Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Peters, Canadians and More

Well we made it through February which means there is less than 4 more months until the season starts. Sadly the next notable football event will be in April when the Florida mini-camp happens. But don't worry, I have been working on some filler posts to help get us all through this. For today fortunately we have some actual football news:

- The Brian Peters watch ended with him signing with my Vikings in the NFL. Based purely on his special teams play I like his chance of sticking down there. He grew by leaps and bounds in his first year as a starter and I think is only starting to scratch the surface of his potential. So it sucks to lose pretty much the only promising LB recruit we've had in recent memory. The plan appears to be to assume that we can find a replacement OLB in training camp. That plan worked out great last year when we also assumed we could find a MLB. To be fair we did find one, he just turned out to not be able to tell the difference between his ass and the hole the RB was running through.

- We signed 3 Cdns which as I have been saying for weeks are needed. The one that interests me the most is DB Kris Robertson. He turned a bunch of heads at the combine in 2013 and shot up the draft boards. He was a high 2nd round pick of the Bombers (and yes it is somewhat concerning that Joe Mack liked him). He blew his ACL in camp before anyone could really tell if he could make the transition to the pros. He's coming off a good season of CIS so it looks like the injury is behind him. The question now is can he adjust to the pros. He's got speed and coverage ability. We could use another gunner on teams. The other 2 are depth/teams guys with limited upside but we need those and realistically they may not even make the team but at least there will be competition at camp as opposed to just defaulting to rostering the only Cdns we have.

- Taman said that Neal Hughes is still interested in playing but reading between the lines it sounds like his foot may not be on the same page. Hughes is a guy a like a lot. Great blocker, great on teams, willing/able to contribute in any way needed. But he's old and given the injury history over the past 2 years, the team will want some assurance of the health of his foot before committing a roster spot to him. I personally hope he has one more left in him but if this is the end he still has a career to be extremely proud of.

- One last interesting nugget was that Nik Lewis interviewed for the Riders WR Coach position before deciding to continue playing in Montreal. Go back in history and try telling fans a few years ago that one day the Riders would be deciding between Lewis and Copeland as a coach. Add in that Geroy Simon would be in the mix as well.

CFL Ins and Outs
In: DB Michael Carter, LB Kyle Jones, DB Kris Robertson (free agent signing)
Out: LB Brian Peters (signed Minnesota)
In: OL Dan Federkeil, DB Josh Bell (contract extension), RB Keith Toston (free agent signing)

In: LB TraShaun Nixon, OL Tommy Griffiths, WR Tyrone Goard, LB Rodney Lamar, LB Khalil Bass (free agent signing)
Out: DL Ameet Paul, WR Jarrell Jackson (released)

In: DL Moton Hopkins (re-signed), QB Jordan Johnson, DL Eric Harper (free agent signing)
Out: LB Anton McKenzie, DB Eddie Elder (released)

In: QB Dan LeFevour, WR Nik Lewis, WR Dobson Collins, WR Cody Hoffman, WR Tramaine Thompson (free agent signing)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Eltoro! and other musings

It's still early in the offseason but I have already settled on who will be getting my Official Rider Prophet Endorsement in this year's training camp. For those not familiar with the Endorsement, basically each year I pick one player to root for generally based on the awesomeness of their name. Past players I have endorsed include Gabe Nyenhuis, Ikenna Ike, Jose Valdez, Boo Robinson. You'll note that what this list has in common is that they did not make the team. In practice, the Rider Prophet Endorsement appears to be a curse to the recipients. Closest I came was last year when I endorsed Chad Kilgore... he made the team but really sucked. Nonetheless the Endorsement lives on.

This year I will be endorsing LB Eltoro Freeman who we just signed from an offseason free agent camp. Eltoro is a great name (so long as you are not an O-lineman). I have no clue if he's any good. He has a good highlight video but to be fair, who has bad highlight video? Bottom line is we really need depth at LB and more importantly Eltoro is an awesome name. (My proposal to name my next kid Eltoro has already been shot down by Mrs. Prophet).

