Monday, July 27, 2009

CFL Recap Week Four: Settling the Quarterback Controversies

Take a seat and enjoy the ride, the league wide quarterback carousel in the CFL has begun to spin out of control.

Instead of making a push for a permanent starting job, many starting quarterbacks this year have seemed to be giving the coach every reason to go with another option. In fact, besides last years MOP player Anthony Calvillo, no quarterback has shown any level of consistency.

This was once again evident in week four, as many quarterbacks didn’t even last the whole game.

This inconsistent play has had led to many heated quarterback controversies in the league. In a game where the most popular player is usually the back-up pivot, fans have been given all the more reasons to beg for the back-up quarterback to get a chance.

The coaches have seemed to do little to solve these controversies, further escalading the problem.

But all of that is about to change.

I am about to do what most coaches of the CFL have failed to do… decide which quarterbacks should be getting the start. Examine the pros and cons of each quarterback in hopes of ending this league wide quarterback controversy once and for all!

Edmonton Eskimos: The Eskimos did pull off an amazing victory against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but have struggled for most of the season so far. The quarterback position has been a heated area of discussion during this time frame. The main debate has been between two quarterbacks, the star Ricky Ray and the veteran Jason Maas.

Ricky Ray: It is hard to imagine the man who has led the Eskimos to two Grey Cup victories involved in a quarterback controversy, but it is true. Rick Ray has been a consistent threat to go over 5,000 yards passing each season, and already has 1,011 yards this season. Unlike in the past however, Ray has experienced a lot of struggles this season. He has made some poor decisions and turned the ball over uncharacteristically. Ray can throw one of the best deep and short balls in the league, but he isn’t very mobile, which can lead to more sacks.

Jason Maas: Ironically the man who once lost his job to Ricky Ray may just have a chance to win it back. During all of the time he has sat on the bench, Jason Maas has developed into a smarter quarterback. He makes better reads now and throws a solid ball. Jason Maas has proven to be fairly injury prone in his career, and he hasn’t played a lot of games in a row for a couple of season. This would lead one to question how consistent he would be as a starter.

The Verdict: It is a no-brainer here, Ricky Ray keeps his starting job. Ricky Ray has been the face of the Eskimos franchise for years and he is the catalyst of their offense. The early struggles of the Eskimos can’t be shouldered on Rick Ray’s shoulders. Jason Maas is a veteran quarterback, but he hasn’t been a permanent starter for such a long time.

BC Lions: Buck Pierce or Jarious Jackson? That has been the dilemma facing the BC Lions so far this season. Such questions are bound to arise after a 1-3 start. Quarterback controversy has been a familiar thing in BC. A few years ago, Dave Dickenson and Casey Printers were involved in a huge quarterback duo, that ended when Printers were eventually released.

Buck Pierce: With quarterback Buck Pierce, you know what you can expect. Pierce will make some plays for your team, but he is a fairly conservative player. He doesn’t really possess the ability to stretch a defense deep. This season, Pierce has developed a tendency for turning the ball over.

Jarious Jackson: Jarious Jackson has never really had a chance to step in the starters role, sitting on the roster behind player Dave Dickenson, Casey Printers, and most recently Buck Pierce. Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, most recently against the Edmonton Eskimos. He came in to relive the injured Buck Pierce and threw four touchdown passes.

The Verdict: It’s time to change things up in BC. Buck Pierce isn’t the answer for the Lions, so Jarious Jackson should get a shot. Things can’t get much worse in BC, and the Lions have seemed to respond well to the strong arm of Jarious Jackson.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers: After the latest debacle in Winnipeg, Bomber fans are desperate for a quarterback who can get the job done. Should it be southpaw Stefan Lefors, second stringer Bryan Randall, experienced back-up Richie Williams, or new acquisition Michael Bishop.

Stefan Lefors: Lefors got his back chance this year when he was traded from the Edmonton Eskimos to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Lefors was immediately vaulted to the starters role with Kevin Glenn being released. Let’s just say things haven’t worked out as he expected. Lefors has the worst quarterback rating among starting quarterbacks and recently threw for an appalling 30 yards in the Bombers loss against the Argos.

Bryan Randall: Randall hasn’t had much luck backing up Stefan Lefors. In limited time Randall hasn’t had any success, throwing for two interceptions. Richie Williams: Richie Williams probably has the most success out of all Winnipeg’s quarterbacks. Williams has a career quarterback rating of 84.7 and has thrown for over 2,000 yards. Williams competed for the starting quarterback job in Hamilton over the last couple of years.

