Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Round-Up: Hey We Actually Signed People

I’d like to start today by thanking those of you who participated in the first CFL Mad Libs. Special mention goes to Green Giant (assuming not the vegetable spokesperson). His story had it all from Koko B Ware to Climax. Check out Monday’s comments if you missed it.

Now onto Rider news, where in a stunning turn of events we signed some people. I mean sure we did lose another FA is Jock Sanders but if the reports are even remotely true that Calgary gave him $100,000 then you can’t even consider him a loss. That’s insanity! So back to the people we actually signed.

First was the signing I was waiting for, the DTs. We brought back Richard Sumlin who spent all last year on the PR and who the Riders are apparently very high on. We also brought in Trent Guyton. At first I wondered why I recognized the name, then it clued it that he was a late round pick of my Vikes. He’s still young… and turned into one hell of a player in my career mode on Madden so that’s something. Either way its nice to have more than just one name on the DT depth chart.

The second signings were QB Seth Doege and WR Brett Swain. Doege is the second best QB to come out of Texas Tech after Graham Harrell (and we didn’t even have to sign some WR we didn’t want to get Doege here. Cough Eric Morris Cough). Also we are being told that Doege is pronounced Day-ghee… the Doeges must somehow be an offshoot of the Toews. As for Swain he has bounced around the NFL for 6 years so we’ll have to see what he has to offer when he gets to camp.

In other Rider news, the court case for the Dewdney incident has been set for June after a record low 7th adjournment. The original “stall it until the offseason” strategy must have worked so well that they are doing to try and stall until next offseason. You know Anderson, Smith and Riley should just move to Winnipeg in the offseason that way even if they got convicted they wouldn't need to go to jail because they would get credit for time already served.

Lastly, if you are a season ticket holder like me you received your “special season ticket holder” pricing info in the mail for the REBLACKS preseason game here. You also probably laughed and promptly threw it in the recycling bin. Lowest non-endzone ticket prices for adults will be $40. There is just no way enough people are that motivated to see another preseason game. I’m as die hard as they come and wouldn’t pay $40. I’m expecting a very empty stadium (which is too bad). I’m also expect a bunch of last minute deals and freebies (ala Bills in Toronto) so while I may end up going, it won’t be at the prices Jim Hopson thinks he can squeeze out of us. I also imagine the Riders are actively campaigning to not have that game televised (as it has been for the past couple years). Regardless, short of announcing mascot soccer as the halftime show there is little they can do to convince me to fork over $40 for a preseason game against Ottawa.

On a side note: imagine how crazy mascot soccer would be with that roid-monkey lumberjack the REDBLACKS call a mascot out there swinging his axe? 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Diversion

You have no doubt spent the past few days watching the olympics... more specifically watching us dominate hockey and curling. I true the Canadian spirit of kindness we were even kind enough to let Latvia and Norway be 2 of the 3 teams to score a goal on us.

Well evidently CFL GMs also spent the weekend watching olympics (or maybe the NFL Combine... which contrary to local lore is not an actual combine). Anyway, since there really isn't much CFL news to talk about (those who know my luck know that within 3 mins of this being posted there will be big Riders news) I figured I would give you some CFL inspired diversion.

And so I present the inaugural CFL Mad Libs.

Fill in the words below to create your very own CFL story. Please either copy and paste the results as a comment or email them to me and the best one will get special mention later in week.

(If for some reason the embedded version isn't working, you can just go to


Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Round-Up: Deals and Departures

Last week was one of daily heart wrenching departures… and this week was no different. We lost Ricky Schmitt, we lost Kierre Johnson (gasp), we lost Aaron Hargreaves (oh no), we lost the beloved 2nd round draft pick acquired from Winnipeg in the Alex Hall deal (won’t somebody think of the children!). In case the sarcasm didn’t translate well over the interwebs, I’m saying it was a pretty tame week by this offseason’s standard. Biggest loss was a punter (but I’ll get into the reasons for that in a bit).

Let’s start with the good news, the Riders announced their coaching staff and it’s pretty much the same as last year (minus Khari Jones and Richard Kent). In a year where player turnover is so high, the importance of stability in terms of coaches and their schemes cannot be overemphasized. I’m most happy about the confirmed return of George Cortez. All signs pointed to his return months ago but the way things have been going I wasn’t about to make any assumptions until it was official. I just can’t stress how important a hire Cortez was. Most teams wish they had an OC as good as him. Also, given the success of Hall’s D and Dyce’s Special Teams good news that they are both back.

The other big news was the trade with Hamilton. To review we traded a 1st rd pick (9) and a 2nd (11) and in return got an upgraded 1st rd pick (8) and punter Josh Bartel (he’s from Australia… in case you missed it the first 236 times Rod Black went on about it) and Shomari Williams.

So here’s my take on it: We lost 4 Canadians this offseason and need to restock. In a reportedly weak draft year we have taken 2 picks (or potential players) and turned it into 1 better pick and 2 known commodities. Not an earth shattering move but a necessary one given our loses (3 is better than 2). Admittedly Bartel is a step down from Schmitt but the Riders obviously feel that using the extra designated import spot used by Schmitt on defense the team will be better off overall. I would agree. Plus it’s not like Bartel is a bad punter. He’s pretty good and gives us a much needed Canadian that can play immediately. In a perfect would we would have rather retained Schmitt but our world is far from perfect and circumstances dictated that we needed a Canadian. Could do a lot worse than Bartel.

