CFL 2016 Week 6 Recap

ipad

Technology.

In case you haven’t heard Rod Black say it – and I don’t know how you could’ve missed it; he only says it 100 times per game – the CFL changed its bylaws this year to allow teams to use iPads on the sideline, allowing them to review plays in real time.  Apparently teams receive replays less than 30 seconds after the end of a play.  You can see coaches looking at them prior to throwing a challenge flag, and defences examining breakdowns in coverages in almost real time.

Another technological change flew under the radar until the Calgary Sun’s Scott Mitchell wrote a story about it this week.

QBs have headsets in their helmet, allowing them to communicate with their offensive coordinator, who relays plays.  The radio signal used to cut off when the play clock hit 10 seconds.  Not anymore.  Now, the radio signal remains live pretty much all the time:

This season, quarterbacks can walk to the line of scrimmage with a voice in their ear to help identify coverages, blitzers, open receivers, and whatever else you can think of all the way through the snap of the football.

The CFL has been on a mission to increase offence.  Last year’s rule changes were specifically meant to free up receivers, resulting in increased offensive production.  But to me, this is likely a bridge too far.

While some supporters of this new rule say that a coach would be reticent to yell in a QB’s ear mid-play because it would likely be more annoying than productive, defensive players feel that offences, which already have a clear advantage with the new rules, have gained even more of an edge.

(See: Luc Mullinder’s comments before Friday’s Rider game against the Alouettes.)

Do I like to see TDs?  Yes.  Do I like games that have scores of 4-3 at halftime?  Not particularly.  But I like to see earned TDs; not TDs that come at the expense of a great defensive play that when challenged is overturned because the defender got there a split second early or tugged a jersey, which can only be shown on a slo-mo instant replay. There has to be some discretion, as applying the rules by the letter of the law is resulting in frustrated defenders who don’t know what’s allowed and what isn’t, and in great defensive plays being wiped out due to technicalities.

Duane Forde agrees with me: if you can’t see the tug or determine if a defender got there too early in real time, you should leave the call with the officials on the field.

Technology has improved the CFL game in many ways.  Turnovers, scoring plays and catches should be reviewed as carefully as possible in order to get the call right.  But we’re taking the human element out of the game when we start allowing each and every call to be challenged, reviewed and overturned.

If you want perfect officiating and perfectly called games, go play Madden 17.

Yet again, I went a gross 1/4.  I can’t even be bothered to figure out what my season record is thus far because it’s too depressing.

But let’s recap last week’s games anyway.

WINNIPEG AT EDMONTON

Prior to the game, Jock Climie and Derek Taylor had a debate as to whether or not Bomber HC Mike O’Shea’s QB change would pay off.  Taylor argued that statistically, Drew Willy is better in nearly every category than MATTY ICE, aka Matt Nichols, and that the QB change wasn’t the real issue.  Jock Climie disagreed.

I really hate it when Jock’s right.

However, I do not think it was MATTY ICE that made the difference in the game; the difference was that all three phases stepped up and the Bombers played a complete game. Andrew Harris had 127 rushing yards, which I think is the first 100+ yard game by a running back this year.  The receivers stepped up and made catches when it mattered, like this one:

Justin Medlock went 5/5 on field goals.  Winnipeg didn’t turn the ball over.  And with the game on the line, the defence made big plays, like this:

As for the Schmoes, well, they did not rebound well from last week’s record-making loss. Their defence continues to give up tons of yardage each game, but more concerning is that they’re more and more relying on big plays from their receivers rather than chewing up the clock and keeping the ball in their possession for as long as possible.  While guys like Derrel Walker and Adarius Bowman are likely going to burn you once a game because they’re just that good, teams are finding ways to jam them and keep them from making big plays.  The offence needs to adjust, use John White more and focus on moving the ball down the field 10 yards at a time instead of relying on 30 to 40 yard plays all the time.

But don’t listen to me, Edmonton.  Just keep doing what you’re doing, because as a Rider fan, I’m enjoying it.

FINAL SCORE: Winnipeg 30, Edmonton 23

SASKATCHEWAN AT MONTREAL

What can be said about this game except that it was a complete ass kicking by the Alouettes?

Oy vey.

This play really encapsulates the whole game:

The Riders got schooled at every turn.  The worst part was that they got a beat down by a team that only had three days’ rest.

galedown.jpg

As such, it was an embarrassment of a game.

You had to feel bad for Mitchell Gale, though, as when he had time to throw, the receivers couldn’t catch the ball.  Yeah, I’m looking at you, Rob Bagg.  And it hurts me as much as it does you.

The playcalling did not help Gale out at all.  However, behind such a young, inexperienced offensive line, against a defensive front seven that may be one of the most experienced in the league, it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise that the Riders were annihilated like they were.

What was most troubling, though, was the lack of effort.  Tackling was poor, concentration seemed nearly non-existent, and instead of frustration by the players, they just seemed go, “Meh.”

Maybe it was just a bad week where the poor defensive play on the first drive just seemed to start a snowball, with everyone getting caught in its wake.

What is puzzling, though, is Chris Jones’ defence.  Right now, it’s just a bad defence. There’s so little pressure most plays that the opposing QB has loads of time to find an open receiver; and the more time you give a QB to throw, the more likely he’s going to find someone open.  I get that our secondary is young, but compensating for that youth by only rushing three nearly every single play is actually putting the secondary at more of a disadvantage, as you can only cover a receiver for so long.

I trust Chris Jones to fix this mess, as we’re only five games into a complete rebuild, but he has to know that the haters are out in Riderville, making a solid effort in the upcoming home-and-home series with Calgary an absolute necessity.

P.S. The fact that it was ‘Ben Cahoon Night’ made it all so much worse, as many of his memorable catches were made against the Riders.

FINAL SCORE: SASKATCHEWAN 3, MONTREAL 41

BC AT CALGARY

I was so depressed after the Riders’ lackluster effort that I didn’t have the heart to watch this one.  By all accounts, it was a good one!

First, though, doesn’t Lions’ returner Chris Rainey make it look soooooo easy?

He looks like he’s JOGGING down the field!

And who’s this Greg Wilson guy??

But this?  This was RIDICULOUS:

Doing their best Tigers-Cats impression, the Stampeders were down 34-19 going into the 4th quarter and clawed their way back, eventually sending the game into overtime.

The Stamps only managed a field goal on their first OT possession.  Inexperience got the Lions in the end, though, as QB Jonathon Jennings, rather than throwing the ball away and letting his team kick a field goal to keep the game tied and move on to the second mini-game, threw a TD in the end zone to cap the Stampeders’ comeback.

The Stampeders are who I thought they’d be thus far.  The Lions?  They just need to find a way to be more consistent.

FINAL SCORE: BC 41, Calgary 44

TORONTO AT OTTAWA

The worst-kept secret in CFL history was finally unveiled on Sunday night when it was announced that Ottawa will host the 2017 Grey Cup.

And in what I would call a bit of piling on, the REDBLACKS (YUCK) decided to honour the 1976 Ottawa Rough Riders on the same night, leading to even more terrible Rider memories.

Tony Gabriel.  ‘The Catch.’  The loss.

I really can’t stand the REDBLACKS (YUCK) these days.

But I felt pretty good in the fourth quarter when Henry Burris was booed BY HIS OWN FANS.  In his first game back since injuring his pinky in Week 1, Burris kind of sucked.

This made me happy.

The Argos’ Logan Kilgore, in his first CFL start, had a solid game.  Throws like this certainly helped:

Did he throw two interceptions?  Sure.  But so did Henry Burris.

The Argos’ defence was really the catalyst for the victory, as it kept the REDBLACKS (YUCK) receivers in check.  The fact that Argo DC Rich Stubler had an EPIC meltdown on the sidelines probably helped.

The Argos are now in first place in the East.  And the over-hyped REDBLACKS (YUCK), despite all of their media coverage, are now in second.

AWESOME.

FINAL SCORE: Toronto 23, Ottawa 20

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