Monday, December 31, 2018

Monday Morning Sentimonies: New Year’s Resolutions

Hopefully you all had a good Christmas… or any other observance you may take part in such as the Feast of Maximum Occupancy. By this point I’m sure you have eaten too much, physically moved far too little and seen more than enough of your family (except of course mine, they are wonderful). The holiday season will officially start winding down after New Years but I thought we’d get an early start and talk some football to help transition you back to things like working and a diet not based on butter, chocolate or cheeses.

This is the time of year that many start making resolutions, ones that they will surely have given up on by week’s end. I personally don’t make resolutions but it seemed like a pretty good holiday tie in for a blog post and so I present to you 3 Resolutions I hope Chris Jones makes this year (spoiler alert, none involve his wardrobe).

1 – Stop making acquisitions in Free Agency that you immediately regret.
Shawn Lemon, Justin Capicciotti, Kendial Lawrence, Travis Bond, Jerome Messam, Duron Carter. All big name free agency acquisitions. All gone by the middle of the season they were signed in (and this is not an exhaustive list). It honestly seems like some times Jones goes on out on the town on a signing spree, wakes up the next morning and has immediate remorse about what he sees lying next to him in bed. Jones has done many good things to improve the talent on the Riders’ roster but free agency is generally not one of them. Imagine if he had used the money spent on these players on players that actually were a fit for what he wanted.

2 – Suck Less Early In the Year
If you look that Chris Jones’ record as Rider coach broken down in thirds of the season a clear picture emerges
First 6 games: 6 and 12
Middle 6 games: 9 and 9
Last 6 games: 12 and 6
Jones always seems to start slow and improve as the season goes on. Even if you exclude 2016, the pattern holds:
First 6 games: 5 and 7
Middle 6 games: 8 and 4
Last 6 games: 9 and 3
While I’m glad Jones generally has the Riders playing their best ball late in the season, if he didn’t dig himself such a big early season hole the team would be way farther ahead. Hopefully 2019 is the year we find early season success.

3 – Find a QB
Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean its not true. Jones has built a team with talent and depth across the board… with the exception of most important position. It’s the only place he hasn’t managed to recruit young talent and his free agent forays have brought us old man Glenn (arguably the best of the bunch), Zach “Buck Pierce in Training” Collaros and Brandon “My mother told me if you don’t haven anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” Bridge. Jones has returned the Riders to the post season, brought payoff football back to Mosaic. Taking that next step will require him to find a mildly competent QB. It’s hard to see 2019 being any different than 2018 if he can’t.

NFL Watch
CFL players will son be able to sign futures deals with NFL teams so here’s a listing of all the NFL Workouts for CFL players. Reported workouts are courtesy @HBalzer721 and @JDunk12 (you all know I’m far too lazy to do my own investigative reporting).

For context, last season every single player who had 4 or more tryouts got an NFL contract. So Sam Eguavoen is most likely gone, as are guys like Singleton, Thurman, Boateng and Bo Levi.

OL Dakota Shepley – tryouts with Denver, Cleveland, Tampa Bay
LB Samuel Eguavoen (Ssk) – tryouts with Miami, LA Rams, New England, Arizona, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, 3 more scheduled
DL Tobi Antigha (Ssk) – tryouts with Arizona, NY Giants, LA Chargers
WR Jordan Williams (Ssk) – tryouts with Chicago, Detroit, NY Giants, New England
QB Bo Levi Mitchell (Cal) – tryouts with Minnesota, Denver, Jacksonville, Chicago, Buffalo, NY Giants, Indianapolis
DB Winston Rose (BC) – tryout with Minnesota
DB Chris Ackie (Ott) – tryout with Minnesota
WR Diontae Spencer (Ott) – tryouts with Minnesota, Buffalo
LB Jameer Thurman (Cal) – tryouts with Minnesota, Chicago, NY Jets, Arizona, LA Chargers, Philadelphia, Cincinnati
DB Tevaughn Campbell (Mtl) – tryouts with Cleveland, Green Bay, Houston, Tampa Bay, NY Jets
DL Kwaku Boateng (Edm) – tryouts with NY Jets, LA Chargers, NY Giants, Washington
LB Alex Singleton (Cal) – tryouts with Cleveland, Minnesota, Arizona, Philadelphia, LA Chargers
DL Avery Ellis (Ott) – tryouts with NY Jets, LA Chargers, Philadelphia, Cincinnati
K Ty Long (BC) – tryout with NY Jets, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Arizona, Cincinnati
OL Rykar Matthews (Ham) – tryouts with NY Jets, New England, Arizona
WR Bryant Mitchell (Edm) – tryouts with NY Jets, Arizona, Detroit, NY Giants
WR Duke Williams (Edm) – tryouts with NY Jets, Buffalo, Detroit, Cincinnati
DL James Vaughters (Cal) - tryouts with Chicago, NY Jets
QB Mike Reilly (Edm) - tryout with Jacksonville
DB Chris Edwards (Edm) – tryout with LA Chargers
WR Marken Michel (Cal) – tryouts with Chicago, Philadelphia
LB Dexter McCoil – tryout with Washington
DB Mercy Maston (Edm) – tryout with Philadelphia
DL Jake Ceresna (Edm) – tryout with NY Giants
RB Terry Williams (Cal) – tryout with NY Giants
WR Dominque Rhymes (Ott) – tryout with Pittsburgh
DL Jackson Jeffcoat (Win) – tryout with Cincinnati
WR Derel Walker (Edm) – tryout with Oakland
QB Jonathan Jennings (BC) – tryout with Indianapolis

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Random Quasi-Coherent Thoughts

After a 1 week absence I'm back! Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? No? Well it's not like I have fragile emotions and will spend the rest of the day crying in the shower.

We took the family down to Universal Studios Orlando... where I spent all lot of time looking down my nose at all the Harry Potter nerds and then turned around a geeked out when we got to Simpsons Land. I'm aware of my hypocrisy and perfectly okay with it.

But you probably didn't come here to hear about my emotional well being or my vacation (and if you did then that's pretty sad) so lets talk football. There isn't much to talk about. But the lack of material has never stopped me from drawing a couple coherent thoughts into a lengthy post.

Random Quasi-Coherent Thoughts:
- Sad to see John Murphy go. I think he and Jones had just finally gotten our recruiting pipeline to where there wanted it to be (with the exception of QB). When your GM has as many roles as Chris Jones does he needs a strong right hand man. Hopefully Jeremy O'Day can step in fairly seamlessly. By the way the irony of a front office guy leaving because he was asked to take a pay cut should not be lost on anyone.

- Only other notable Rider news is that Sam Eguavoen is in the midst of a big time NFL tour. 3 confirmed tryouts so far (Miami, LA Rams, New England) with up to 7 more to come. Pretty safe bet he's heading south. I like his odds off sticking past training camp too. For one he's a damn good player. Also, as an LB he can contribute almost immediately on special teams. Bad for us, good for him.

- Coach vacancies have filled up Steinhauer to Hamilton, Chamblin to Toronto and Claybrooks to BC. That means that 5 of 9 teams have defensive guys as Head Coach. 6 if you count O'Shea though he's really more Special Teams. 

- Hopefully the next big news will be that a new agreement with the CFLPA is signed... given that that may take some time I'd settle for Brandon Bridge being released. I get that its unnecessary given that he's a pending FA but the symbolic significance would be appreciated. 

NFL Watch:
OL Dakota Shepley – tryouts with Denver, Cleveland
LB Samual Eguavoen (Ssk) – tryouts with Miami, LA Rams, New England, 7 more scheduled
QB Bo Levi Mitchell (Cal) – tryouts with Minnesota, Denver, Jacksonville, 2 more scheduled
DB Winston Rose (BC) – tryout with Minnesota
DB Chris Ackie (Ott) – tryout with Minnesota
WR Diontae Spencer (Ott) – tryout with Minnesota
LB Jameer Thurman (Cal) – tryout with Minnesota, Chicago
DB Tevaughn Campbell (Mtl) – tryouts with Cleveland, Green Bay
DL Kwaku Boateng (Edm) – tryout with NY Jets
LB Alex Singleton (Cal) – tryouts with Cleveland, Minnesota, Arizona, Philadelphia, LA Chargers
DL Avery Ellis (Ott) – tryout with NY Jets
K Ty Long (BC) – tryout with NY Jets
OL Rykar Matthews (Ham) – tryout with NY Jets, New England
WR Bryant Mitchell (Edm) – tryout with NY Jets
WR Duke Williams (Edm) – tryout with NY Jets
DL James Vaughters (Cal) - tryout with Chicago
QB Mike Reilly (Edm) - tryout with Jacksonville

Monday, December 3, 2018

11th Annual Rider Prophet Awards

These awards are fairly unique in terms of their set-up. While most sports awards recognize the best in their field (outstanding achievement in the field of excellence if you will), these awards recognize the rest in their field as well as things that I find generally entertaining. While most sports awards are voted on by a large contingent including media (only about half of whom actually know what the hell they are talking about), these awards are quite arbitrarily awarded based on my own whims with the exception of one award which is voted on by the fans. Lastly, while most sports awards are something recipients are proud to receive, these awards are something that most recipients would avoid acknowledging publicly.

Let’s get to the awards. This year’s winners will receive the chance to host the 2026 Olympics… since no one else seems to want to.

Best Player Name
Honourable mentions to Wil Likely and Boobie Hobbs but this year’s winner is Montreal DB Armagedon Draughns. Seriously, how cool a name is Armagedon? With a name like that he pretty much had to go into professional sports or security. I just can’t see a guy named Armegedon doing my taxes attending to my medical needs.

Previous Winners: Rakeem Cox, Akawasi Owusu-Ansah, Lirim Hajrullahu, SirVincent Rogers, Drew Willy, Bear Woods, Solomon Elimimian, Craphonso Thorpe, Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha

Quote of the Year
I almost hesitated in naming this quote the winner. I love the quote and most people like me found it entertaining. But a vocal contingent blew this completely out of proportion with feigned outrage. What cinched it for me was when the Bombers embraced it and started selling shirts.

Your winner is Dave Dickenson for "F'ing Canadians"

Previous Winners: Kavis Reed/Jacques Chapdelaine, Greg Quick, Solomon Elimimian, Ed Hervey, Joe Mack, Henry Burris, Eddie Johnson, Jason Clermont, Mike Abou-Mechrek x2

Play of the Year
Two of the best moments from this season were not actually eligible for this award as they were not actual plays. I still feel they deserve special mention. I’m talking about the Mike Sherman striptease and Jason Maas vs. the Gatorade jug.

With those 2 out of contention, one remaining play stood out among all the others. There is an old adage that if you are going to run your mouth, you better be prepared to back it up. The Lions’ Gary Peters learned this lesson the hard way when he decided to call on Duke Williams. This is what we call a natural consequence. 

Botched Call of the Year
I briefly considered going in a different direction with this award because there were certainly some doozies to chose from. The botched chain measurement from Labour Day certainly comes to mind. But I know my readers and I know there would have been outcry if I didn’t mention headshots here. This is what we in the business call blatant pandering.

Rather than one play I will give this award to the collective inability for the refs to call headshots on QBs. Obviously the Collaros and Bridge one’s are the most talked about but Lulay took an uncalled headshot early in the season and there were probably others I’m forgetting.

It’s ridiculous that these keep going uncalled. It’s ridiculous that the replay official can correct an offside call but not headshot. The official can remove a player whose brains have been scrambled by a headshot (usually many plays later in the game) but they can’t assess a penalty. Fixing this needs to be an offseason priority.

I will add in that rather than just complaining about how little the league is doing, the CFLPA could maybe tell their members to stop trying to kill other members and agree to harsher penalties for those that do. That is if they are really serious about player safety and not just grand standing against the League. (end rant).

The Commercial I Didn’t Get Sick of Seeing Even Though TSN Made Me Watch It 54,297 Times Award
I’ll tell you what commercial I did get sick of seeing… that damn Nissan commercial that played roughly 100 times per game. Note to Nissan: I’m glad you are a proud sponsor of the CFL but that ad on endless repeat made me less likely to ever consider purchasing that vehicle.

Honourable mention to Fountain Tire for their “Nan’s smile is nice, but useless” ad but this year’s winner is Belair Direct for their series of  Football Simplified quick ads. Simple, quick, funny.

See a bunch here:

Most Insulted Sports Figure
While there were times that it looked like Steve McAdoo was destined to repeat here, a new front runner emerged. It proved to be the only thing his person would excel at. I'm talking of course about Brandon Bridge. By far he led the pact in terms of me insulting him in this space. Brandon Bridge. Joins the like of Sunseri, Bishop and Dinwiddie in terms of Rider QBs I have loathed. I’m sure he’s a nice guy off the field but he is utterly useless on it.

I have never been a Bridge fan. I've long contended that if he wasn't Canadian no one would care about him. But this year he took things to a new level. He managed to look awful in an offense that allowed him only to hand off and throw screens. He runs like a baby deer learning to walk and still thinks that his horrible attempts at huddling are a good idea (they are not). He is so inaccurate in his passes that fans in the front row are more likely to catch his pass attempts than our receivers. I could maybe be more forgiving if he was a developing QB but he's a 4 year vet. This is as good as it gets.

Previous Winners: Steve McAdoo, The Riders Secondary, Any Rider QB not named Durant, Pat Neufeld, Chris Getzlaf, Ryan Dinwiddie, Jim Daley, Michael Bishop x 2, Marcel Bellefeuille

Fans’ Choice Douche-Bag of the Year
You the fans have spoken yet again… and in record number. A total of 163 votes were received including an amazing 8 write in votes for the likes of Odell Willis, Duron Carter, Chris Jones, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jonathan Rose, Blue Bomber fans and my personal favourite the media who pretended the Riders' O wasn't awful.

The voting was way closer than I expected. I underestimated how much you people hate Dave Dickenson. Personally I think he's an angel compared to other nominees but this is a fan vote and he came in 2nd. 

You the fans have decided that with 45% (74 out of a possible 163 votes) Jason Maas is your Douche Bag of the Year for the second year in a row.

I doubt this will shock anyone. Between his yelling, his tantrums and his assaults on innocent sideline objects he's an easy choice. Used to be that pretty much anyone outside of Edmonton hated him but now his support even in Edmonton is slipping after missing the playoffs despite fielding the top QB in the league. It will take something pretty douchy to keep Maas from three-peating in 2019.

Previous Winners: Jason Maas, Cory Chamblin, Chris Jones, Jon Cornish x2, Henry Burris, Dwight Anderson, Mike Kelly, Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy