Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Thoughts: Grey Cup 102

The holy grail of Canadian football will be handed out on Sunday... though given that they grey Cup is not a fictional item and has not had a hilarious Monty Python movie written about it, maybe holy grail isn't the best term. Anywho, Ticats play the Stamps on Sunday for the championship. I won't go into full detail on the game but given that I fancy myself a CFL blogger I suppose I should make some effort to comment on the biggest game of the year.

Predictably I am cheering for the Ticats. What can I say? I hate the Stamps. With Bo Levi Mitchell as their QB over Tate, they are slightly more likable but not enough to overcome the deeply engrained hatred. Plus as someone who cheers for a team that has put us fans through a lot of misery and hell, I feel compelled to root for the fan base that has paid more dues. Hamilton has gone 15 years since its last Grey Cup and its not like those years were roses and sunshine. They were god awful for a lot of those years. The endured 1 win seasons, the Jason Maas experiment, the Casey Printers experiment, the Burris experiment, one of the worst plans ever to build a new stadium. They've been through the ringer. By contrast, the Stamps last won the Cup in '08 and while their steady string of regular season dominance and post season futility since its not enough misery to earn the sympathy of this grizzled heart.

Now who I'm cheering for is a completely different matter than who expect to win. The Stamps are pretty good on both sides of the ball and have shown solid depth all year long. The TiCats are no slouches and bring a good D but I really don't think they have the offensive fire power that the Stamps have. Can't expect Brandon Banks to win the game for them two weeks in a row. The Ti-Cats have really good run D (best in the CFL) so I don't expect Cornish to run all over them as some do. But the Stamps have a lot of ways to beat you offensively. Collaros can certainly put up passing yards but their ground game is far from a sure thing and they have a lot of solid receivers but no real game breakers. Hamilton needs to keep it close to have any chance in this one.

I'm hoping for the Ticats but expecting the Stamps.

As you enjoy the game be sure to get your votes in for Fans' Choice Douchebag of the Year. We already have 4 write in votes for Jon Cornish so he is very much alive in the race to three-peat.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Cast Your Vote

Well the match-up is set for the Grey Cup. The Ticats used a heavy dose of Brandon Banks to beat the Als. I have to admit, while I'm glad the Ticats won, I was really enjoying SJ Green backing up his trash talk with a monster performance. As for the West, the Esks learned that playing a crippled QB and an inability to score TDs will only prove successful if you face an offense as futile as the Riders. I was secretly hoping for an epic Stamps collapse but that just wasn't in the cards.

I'll have more Grey CUp thoughts later this week but for now we need to get to some important business.The 8th Annual Rider Prophet Awards will soon be handed out and as you can tell by the poll at the top of the page, its time for you the fans to cast your vote for the Fans' Choice Douchebag of the Year. This year's nominee's include a who's who of the douchiest of people in the CFL this season:

Kyries Hebert – Nominated for blatantly taking a headshot at 2 time reigning douchebag of the year Jon Cornish. Not only was it a nasty hit that has no place in this game (and was severely under-penalized) it also made me feel some degree of compassion for Cornish which is reason enough to put Hebert on the nomination block

Chris Jones – This one is kinda self explanatory as Jones is just an a-hole and that’s a well known fact. If you want specific reasons you should vote for him I could point to his refusal to shake hands after a game but the one that really irked me was when he refused to have his team on the field in time for the national anthem. 

Pat Watkins – Nominated for uttering a homophobic slur towards Bo Levi Mitchell that got caught on camera. I’m not so na├»ve as to think this is the first time Watkins has said such things towards an opponent, this is just the first time he got caught.

Maurice Price – Another guy who just generally gives off an a-hole vibe year in and year out. This year’s most notable occurrence was his anti Michael Sam tweet. To refresh your memory, after Michael Sam was drafted, Price tweeted “My faith won't let me accept what took place over the weekend. Sorry, not sorry! #AdamAndEve #NotAdamAndAdam” Maybe if he spent time with Sam he could learn how to actually hang onto a ball.

Other – If you feel someone else’s achievements in the field of douchebaggery warrant consideration for this highly prestigious award then leave a comment with their name and they will be considered.   

So there are your 2014 nominees, be sure to let your voice be heard and cast your vote.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Random, Quasi-Coherent Thoughts

Those of you familiar with how the offseason works around here will not be surprised by the title of this post. For those of you that are new to this, basically unless there is some big Rider news or I come up with some filler posts (which rest assured will be coming), most blogging days you will have to settle for a series of random thoughts on current CFL events that as the title implies I can’t promise will be coherent (though if it was coherent thoughts you were after you would have given up on this site a long time ago).

Let’s get to it:
- With the Riders eliminated, I have been trying to decide who to pull for of the remaining teams. In the East I will go with Hamilton because it was the 90s the last time those fans got a championship (plus now that Burris isn’t their QB they are infinitely more likable… as well as likely to succeed). Bonus points for being the only fan base to care enough about the playoff game to sell it out.

- As for the West, since double default isn’t likely a viable option, I guess I will have to go with the Esks. Not that I particularly like them, I’m just a big fan of Calgary’s repeated playoff chokes.

­- BC started their offseason off with a bang by firing Head Coach Mike Benevides. The Lions regressed every year under his leadership and I was never sold on him being a great HC. Though to be fair the Harris injury and the QB situation were not really his fault. I’m surprised more criticism isn’t being directed at Buono. He was so convinced that Benevides was the right guy for the job that he gave him a 2 year extension in June. One has to question Buono’s judgment if 6 months later the determination is that Benevides needs to be fired. I honestly think it should be policy that if a GM wants to fire a coach who he hired or extended within the past 12 months he needs to also resign.

- One name to watch as BC sorts out their coaching situation for next year is Khari Jones. Given the uncertainty surrounding Cortez’s future and our likely desire for a QB coach, if he shakes loose I bet we will be giving him a call.

- The RedBlacks started the coach firing train when the let OC Mike Gibson go. Now I don’t think Gibson is anything special as an OC but can you really blame him for Ottawa’s offensive ineptness when he was given Henry Burris and a cast of 4th string receivers to work with? You can’t make chicken soup out of chicken shit.

- The Riders have an extensive list of potential free agents. I won’t bother getting into the list now as it will likely change as some signings are announced. Plus I can’t waste all my potential material in one post… otherwise come January you may have to endure posts that are just me listing which of the cartoons Prophet Jr. watches that I hate and detailing the plot holes therein.

- Finally, its almost time for the Rider Prophet Awards and that means that starting Monday voting will open for the 8th annual Fans’ Choice Douchebag of the Year Award. Jon Cornish is the 2 time defending champion but competition in the field of douchebaggery was stiff this year. Check back Monday for this year’s nominees and to cast your vote.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Belated Sad Edition

Riders 10 – Eskimos 18

Apologies for the lateness of this post, there was no way I could bring myself to write about that game in time for Monday morning… at least not without the text being over 75% profanity.

Sunday the dreams of a Rider repeat (no matter how remote the chances) game to an end in miserable fashion as the Riders lost the Eskimos. I think that whatever deal we cut with the football gods to get us the Grey Cup at home with unseasonably warm weather, the cost was losing Durant and being forced to endure this playoff game. I just hope our debt in now paid.

The parallels between that game and the playoff game of 2008 were uncanny. Defense doing everything in their power to keep us in the game. Offense doing everything in their power to lose it. Only difference is we could have reasonably expected Bishop to be terrible. While I was under no illusions that we would be getting the ’07 Joseph, I incorrectly assumed he would be at least mildly competent. In time, my views of Kerry Joseph will return to the beloved fellow who had an MOP season and won us our 3rd Cup. For now though, he is that bumbling idiot who picked the worst possible time to play his worst football. Honestly, that was beyond awful. I mean I know pressure and unlucky bounces contributed a bit but most of those INTs were Joseph just making terrible reads, terrible decisions and terrible throws. I haven’t completely ruled out the possibility that Joseph has early stage Alzheimer’s and thought he was still playing for Edmonton? He made Seth Doege look conservative with the ball by comparison.  Simply put with a decent QB we win that game. Problem is, we don’t have a decent QB not named Durant.

As bad as he was, Joseph was not the entire issue in that game. In fact, all the issues that plagued us all season were summed up nicely in that loss… with the possible exception of Milo bouncing one off the uprights. In addition to terrible QB play we also saw our old friends:
- Special teams meltdown resulting in a TD
- Inconsistent play from our receivers such as Korey Williams and Getzlaf (who could not figure out motion to save his soul)
- Terrible play calling. I was calling out our plays from the couch and I am just and a borderline drunk that watches a lot of football. It’s no wonder that Chris Jones (who channeled his inner Corey Hart win those sunglasses) was read us like a book. We refused to adjust to the blitz. We passed on 3rd and short. We didn’t find ways to get production our of our RBs… we just kept assuming the run up the middle would eventually pay off.
- Inconsistent O-line play
- We also got the added bonus of embarrassingly bad officiating. Good lord receivers were practically in the endzone before the ball was snapped and no one saw the offside?!?!

There was a lot of talk about how good the Eskimo D was and admittedly they are a damn good unit but how about our defense? We threw 5 INTs and if we factor out the kick return TD they allowed just 11 points. 11!!! And only 1 second half point (though by that point the Esks had figured out that they had no need to try anything risky on O because we weren’t about to score). They gave up a lot of yards to John White but you should win any game where your defense allows just 11 points.

I realize that Durant’s injury killed any legitimate shot at a repeat but dammit we could have won that game. We needed just one play offensively and didn’t even come close. I’ll likely stay bitter about this for a few weeks… unless of course my Vikings decide to go on a Super Bowl run… stop laughing…. it could happen… you’re right, looks like I’m stuck with bitterness.

Welcome to the offseason. Don’t worry though as always I will be here all along the way to get you through this. The fun starts later this week when we open the voting for Fans Choice Douchebag of the Year.