Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Round-Up: Taman’s Big Gamble

Why is it when I heard the words “draft picks” and “traded for an import” I immediately thought of the word “Taman”?

Yesterday the Riders traded a 2nd and 4th Round pick in 2012 (8th and 23rd overall respectively) as well as a conditional pick in 2013 to Winnipeg for DL Odell Willis and conditional 5th rounder in 2013.

Reaction to the trade on both sides has been decidedly mixed. On the Rider side some fans are ecstatic we finally got a bonafide pass rusher and other lament the fact that we overpaid. On the Winnipeg side some are ecstatic that in the famous words of Mike Kelly they “raided those toothless halfwits to the west” others can’t believe they traded away the Mayor of Swaggerville.

For me there are parts of this trade I like and parts I really don’t. I like the fact that we are finally addressing our woeful pass rush. Fun fact for you, last year our top D-lineman got 5 sacks (Te George). The year before that 4 (Mullinder/Kitwana). That is quite frankly embarrassing. By contrast Willis has never had less than 10 sacks over his 3 seasons in the CFL. He is instantly better than anything we’ve had since John Chick left. Another fact: outside of Jon Bomwan, nobody has more sacks over the past 3 seasons than Odell Willis. So it’s not like we could have done much better.

However, there are 2 things I don’t like about the trade. One is the price. I realize that you don’t acquire a player of Willis’ caliber for free but 2 Canadian draft picks (one of which is top 8) is steep when you don’t get any Canadians in return. Had they swapped us 2nd rounders or even swapped us their 16th or 21st pick in the 3rd round I would have been happy with the trade. But as is, it’s a steep price in terms of giving up Canadians for an import. Particularly when you look at the state of our Canadian talent (which I will be ranting about in Monday Morning Sentimonies next week).

The other thing I don’t like is the huge risk that comes with Odell Willis. I’m not even talking about his big mouth. Quite frankly as long as a player is backing it up on the field then let them yap. What worries me is whether we are getting the Odell Willis that was a force in 2009 and 2010 and put up 9 sacks in 8 games to start 2011… or the Odell Willis that disappeared in second half of last season with only 4 sacks over the final 12 games (including 0 in the playoffs when they needed him the most).

That is why Taman is taking a big risk with this trade. If he gets the good Odell Willis then he made a solid move. But if he gets the most recent Willis then this just becomes yet another trademark Taman trading high draft picks for overvalued Americans. But given that Taman is in the final year of his contract I can see why he would be willing to take the risk. I’m thinking someone who is set for a few years and focused on building a strong team long term might not make this move. Taman doesn’t have that kind of time so he prioritizes short term gain over long term.  I also bet that a GM who has any kind of faith in their recruiting ability doesn’t make this trade either… in this case though I don’t blame Taman for not trusting his recruiting ability since no one else in their right mind would either.

So long and short of it, my opinion is that picking up Willis was a good thing but we overpaid.

I just wonder if this means we now have to call ourselves Swaggerville? If so I volunteer to adapt the Swaggervile Anthem to the Riders…. Craig Butler got Swag on the field, Mike McCullough got swag on the field, etc…

Interesting history lesson for you, Odell Willis came to the CFL via AF2 where he played for the Green Bay Blizzard. His pass rushing counterpart at the time was one Joe Sykes. The Riders opted to bring in Sykes while the Stampeders went with Willis… and look how that all turned out.

Outside of Willis the Riders also added 4 more imports to the roster signing QB Levi Brown (well at least making it official since it was initially reported weeks ago), QB Matt Johnson, LB Darnell Bing and DE Chris Ellis.

Here’s my random, highly biased, mostly uninformed thoughts on the additions:

Matt Johnson – Press release listed him as weighing 168 lbs… 168! To put that in perspective, Dressler is listed at 179. Its like Juan Joseph version 2.0. I can only assume Johnson is a scrambler.

Levi Brown and Chris Ellis are both former Bills… we seem to be focusing a concerning amount of our recruiting effort on former Buffalo players. Brown, Ellis, Bowen and Booooooooo Robinson are former Bills while Drew Wily played at Buffalo University. I’d feel better about that if Buffalo had a reputation in football that wasn’t followed by roaring laughter.

Darnell Bing – the name Darnell just reminds me of Darnell Edwards. Remember him?


Craig said...

For once, I basically agree with you. I don't love the trade yet, but I'm good with it if we address a need with the first pick by taking a receiver. I've been against drafting Heenan since we signed Labatte, so what we do with that pick will be what swings this trade one way or the other for me.

One other line that keeps getting brought up today is "you never trade a Canadian/draft pick for an American". Well that's not quite true, so I was glad to see you didn't mention that here. For example, if Montreal called today and said "we'll give you Richardson for the #1 pick", obviously you take that trade. So it's not a matter of never do it, it's a question of what do you get in return. Realistically, and recognizing that we have some significant Canadian needs in a few spots now, Odell Willis is probably a better player than anyone we could have drafted at #8. That's just playing the odds, so I can understand why Taman would be willing to roll the dice.

Anonymous said...

Its always a roll of the dice. Anyone recall Ryan Leaf to name one? Fizzle instead of sizzle. To the Taman haters, no matter what he does or will do nothing will change your mind. So sports fans, who would you suggest we have as a GM instead?

Rider Prophet said...

Anon - To the Taman lovers, no amount of previous failure on his resume will enough to convince them we have legitimate reasons for concern.

Govind said...

Nice to see you guys talk about this trade without losing your minds like 13 year old girls. I agree, I like getting Willis but feel we overpaid.

Darnell Bing's name didn't remind me of Darnell Edwards....I focused on the last name and it reminded me of Chandler Bing

Anonymous said...

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