Friday, November 27, 2015

Grey Cup 103: Eskimos vs. RedBlacks

Sunday the 2015 CFL comes to a close as the Edmonton Eskimos face the Ottawa RedBlacks for the right to hoist Lord Grey’s Cup. Little bit of Grey Cup folklore for you, they actually experimented with other kitchen items before settling a cup as the trophy. Some options that never ended up seeing the light of day include the Grey Mug, Grey Plate, Grey Saucer, Grey Spatula, Grey Slap Chop and Grey George Foreman Grill.

This will be Edmonton’s first trip to the Grey Cup since 2005 (which surprised me, even the craptastic Bombers have appeared in the Cup twice since then). In the time that has passed since Ottawa’s last Cup appearance 9 CFL franchises have been created and subsequently folded… including themselves, twice. The last time Ottawa actually won a grey Cup… well… let’s not talk about that game and change the subject to something that is far less likely to result in me having to repress sad memories with whiskey.

Edmonton features a rock solid defense, which is something that has become synonymous with Chris Jones (among other attirbutes such as a Boomhower-like accent). Their offense took a big step forward this season, which is a big reason they were able to take the next step and make it to the big game. Last season, their passing attack was Adarius Bowman. That’s it. Bonus points if you can name their #2 receiver in terms of yards last season. The answer is: the turf on passes that Bowman was targeted on but dropped, followed closely by Nate Coehoorn. The addition of Derel Walker gave them a bona fide superstar that suddenly made Bowman the second most dangerous receiver on team. They also boast the underrated Kenny Stafford who scored 9 TDs this season and provides a legitimate 3rd option that defense must respect. This is no longer an outstanding defense carrying a passable offense. This is a well-balanced team that has few weaknesses. An inconsistent run game is the one weakness I would point to on this team.

Ottawa had far and away the top passing attack in the CFL this season. They passed for 700 yards more than any other team and boasted four 1000 yard receivers. As much as it pains me to admit, Henry Burris was very deserving of the MOP award this year. For as awful as Ottawa was last year, the one thing I said they did right from the start was built from the trenches. In their initial year they grabbed guys like Shologan, Evans, Hopkins, Cappiciotti, Deane, Gott, MacMillan. That has paid dividends in year 2 as this year as they are strong along both lines. Something you need if you are going to succeed. Burris will be hoping this trip to the Grey Cup goes a lot more like 2008 and a lot less like the last time he was in a Grey Cup.

 I like Ottawa’s defense, they are a solid unit that does not get the same fanfare as some of the other top defenses.

Interestingly enough if the game is close, both teams will turn to kickers who were not on their roster to start the year. Ottawa will turn to Chris Milo (and pray that his magnetic attraction to the uprights did not follow him from Saskatchewan). Edmonton will turn to Sean Whyte who has will very good for them since being brought in an emergency fill in for Grant Shaw.

Generally speaking these are 2 evenly matched teams. Offensively they have strong O-line’s, dual threat QB, dangerous receivers. I would give Ottawa an edge in the run game as Powell is better than whatever RB Edmonton manages to roster this week. I think that balances with Reilly being more dangerous with his legs. Defensively you have two intimidating D-lines, solid LBs, secondaries that are aggressive and can make you pay for an errant throw… not like Burris has ever thrown one of those at an inopportune time. If you are staying to yourself there is no way Edmonton makes the same ugly drop that Gascon-Nadon did for Hamilton, just remember that Odell Willis plays for the Eskimos and in his last Grey Cup appearance he made a pretty epic drop of his own.

I expect a high quality closely contested game, the kind you’d expect to see in the CFL’s premiere showcase of the League. In the end I think Edmonton’s DBs will be better able to shut down Ottawa’s receivers than Ottawa’s DB’s will be able to shut down Edmonton’s. Derell Walker will be the Grey Cup MVP…

Esks by 9

PS – I hope Winnipeg took a lesson from Saskatchewan and intends on having someone or something doing flips over Fallout Boy. Give the people what they want.

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