Coach Chamblin is clearly not a happy man these days.
Yesterday, Rider kicker Chris Milo and his tattoos were notably absent from practice. Later, we learned that he had been ‘deactivated’ (whatever that means) and that the Riders signed uber-veteran Paul McCallum.
Yeah – THAT Paul McCallum.
The Paul McCallum who missed a 17 yard field goal in the 2004 West Final at BC Place that made me question my Rider fandom and opened my eyes to the unfairness of life.
The Paul McCallum who, because of that missed field goal, had manure dumped on his (neighbour’s) driveway.
The Paul McCallum I have consistently referred to in these football missives as ‘McShanks’.
What do I call him now??
I do not know, but it’ll come to me.
Anyway, between the signing of McCallum and the return of Jamel Richardson, the Riders are beginning to look like a reunion of the 2005 Riders. Or the Rider Expendables to Miss CFL’s Mama.
(FYI: that team finished 9-9, finished 4th in the West, crossed over to plays the Alouettes in the playoffs and lost. )
P.S. Tino Sunseri is back. Not that I care.
A reminder of this week’s games:
The default pick is: CALGARY (duh).
And here’s a preview of this week’s games:
Based on this week’s Internet chatter on the various CFL/Riders websites I peruse, you’d swear the Bumblers won a Grey Cup last week. While it was the team’s first win at Mosaic in 10 years, forgotten amongst the over-celebrating is the fact that the Riders’ offence actually gained nearly 500 yards of offence against the Bumblers’ defence. The Kitty Cats will be sorely ticked after last week’s last-second loss to the Stumps, so I expect the Cats to win this one at home – handily. Prediction: Cats by 15
The Stumps were lucky to escape with a win last week. Lucky for them, their next foe is basically without a QB. This is bad news for the West Division. Calgary could likely sleepwalk through this game and still win. Prediction: Calgary by 21
The Leos are an unknown quantity, having had a bye during the first week of the season. Travis Lulay hasn’t played a meaningful game in nearly two seasons, and there’s an entire new coaching regime in place in the Lions’ Den. The RODBLACKS managed to eke out a win against the hapless Als last week, giving the franchise a bit of momentum. While the Lions are superior at nearly every position, they struggle when they go out East. Nevertheless… Prediction: BC by 6.
“Make me believe, KG!” I cried during the 2nd half of last week’s game. Kevin Glenn looked good running the Riders’ offence last week, but that wasn’t the problem. The Riders’ defence needs to atone for last week’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious display of tackling and it faces a stiff test against an Arblows’ offence that made the Schmoes look like…well, schmoes last week. The return of Tyron Brackenridge to safety should help, especially if the Riders go with three rookies at linebacker as they have in practice thus far this week. Then again, Ricky Foley returns to the team that traded him, and he likely has a rather large chip on his shoulder. Prediction: Argos by 4.
You know, we might as well call our game flag football, as there were FIFTY-FIVE (55)penaltyflags in Saturday night’s pre-season tilt between the Riders and the Schmoes.
SO. MANY. FLAGS.
I am already tired of hearing the phrases “illegal contact” and “pass interference” – and it’s still only the preseason!
The CFL’s officiating has always been suspect, and with these new rule changes, one of its glaring weaknesses is going to be highlighted week in, week out.
Anyway, the results of this past weekend’s games were as follows:
Calgary beat BC 20-6.
Montreal rolled over the RODBLACKS 26-9.
The Schmoes won 31-24 over the Riders in what was, in case you missed the dozens of references to it, THE MOST NORTHERN CFL GAME EVER.
But if you’re reading this (and thank you to the one or two of you who actually are) you’re not reading this to see what the pre-season results were. You’re reading this to see what the season has in store for our enemies in the West Division. Read on to find out!
So last year I boldly predicted that the Cowardly Lions would finish 1st in the West Division. I was so WRONG. So very, VERY wrong. My reasoning, though, was sound. It was the Leos’ execution – and coaching – that failed them (and me).
There are a lot of questions for the orange and white going into this season. The first question is whether or not new Head Coach Jeff Tedford can adapt to the CFL game. Will he be more of a Bart Andrus (failed Arblows coach of 2009) or a Marc Trestman (the Alouettes’ shaman)?
One of these guys was successful; the other wasn’t. Can you tell which is which?
Well, Tedford actually has more CFL experience than either Andrus or Trestman had. He played in the CFL for a few years and worked as an assistant with the Stumps for three seasons in the very early 1990s before heading to the US. But, that was a few decades ago. However, he does have guys like George Cortez, the offensive coordinator the Riders fired and the Lions hired, around to help.
The other big question is whether Leos’ QB Travis Lulay (also referred to by the BC media as Le Grand Orange – huh?) can regain his former…form. He only played part of one game last year after rehabbing from shoulder surgery. And in said game, he re-tore the same shoulder. He forewent surgery and opted for a rehab program. If Le Grand Orange/Lulaylemon can’t start – and it looks like he won’t at this point – then it’s up to John Beck (who?) to lead the Cowardly Lions.
Aside from potential coaching and QB issues, though, the Lions remain strong at receiver and linebacker. A strong receiving core isn’t worth much, though, if those receivers don’t have anyone to throw the ball to them. Also, there are a lot of holes on both offensive and defensive lines. As such, there are a lot more questions than answers as far as the Lions are concerned, and that doesn’t bode well as the regular season approaches.
Prediction: 5th in the West
I was forced to visit the Stumps’ Facebook page to find some pictures for this preview. The amount of references to ‘Grey Cup’, ‘champions’ and ‘repeat’ was sickening.
But – and it seriously pains me to say this – there’s a good chance that those words will be said in November, as the Stumps remain strong at nearly every position. However, there will be some changes along both their offensive and defensive lines with Saskatchewan product and standout centre Brett Jones signing with the NY Giants of the NFL and Brandon Boudreaux moving to the Stumps from Hamilton. There are some changes at receiver, too, with the losses of Maurice Price (Ottawa) and Nik Lewis (Montreal) and the signing of Bo Levi Mitchell’s brother, Cory.
But still – the Stumps will be good.
And that’s it. I don’t want to talk about the Stumps anymore. Instead, let’s look at this infographic about how much ‘stuff’ the Stumps go through in a year and try to figure out why they chew so much gum.
Prediction: 1st in the West (YUCK)
Last year, the Schmoes went from cellar dwellers to finishing second in the West Division.
It was not enjoyable.
Head Coach Chris Jones completely revamped the Esks’ defence, which went from being near the bottom of the league in almost every statistical category in 2013 to being the best defence in the CFL in 2014. That defence remains intact and will be formidable once again this season.
On offence, Mike Reilly (who’s still in desperate need of a nickname) remains the Schmoes’ starter, backed up by Matty Ice, also known as Matt Nichols (whose nickname is both terrible and awesome). Receiver Fred Stamps is no longer with the team, but given his lack of production over the last few seasons, this likely won’t be too big of a loss. However, the Schmoes are in need of a running back after John White suffered a season-ending injury in training camp. Former Blue Bumbler Chad Simpson has joined the team and has thus far performed well in limited pre-season action.
Even though the Schmoes will likely have a solid season, they’ll still likely play second fiddle to Connor McDavid and the Oilers in Edmonton’s sports scene. At least I can take some solace in that.
Plus, their mascots have weird text message conversations (this is an actual post from the Schmoes’ Facebook page):
Drew is back and armed with a big shiny new contract that cements his status as the Bumblers’ QB of the future. But is he truly worth the hype and the pay raise? I remain unconvinced. He will need to take a big step forward in terms of consistency this year to show that he was worth the money.
Defensively, the Gary Etcheverry experiment is over and the Richie Hall Era begins. That is so weird to say. Anyway, the Bumblers ought to be less bumbling on the defensive side of the ball under Hall’s tutelage. BUT, they’re still the BUMBLERS.
Prediction: 4th in the West
That’s it for this week. The final pre-season games happen this weekend and then next week, it’s time for the regular season to begin!