This brings me to Shomari. Clearly he was a throw in for the deal and not key whatsoever. So don’t think of it as us trading for him. Think of it as us saving Hamilton the trouble of cutting him and us signing him later (eco friendly if you will given the paper saved). I’m not going to try and sell you on Shomari being much good. In 2012 we tried him at every position on defense short of converting him to safety or placekicker and he failed at them all. How he managed to turn that shameful season into a $120,000 contract with Hamilton is beyond me (though I think I should hire his agent). That said, its not like he’s useless. He plays good on special teams and we have a big need there. He can also provide Canadian depth at many spots on D and we have a need for that too. I’m assuming the matter of renegotiating his salary back down to sane levels is a formality so really as much baggage as he brings as a failed 1st overall pick he does fill a need (again with the caveat that his salary goes down). The good news for Shomari is now that he is reunited with Jordan Sisco he is once again far from the worst thing to happen to us in that draft. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Where To From Here?

(EDIT: The Shomari Williams tradw that just went down will render some of this irrelevant. Damn Riders) 

Well we’ve gone 3 whole days without having another Rider leave in free agency. Short of getting deeply emotionally invested in a bunch of pseudo sports that no one cares about for all but 2 weeks every 4 years to distract us (I can’t believe we aren’t better at the Super Gs, maybe regular Gs are more our event), I guess we have to take what good news we can get.

The end result is that we need to replace 7 spots on the roster (pending what happens with Sanders and Schmitt): 4 starters and 3 back-ups. So let’s take a look a how the Riders might manage that.

Kory Sheets (starter) – Not likely gonna find another back of his calibre but we should be able to find a 1000 yard rusher. One option would be someone with CFL experience like Will Ford (though his price tag is apparently high) or Chad Simpson (who just had his second foot surgery). For likely scenario will be an open competition featuring 3 new recruits (like what happened in 2012 when Sheets joined the team).

Weston Dressler (starter) – Again gonna be tough to replace his calibre of play. Will likely be more of a by committee thing. Simon will be leaned on more and we will likely use Smith and Bagg in the slot more. Still going to need to find another starting receiver, again I see this coming from new recruits… I just hope it goes better than when we were sure Sinorice Moss and Dwayne Jarrett were the answer.

Keith Shologan (starter, Cdn) – Given that we were starting 8 and 9 Canadians last year, finding another Canadian starter is not essential. We can replace him with an American and add a back-up/special teams Canadian. I blindly assumed Jermaine McElveen would be retained… evidently that was a worse assumption than assuming the Slovenian hockey team was due. I have heard the team was high on practice roster player Richard Sumlin so he might be an option there, we also have Antonio Coleman though he’s more of an end. Expect this to be an open competition with Sumlin and 2 more new recruits. Still an outside chance we bring in a vet like Torrey Davis or Ted Laurent (though I highly doubt Laurent).

Craig Butler (starter, Cdn) – Like Shologan he could be replaced by an American. Organization is high on Brian Peters so he could be added to the Lbs. Also, not sure Hurl is ready to be a fulltime starter but I expect him to figure prominently in the defense assuming he’s healthy.

Drew Willy (back-up) – Riders were very high on Sunseri which was the main reason they were willing to let Willy go. Sunseri will be the lead horse in the battle but can expect some new competition. It could be from guys we’ve seen before like Ryan Katz who spent time on the PR or maybe some NFL neg list guys like BJ Daniels or Ryan Aplin shake loose… or maybe someone we’ve never heard of. I don’t expect anyone with CFL experience (I think we’d like Kevin Glenn but aren’t willing to give up anything to get him or pay him as much as he’s making).

Zach Evans (back-up, Cdn) – Signing of David Lee covers this loss. Lee can add Cdn depth and back-up Foley in the DL rotation. Our Depth at DT is currently just Tearrius George so that’s somewhat concerning but we are covered from a Cdn perspective.

Graig Newman (back-up, Cdn) – Hurl will cover some of Newman and some of Butler. We still have Regimbald-Gagne who could factor in and quite frankly if you can’t find a Cdn LB/DB to play on special teams then you suck at recruiting.

For me the lack of a defensive tackle is the biggest concern along with losing 4 Canadians. Outside of that I think we will be ok. We are far from the favourites and don’t expect us to dominate like we did to start 2013 but anyone writing off the 2014 season better take a second look at our current roster… as well as a look at both the Eskimos and Bombers who we play 3 times a piece.

Side note: for those of you bemoaning our perceived lack of spending inspite of shedding some big contracts, keep this in mind: in addition to needing to extend Durant we also have one more key player in need of an extension: Ben Heenan. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract that is currently paying him in the $60-70K range. That is highway robbery for a starting calibre Canadian tackle (considering Josh Bourke just became the highest paid non-qb in the league). Gotta keep some cash to lock up this young stud.