Rider Review – Week 4: When it rains, it pours

ughIt was a dark and stormy night at Mosaic…

While it may not be your typical scary movie, in football terms, the start to the Riders’ 2015 season has been nothing other than a horror story.

The Riders’ lost their starting QB in Week 1, and since then, things have simply snowballed.

Every game results in a serious injury to a key player, and every week brings a new controversy.

This week, DB Tristan Jackson hobbled off the field after a horse collar tackle brought him down.  And Coach Chamblin stood up to his detractors, possibly in an attempt to take some of the pressure off of his team.

CFL ROUGHRIDERS ARGONAUTS

The result?  Another loss.

Football is a funny game.  It’s a game of inches.  A game of strategy.  And at times, a 60 minute game that comes down to one or two plays.

The proof?  Through Week 4, the Riders are 0-4.  But they’ve only lost those four games by a combined 12 points.  In comparison, the Stampeders are 3-1, but they’ve only won their three games by a combined 7 points.

The Riders’ losing streak continues to summon comparisons to the 2011 season, but that season was not so much a horror story as a sad story as the team gave up on its coach.  The barrage of injuries to key personnel and the small scale of the losses is what differentiates 2015 from 2011.

The good news for the Riders, though, is that some players will get healthy and return, and there are 14 games left.  In other words, the Riders have a chance to change their story from one of horror to one of redemption.

THINGS THAT WORKED

1. Running game: Once again, the RB tag team of Jerome Messam and Anthony Allen amassed over 100 yards of rushing.

2. Second down conversions: While the offence was not as in sync as we’ve come to expect over the last couple of games, it was certainly resilient.  The Riders continue to lead the league in second down conversions, and this game more than likely extended that lead.

3. Jerome Messam: While most of the focus has been on his league-leading rushing statistics, his ability to catch the ball is just as impressive.  He added 75 yards to his receiving total, and combined with his rushing yards, he leagues the CFL in combined yards.

4. Weston Dressler: Another 100 yards game.  Need I say more?

5. Jamel Richardson: He doesn’t get a lot of touches per game, but when called upon thus far this season, he’s answered.

6. Stopping the big play: The Riders’ defence generally made BC march the ball down the field, as opposed to the previous week when big plays did them in.  The defence also made a big stop near the end of the game, giving the Riders a chance to win.  Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.

THINGS THAT DIDN’T

1. Run defence: For the love of all things Green and White, why oh why oh WHY did someone not spy Travis Lulay when he continually ran for big gains??  Because the Riders always love to contribute to CFL history, they helped Lulay rack up 105 rushing yards, a career best for him.

CFL ROUGHRIDERS ARGONAUTS

2. Pass rush: See each of the previous weeks for my comments on this issue, because I don’t feel like repeating myself for the umpteenth time.

3. Energy: The Riders looked like ‘The Walking Dead’ out on the field.  Maybe it was the weather.  Or maybe it was the losing streak looming over their heads, but the Riders showed very little spark.

4. Penalties: The amount of offensive penalties are absolutely killing drives and costing the Riders valuable points.  Hell, even Weston Dressler got a penalty this week!  I continue to be stunned, amazed and perplexed by CFL Command Centre’s interpretation of the new illegal contact rules and its inconsistency.

OFFENSIVE STAR: #33 – JEROME MESSAM, RB

He put up nearly 140 combined yards on Friday night, even after sustaining a vicious, but clean, hit that made him slow to get up.  His average yards per carry is 7.7, which is ridiculous.  If he stays healthy, he’ll be in line for the Riders’ MOP nomination.

DEFENSIVE STAR: #50 – JAKE DOUGHTY

This is solely based on statistics: 6 tackles and one forced fumble.  He led the team in tackles and he always seemed to be around the football.

SPECIAL TEAMS STAR: #38 – TRISTAN JACKSON, DB

CFL ROUGHRIDERS ARGONAUTS

This is more of an honourary award, because TJ looked like he was going to have a good game before being brought down by that rookie BC kicker whose name I refuse to mention.  Get well soon, TJ.

NEXT UP: vs. HAMILTON.  I thought the Riders’ record against the Kitty Cats at Taylor Field was far worse than it actually is.  That being said, Hamilton is a weird team: they win when you’re sure they’re going to lose, and lose when they should win.  I expect another close game, as the Ti-Cats will be a little cranky after losing to the Als last week.