Michael Bishop: Bishop is back! The erratic, exciting pivot who most recently saw time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders will look to earn a starting job in the CFL. Bishop’s career has been marred by inconsistency. He was great at times for the Riders last year, but also struggled.

The Verdict: Tough one to call here. None of the Bombers quarterbacks are very enticing. My call would be Richie Williams. Lefors and Randall have looked awful and Williams has experience. If Williams struggles the Bombers can look to Bishop to provide a spark.

Hamilton Tiger Cats: Last but not least we have the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Hamilton is in the middle of a quarterback controversy, thanks to the play of former Bomber Kevin Glenn. Heading into the season, the plan was to develop quarterback of the future Quinton Porter, but Porter has fallen on tough times.

Quinton Porter: Porter looked promising last season for the Riders, and he was awarded the starting role this season. Quinton Porter has a decent quarterback rating this season, and led the Tiger Cats to a victory against the BC Lions in week two. However, Porter didn’t play well in any other game so far.

Kevin Glenn: Glenn has been an amazing story for the Tabbies so far. He engineered a comeback victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and has looked great every time he has come in to relief Quinton Porter.

The Verdict: Quinton Porter may be the quarterback of the future, but Kevin Glenn is the quarterback of the present. Glenn has experience on his side and he is playing strongly. Quinton Porter can use the time on the bench to further learn the offense.
Power Rankings: Week Four
Check back every week to see who sits where in the power rankings
1) Montreal Alouettes 4-0 (LW:1)Montreal didn’t dominate the Tiger Cats, but their victory solidified Montreal’s dominance in the East Division.
2) Calgary Stampeders 2-2 (LW:6)Calgary is finally playing like the defending champs. Their victory against the Lions was very convincing and showed the Calgary will contend in the West.
3) Hamilton Tiger Cats 2-2 (LW:3)A morel victory wasn’t what Hamilton was looking for, but they gave Montreal everything they could handle.
4) Edmonton Eskimos 2-2 (LW:8)The Eskimos pulled off an unbelievable win against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on the road. For now their woes of the past will be forgotten.
5) Saskatchewan Roughriders 2-2 (LW:2)The Riders looked so good in the first two weeks, but two straight losses have left the Riders scratching their heads. Things only get harder for the Riders who travel to Calgary for a road game.
6) Toronto Argonauts 2-2 (LW:7)It wasn’t pretty, but Toronto outlasted the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Bart Andrus looked good for benching Arland Bruce yet still getting the win.
7) BC Lions 1-3 (LW:4) The BC Lions blew out the Eskimos in week three, but were embarrassed at home by the Calgary Stampeders. The Lions are facing a lot of questions with few answers right now.
8) Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1-3 (LW:5)Winnipeg was only able to muster eight first downs in their embarrassing offensive performance against the Toronto Argonauts. The Bombers had no running game and all three quarterbacks who saw the field struggled.

Biggest Rise: Calgary, Edmonton +4
Biggest Drop: Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, BC -3

Check back twice a week for preview and recaps from the CFL. Also, check back every couple of weeks for a look at who is winning the race for the MOP award.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Should the BC Lions Start Jarious Jackson Now?

Hey guys, I'll now be serving as an exclusive CFL and BC Lions writer for The CFL Report.

The answer to that title question would be, "Heck yeah!"

On July 16, 2009, BC Lions fans witnessed a saddened approach of quarterback Buck Pierce, who went down with an injury after a concussion. But although they did win with a score of 40-22, it showed a sign of what skills their backup quarterback had. Jarious Jackson showed what he can do on the football field.

He threw a pair of touchdowns that game as he created a tandem with Geroy Simon. Jackson had thrown for 362 passing yards and four touchdowns that game, showing that he deserved to be the man when Pierce is out.

Jackson also created a tandem with Paris Jackson, and after tearing up the Eskimos, Jarious and Paris Jackson were named the CFL's Finest Players of the Week. then named the group called the "Jackson Two," which sounded somewhat similar to the Jackson Five. But no need for music, this is the Canadian Football League.

After the powerful performance, Jackson also displayed speed as he is a good scrambler in the pocket. He also ran for 20 rushing yards on three carries during that 40-22 win. But after that, the Lions were destroyed by the Calgary Stampeders in a 48-10 loss the next week. It looked the Lions were literally stampeded.

Buck Pierce had a very poor performance which brough Jackson in, who scored the only touchdown of the game on a one-yard dig. Although he didn't play that good, at least it wasn't as worse as Buck Pierce's.

Now it brings me to something, should the BC Lions start Jarious Jackson?

I mean, come on, they have the best backup quarterback in the CFL right now. Let's examine the stats of Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson:

See now? Jarious Jackson is coming close to Buck Pierce's passing yards despite Pierce playing two more games. Jackson is already beating Pierce to it in touchdowns. He has less interceptions and he has a better rating than Pierce.

Overall, Jackson has been much better Pierce this year. He already has the same amount of stats even though Pierce has played more games. It is surprising actually. Pierce has been playing very poor this year as well. Jackson has shown quite an improvement this year.

I really do think Jarious Jackson deserves the job as starter. He has the speed, the quickness, and the arm. Jackson also has more knowledge of the game than Pierce as he also had some playing time in the NFL for quite some time. I do think the BC Lions should think about making a switch.

With the Lions at 1-3, and their only game that was won was when Jackson started, I think it's time switch and be Grey Cup champions like they were three years ago. The clock is ticking, and Jackson is waiting.

The Lions need to make a move now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CFL Preview Week Four: It’s Time to Regroup

I’m not going to sugar coat it, I got almost all of my picks wrong last week. It was ugly. After going 1-3 last week, my record now stands at 6-6.

In fairness, the picks were rather difficult to make last week and there were definitely some surprising results. For the first time all year, I picked the Calgary Stampeders to lose in their game against the Toronto Argonauts.

The reason?

Toronto was on fire even though they had lost to Saskatchewan and Calgary had let me down for two week in a row. So naturally Calgary goes out and plays amazing, blowing out the Argos.

In my other wrong pick, I thought Winnipeg would beat the Hamilton. After a 6-6 first half score and an interception return for a touchdown by Winnipeg, this looked very possible. Then Winnipeg reject Kevin Glenn comes in against his former team and lights it up! Definitely an unpredictable week three.

I think many teams in the CFL were sharing my disappointment when it came to week three. The Edmonton Eskimos were lit up by Jarious Jackson and the Lions at home, allowing passing touchdown after passing touchdown. Saskatchewan also felt Edmonton’s pain, as they fumbled and bumbled to an agonizing loss to the Montreal Alouettes. And the Argos lost badly to the Toronto Argonauts, making fans wonder if the team is for real after all.

The best thing for these teams to do in week four is forget, but learn from the past. Focus on the basics, such as taking care of the football, establishing a productive offense, and avoiding key mistakes.

Prediction Time

Thursday July 23rd
Game One: Montreal Alouettes vs. Hamilton Tiger Cats

Montreal’s first game against the east this year sees them hosting the underdog Hamilton Tiger Cats. In a supposed battle of the titans last week against the Riders, Montreal proved they are the top dogs in the league. Hamilton on the other hand, continued their impressive early start to the season by beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Pride and first place will be on the line in this bitter Eastern battle.

Montreal’s Keys to the Game:

AC Throw and AC Run: Really two of the biggest threats for the Alouettes may in fact be league leading running back Avon Cobourne and Anthony Calvillo. We saw last week how effective Cobourne really is running the ball, and Montreal should continue to call his number last week. If Cobourne struggles, Anthony Calvillo will have to set the offense back on course.

Take Care of the Ball: One of the big reasons that Montreal struggled against Saskatchewan in the first half was that they didn’t take care of the ball. Careless fumbles led to a lot of missed opportunities. Hamilton is known to pounce on your mistakes this season, and they will be eager to get a momentum changing turnover.

Put the Pressure On: Whether it be Kevin Glenn, or Quinton Porter behind center, pressure will be the key to stopping Hamilton’s offense. Hamilton has developed a good receiving core this year with Chris Davis, Prechae Rodriquez and Dave Stala, so it will be key to not allow Hamilton’s quarterback time to get the ball to these playmakers.

Hamilton’s Keys to the Game:

Run Cobb Run: Montreal loves to put the pressure on opposing offenses, so Hamilton should go to DeAndra Cobb early and often. Running is a great way to counter the blitz, and if it successful, it will open up the passing game where stars like Rodriquez and Davis can take over.

Minimize Mistakes: Whether it be a missed tackle that leads to a long gain, or a turnover that leads to points, Hamilton can’t afford any mistakes against Montreal. Montreal is so good that if you give them a chance, they will bury you.

Don’t Sit Back: Since Anthony Calvillo and Montreal’s offense can hurt a team in so many, it might be tempting to sit back and not let any big plays go down. Hamilton however needs to be aggressive, blitzing and attacking Anthony Calvillo. If Calvillo has time, he will pick Hamilton apart.

