2016 CFL Season Preview: Part 3 of 4 – West Division

west_preview

It still irritates me that the Blue Bombers are in the West Division.

But that really has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

We’re here to discuss what should be a great race in the CFL’s West Division this year.  The Division’s bottom three teams last year, i.e. Winnipeg, B.C. and Saskatchewan, have all made moves that *should* make them more competitive, setting the stage for what could be an excellent playoff spot battle after Labour Day.

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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.

Week 4 Recap

everyone

So I was driving on Friday, making my way down the Trans-Canada, about 11 hours into a 12 hour trip and I was only partly listening to the Rider game, but from what I heard, it was so bad that all I could do was laugh.

When I got to our destination, I watched the rest of the gong show.

Needless to say, the game was sooooooo disappointing.

Where is the leadership on this team? Where is the pride? Where is the frustration? I’d love to hear the players express some anger. Instead, they seem to be so passive – almost like they’re resigned to losing.

It’s gonna be a long, looooooong, loooooooooooooooooooooooooong season…

The good news?  I was a ‎perfect 4-4 with my picks this week. It only took my 4 weeks to figure things out.  Here’s a quick recap:

  • ‎I NAILED this prediction right down to the point spread.   GO ME. Anyway, Hamilton did what it usually does – it failed to win a winnable game. Did you really expect anything less?
  • Coulda, woulda, shoulda – the RODBLACKS had this one within reach, but ill-timed fumbles and other negative plays allowed MATTY ICE and his 3 interceptions to look far better than was deserved.
  • Le Grand Orange repeatedly ran over the Riders. What did I say in my preview?? Oh, that’s right: “So let’s put it this way: if the Lions start running the ball, the Riders are going to have even more problems.”  Enough said.
  • If you at all wondered why we call those Blue and Gold the “Bumblers,” this game showed you why as a blocked punt returned for a TD, an interception, and a strategic error on a return basically handed the Stumps another win. FUN FACTS: The Stumps have won their 3 games by a combined 7 points.  In comparison, the Wretched Riders have lost their 4 games by a combined 12 points.

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

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.

Rider Report – Week 3: Riders in BC

kevin

THE RECORDS

Saskatchewan: 0-2 – Last in the West Division

BC: 0-1 – Tied for 2nd in the West Division

THE WEEK BEFORE

The Riders lost 42-40 to the Argos in double OT.  The REDBLACKS came back to drop the Lions 27-16.

THE STATS

*Note that the Lions have played one less game than the Riders.

The Riders lead all team offensive categories in the CFL, averaging 542 yards per game, with a net average of 538 yards per game.  This average is nearly 200 yards more than the next team.  The Riders are passing and rushing for an average of 381 and 161 yards per game, respectively. The Lions’ offence is 6th overall in the league, with only 254 passing yards and 59 rushing yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Riders are 5th in yards allowed per game (6th passing/6th rushing), while the Lions are 7th (5th passing/9th rushing).

THE STORY LINES

Both teams look for their first wins of the year after disappointing starts to the year.  The Lions got off to a good start in their opening game, but faltered in the 4th quarter, allowing the REDBLACKS to score two late TDs to win.  The Riders are 0-2 for the first time since 2011 (also known as the FAILED GREG MARSHALL EXPERIMENT), but have only lost both games by a combined total of 6 points.  However, the Riders have dug themselves a bit of a hole to begin the season, losing two games at home.  A win on the road would go a long way to helping them dig themselves out.

geooooooooooorge

A few notable players and coaches switched sides over the offseason.  Former Rider offensive coordinator George Cortez now has the same role with the Lions.  Rider PK Paul McCallum was released by the Lions just prior to training camp after playing for the team for nine years.  This will be McCallum’s first game back at BC Place since being released, and he comes in with a 100% field goal percentage.  Not too shabby.

THE MATCH-UPS

Quarterbacks: Kevin Glenn has put up spectacular numbers through the first two weeks of the season.  He’s 3rd in passing in the CFL, but he’s also played one less half than the two QBs in front of him and only trails the leading passer by 38 yards.  Travis Lulay played his first full game in nearly two years last week.  He looked a little rusty, and he seemed to be forcing the long throws.  This week will be a test as that shoulder gets two straight weeks of work.  Edge: Riders

Offensive lines: The Riders’ offensive line has been surprisingly strong thus far, allowing only 1 sack thus far, and letting KG do all of that passing.  The Lions’ offensive line, though, is full of Lions’ rookies; only one player on the Lions’ offensive line remains from last year’s group.  Edge: Riders

Receivers: Both teams heavily rely on their receivers for offence.  This is a big turnaround for the Riders, who have been known as a rush-first offence for the last couple of years.  BC’s receivers are more prototypical receivers – tall, strong and speedy – while Saskatchewan’s receivers are a lot smaller and rely a lot more on finesse and speed rather than height and power.  Nevertheless, the Riders have been lighting up opposing defences.  The jury is still out on the Lions’ receivers under the new offence run by George Cortez.  Edge: Riders

Defensive lines: The Riders’ defensive line has struggled to get pressure thus far this season, but the Lions haven’t had a lot of success either.  Edge: No one

Linebackers: The Lions have reigning MOP Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill in the middle.  The Riders are starting Jeff Knox Jr. and Jake Doughty, both of whom are only in their third and second CFL starts, respectively.  Edge: Lions by a lot

SecondariesThe Riders have a veteran secondary, but that secondary is having trouble adjusting to the new illegal contact rules.  Instead of playing a man-to-man defence, the Riders now play a type of zone defence that has more holes in it than Justin Trudeau’s election platform.  (Yeah, I was reaching there).  The Lions’ secondary is officially full of newbies as stalwart Ryan Phillips went down to injury last week.  Edge: Riders, but barely because they’re playing like rookies

Special Teams: As noted above, Paul McCallum returns to BC for the first time as a Rider since 2005.  Ray Early leads all punters in punting averages and has been a welcome addition to the Riders’ special teams.  The Riders’ special teams coverage has been solid.  The Lions are starting a rookie kicker who converted all of his field goals and converts last week; his punting, though, was a bit suspect.  The Lions also allowed a TD on a return, but lucky for them, it was negated by a penalty.  Edge: Riders

INTANGIBLES

For whatever reason, I think the Riders will want this game more.  But, the Riders also need to stop taking so many penalties  Edge: No one

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!