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Rider Report – Week 4: Riders vs. BC

coreyTHE RECORDS

Saskatchewan: 0-3 – Last in the West Division, and last in the CFL

BC: 1-1 – Tied for 2nd in the West Division

THE WEEK BEFORE

The Lions came back late in the 4th quarter to tie up the game and send it into OT where they beat the Riders in the first mini-game.

THE STATS

From CFL.ca:

Tough losses: Saskatchewan is 0-3 but their three losses are by a combined 9 points. It is the first time in 33 years (1982) they have lost three in a row by 4 points or less.

OT Heartbreak: Saskatchewan’s back-to-back OT losses is only the third time in CFL history that has ever happened (BC twice: 1991 & 2010).

1st down success: One of the keys to the Riders’ #1 CFL offence (504.3 yards per game) is their outstanding first down production.  They lead the CFL at 8.7 yards per play on first down and have had no less than 437 yards in any game this year.  They were averaging 324 yards after three games in 2014.

Turnover Ratio: The Riders rank #8 in T/O Ratio at -4 and have not won that aspect of any game this season.

Getting to 1-1: The win last week helped BC avoid another 0-2 start, something they did in 2008, 2009, 2011 & 2014.  They have been slow starters recently and since 2009 are 31-34 (.477) in the first half of seasons, and 41-22 (.651) in the second half.

Leaving it Late: In the win over Saskatchewan last week, BC scored on 8 of their last 12 possessions and that included 17 points in the final 8:00 of the game.

THE STORY LINES

How do you solve a problem like Corey Chamblin? Or is Corey Chamblin even a problem? Rider Nation seems quite divided on the performance of its head coach as of late, and this week’s game will either help Coach Chamblin begin to redeem himself in the eyes of the fans or continue his spiral downward.  While I’m not Coach’s biggest fan, I hope it’s the former.

The Lions will look to win their second game in a row, but this time in regulation.  To the best of my recollection, the Lions have a pretty good record at Taylor Field.

THE MATCH-UPS

Quarterbacks: Kevin Glenn continues to put up impressive numbers and keep the Riders’ offence at the top of the league. Travis Lulay appears to be getting his game back as he threw for over 400 yards last week en route to an OT victory.  Even

Offensive lines: The Riders’ offensive line is developing into a strong unit – although those ‘hands to the face’ penalties could stop at any time now.  The Lions’ offensive line played well last week, but honestly, the Riders didn’t even test them.  Edge: Riders

Receivers: Emmanuel Arceneaux got the last laugh last week as he scored the winning TD.  But Weston Dressler put up over 100 yards in the first eleven minutes of the game.  If the weather’s good, look for the QBs to put a lot of balls in the air.  Edge: Even

Running backs: From the CFL’s game notes, it appears that both Rider RBs Jerome Messam and Anthony Allen are on pace to break 1,000 yards this season. While it’s still early, this bodes well for the Riders’ offence come fall.  The Lions need to use Andrew Harris more.  He started to make a difference near the end of last week’s game and could be a game breaker if utilized properly.  Edge: Riders

Defensive lines: The Riders’ defensive line continues to rush 3 most of the time, which pretty much makes them invisible.  I don’t recall much about the Lions’ pass rush from last week either.  Even

Linebackers: It was Adam Bighill who kept Rider rookie QB Brett Smith from making the 3rd and 1 that likely would have given the Riders the game.  The Riders continue to go with their young’uns, and the learning curve is noticeable.  Edge: Lions by a football field

SecondariesThe Riders lost Weldon Brown to a season-ending injury and have brought in Geoff Tisdale as a reinforcement.  The Lions’ receivers couldn’t cover Weston Dressler in the 1st quarter, but eventually figured out how to keep him from scoring.  Edge: Even

Special Teams: Richie Leone nailed a 56 yard field goal last week to send the game into overtime.  Paul McCallum is 5/5 so far this year.  Even

INTANGIBLES

The Riders are in desperation mode these days.  Playing at home in front of a crowd that’s begging for a win and hasn’t been shy about voicing its displeasure with the 0-3 start may make the Riders a little tight.  Also, the Riders need to stop taking so many penalties (this is a recording).  BC comes in without any pressure, which is a definite advantage.  Edge: BC

Week 4 Preview

Dear CFL:

If you have to create infographics of penalties, you obviously:

a) think you have a problem; and

b) want to make it clear that you’re not the source of the problem.

Needless to say, we all have yelled ‘C’MON REF!‘ at some point early on in this season.

Personally, I have been rather frustrated with the amount of penalty flags I see each and every game.

And I’m faaaaaaaaaaaar from the only one.

So, in response to those who think that the referees have been abusing their penalty powers, the CFL released these infographics yesterday:

penaltiespenalties2

(You know, these infographics might be the most professional material the CFL has ever put out.)

My first question in looking at these infographics is since when do we refer to penalties as fouls?

My second question is: aren’t roughness fouls also preventable fouls?  I would think that shoving a guy after the whistle is somewhat preventable.

My third question is what is a technical foul? And really, aren’t all fouls predictable and therefore preventable in some way?  If a kicker kicks a kickoff (heh) out of bounds, it may be more of a technical foul because there isn’t any roughness involved, and it’s not as if the kicker wanted the ball to go out of bounds.  But couldn’t it have been prevented had the kicker kicked the ball better?  Maybe he should’ve squib kicked it if there’s a substantial wind…

ANYWAY…

The CFL’s argument is that nearly 60% of the penalty flags that have been thrown thus far this season didn’t need to be thrown.  And of those, only a small fraction have anything to do with the new rules.

While I would agree with this in part, the fact is that more penalties are being called in general according to someone who has a lot more time on their hands than me. It’ll be interesting to watch how this analysis changes as the season goes on.

Regardless, the CFL and its players need to figure out how to deal with the epidemic of penalty flags, because nobody has enjoyed watching these flag fests over the past couple of weeks – not even ME.

Here are this week’s games:

Week 4

And here are your previews:

  • The Kitty Cats come off a bye week where they said BUH BYE to running back Nic Grigsby ($10 says he ends up with the Riders by Labour Day).  The Als are smarting a bit after losing a close game to those awful Blue Bumblers.  While the Cats are a better team on paper and also have game-breaker Brandon Banks (hmmm…he needs a nickname), the Als are rather formidable when they’re playing at home.  So…I’m going to go out on a limb and say Montreal wins this one. Prediction: Montreal by 4
  • I can’t believe the spread in this game is only 3.5 points – especially after the Schmoes shredded the RODBLACKS last week.  I think this is the week where we actually find out if the RODBLACKS are, as they say, ‘for real’ (I hate that phrase), or if they’re the scout team I think they are.  I still don’t think that MATTY ICE (Matt Nichols) is a good QB.  Must I link to the most hilarious interception you may ever see to prove my point?  Okay.  I will.  The Schmoes’ defensive was back in gear last week, but I expect the RODBLACKS to come out with a bit more fire since they’re playing at home.  Nevertheless, the Schmoes will still win this game.  Prediction: Edmonton by 12
  • What can I tell you about this game that you don’t already know?  I can tell you that Weldon Brown won’t be suiting up for the Riders again this season.  And I can tell you that this spells trouble.  Up until he had to leave last week’s game due to injury, he had pretty much shut down Emmanuel Arceneaux.  I fear the same won’t occur this week.  For some reason the Lions don’t run the ball much, which I always think is a mistake because Andrew Harris is a goooood running back.  So let’s put it this way: if the Lions start running the ball, the Riders are going to have even more problems.  The Riders are desperate to win at home and keep the boo birds at bay.  Therefore, I think they Riders will play ‘not to lose’ instead of ‘to win,’ and that never works out well.  Prediction: BC by 6
  • The Stumps have juuuuuuuuuuuust been getting by the last couple of weeks.  A one point win over the Kitty Cats and a five point win over the Arblows doesn’t exactly scream ‘COMMANDING’.  Maybe it’s still a bit of a Grey Cup hangover, but they’re just not all that sharp.  Lucky for them, though, they get to play the Bumblers.  The Bumblers have shown that their defence will make teams pay for their mistakes, so if the Stumps’ offence can keep from turning over the ball, the Stumps should cruise to a win.  Plus, I just don’t think that Free (Drew) Willy will be able to put up enough offence to keep pace with the Stumps. Prediction: Calgary by 10

Week 3 Recap

This was me on Friday night…

OMG

Except with a few expletives thrown in (and a few things that were actually thrown.)

But do not fear Rider fans, as history may be on our side!

For example, in 2011, the BC Lions went 0-5 to start the season, but still ended up winning the Grey Cup.

(Of course their first win was against the RIDERS for a 1-6 record after 7 weeks.  And of course I was at that game.)

Here are some further spooky similarities:

  • BC lost its first game in 2011 by 4 points.
  • Saskatchewan lost its first game in 2015 by 4 points.
  • BC lost its second game in 2011 by 2 points.
  • Saskatchewan lost its second game in 2015 by 2 points.

And then there’s this: the score in BC’s first game in 2011 (30-26) was identical to the score in Saskatchewan’s first game in 2015.

