exploring his CFL options, Orban is headed up to Alaska to try out for the Fairbanks Grizzlies of the IFL. When asked about his knowledge of the indoor game, Orban told the team that he has an Arena League video game that he has played… thus making him the most decorated Alaskan recruit ever.

NFL Workout Watch

Here’s who has been attracting attention south of the border…

Joel Bell – Cowboys
As if I need another reason to drink.

Ricky Foley – Jets, Patriots and Ram
That’s quite the spectrum of defenses to audition for. From the league leading Jets D to the lowly Rams and Patriots D that their own coach doesn’t have faith in.

Justin Medlock – Texans and Falcons
Damon Duval - Falcons
Sandro DeAngeles – Cowboys and Falcons
Given the quality of kicking late this season in the NFL, if one of these guys doesn’t get a shot down south I’ll be shocked.

And perhaps most surprisingly…
Chris Jones – Bengals and Falcons
Seriously? Him? These tryouts must have been offered based on his physical dimensions because it certainly wasn’t due to his awe-inspiring on-field performances.

CFL Ins and Outs

Hall of Fame
In: Elfrid Payton, Tracy Ham, Donald Narcisse and Bob Cameron (2010 inductees)
Great to see Narco get inducted. Over 12,000 career receiving yards, 75 career TDs, 216 consecutive games with a catch and one infamous celebration dance… it all adds up to one of the all-time great receivers in CFL.

In: RB Dahrran Diedrick (contract extension)
Out: DB Davis Sanchez (released)
Apparently Sanchez requested his release which is a fairly bold move for an aging veteran playing on the best team in the league. It’s not likely that you are going to find a better option.

In: WR Derick Armstrong, OL Dumane Duckett (free agent signing)
Out: Barron Miles (retired)
Out with the old and in with… well the old. Miles was the best safety in the CFL bar none so that will be a huge loss (though he’ll be staying on as a coach). While I still bet Armstrong has game left in him, word is Buono is also interested in brining Barrin Simpson back to BC. Even Davis Sanchez is trying to convince the Lions to sign him. Suddenly the Lions seem to have become the destination of choice for aging vets and I’m not really sure why. Maybe given the myriad of QB injuries the Lions have had to deal with, they all assume that the team has a superior medical staff.

In: DB Joshua Abrams, DB Peter Ittersagen (free agent signing)
If you want a sign that Adam Rita’s recruiting efforts are misguided (as if further proof is even needed)… Joshua Abrams was an offensive player (receiver/RB) for his college career, yet is being brought in to compete in the secondary. What’s next a QB prospect that primarily played trumpet in college?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust… Make that 2

This team appears to have post Grey Cup curse. Every appearance in the big game leads to an exodus of people who were key to our success. After the ’07 Cup we had to endure the loss of the Coach of the Year, Most Outstanding Player of the Year and 2 defensive all-stars.

Since our Cup appearance we’ve already managed to lose our highly successful GM, the Defensive Player of the Year and one of the most respected OL coaches in the league. Well you can add to more names to the exodus list Stevie Baggs and Paul LaPolice.

Baggs has signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Becoming the second all-star DE lost to the NFL this year. As much as it sucks to lose Baggs, it was probably going to happen anyway via free agency so at least it’s to a different league and not to our opponents. Given how the NFL is looking for “prototype bodies” I’m not sure what Baggs’ chances of actually making the team… we’re talking about a league that will pass on a player for being inches too short, not sure how receptive they’ll be to a player whose toes are inches too far inwardly pointed. As a sports fan I wish Stevie the best of luck and say good for him… as a Rider fan I mutter obscenities under my breath about the Cardinals.

As much as losing Baggs hurts, the loss of LaPolice is far greater. Admittedly I have had my criticisms of LaPo but overall there is no denying that he was a great offensive coordinator. He directed the #2 scoring offense in the CFL, he was young, smart and the logical successor to old man Miller. An uncharacteristically good move by the Bombers has left a huge void on our coaching staff.

To me that’s the most concerning thing… who the hell replaces him?? When Austin left, there was a logic progression: with Miller and LaPo each getting a promotion. This time around there’s no logical replacement. I mean Marcus Crandell and Jamie Baressi are there but Crandell’s zero experience and Baressi’s brief stint as OC of the bottom dwelling Ti-Cats do little to instil confidence. Unfortunately one of those 2 will likely be the chosen one.

My recommendation would be to name Etcheverry as a replacement. His crazy schemes did wonders for our defense. Just imagine was he could do for our offense. 6 receivers bunched to the right, QB streaks, converting a DB to an offensive tackle, O-linemen running routes while receivers drop into pass protection… the possibilities are endless.

So the post Grey Cup exodus continues and we just have to hope that Ken Miller has a plan to replace these 2 talents. Taman is probably currently exploring the option of trading away both our first round picks for someone’s offensive coordinator.

One last comment on the LaPolice story…

It’s not often that I get to speak about the quality of other people’s reporting. I mean as a purveyor of a product that rife with grammatical errors/unfinished sentences, rarely timely and only loosely based on actual facts, I’m not generally in a position to criticize the quality of the work of others. Today was an exception…

This morning Sportsnet reported that LaPolice had been offered the job. A little latter TSN posted a story that the Canadian Press reported that Greg Marshall had been offered the job… citing multiple sources. Evidently both TSN and the Canadian Press needs to find better sources than the rambling hobo outside their building because every other news outlet was siding with Sportsnet and within the hour TSN had amended the Marshall story, citing new sources that LaPolice was in fact being offered the job (nice cover).

For reaching a level of journalistic ineptness so low that makes this blog look somewhat professional by comparison, I give TSN a big “For Shame!” This may be my one and only chance to claim superiority over a major television network (with the exception of CBC) so I will take full advantage of it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rider Free Agents

As promised here’s a look at the Riders poised to hit free agency next Monday

Marcus Adams – Chunky had a pretty solid season last year and short of a major trade for an elite DT there’s not a lot in terms of an immediate upgrade out there. Odds are good Chunky returns.

Stevie Baggs – Basically, take what happened with Mo Lloyd last year and replace Lloyd’s name with Baggs. The Riders will offer a decent contract but if someone else backs up a truck load of money, Baggs will be gone.

Wes Cates - Blocks well, catches well… does everything well but, you know… run. He’ll be brought back and be given a chance to prove that last season was just a small blip on the radar. Besides, it’s not like we have any better options at this point.

Eddie Davis – At this point in his career, Davis’ options are play here or retire. I’d say odds are about 50/50 either way.

Stu Foord – Not sure what Foord’s status is now that Tillman and his “sign every Regina player you can” philosophy have left town. I’m guessing Foord will be brought back though.

Jocelyn Frenette – The most consistent long snapper in the league. Age is the only working against him at this point. I think Frenette played well enough last season to warrant another year.

Steven Jyles – Should be able to garner interest from either Winnipeg or Toronto if he wants to test free agency but it sounds like the Riders are interested in keeping him. Odds are 50/50 I would say, though I’m leaning towards him staying here as Miller seems high on him.

Tad Kornegay Biggest question mark so far as I have heard nothing about him. Proved he can be an impact player when given the chance. It would make sense for him to stay in the Etcheverry system that made him an all-star but we are not the only team using a converted DB at linebacker so there could be interest from others (especially given his versatility).

Marc Parenteau – I honestly don’t think we re-sign Parenteau. I like him, he’s a decent player, he’s hilarious, but we have a log jam of Canadian OL who are both younger and cheaper. Parenteau will be the odd man out but will definitely catch on elsewhere, likely out East.

James Patrick – Finally developed into the impact player we needed him to be late in the season. Problem is that will attract attention from other teams. Haven’t had an impact safety in ages so I can’t see them letting Patrick slip away.

Chris Szarka – Proved last year that if he avoids run ins with power tools he can still score on a regular basis. There will either be a press conference announcing his re-signing or his retirement. Given how many TDs he put up last year I would guess it’ll be a re-signing.

Gerran Walker – Hard to say. Always seems to play just well enough to stick around. He’s had some flashes of greatness but nowhere near consistent enough that he can’t be replaced. While I’m guessing he’ll be brought back to camp, he can hardly be considered a lock to make the team and will be pushed hard by our new recruits.

Cliff Washburn – Doubt we re-sign him, not that he’ll be missed since I’m sure most of you probably weren’t even aware he was on our team.

Other notable free agents…

Kerry Watkins – The best offensive player on the market. Has managed to go over 1000 yds in each of the last 5 season despite having to share receptions with Cahoon and Richardson. Odds are good Watkins winds up on a new team. Edmonton, Toronto and Winnipeg should be the most interested.

Ricky Foley Assuming he doesn’t catch on with the NFL he’ll likely re-sign in BC though I’m sure a truckload of money could change his mind.

Keron Williams – 24 sacks in the past 3 seasons, one of the few dominant DTs in the CFL. He should generate a ton of interest. Would love to see the Riders take a shot at him but not counting on it. Same as Foley, he’ll likely stick with the Als unless someone offers big $.

Charleston Hughes – Another DL that should attract some attention though he hasn’t show the consistency of Foley or Williams.

Byron Parker – The top DB on the market. Depending on who ends up coaching the Argos he may opt to head back to TO.

Jason Jimenez – Jimenez’ unexpected entry to the free agent market is well timed. Other than Parenteau, the market is extremely thin in terms of OL, especially at tackle. If Toronto is smart (and they definitely aren’t) they should cut Rob Murphy (who is the highest paid OL in the league despite playing like crap) and replace him with Jimenez.

James Johnson – The question becomes, is someone desperate enough to take a chance on JJ. I’d say that narrows his options down to the Argos and McDonalds… though odds are he’d just get caught looking at the wrong deep fryer and end up getting burned.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Countdown Is On

The 2010 season is still 5 months away but I’m already starting to get excited. The excitement increased this morning with the release of the CFL schedule. If you are like me you are currently clearing your schedule, rescinding accepted wedding invitations and informing your employer of the list of days not to expect you at work. Though I’m sure some people are already developing an advance list of excuses for why they will be late for home games. Highlights of the Riders’ schedule include a Canada Day home opener against the Als and 4 games against the Esks… the lowlights include a back to back series against the Argos (or as it's more commonly referred to: the free space on the bingo card).

The 2010 season will also feature a regular season game in Moncton, NB featuring the Eskimos and Argonauts. Though I’m sure Moncton residents are excited to get their first live taste of CFL football, it’s too bad they will be forced to endure watching the Argos to get it.

While the season is still 5 months away, another fairly important day in the CFL is just 2 weeks away. Feb 15 is important for 2 reasons. 1 – It is the deadline for CFL players in their option year to sign with an NFL team. 2 – It is the first day of free agency.

In terms of option year players, Andy Fantuz (well technically he is a free agent), Louie Sakoda and Joel Bell are the most notable for the Riders. Though big names like Gene Makowsky and Mike McCullough are also in their option year, let’s just say I’m not as concerned about them catching on down south. The good news is, thus far, none of these Riders have even had a workout so we just have to hope like hell that nothing changes in the next 14 days.

In terms of potential free agents, 13 Riders are slated to hit the market on Feb 15, including Stevie Baggs, Tad Kornegay, James Patrick and Eddie Davis. I expect the list to shrink by a few names in the coming days and will break down the entire Rider free agent list later in the week.

Eric Morris has followed the lead of fellow Texas Tech alum Graham Harrell and taken an offseason coaching job in the NCAA. Morris will serve as an offensive assistant at the University of Houston. It appears however that Morris’ knee (which he injured part way through last season) still isn’t healed, meaning Morris probably won’t be healthy in time for training camp, not that that’s a huge loss. His 1 reception and sub par kick returns probably won’t be missed. In fact, I think the only reason we signed Morris was to help convince Harrell to sign here too.

Around the CFL…

The Argos continue to reach new lows for idiocy in football. They offered their Head Coaching job to Als OC Scott Milanovich only to have Milanovich decline. Now that in and of itself isn’t news, it’s been common practice over the last 2 years for people to decline positions with the Argos. However, what is newsworthy is the reason that Milanovich declined. Apparently the Argos offered him a whopping salary of $175,000, which is only $25K more than Milanovich’s current salary and would be by far the lowest head coach salary in the CFL.

The logic here is astounding. Last year the Argos offered Bart Andrus $475K per year (tops in the league) despite the fact that he had zero qualifications. This year they offer a highly qualified candidate $300K less?! My only theory for this ridiculous display of decision making is that the Argos are learning from the Stubler/Andrus debacles and instituting a new policy of not paying coach’s very much so that when you inevitably have to fire them, it's pretty cheap. Regardless of their reasoning, the Argos are now in the exact same position they were in last year… nobody who is remotely qualified wants the job. Since the whole “import what’s left of NFL Europe” strategy didn’t work last year maybe this year they will scour the remains of the now defunct Arena League for a coaching staff.

Stampeder OC George Cortez has accepted a job with the Buffalo Bills as their QB coach. Given Cortez’ history of developing great QBs (Garcia, Dickenson) you’d think he could find a better team than the Bills. Henry Burris always said that he wanted to be the greatest QB Cortez ever worked with… at least now with Cortez having to coach Trent Edwards, he won’t be the worst… well maybe he still will be but at least it will be close.

The Alouettes have added QB Tim Tebow to their negotiation list. Odds are slim of him venturing north anytime soon but it’s still a decent use of a neg list spot. I mean it’s not like the Als added Donovan Bailey, Deion Sanders or Brock Lesnar… I mean it would take some kind of idiot to do that… oh wait… awkward.

CFL Ins and Outs

In: Ken-Yon Rambo (contract extension)
When healthy, Rambo is one of the top receivers in the CFL so it’s no surprise to see the Stamps lock him up. This does however leave the Stamps with Lewis, Copeland, Rambo and Bryant under contract, which is a lot of money tied up in import receivers. I would think something has to give. I’m betting Bryant gets traded since he plays Rambo’s wide-out spot.

In: OL Bryan Chui (contract extension)
Good lord would some of these Alouettes retire already. To give you an idea of how long Chui has been playing… during his rookie season Shonte Peoples was a league all-star with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Out: K Nick Setta (released)
Setta used to be the lone bright spot on what was otherwise a pitiful excuse for a football team. Last year though, the rest of the team progressed by leaps and bounds while Setta seemed to regress at a similar pace. It makes me wonder if Setta was actually ever that good or if he was actually crappy but just looked really good compared to the rest of his team.

Out: OL Jason Jimenez, LB Javier Glatt (released)
Wouldn’t be the offseason without some vets being shipped out by Buono. For the most part he has a pretty good track record of releasing vets just before their best before dates, although Glatt probably should have been turfed last year because his production has been plummeting at Edmonton Oiler-like rates. Jimenez however I find a bit odd. While he’s not quite the dominant player he was in ’06-’08, he was still a decent tackle and quite frankly the Lions need all the help they can get when it comes to protecting their fragile QBs. I’m guessing the decision to cut him was based on $$$. Then again, maybe Jimenez has received a better offer from another team and wants to move on - Wally's a humanitarian now you know.