The week off football hopefully gave players and fans alike the chance to disconnect and recharge. Or at least watch other teams get pounded for a change. The 2022 season started out with a lot of promise but certainly hasn’t played out as many had hoped. We are on a three game losing streak and have already used up most of our East games. Its going to be a tough haul down the stretch.
Since it is almost mid-season, I thought I take this opportunity to do a bit of a mid-season assessment on the various areas of the team.
Grade: When fully heathy A+. Right now C.
When all four of our starters are healthy and not violating multiple rules and sense of decency they are the best in the CFL. Look at those first couple games to see how dominant they were and it changed the whole complexion of the defense. Robertson looks to be close to returning which will be a huge boost. Marino is on exile for 1 more game and at some point Leonard will return. Better days are coming here. In the meantime Hughes is still showing he has a bit left in the tank.
I don’t think there is a better trio of LBs in the league. We knew Sankey would be a solid tackling machine. Moncrief has been his old reliable self. The x-factor here has been Larry Dean. He has dialed back the clock and is playing some of the best football of his career. At some point we will add Teitz as a rotation guy. Right now this is the strength of our D and they are holding in games that we otherwise would struggle in.
Unsurprisingly this group looked like world beaters when the D-line was getting pressure and struggled when they weren’t. I think the thing we need to remember that 3 of the 5 are have less than 15 games starting experience. Clark is solid. Milligan struggles with zone but is an immensely talented tackler and cover guy otherwise. Henderson has his ups and downs. Marshall is playing some of the best football in years. The stupid penalties (which everyone else is taking) and the bad beats are gone. Edem is a versatile playmaker. Expect this group’s performance to start to look better as the D-line reinforcements arise. Depth has been shown to be the one issue here.
I base this on production. He’s handicapped by a bum knee, no protection and questionable play calling so he’s doing the best he can and doesn’t deserve near the criticism he’s gotten but Fajardo has not been getting it done. I’ve been vocal about resting him. The team disagrees. Well if he's "healthy" enough to play then he should be expected to produce. We have the least passing yards in the CFL. We have the second worst average gain per pass. No one fears our offense but Rider fans.
Morrow is a stud, he leads the league in combined yards. Hickson is the perfect change of pace. When we commit to them good things happen. They are limited by an OC that doesn’t always commit to the run and defenses that do not have to respect our passing attack.
Evans, Moore and Picton will be back soon and they should boost things. Did you ever think the day would come where Picton would be a key addition? Baker is a stud. Duke has been struggling… both to not get in trouble and to catch the ball. Its obvious him and Cody aren’t on the same page but he’s a talented enough receiver that he should be making the difficult catches and currently struggles with the routine ones sometimes.
Grade: Is there something lower than an F? If not, I’ll get them an F for F’n Embarrassment.
People can talk all they want about missing Dan Clark, but Clark doesn’t play tackle. And that’s where we are an absolute liability. I can’t count the number of 3 man rushes that have resulted in a hit on our QB because both tackles got beat. Evan Johnson has been very underwhelming in his time here. I thought he was good? Ferland is still learning. None of them are getting a Christmas card from the Fajardos.
Grade: Overall B
Kicking under Lauther has been predictability solid. Oddly enough he never misses the long kicks. Just the medium one. Punting started out bad but has been steadily improving. Coverage started out on par with our pass blocking but has steadily improved. We still aren’t great at blocking. As we’ve seen Mario Alford is a threat to score on any given kick but his aggressiveness can also hurt us.
When it comes to our o-line and how things aren't getting better I am now starting to wonder at how good our o-line coach is.
That's where my mind has been going for a while. You look at the defense and the excel despite rotating pieces. Shivers is a great coach. 2 straight years of OL futility makes you wonder whether the OL coach is any good
The thing is O'Day was a centre in his playing days. He knows how important it is to have a great O line. So why did he mess this up so bad. This is all JO's fault not the head coach
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