Three weeks into the CFL season, the standings in the West Division look just about where I thought they’d be, with the exception of Edmonton being undefeated.
The East Division is surprising on a number of levels.
First, the defending Grey Cup champs are winless through the first three games of the season. While I thought they might suffer a bit of a Grey Cup hangover, I can’t believe they lost at home to the Argos this week.
The Argos are the other surprise, starting out with a 2-1 record. They completely surprised the Tiger-Cats in Week 1, while their next game against BC seemed to be a better indicator of where their game was at. They could not get anything going in the first half on Saturday night, but yet came back to beat Ottawa at home.
Hamilton just looks terrible. I am surprised how weak its offensive line is, and I expected better from the linebackers. You can tell that Zach Collaros is constantly hearing footsteps, as he hardly sets his feet before throwing. And then there are the penalties and complete lack of discipline. Like here:
Will Hill is definitely going to be the first player suspended by new CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie. You can’t touch an official. Ever. Right, Kent Austin?
While Riders’ HC Chris Jones was on the hot seat last week, this week it’s Tiger-Cats’ Head Coach Kent Austin, whose team’s fortunes have really taken a nosedive since its last Grey Cup appearance in 2014.
On that note, let’s take a look at Hamilton’s performance and the other games from Week 3.
BC at Montreal
What’s with the BC Lions and the fourth quarter?
The Alouettes kept the game close, only down by 3 going into the fourth quarter. They’d only given up 9 points to the Lions through the first 3 quarters and had a good shot at getting the upset.
But Jeremiah Johnson is tough to stop.
BC really should’ve been up by a TD going into the fourth quarter, but the goal post got in the way:
The Lions’ offence hasn’t exactly been lighting it on fire the first three weeks of the season, but it’s put together long TD drives in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. I expect the Lions to start putting together a better offensive effort this coming week when they return home after being out east after two weeks.
As for the Alouettes, they’ve scored 17, 16, and 16 points in each of their first three games. While you have to admire the consistency on one level, the lack of offensive output is somewhat troubling, especially when you have weapons like Tyrell Sutton and Ernest Jackson. The Als’ defence is keeping the team in games, but it needs help from Darian Durant and the offence.
BC (2-1) 23, Montreal (1-2) 16
Calgary at Winnipeg
You know the Stamps are having an off night when it takes them SIX TRIES to score from the one yard line.
Luckily for them, Winnipeg lined up offside on the third try, giving them an extra three attempts.
Stamps’ QB Bo Levi Mitchell had an ugly first half, about as ugly as his first half in the 2016 Grey Cup, throwing two interceptions. The Stamps’ lack of offensive production allowed the Bombers to go up 10-9 at halftime.
Luckily for them, MATTY ICE threw this beauty pick six in Q3:
The Bombers scored ZERO POINTS in the second half.
While most of the Stamps’ offense seemed to take the night off, one guy had a break out game.
Kamar Jorden had two TDs: one on the ground, and one through the air.
Like the Alouettes, the Bombers’ defence held the Stamps in check as long as it could. The Bombers’ offence just couldn’t get going.
The Bombers continue to suck at home. And against Calgary. Just like usual.
Calgary (2-0-1) 29, Winnipeg 10 (1-1)
Toronto at Ottawa
REDBLACKS’ QB Trevor Harris continues to put up stellar numbers, as do his receivers. Harris had 370 yards passing and 2 TDs. Greg Ellingson had 10 catches for 170 yards and 1 TD.
The defence held the Argos to one point in the first half.
And yet the REDBLACKS lost 26-25.
Plays like this didn’t help:
It also didn’t help that Ricky Ray threw for 366 yards and SJ Green had 200+ yards.
You have to tackle better, REDBLACKS!
Still, Ottawa had a chance to win the game. But Drew Tate fumbled the snap on the convert that would’ve tied the game. Ottawa tried a 59 yard field goal on the last play, but it was wide and Toronto ran the ball out of the end zone.
While the reigning Grey Cup champs remain winless through Week 3, they’ve lost those three games by a combined 4 points. It’s not time to panic in Ottawa. Yet.
Toronto (2-1) 26, Ottawa (0-2-1) 25
Hamilton at Saskatchewan
WE’RE NOT THE WORST! WE’RE NOT THE WORST!
That was, by far, the best defensive effort the Riders have put forth since Chris Jones took over as Head Coach.
Chris Jones also clearly listened to me, as the three-men fronts were at a minimum, and there were a lot less substitutions than usual. Jones finally let his guys play. And they rewarded him with a stellar defensive effort, allowing Hamilton only 1 net yard of offence in the first quarter on 206 yards offence in total. TSN’s game line only has the Riders with one sack, but I can think of at least three.
The Riders’ offence hit its stride this week, with Steve McAdoo finally calling a more imaginative game that featured some actual rushing plays! The Riders should keep giving the ball to Cameron Marshall, as he breaks tackles more often than not. He had 71 yards on the ground.
Kevin Glenn had his best game in a while. He threw for 380 yards and 2 TDs, and also rushed for 2 TDs – even if, according to Milt Stegall, he does run as slow as a turtle.
But in true Kevin Glenn-style, he had to make one bad decision that marred a pretty incredible effort:
This caused me to have this reaction:
Thank goodness KG shrugged it off and went back to work.
Naaman Roosevelt had his best game of the season with 167 yards receiving. Duron Carter got his first TD of the season, and Bakari Grant continues to make key catches in the red zone.
The Riders’ special teams also deserve kudos for keeping Brandon Banks in check all night, helped by solid directional kicking from Josh Bartel. Tyler Crapigna nailed both of his field goals, including a 45 yarder.
BTW, what was with the short kick in the 4th quarter, Jonesie?
As for Hamilton, its offensive line had trouble all night with the Riders’ front four. Zach Collaros looked off all night, except for the one TD drive Hamilton had in the third quarter.
Defensively, Hamilton started some pure rookies in its secondary. And yes, Hamilton missed Emmanuel Davis and Abdul Kanneh.
But Hamilton’s main problem was discipline: 15 penalties for 187 yards. These extended drives for the Riders and put Hamilton’s offense in second and long situations most of the night.
Now, on the officiating front, it was a bad night. Tim Kroeker’s crew is by far the worst in the CFL; his crew seems to throw a flag on each and every play. If a foul doesn’t affect the play, why throw the flag? There were flags thrown for both teams that should’ve been picked up.
As for Command Centre, it should’ve picked up Kent Austin trying to get the officials’ attention when he wanted to throw his challenge flag. And letting the Saunders catch stand in the fourth quarter when the replay clearly showed the ball touching the ground was ridiculous. While neither play had an impact on the game (Austin’s challenge most likely wouldn’t have been successful, and the Saunders catch didn’t result in points – if I recall correctly), this is the stuff the CFL must get right.
Hamilton (0-2) 20, Saskatchewan (1-2) 37