Sadly, we are now reaching the barren wasteland in terms of the offseason. December/January may seem long but we have NFL to fill that gap. Free agency was actually pretty interesting by CFL standards (once things actually started). But now we have no football whatsoever and the next notable football event will be in May when the CFL Draft goes down. Sure a few signings of guys you've likely never heard of will sporadically sneak out but this will be a LONG 2 months. I will do my best to help fill the void, what I lack in quality I make up for in a lack of competition and looking good by comparison.

With free agency pretty much behind us (minus a couple notable guys left to sign), let's take a look at where the Rider roster sits with 4 months to go before the season.

QB: Pretty much set. Darian is entrenched as the starter. Glenn is the emergency fill in/most beloved guy in Saskatchewan should Durant ever not play perfectly. Sunseri, Doege, Smith (and maybe Price) will be competing for the token young QB who hopefully does nothing but hold the clipboard.

RB: People forget how good Allen was last year (minus the fumbles). Add in the speed of the Space Cowboy (Steve Miller) and the power of Jerome Messam and we already have the makings of a decent backfield before the new recruits even arrive.

OL: More depth is needed here but most teams could say that right now. Likely waiting until the draft to add Canadians. Hopefully a couple import tackles will be signed for competition and depth behind Fulton and Adcock.

WR: Starters are mostly set Smith/Bagg outside. Watson/Dressler/Getz inside. Williams/Richardson may battle for a starting spot. Cdn depth isn't bad with McHenry, Anthony and Pierchalski. When it comes to recruiting WRs we have been a trainwreck so I'm not going to hold out hope that a new hot shot WR is on the way. It would be nice but past history says that no matter what the hype, our WR recruits will fizzle.

DL: Strongest part of the team. Our front 4 is as good as any out there. Our depth is what is the concern. Be nice to have strong competition at both DT and DE come training camp.

LB: We have Emry with Shomari, Gesses and Regimbald for depth. As for outside LBs... I have no clue. Brack or Brown may take a spot or may both end up in the secondary. Total crapshoot at this point. I will say this though, we currently have just 3 pure import LBs on the roster (Kilgore, Burdette and Eltoro). Peters may return which helps but out overall recruiting at LB is an ongoing concern.

DB: Another position of strength. Macho, Jackson, LeGree, Maze. Maybe Brown, Maybe Brack. We are only down a starting CB from last year and we should be able to find one of them. MacDougall will be in the mix somehow. It will be tough for a newcomer to crack this position but I said that last year and LeGree emerged.

K: Milo will be our kicker. I like that we are bringing in competition but the end game here is pushing Milo to kick better, not finding a replacement. The punting job is O'Neil's to lose... possibly somewhere in his beard.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Glenn Returns

It was a wild a whacky trip that took over a decade an involved being passed around more than a town bicycle but Kevin Glenn has finally returned to Saskatchewan where his career began. In signing him, the Riders get the CFL's best insurance policy. After the train-wreck that was last season its understandable why getting a reliable back-up was a priority. Honestly I can't see how having Glenn here is anything but a positive. We all hope that his ass stays permanently stuck to the bench but realistically would you rather have him coming in in relief or Sunseri/Doege/pretty much any current back-up QB? My only concern with Glenn is that he seems to curse the starting QB wherever he goes. Look back at Glenn's history:
- He comes from BC where he expected to be a temporary fill in for Lulay. Lulay got hurt again and Glenn ended up as the starter all year.
- Before there he was briefly with Ottawa where his curse manifested itself as "cursing" the franchise with Henry Burris as thier QB.
- Prior to that he was in Calgary where he was supposed to be the back-up to Drew Tate but ended up starting pretty much every game because Tate is made of glass (and an ass-hat)
- Prior to that he was in Hamilton where he was supposed to back-up Quinton Porter. Porter was terrible and Glenn assumed the starting role
- Prior to that he was in Winnipeg where the curse affected him as the starter by breaking his arm prior to the biggest game of his career.