Both Hamilton and Montreal have proven to be very good football teams this year. Montreal has been pretty dominate in every game, though they showed some weakness against the Rides. Hamilton is riding a high following two straight wins, and they will play hard for a chance at first place. Montreal however is just to good. If Hamilton is indeed the Cinderella team this year, then Montreal is the big orge who will stomp on Cinderella.

My Pick: Montreal

Friday July 24th
Game One: Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. Toronto Argonauts

In another heated eastern rivalry, the Argos and Bombers will look to shake off last weeks losses and come up with a huge win. Winnipeg lost against the Hamilton Tiger Cats thanks to their old friend Kevin Glenn, and Toronto got stamped by Calgary.

Winnipeg’s Keys to the Game:

Put up Points: As obvious as it sounds, Winnipeg needs to score points to win the game. Winnipeg only put up 13 points last season, six of those on an interception return for a touchdown. Mike Kelly needs to prepare a better game plan, and Stefan Lefors needs to be sharper.

Run it Down Their Throats: Giles and Reid form one of the best running back combos in the league. Reid has a lot of explosiveness and Giles is very shifty. Toronto has some holes in their defense, and Winnipeg needs to wear them out with the running game.

Shut Down Robertson: We saw what happened last week when Jamal Robertson was shut down. Toronto became one dimensional. Winnipeg has a good front seven and they will need to focus on stopping Toronto’s running game, forcing Kerry Joseph to throw the ball all day long.
Toronto’s Keys to the Game:

Protect Joseph: Kerry Joseph is a very mobile quarterback, but he needs protection from his offensive line. Calgary got a lot of pressure on Joseph which forced him off his game. Joseph is best when he has time to set his feet and get in to his throw.

Establish a Running Game: When Jamal Robertson gets going, Toronto is usually very successful on offense. Rob Murphy, Dominic Picard and the rest of the line need to get a good push and spring holes for Jamal Robertson.

Stop the Run, Win the Game: So far, Winnipeg hasn’t had a ton of success throwing the ball. They have relied a lot on the run to win football games, and if Toronto could contain Fred Reid, they could win the game.

Winnipeg is always a better team at home. Stefan Lefors plays better and the crowd is behind them. Toronto has benched Arland Bruce for the game, taking away a big playmaker for their team. It is hard to have much faith in the Argos, especially with a big playmaker like Bruce out of the line-up. Winnipeg might not have the advantage of knowing Toronto’s plays in advance, but they should still do well.

My Pick: Winnipeg

*Game of the Week**
Game Two: BC Lions vs. Calgary Stampeders*

Two western teams fresh off big victories will square off in BC, as the Lions host the Calgary Stampeders. Jarious Jackson was the story for the Lions in week three, as he was came in for the injured Buck Pierce and helped romp the Eskimos. Calgary finally got back to their winning ways against the Argonauts. Always a bitter rivalry, this game should prove to be one of the best this week.

BC’s Keys to the Game:

Air it Out: BC needs to continue to air the ball out this week. With talented receivers such as Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon, the Lions have all the talent they need. Calgary’s secondary is still young and inexperienced, and BC could get some big plays.

Change it Up: As mentioned, Calgary’s defense is young and the Lions should take advantage of this. BC should use a lot of misdirection plays that could catch Calgary off guard and spring BC for some big gains.

Make Calgary Settle for Short Gains: Calgary went to the short passing game against Toronto last week and it worked effectively. Still, BC would be smart to let Calgary settle for these short plays because the more they do, the more chance there will be for them to make a mistake. If BC plays to close to Calgary’s receivers, players like Keynon Rambo could burn them deep.

Calgary’s Keys to the Game:

Run with Reynolds: Jofffrey Reynolds still hasn’t got going this season, but there is always a possibility he can take over a game. Reynolds has had success against the BC Lions before, and Calgary should try to get him going.

Avoid Turnovers: BC has a ball hawking secondary who loves to get interceptions. Burris needs to make smart throws and avoid turning the ball over.

Keep on Eye on BC’s Big Guns: Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon are both talented recievers, and they both killed the Eskimos last week. If Calgary loses track of either of these receivers in coverage, they could burn them for a big play.

Both Calgary and BC are coming of big wins. However, it appears that Jarious Jackson, the man who orchestrated the win for BC won’t be starting. Instead inconsistent Buck Pierece will get the start. I think this is a mistake personally, and it will swing things in Calgary’s favour.

My Pick: Calgary

Saturday July 25th
Game One: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Edmonton Eskimos

It is a homecoming party in the prairies. