Monday, June 5, 2023

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Bring on the Regular Season

Plan the parade!

While I, of course, am kidding, the 2-0 preseason will certainly have made some on the prairies seriously think that a Grey Cup is inevitable now. Look, the preseason went about as well as it could have. Penalties were down, sacks were almost non-existent, starting O looked great, defense looked ok, we actually won. I think we should all be happy with that preseason. For a team that has been mired in misery and hopelessness since last August, we at least have some hope now. And even if it was just preseason (and against a Bombers team not fielding many starters), it still felt great to actually enjoy watching a football game again.

I won’t dwell much more on that game. The first 2 quarters made it pretty obvious who should make the team. The second half made it almost equally as obvious who should not. The only surprise among the cuts was Stefan Banks. He was a highly touted free agent acquisition from Calgary viewed as the next starting DE. Swing and miss there. He was beaten by Cox (an unexpected reversal of what normally happens) and not even deemed worthy of a practice roster spot. Overall I really like our roster except I think our linebacker depth is downright concerning and we still keep signing OTs which means we aren’t super set their (not that that’s important).

But now its onto the real games, against real opponents, fielding their real starters. The West is shaping up to be a very tight race where I think legitimately each team has a shot at finishing first or second.  

Here are my 10 bold (or not so bold predictions) for the 2023 season

1.     We will finish 9-9 but will get there in a very streaky manner. Start hot, midseason slump, late season recovery. 3rd in a competitive West will be our finish.

2.     Harris will throw for 5000 yards. He will settle for more FGs than we like but he will be able to move the ball on offense.

3.     We won’t have a 1000 yard receiver. It will be a true team effort. We also won’t have a 1000 yard rusher… though Morrow and Hickson combined will be the equivalent of one.

4.     O-line will not be great… but good enough. We will be middle of pack for sacks allowed. We will try a bunch of different OL combinations before settling on a set group on Labour Day. Partial odds on Derek Dennis being part of the mix at some point.

5.     Kian-Schaefer Baker will make his triumphant return on Labour Day and score a TD in a winning effort.

6.     Lanier will get double digits sacks in 12 weeks. Defensive player of the year in the West.

7.     While Teitz should be a lock for top Canadian on the team, a young upstart named Jayden Dalke will steal the spotlight and be the best safety we’ve seen since Craig Butler.

8.     Dickenson and O’Day will last the season but after an early playoff exit, O’Day will save his job by sacrificing Dickenson as the scapegoat.

9.     Mario Alford will score at least 6 kick return TDs.

10.  Rider Nation will spend the whole season debating Dolegala vs. Fine and it won’t matter because Harris will play 18 games and Patterson will be the only other QB to touch the ball on 3rd down plunges.

Bonus Prediction: The Riders will continue to put zero effort into half time and the $5 menu (which can only really be found on the first level, not on the second level where the cheap seats are) will be much ado about nothing.

Bring on the season.


Anonymous said...

I'm encouraged by the new coaches on O at this point & IMO Dennis would be a good add - assuming there are no lasting injury issues. Didn't he break his leg? With Kelly, Blake & Dennis we would suddenly be a very old OL which would stunt the development of some younger guys but O'Day may find it necessary to hold off the hounds.

I think you're right in that it will be a tight race. I am one of the few, it seems, who sees the Bombers falling back. They have a great offence BUT - Receiving BC - 3 receivers top 10 last year, Edm 2 top 10, Cal 2 top 12, Wpg - 2 top 14. Run game - Edm - Brown/Cornelius/Ford averaged 6.93 yds/carry last year, Cal - Carey/Mills/Logan 6.62 yds/carry, SK - Morrow/Hickson 5.65 yds/carry & Wpg, Oliviera/Augustine 4.84 yds/carry. The Bomber Offence is good but hardly heads & tails over the West clubs. And they are thin thin, thin on DL. Jeffcoat may not be ready, Hansen out for awhile which leaves Willie @ DE with a handful of newbies with little to no CFL experience. Same @ DT. AND they were 2nd last in sacks in '22. Allowing 160 & 154 yds running in the pre-season may be a sign of things to come. Bighill's 34 & didn't play in the pre-season, Wilson is on the 6 game AGAIN.

BC & Calgary both look better to me than the Bombers. The Elks may have the best balance on offence. Brown & Brooks look like a lethat combination & that receiving corps is really deep. Jones has also got some beasts up front. A very deep DL. Expect the depth chart to show Ceresna, 298, @ DE with AC. Pelly, 330, & Ross 305 in the middle. And Nyles Morgan may be the league's best kept secret. He led the league in tackles/game, just ahead of Sankey in 2022. An amazing stat courtesy of Dave Campbell via TSN - the Elks allowed 135 yds/game rushing when Morgan was out, 88 yds/game when he was in.

Riders? I like the D. I don't think we can match the firepower in the air of the other clubs. But we can run with them. I need to see more from the coaches. We should hover around the .500 mark when all is said & done. Biggest movers this year? I'd be surprised if the Elks don't move up a notch or 2 - it's year 2 Jones & we've seen that movie before. I would not be surprised to see the Bombers drop down 1 or 2 notches. Most of their 30+ projected starters are on the LOS - 4 of their OL 31 & over, Willie & Jeffcoat are 32, Thomas 33. Their sacks allowed total (adjusted for 14 games in 2021) increased 40% last year, their sack total was the lowest since 2016. Some disturbing undelying trends there.

Rider Prophet said...

I think Edmonton will be good this year. All they need is Cornelius to be "ok" and with the weapons around him and an improved D they will be no pushover.

In BC I think Dane Evans is starting by Labour Day. I like Vernon Adams but he is wildly inconsistent.

Winnipeg is on the cusp of their window being closed. I think it comes this year as well but they may be able to squeak one more year out of this core.

Calgary has a great D and great Rb but I'm not sold on Maier or the pass game. Yet somehow, Calgary always finds a way to be competitive despite what they look like on paper.

Unknown said...

Things can change quickly. I see the Bombers like the 1983 Eskimos

1983 Edm vs 2023 Bombers

-Previous 2 seasons. Bombers 26-6, Edm 25-6-1.
-Both went to GC those 2 years.
-Starters in their 30's - 11 each. (Edm - 3 over 31, Bombers 8 over 31.)
LB-Kepley, 31, 3 X MOP, Bighill, 34, 3 X MOP
DE-James "Quick' Parker, 25, 1982 MOP (3 MOP's by age 28, Jefferson 1 MOP @ age 28
QB-Moon, 26, MOP, Collaros 34, reigning MOP going into 2023
-Dunigan Future HOF - backup, Brown -???
-Fennell, 30, 2 X GC MVP, 4 Most O/S CDN awards, Thomas, 33, none.

That Edm club, like the Bombers now, had great receivers. Kelly, 27, 1812 yds, combined with Scott for 3046 yds receiving in 16 games. (CFL record - 2016 - Bowman/Walker combined for 3350 yds).
Edm finished 8-8.Two things - too many old players & younger, better clubs caught up to them.

More recently 2019-20 Baltimore Ravens 25-7, 8-9 in 2022.

Rider Prophet said...

Very interesting comparison.