Look out Darian!!

The pressure will now be on Sunseri, Doege (and Price if he is returning... mixed reports on that). Only one of them will get to stay as our hot shot young development project. There is word that Brett Smith from Wyoming will be added to the QB competition. He spent time with the Argos last season.

The other news was the signing of OL Gord Hinse. He had a promising start to his career but more recently has been nothing more than a back-up type. Regardless of whether or not he rediscovers his earlier form, Hinse is an important signing because we need the depth at OL. It got tested last year so the more we can build up the reserves the better. Hinse may not be a flashy signing but there honestly wasn't anything better sitting out there available.

In other miscellaneous news, we are reportedly out of the Rene Curran bidding... though for some odd reason every other team is also saying they are out. Someone is lying (most likely Ottawa). In other odd LB news, it was reported that Brian Peters was in negotiations with New Orleans. Peters quickly took to Twitter to say that was false. Apparently New Orleans is interested so maybe Peters should be negotiating with them. Taman puts his odds at 50/50 of jumping to the NFL but likes our odds if he stays north of the border.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Family Day Edition

Regular blog readers will know that I sternly observe stat holidays by not doing any work whatsoever. So it may come as some surprise to see me posting on a holiday. Please take it as a sign of my unwavering devotion to my readers... its only coincidence that my damn wiener kids woke up early and I have nothing better to do.

A few free agency updates to get to:
- The Riders re-signed Tino Sunseri. Sunseri is a rarity here on the prairies in that he is a back-up QB who is not universally beloved and thought to walk on water by the fans. Assuming we got him relatively cheap (as I assume we weren't in a bidding) war, I don't have a problem with him coming back. He showed some things (mostly indecision and ability to take a sack) but maybe Chapdelaine can draw more out of him than Cortez (who clearly did not like him). This will be his last shot though.

- In other back-up QB news, we are apparently still in discussion with both Kevin Glenn and Dan LeFevour. I am glad we are making an effort to improve our QB depth. The fact that Glenn is still a free agent tells me that his salary demands and the offers from us and Montreal still differ greatly. If you can get him for back-up QB money, how do you not want that insurance policy on your team? I don't think he's worth breaking the bank for. LeFevour is intriguing. He does have that play-maker ability, however its mostly with his legs. From what I remember of last season his arm and reads are mediocre but his running ability gave him an advantage. Therein lies my concern a) he is coming off major knee injury b) history has shown that mediocre passing usually catches up with even the best runners eventually. I would be ok with us signing him but I will temper my expectation of him.

- There is also word we are pursuing LB Rennie Curran (the biggest name FA still on the market).  Not sure where we are finding the money but that is Taman's issue. Curran is just 26 and a damn good LB. His natural position is MLB but he could also be moved outside and paired with Emry (just like Bighill was, they are about the same size). Our LBs were a weakness last year so to add 2 solid ones would be huge. I still think this is a bidding war we lose out on but I at least like that we are trying. All is quiet on the Brian Peters front... which doesn't bode well for his future with the team.

- In a move that likely relates to clearing cap space for pursuits such as Curran, the Riders released DL David Lee. I assume Lee was making decent coin that could be used elsewhere but we aren't exactly overflowing with Cdn depth so to release him seems like an odd move. Side note: Ever since that whole campaign to get his ball back from Winnipeg I always want to call him David Ball (I'm sure you cared greatly about that nugget of info).

- In happier DL news it seems John Chick has agreed to a 2 year extension... which I believe means his wife must give him 2 more children (its a rule). Great news. Honestly the only way this could be better is if Chick announced he had legally changed his last name to Oates. Then our Ends would be the fearsome tandem of Hall and Oates. It would make my dreams come true and they would be maneaters.

- Lastly today, shout out to the CFL for miserably failing at the release of the CFL schedule. All they had to do to make people happy was just release it but instead they insisted on some poorly thought out social media campaign where they would delay releasing it until 10,000 people tweeted thew. People hated it and spent more time criticizing the idea then actually tweeting as intended. They ended up releasing the schedule 2 hours later (after the media had already leaked the bulk of the schedule) when allegedly the 10,000 mark was reached. It was later determined that just over 6000 people actually tweeted. Maybe next year the CFL can take pissing off its fans one step further and just make people pay them to release the schedule (I actually think we'd take that better)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Free Agency Thoughts

In what has been a recurring theme over the years here on this blog, the Riders found yet another way to spite me this week. I've grown used to them waiting until 5 minutes after I do my posts to announce big news or announce something a day after I do a post that renders most of what I penned irrelevant. This time they managed to spite my idea for live free agency blogging by doing absolutely nothing and saving all the action until the next day. You win this round Riders.

For those of you who don't religiously track free agency, first of all what's wrong with you? How else do you fill the footall void in your lives? But here is a quick summary of the Riders' moves:

In: DE Alex Hall, DB Keenan MacDougall, LB Joash Gesse
Re-signed: OL Dan Clark, FB Scott McHenry
Out: LB Sam Hurl (Winnipeg), DL Brandon Boudreaux (Calgary), Keith Toston (unknown but sounds gone), Brett Swain (cut)
Pending: Tino Sunseri (expected to re-sign), Brian Peters (mulling over many options), Kevin Glenn (we are among the top 2 contenders), Dan LeFevour (its french for The Fevour, also we made him a contract offer)

Here are my thoughts on the goings on:
- Alex Hall was a shock but awesome news! A major reason for our D's success last year was the play of our front 4 and I worried that losing Foley would diminish that. Well I worry no more. The Chick/Walker/George/Hall line is as good as any out there. Great signing!

- MacDougall was a needed Canadian and we clearly see him a significant contributor on D (he stated that he would only leave Calgary for more playing time). Maybe he plays safety and Brack goes back to LB. Maybe he fills Butler's old spot. Not sure, I haven't seen him play enough to be confident in his ability to start but he's great on teams, and has potential. His main drawback is hating Regina but I'm sure that's nothing a public flogging can't repair.

- Gesse is a special teamer primarily. Outside chance he can backfill Emry but he's 6 years into his career with next to no substantial time on D so I have my doubts. But as last year when we lost all out Cdn Special Teamers to injury demonstrated you need guys like Gesse around. Adds greatly needed Cdn depth.

- McHenry is a very very underrated contributor in my opinion. Great on teams, great blocker, can catch well when called on on. Very happy his neck has recovered to the point where he can play again.

- Regular readers will know that I think Clark was liability at guard last year (and that's putting it nicely). That said, I'm glad he's back. For one we are desperate for Cdn depth at OL and the market for Cdn OL was next to non-existent. Two, he can play TE and has been known to score the odd TD. Three, he actually looked good at centre in his only start. May have been a fluke or maybe C is his more natural position. Either I think he deserves a shot.

- The loss of Hurl sucks but in hearing him talk he bluntly said we weren't going to play him on D so he wanted the chance to start and Winnipeg gave him that. They also gave him a reported $130K which seems very steep to me but then again everyone and their dog seemed to get over $120K (Earnest Jackson, Brad Sinopoli, Spencer Watt, Anthony Woodson) so what the hell do I know about market value in the new CFL?

- When you look back at past drafts and realize that Heenan, Hurl, Butler, O'Donnell, Krausnik are all gone... that's a large top end chunk and we are not a team that generally has a lot of draft picks. That's why we have to rely more on trades and free agency to build Cdn content.

