Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

From all of us here at Rider Prophet Media, Man in the Bush, Mrs. Prophet, Media Consultant, PR guy and me, Merry Christmas to everyone.

I'm off on a few days of quasi-deserved vacation but will be back in a few days.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Luca Congi Released

Tuesday the tenure of a beloved Rider came to an end. We all saw this coming a mile away and for the most part can’t disagree with the decision but it still is a sad day. Luca Congi has been released. Mrs. Prophet is particularly distraught as she would no doubt leave me for Congi if the opportunity presented. The stay of 2 other Riders also came to an end but they were less beloved and they are not being mourned (more on them in a bit).

Luca Congi was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2006 CFL draft by then GM Roy Shivers. We needed to replace Paul McCallum for reason I won’t bother rehashing. Shiv no doubt wanted a black kicker (of which there are very few) but had to settle on an Italian one (of which there is an abundance). Congi made an immediate impression in his rookie season establishing himself as a reliable kicker. He put together a string of consecutive FGs that came close to tying Dave Ridgeway’s record. He won a Grey Cup with us in 2007. It wasn’t all roses and sunshine since Congi was not a very good punter or kickoff guy but Rider Nation came to adore this loveable Italian. I’ll never get why he was so bad at kickoffs. Punting, I get, it’s a completely different motion. But FGs and kickoffs are pretty similar and Congi was just awful at kickoffs.

It all came crashing down when someone came unblocked off the edge on a kick attempt and obliterated Congi’s knee. Sadly that would be that time he’d done a Rider jersey. The belief that “you do not lose your spot do to injury” is pure crap. While Congi was hurt we drafted another kicker. Turned out he could do all 3 kicking jobs well and came at a fraction of Congi’s $100,000 price tag. Younger, cheaper, better… the decision was so easy that not even Taman could botch it. So while I’m sad from a human side of things, I’m in full agreement from a football side of things.

So long, Luca and best of luck. My only regret is that you never grew that daigo moustache I wanted you too. Just think what could have been…

As for the less beloved Riders that were released George Hudson (who I sure most of you forgot was even on this team) and Tamon George. Hudson was and old vet OL who was brought in as a back-up OL/emergency centre in case Parenteau sucked (well Parenteau actually did suck so the fact that Hudson never got to play should tell you something). With Neufeld, Kraunsick-Groh and Hutchins waiting in the wings we just had no use for … or even less use for him since we never really used him.

As for Tamon, he just never panned out. When he was drafted he was considered the top cover guy in the CIS. In retrospect that may have been more a reflection on the quality of CIS DBs than on George’s talent. He had plenty of chances to prove himself what with Donovan Alexander being shipped out and Leron Mitchell always being hurt… but never showed he had what it takes to compete at this level. He

It’s a good thing that Keith Shologan turned out to be good because otherwise Eric Tillman’s draft record while he was with the Riders would be abysmal. Now I like ET but outside of Shologan he drafted the following “superstars”: David McKoy, Yannick Carter, Ryan Ackerman, Reggie Bradshaw, Jonathan St. Pierre, Mike Stadnyk, Teal Orban, Jean-Francois Morin-Roberge, and Nick Hutchins.

Yannick is the only one to accomplish anything out of that group. Its actually amazing Tillman was able to build such strong Canadian content in spite of his god awful drafting. He was way better at trading for Canadians and signing undrafted ones than actually drafting people.

Speaking of Tillman my early prediction is that both Congi and George end up in Edmonton for a tryout at training camp.

The Riders also signed Saskatchewan punter Chris Bodnar… as far as I know he is neither Italian, has a moustache nor has a lat name I can turn into a hilarious Seinfeld reference… therefore I am indifferent towards this signing.

CFL Ins and Outs

In: DB Ian Logan (contract extension), OL Brendan Dunn (draft pick signing)

In: DB Ryan Hinds (contract extension)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Offseason is Upon Us

It’s a week before Christmas and the Riders have already named a head coach… the likely means there will be as much Rider news over the next couple of weeks as there will news on the Easter Bunny. Those of you who have been with the blog for a while now will be used to what happens this time of the year. I either attempt to turn the few minor snippets of CFL news into a loosely coherent post… or I just make up filler posts that are only loosely based on football.