MIND. BLOWN.

Anyway, I was a better than average 3-1 in my predictions this week.  And I was about 40 seconds away from going 4-0.  *Sigh*  On that note, let’s recap the week that was in the CFL.

  • Apparently I spoke too soon last week.  The RODBLACKS looked more the training camp team I thought they were on Thursday night.  Henry Booris was absolutely terrible.  It was fun to watch.  But I have to question why the commentators called it ‘The Matt Nichols Show’.  First of all, it should be the MATTY ICE SHOW, as that is his team nickname.  Second, if he’s going to have his own show, his goatee absolutely needs to go.  Third, does a QB who flips the ball to a defensive lineman really deserve his own show?  If so, I think his impromptu pass to Zach Evans should be the first clip. Regardless, I think it was more a case of the RODBLACKS imploding and taking far too many penalties than the Schmoes’ offence actually dominating.
  • Oh, Bumblers.  I so despise you.  This was yet another case of where it looks like the winning team put up more of a fight than it actually did.  Those Bumblers were lucky, I tell you, as without a blocked punt returned for a TD, they would’ve put another game in the loss column.  While The Rookie (Rakeem Cato) did not have as good of a second game as his debut, he bounced back from his mistakes and showed a lot of resilience by bringing the Als within two points of a win.
  • Do I even need to tell you what happened when the Riders visited the Lions’ Den on Friday night??  Fine.  I will.  The Riders’ offence started out strong, but struggled later on in the game.  The defence yet again gave up big points when the game was on the line.  Both offence and defence took aggravating penalties.  It other words, it was deja vu (BUT NOT DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN, CHRIS CUTHBERT.  ‘All over again’ is redundant).
  • I have immensely enjoyed watching the Stumps stumble out of the gate this season.  I also really enjoy watching Jon Cornhole get stuffed at the line of scrimmage play after play.  And what do I love more?  Watching Jon Cornhole fumble.  This game delivered on both points.  Alas, the Stumps somehow managed to get by the Arblows, who shot themselves in the foot multiple times throughout the game.  Again, both teams took far too many penalties.  All teams need to be more disciplined, because no one is enjoying watching these flag-fests.

Rider Review – Week 3: Deja Vu

lossIt might have been a new week on the schedule, but for the Riders, it might as well have been a repeat of last week.

For the second week in a row, we did not watch the Riders lose this game.

Instead, we watched them give it away yet again.

A glutton for punishment, I re-watched the last 2:21 minutes of the game, and while there were bad penalties, a controversial review of a third down gamble and missed tackles galore, I could not help but think that there was one thing, and one thing only, that should be blamed for the loss of a ten point lead and eventually the game:

Coaching.hoo

For whatever reason, the Riders aren’t being put in position to win.

Last week, it was poor time management.  This week, it was poor decision-making.

Instead of punting the ball away and forcing the Lions to march down the field to kick a field goal to tie while being up three points with 1:00 left in the 4th quarter, Coach Chamblin decided to send in the short yardage team on 3rd and 1/2 a yard.

The result?  The Riders couldn’t convert, and BC was already nearly in field goal territory.

Next, the Riders declined an illegal procedure penalty.  Instead of putting the Lions at 1st and 15, it was 2nd and 10.

A short pass and a field goal later, the game was tied and going into overtime.

Or was it?  The Riders still had 12 seconds to possibly get into field goal position to try and win the game in regulation.

Instead, the Riders knelt down successfully (as Jim Daley, the White Zombie, would say) and forewent any chance of putting the game away.

In the ensuing mini-game, it was 3rd and a few inches and Coach Chamblin vacillated between going for it and kicking a field goal.

He went with a field goal, and the Lions won by scoring a touchdown a few plays later.hoooooo

Two weeks in a row, the Riders have led going into the final minute of the football game.  And two weeks in a row, they’ve not only lost those leads, but the games themselves.

A pattern is emerging – and the pattern shows that the coaches have a lot of work left to do.

Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t.

THINGS THAT WORKED

1. Weston Dressler: Possibly motivated by team mate Ryan Smith’s coming out party last week, Dressler had his best game in quite some time with 9 catches for 122 yards and two TDs.  After spending most of last year with the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s good to have Dressler back with the team on a permanent basis.

2. Running game: Apparently I know nothing (although this should be rather apparent if you read my predictions every week and then look at the actual results).  Here I thought the Riders would be about as pure of a passing team as you could be in the CFL, yet they lead the league in rushing.  The tandem of Jerome Messam and Anthony Allen put up over 170 yards on Friday night, and the running game has certainly opened up the passing game.  Given how successful the running game has been so far this season, it’d be nice to see the Riders use it to their advantage in 2nd and short or 3rd and short situations.

3. Tyree Hollins: While he got burnt on Emmanuel Arceneaux’s OT touchdown, he was more than capable in his first start.  Starting in place of Marshay Green, he did not look out of place and had a few key tackles.  At the age of 24, he potentially has a long career ahead of him as he appears to have the tools to be a solid DB.

4. Red zone conversions: After settling for four field goals last week, the Riders scored TDs every time they were past BC’s 20 yard line.  On the other side of the ball, the Riders kept BC from doing the same during regulation, a big improvement from last week.

effTHINGS THAT DIDN’T

1. Pass rush: I repeat my thoughts from last week:  

You ask why it didn’t work?  BECAUSE IT WAS NON-EXISTENT.  A game where John Chick isn’t even mentioned is not a good game.  In the ‘new’ CFL where defenders cannot cover receivers as they once did, a defence requires a pass rush in order to be aggressive.  Otherwise, your secondary is left trying to cover receivers that will undoubtedly either get open or draw a pass interference flag.  The defensive line was supposed to be one of the Riders’ strengths, and through two games it’s been less than ordinary.

In addition, those three man defensive fronts have to go.

2. Secondary coverage: While overall the coverage appeared to be a lot tighter this week (and it really couldn’t have been any looser), it still broke down at key times, allowing a lot of long completions.  For instance, Austin Collie tiptoed along the sideline to score the TD that allowed the Lions to get back into the game.  But there’s still a lot of rooom for improvement, as Travis Lulay threw for over 400 yards and five different BC receivers had more than 50 yards on Friday night.  Yuck.

3. Situational decisions: See above.

4. Discipline: The secondary continues to have trouble with the new illegal contact rule, but what continues to be so frustrating is how the Riders’ offence continues to take penalties that negate first downs.  This time, a TD was taken off the board due to a penalty.  While the Riders eventually got that go-ahead TD, it was mainly due to a number of ill-timed BC penalties that extended the drive.  The Riders need to play a lot smarter, as the number of penalties is simply unacceptable.

OFFENSIVE STAR: TIE – #7 Weston Dressler, SBbah

As stated above, he’s baaaaaaaaaaack.

DEFENSIVE STAR: #37 – Tyree Hollins, DB

A solid game by the rookie, as I discussed above.

SPECIAL TEAMS STAR: #39- Ray Early, P

His punting average was nearly 50 yards.  Too bad he didn’t get a chance to pin the Lions deep late in the 4th quarter.

NEXT UP: vs. BC. The second part of the home and home series goes on Friday night at Taylor Field.  The Riders will definitely have revenge on their minds, and they’ll be desperate to win their first game of the season.  Hopefully the boo birds don’t come out.

2015 CFL Preview – Part 3 of 4: West Division

flag football

You know, we might as well call our game flag football, as there were FIFTY-FIVE (55) penalty flags 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.

Bah.

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!

BC Lions

jeff1jeff2

                                                        LAME!

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)?

Toronto Argonauts head coach Bart Andrus reacts after the B.C. Lions kicked the go-ahead field goal during third quarter CFL action in Toronto on Friday, August 14, 2009.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)
Montreal Alouettes' head coach Marc Trestman holds up the Grey Cup after defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders during the CFL's 98th Grey Cup football game in Edmonton, Alberta, November 28, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL) ORG XMIT: EDM65
(REUTERS/Todd Korol)                          

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

Calgary Stampeders

yuck
UGH.

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.

bros
While Bo Levi totally won the family name game, Cory clearly won in the looks department. 

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.

stuff
I’d bet a lot of $$$$$ that all of the boxes of cereal are boxes of Cornish Flakes the Stumps bought to soothe Jon Cornhole’s ego when no one else wanted to buy any.

Prediction: 1st in the West (YUCK)

Edmonton Eskimos

schmoes
 Best fans?  Hmmm…

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):

mascots

Prediction: 2nd in the West

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

believe
The presale code is clearly a Freudian slip.

“If you just belieeeeeeeeeeeeve…”

It’s gonna take a LOT more than that for the Bumblers to climb out of the West Division basement.

But before that, let’s take a moment to watch Drew Willy dance with his wife at their wedding. *AWKWARD ALERT*

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.

free willy
Darian Durant had 8 TDs last year – and he only played half a season. Just sayin’…

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!

Next time – a preview of my beloved Roughriders!