Quick hitters on the other teams
- BC added Chris Rwabukamba to replace JR LaRose which is a moderate upgrade. Their big move was locking up Elimimian and Bighill with long term lucrative deals

- Calgary - Lost all-star tackle Stanley Bryant. Also lost Sinopoli, MacDougall and lost Brett Jones to the NY Giants... so not good news but then again they are well positioned with depth to survive those loses.

- Edmonton - Added OL depth in Wojt and Krausnik. Which is good. Hervey seems confident they can replace the loss of Rwabukamba with Cauchy Muamba... which is great for every team but Edmonton (Cauchy is a liability at safety... just ask the BC Lions)

- Winnipeg - Went big by adding the top prize in Stanley Bryant (a huge coup for them). Also added OL depth in Dile. Cdn talent in Hurl and Ivan Brown, WRs in Darvin Adams and Wallace Miles. Based purely on the offseason improvements to their dreadful OL they are a better team.

- Toronto - They re-signed Curtis Steele but other than that: all departures. Gone starting OT SirVincent Rogers, gone WRs Spencer Watt and Darvin Adams (don't forget they already lost John Chiles to the NFL). They certainly have not improved this week.

- Hamilton - Their big moves were keeping their guys (Tasker, Banks, Reed, Hickman). They lost Ellingson and Guigere but honestly with Tasker/Banks/Fantuz/Watt they are just fine at WR. Lost OL depth in Dile and Wojt.

- Montreal - predictably quiet but landed Sam Guigere... which means Rod Black will have to learn how to express his awkward man crush in two languages now.

- Ottawa - I think did the best they could with what's out there. They got a starting OT in Rogers and added Earnest Jackson, Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson to the WR group. Add Price to that and it is a monumental improvement over the crap they tried to pass off as receivers. Their defense is still a glaring concern but I guess you can't do everything at once.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RIder Prophet Free Agent Occurence

Live Blog Rider Prophet Free Agent Occurence

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Free Agency Eve

We are but hours away from one of the most highly anticipated events on the football calendar... and by that I mean a marginal event that will get blown well out of proportion because we have been deprived of football for over a week now. Yes Free Agency opens tomorrow at 11 am and while there aren't many marquee names left on the market, honestly the crop is as good as any CFL free agency... a few starters, a number of depth guys.

As I announced on Friday, tomorrow starting at 10am I will be doing my 1st Annual Rider Prophet Free Agent Occurrence. It will feature live blogging, an active Twitter feed and as much fun as you can have on a Tuesday morning within the confines of the law. I've debated many time whether this is a good idea but then I remind myself of the last time I watched NHL free agent frenzy on TSN and remember that it can't possibly be worse than that because at least there are zero expectations going into this.

So I will save my normal Monday commentary for tomorrow, because otherwise I'm apt to run out of material within 3 minutes tomorrow and resort to asking my 1.5 viewers to help me solve the morning Suduko puzzle. Odds are you will be tracking the goings on so why not do so with yours truly and maybe have some fun in the process.

See you tomorrow... I hope... please... my fragile heart can't take anymore crushing disappointment (just kidding, decades of cheering for the Riders has helped my heart build up a strong tolerance to crushing disappointment)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Free Agency Primer

I'll start with some big news. Though I was once again turned down by TSN for a full day Free Agent Frenzy show, I have decided to got at it on my on. And so I'm somewhat proud to announce (unless this turns into a horrible idea) the 1st Annual Rider Prophet CFL Free Agent Occurrence (calling it a frenzy just seems wrong). Tuesday I will be doing a live blog starting an hour before free agency opens and going until I decide enough is enough. Also watch my twitter feed for news, updates, thoughts and the ever popular Hobo Watch. Given how thin the free agent market is this year I realize this may not be the best time to try this out but I'll be at home anyway and its not like you won't be keeping tabs on what's happening so why not do it in an entertaining fashion. Join me Tuesday.

To get you read for free agency here's a breakdown by position.

There are no starting jobs up for grabs and no highly sought after prospects hitting the market. I mean I doubt we are on the cusp of a bidding war for the likes of Brian Brohm or Justin Goltz. The irony for me the is that Kevin Glenn is the best available player but the only team with a real need at QB is BC who just got rid of him
Best available: Kevin Glenn
Other names to watch: Dan LeFevour – His game is entirely base on his mobility and he will be coming off major knee injury but for team in the market for a back-up with upside… he’s a decent option


Best available: Nic Grisby – I find it tough to be so negative about a guy who had 10 TDs and 1200 yards from scrimmage but realistically he won’t be starting in 2015 and I’m not even sure I’d be actively pursuing him if I was a GM.
Other names to watch:
Kendial Lawrence - a utlity guy for Edmonton some running some receiving, some returning, very versatile weapon who had a pretty productive season despite some inconsistent play.
Jonathan Williams - had a couple massive games that should at least make someone want to bring him in for a look.

Wide Receiver
Had potential to be a quality crop of receivers… until Dressler and Green re-signed. There are a few decent options out there but moreso role players than big impact guys.
Best available: Earnest Jackson – his 813 receiving yards jump out at you… until you remember that 372 of that came in 2 games and he only managed 471 over the other 12 games he played. Hard to tell if those 2 games are a sign of better things to come or just an aberration.
Other names to watch:
Sam Guigere – One of the few Canadians hitting the market who could legitimately fill a starting role.

Was setting up to be a big year for top end free agent O-linemen until Heenan, Holmes and O’Donnell came off the market. Clearly Brett Jones is the prize possessions but he is exploring NFL options so I will leave him out for now.
Best available: Stanley Bryant – two time all-star tackle who doesn’t really get much fanfare for how good he is. Any team looking for a strong OL anchor will be giving this guy a call. Somebody will be paying him a lot of money.
Other names to watch:  Edwin Harrision and SirVincent Rogers – Both are starting calibre import tackles so their phones should be busy.
Alex Krausnik-Groh – I think he is an underrated OL and in market thin on Canadians he becomes a fairly attractive option.

It’s a really weak market for D-lineman, there are very few free agent DL to begin with and of those only a couple are even noteworthy.
Best available: Justin Hickman – Didn’t have huge stats in his return to the CFL but certain had an impact on the play of that line. I would expect a better year out of him now that he will have a full CFL offseason and training camp as opposed to coming in mid-year.
Other names to watch: Khalif Mitchell – already wore out his welcome in Toronto and BC twice now, his play has slipped to the point where his baggage may no longer be worth the hassle. Be interested to see if finds a new home… or if he will have to spend more time focusing on his energy drink venture.


Best available: Rennie Curran – JC Sherritt’s resurgence makes Curran expandable in Edmonton. He’s young and already proven he can play at a high level. He will be highly covoted.
Other names to watch:
Sam Hurl – As I mentiopned, very few decent Canadians hitting the market. Hurl is a solid player on teams and can contribute on D.
Brian Peters – In only his second year he developed into an impact player both on defense and special teams.

Defensive Back
A few decent names out there. Not a ton of need out there for DBs but there are a few starting spots up for grabs.
Best available: Geoff Tisdale,
Other names to watch: Desia Dunn

CFL Ins and Outs

In: DB Woodney Turenne (contract extension)
Out: OL Ben Heenan (signed with Indianapolis), Jason Tucker (joining Tennessee Titans’ coaching staff).

In: DB Fred Bennett, RB Jock Sanders (contract extension)

In: KR Brandon Banks, LB Taylor Reed (contract extension)

In: WR Toney Clemons, DB Demetrius Wright (free agent signing)
Out: LB Kyle Jones (released), P Mike Renaud (retired)

In: OL Nik Embernate, WR Darryl Surgent, DL Tracy Robertson (free agent signing)

In: DB Jerald Brown, RB Brandon Rutley (contract extension), RB Jordan Hall (free agent signing)