Today I will opt for the former since there are actually a few tidbits of CFL News floating around out there. After that I can’t make any promises. There will likely some Christmas based filler post to close out the week. I will then take a not-so deserved break over Christmas and be back in the New Year… likely with more filler of varying quality and coherency. I figure if I set expectations low, my readers are less likely to be disappointed. Under-promise and over-deliver (or at least deliver on par), that’s what I always say.

One of the bigger stories is the Fantuz drama. There are reports (albeit from less than reputable sources) that the Riders have made an offer to Fantuz for a 3 year deal that would make him the highest paid non-QB in the league. This deal has not been accepted by Fantuz and his agent. This of course has sent Rider Nation into hissy fit of whiny little girl proportions. People are freaking out that he is for sure leaving us now, they are calling him all sorts of names… I’m sure a few are even plotting a Tonya Harding-style hit on the guy.

Sad as it may be, I yet again have to be the calm voice of reason here (you people should all be ashamed). Calm down people! For one, yes that seems like a ridiculously large amount of money if it’s true. Fantuz is awesome but to pay him more than a Geroy Simon (who I believe is currently the highest paid WR and a future hall of famer) or a Josh Bourke (an elite Canadian tackle) seems a bit crazy… but this is Taman we are talking about. He paid Dorsey and Sean Lucas 6 figures a piece so the fact that he is offering crazy money to someone with talent is at least a positive.

As for the people assuming Fantuz is a greedy bastard who will be bolting the first chance he gets… firstly yes he is greedy. I don’t blame him, its just plain smart business to maximize your value in the workplace. Secondly, all this means is Fantuz won’t sign any deal until free agency. He wants to see what else he can get. Again, I don’t blame him for doing that. He’s a worker in a career with a limited length, not a charity case. If our offer is competitive he’ll stay. There is a risk we lose him which would suck… but I say if someone is willing to pay him more than we are then power to them. They can take that cap hit and Taman can put the money towards other ridiculous contracts… I mean Wes Cates needs a new deal and he’s like our MVP :) Four More Years! Four More Years!

I for one won’t get caught up in this drama. If he stays great, if he rejects our crazy offer and bolt for an even crazier offer then so be it.

NFL Watch

Khalif Mitchell – has a workout with Miami

Marcus Thigpen – has a workout with Miami

Jovan Olafioye – has a workout with Miami, Minnesota, Cleveland, Pittsburg and the NY Jets.

CFL Ins and Outs


In: OL Greg Wojt, K Derek Shiavone (contract extension)


In: LB Gregory Alexander (2011 Draft Pick signing), DL Jonathan Pierre Etienne (free agent signing)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Riders Hire Corey Chamblin

Well it may be a year later but Brendan Taman finally has his man. Yesterday he formally introduced Corey Chamblin as the new head coach of the Roughriders. Of course Taman wanted Chamblin last year but got vetoed in favour of Marshall… marking the first documented case of Taman being able to say I told you so.

I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed with our choice. I don’t think Chamblin was a bad hire I just don’t think he was the best candidate available. I would have loved to have seen us go with the Dickenson tandem (I had so many jokes in the works based on the first four letters of their last name). I realize that Dave is fairly green in terms of coaching experience but we really could have used a young bright offensive mind and I think the presence of Craig as assistant HC would have helped him grow into the role. In passing on Dave we also risk losing Craig… he might still stick around but there is a big risk of losing him which would be a huge loss. We’ve been trying for years to find a competent Special Teams Coordinator who could make our return and cover games not suck and we finally, finally found our guy and now he may leave.

Anywho, Chamblin is our coach and that is that. I’m willing to give the guy a shot. Unlike our previous coach I don’t already hate him so we are starting from a fairly neutral point. Chamblin’s stock as a coach was skyrocketing until last season when his defense sucked in his first year as a coordinator. Doesn’t exactly instill confidence in him.  I’m willing to cut Chamblin a bit of slack on last year. I think his major flaw there was his schemes didn’t fit the talent he had.  He loves the aggressive, bump and run, man to man style of play in the secondary. It’s a high risk high reward scenario. Problem was he tried to run that on a team that had slim pickings in terms of talent in the secondary. They only had one good DB following 2010 and he bolted to Calgary in free agency. So I don’t necessarily think his schemes were bad he just didn’t have the talent to pull it off. Now of course he probably should have adapted his schemes to his talent and hopefully that taught him a lesson. As I said, I have some concerns but I’m willing to see what he can do. It is somewhat refreshing to a have a coach that won’t require an afternoon nap. Hell Chamblin so young, some of the O-linemen will be able to call him junior.

I do need to address these comparisons to Mike Tomlin. Tomlin likes the guy and speaks highly of him which is great. But people seem to assume that just because Chamblin is young, black and has a goatee he will be CFL’s version of Tomlin. That’s quite frankly ridiculous. You know who else is young, black and has a goatee? James Johnson… so by that logic we should hire him since he will be an awesome coach.  Or maybe we should just encourage Will Smith to apply… personally I’d be okay with that as long as he brought DJ Jazy Jeff with him.

Now that Chamblin is our guy, I will be closely watching who he hires as his assistants… particularly on offense where he will need a strong guy since that isn’t his area of expertise… plus our offense was beyond abysmal last year. There are rumblings that Jason Maas could join our staff as a QB Coach. I don’t mind that idea… the only things that ever bothered me about him were his ears and the odd man-crush thing him and Maciocia had going on.  So far there have been no indications on an OC (though names like Worman, Dyce and Khari Jones have been floated). This is purely speculation but I know there is a former CFL OC who has a couple Grey Cup rings and would do anything to be on the same staff as Maas… his name rhymes with Cantcoachya. Hell he’d likely do it for free just to be around Maas.

On the defensive side I have heard speculation that Richie Hall will be retained. That quite frankly blows my mind. Chamblin and Hall’s defensive philosophies are about as similar as Tim Tebow and a Satanist’s religious beliefs. I have no clue how they would coexist. Seems problematic to me. I just hope we retain Alex Smith as LB coach and ideally Craig Dickenson… though Smith is probably the safer bet to return unless he retires.

The good news is it would be darn near impossible to do worse than last year. So best of luck Coach Chamblin.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ricky Ray Traded To Toronto

Well the 2011 offseason certainly got kicked into high gear when the Esks and Argos swung a huge trade sending Ricky Ray to Toronto in exchange for Steven Jyles, Grant Shaw and the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 draft. Boom!

Since news of the trade broke I have heard many different explanations floated around from “The Argos fleeced Edmonton” to “Tillman is the worst GM ever” to “There is a league wide conspiracy to prop up Toronto” to “Maybe Tillman was on pain killers again” (too soon?) On the surface it would certainly seem like a resounding victory for the Argos.

It would seem that David Braley has finally decided to get serious about the Argos not sucking anymore. Most likely because he wants to sell the team and once the Grey Cup in Toronto is over their value will be intricately linked to their suck-factor… much like the prostitution industry (you know, so I’m told). You got to commend him on how he has done so far… I mean he went from Jim Barker, Chip Garber and Steven Jyles to Scott Milanovich, Chris Jones and Ricky Ray and all it cost him was $5000, a mediocre at best kicker, a high draft pick and 6 year vet QB who has yet to prove anything. I guess there is a reason why Braley is such a successful business person.  Hell if that’s the kind of return he can get, I should see if he’ll manage my money.

As for the Esks, Ricky Ray just learned the hard way, the downside of being an American over the age of 30 working for Eric Tillman. ET wont pay old imports big money regardless of their credentials (just ask Kerry Joseph). The irony here is that it was public knowledge that as soon as ET took over in Edmonton he would offer Ray the Kerry Joseph Special (take a pay cut or you are going to Toronto)… well Ray opted for the pay cut and Tillman still sent him East. Poor Ricky. So now instead of paying Ray $325,000, Tillman gets Jyles who has already had $75K of his meager contract paid by the Argos... he’s got money to burn.  And remember, Tillman only pays big for Canadians… keep an eye on that.

Do I think this move improves the Argos? Absolutely. In the matter of 2 weeks the Argos have improved by leaps and bounds. Do I think this is the final piece of the puzzle? Lord no! Their receivers are still garbage so unless they upgrade there they are really just paying someone a lot more money to hand the ball to Boyd.

That said there is no guarantee that Ray will be good as an Argo. Toronto tends to be where QB careers go to die… just ask Kerry Joseph, Cleo Lemon, Eric Crouch, Cody Pickett, Kerwin Bell, Michael Bishop, Mike McMahon, Reggie Slack, Rocky Butler, and Spergeon Wynn.

Or ask: Charlie Peterson, Dalton Bell, Danny Brannagan, Darnell Kennedy, David Rivers, Jack Hawley, Jay Barker, Jim Ballard, Jon Neilson, Jimmy Kemp, Kevin Scott, Marcus, Brady, Nealon Greene, OT Sampson, Reggie McNeal, Romaro Miller, Scott Krause, Stanley Jackson, Steven Reaves, BJ Hall and Steven Jyles… who are all the other QBs auditioned by the Argos since Doug Flutie left town. Damon Allen is the only exception to the rule as he did actually enjoy some success. So the odds are definitely not in Ray’s favour.

CFL Ins and Outs

In: DB Graig Newman, WR Kolton Solomon (Junior signings)
Out: K Eddie Johnson, DL RJ Roberts, LB Jeremiah Weatherspoon (released)
While we all saw this coming a mile away I think we should all pause and silently comb our mustaches in honour of Eddie Johnson. Someone should check on Craigslist and see if he is looking for work again.

In: Carson Walch (hired as receivers coach)

In: Jon Cornish (contract extension)
Out: DeVon Claybrooks (retired)

In: DL Steven Friday (free agent signing)
Too bad Friday wasn’t good enough to make the NFL, I would have loved to him go head to head with Jeff Saturday. You know see which day is superior.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Tracking The Coaching Carousel

 I should start off today by explaining the post on Thursday. I realize by now you are probably used to my offseason posts being only loosely toed to football, but that one was a stretch even for me. Truth is I didn’t write it (the lack of spelling errors and overall coherency was likely a telling sign). I’ve got bills to pay and when a quality business (or less reputable one for that matter) shows an interest in putting their message on my blog, I am more than happy to oblige. So if there are any businesses out there who would like to do the same, drop me a line. From mail order brides to “natural” male enhancement, I welcome all. Hell for $10 I’ll let you devote an entire post to insulting one of your enemies… or friends.

But now I should make an attempt to get back to football related matters. The Riders’ search for a new head coach continues. Evidently the first rounds of interviews are wrapped up and a short list should be developed. Reports on front runners range from Dickenson to Chamblain to other Dickenson. The of course there is this whole Kent Austin business. Basically Kent wants free reign, a blank cheque, our first born and nightly massages from imported Japanese masseuses (okay that last one may just be on my Christmas list). Is he worth it? Probably. Could we do it? Yes. Should we do it? Probably not. To pay him more than double any head coach in the league not a wise move. Don’t get me wrong he’s a phenomenal coach but unless he can guarantee us non-stop Grey Cups until the next big opportunity comes along and he jets it’s just too much. Still would  be nice to get Austin back here.

In no particular order, here are my thoughts on the remaining candidates (you know the one with realistic demands):

Mike O’Shea – Maybe someday but he’s just way too inexperienced.
Corey Chamblain – Taman loves him… which instinctively causes me concern. If he gets hired it spells the end of Hall.
Mike Benvides – Only a matter of time before he’s named HC in BC… likely while wearing his DC’s, and typing on his PC and the MC will be KC and the Sunshine Band.
Craig Dickenson – Wouldn’t mind if it was him. He has experience in the CFL and the NFL, seems to succeed wherever he goes.
Richie Hall – For the love of god no!!!
Dave Dickenson – He’s now who I want. We could really use a bright young offensive minded coach.  Figure we can get him and his brother which has the makings of a good staff.
Tim Burke – I have no reason not to like him but the success of Stubler/Hall/Marshall as HC’s makes me leery of defensive coordinators. As the only coach with Winnipeg ties, he likely tops Taman’s list

Here’s what going with other teams:
BC – Buono has finally stepped down as coach and will likely install Benvides as his replacement. Squinting and onfield appearances to drop off dramatically.
Calgary – Already had Chris Jones poached from them for the low price of $5000. They have interviewed Greg Marshall as potential replacement. Talk about an epic drop in caliber of coaches. They have also interview Esks assistant Rick Campbell.
Winnipeg – Fired OC Jamie Baressi, have interviewed Riders Bob Dyce as a potential replacement.
Toronto – Made Scott Milanovich as the top guy, with Chris Jones as DC and for Als OL Coach John Himebauch as OC. If there was a record most dramatic increase in quality of coaching staff the Argos would have just shattered it.
Montreal – Named Marcus Brady as their new OC to replace Milanovich… giving further credence to the adage “those who can’t, teach”
Hamilton – Finally came to their senses and fired Bellefeuille. They are in a race with us for the services of Dave Dickenson and Kent Austin.

Last thing to talk about today is the return of Mo Lloyd to Riderville. I’ll admit I was somewhat skeptical when I heard this since we have no clue whether we are getting 2008 Mo Lloyd who was awesome or 2010 Mo Lloyd who was awful. Then I heard we are only paying him $50,000  and at that price you can’t go wrong. If he’s still crap, we cut him, no big loss. If he’s good again, it’s a steal.

Another way to look at this move is: We are currently paying Sean Lucas over $100K … all Mo Lloyd has to do is be half as useful as Lucas and he will be earning his keep. Mo Lloyd can fail to cover opposing receivers just well as Lucas can.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Football and Poker – More in Common than Meets the Eye

Don’t be fooled by the striking differences between these 2 popular games – both require the same mental state to become winners.

It may at first seem like an odd comparison, but the skills and dedication needed for poker and American football are remarkably similar.  Yes, one involves a lot of physical strength whilst the other requires the player to sit for long periods of time using just mental strength with barely the need to move, but the contrast ends there.

When engaging in poker, one needs to be, above all, focused on the task at hand.  Similarly, with football, the game is the only thing on your mind.  Strategy is a huge key to poker and a valued football skill.  There are loads of poker strategies that players employ to gain the upper hand within a poker game just like a football team would never think about heading onto the field without having first devised some kind of strategy together with their coaches.   Whether you are out in the field scoring touchdowns or poker-facing your opponents, you will always have the same thought in your mind: this is a competition, and the best player wins.

Both poker players and football players must learn to understand the opposition, empathise with them, teach themselves to understand the decision of an opponent and why that decision was made in order to anticipate and overthrow them.  While a football player is doing drills, working out and practising their throws, a poker player is learning, adapting their mind and working on manipulation games to outwit their competition.  Either way, motivation is what drives both football and poker players, and this is yet another similarity.

Mind-set, strategy and mental concentration aren’t the only similarity poker and football share.  Both have strong roots dating way back in history, with the first professional American football teams being traced back to 1892 after a football game between the U.S.’s Harvard and Canada’s McGill University sparked its popularity 20 years earlier.  The earliest known poker games were reported in 1829 in New Orleans.  Perhaps the closeness in age is the reason that the development of the mental aspects of these two games is so similar, who knows.  But there are definite comparisons to be made about the mental states of players involved in both of these extremely popular games throughout North America.

To read more about Poker, you are welcomed to visit WWW.POKER.CA - the great website about Canadian online poker.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fifth Annual Rider Prophet Awards

Its time to present the 5th Annual Rider Prophet Awards. We were planning a big red carpet gala complete with star performances, celebrity presenters and extravagant gifts... but unfortunately the Rider Prophet’s accountant  (who has since been fired) recommended I invest heavily in Greece, so the best we can do the best is a dirt path shindig complete with Man in the Bush doing his interpretive dance routine, random hobo presenters we pay in sandwich crusts and each award winner will receive one of the Rider Prophet’s Christmas credit cards bills to pay on my behalf.

Best Player Name
It took until the playoffs for this winner to come forward. I was casually watching the East Semi when I noticed this white guy with ridiculously large dreads...

That in and of itself was pretty awesome but it got even better when I found out his name was Bear Woods. That was good enough to lock up the award for him.

Previous winners: Solomon Elimimian, Craphonso Thorpe. Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha,

Quote of the Year
This year marks the first year that this award will not go to a Roughrider. Eddie Johnson got muzzled fairly early which left this category wide open. Fortunately this happened. Which led directly to this year’s quote of the year by the one and only Henry Burris:

“If I don’t make the throws, I get mad at myself. If I do it to the sky, that means I’m doing it to the man upstairs? I threw a bad ball. I’m mad. I fist-pumped. I do it all the time — good and bad.”

He then went out and threw an INT. Comedy writers couldn’t come up with something that awesome.

Previous Winner: Eddie Johnson, Jason Clermont, Mike Abou-Mechrek x 2

Play of the Year

The train wreck that was the Rider season provided plenty of candidates for this category but the one that really stands out for me was actually a series of events in a game versus the Eskimos where Ryan Dinwiddie started. That led to this outstanding display...

But the awesomeness didn’t stop there. On the very next series, Dinwiddie, in an attempt to kiss and make up for this little fight, tried to force a pass to Baker into triple coverage and got picked off.

Honourable mention to Richardson throwing Calvillo’s passing record ball into the stands

Botched Call of the Year
I have been doing this award for 5 years now and there have been many truly awful calls but this year’s winner set itself apart from all other winners because it actually resulted in a ref being fired. You know a call is bad when it forces the league to actually discipline somebody. I’m talking of course about the pass interference call in the Montreal/Winnipeg game that was not even close to PI and almost screwed the Als out of the victory. For setting a new standard or reffing screw-ups, it is your botched call of the year.
The Commercial I Didn’t Get Sick Of Seeing Even Though TSN Made Me Watch It 54,297 Times Award
It was a pretty weak year for commercials, but I did like this one.

Fans Choice Douche-Bag of the Year
You the fans have spoken and in what is the narrowest margin in the history of this award (only 2 votes) have named Henry Burris as the 2011 Douche Bag of the Year.

Burris’ accomplishments in the field of douche-baggery include (but are not limited to):
-       Sending out a super offensive tweet and then trying to claim that someone must have hacked his twitter account... rrriiiggghhhttt.
-       The fist pump quote he was just awarded for
-       Taking his benching like a whinny little girl. He found a way to include the fact that he was the reigning MOP in every interview after he was bench. Then made it clear that he is above being a back-up... even though he sucked this year.

Good job Henry... good job

Previous winners: Mike Kelly, Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy

Most Insulted Sports Figure – Ryan Dinwiddie
In what will likely come as a surprise to no one, Ryan Dinwiddie is my Most Insulted Sports Figure of 2011. It may seem downright cruel to pick on a back-up QB who only made a few starts when then was so much futility in the Rider organization this year but Dinwiddie just made it so easy. Despite many opportunities to disprove my hatred (and give my friends ammunition to bug me), Dinwiddie just kept sucking. I don’t think there is anyone who enjoyed each of Dinwiddie’s interceptions as me.

So Dinwiddie reigns supreme for 2011, I just hope he’s not around next year to try and defend his title.

Previous winners: Jim Daley, Michael Bishop x 2, Marcel Bellefeuille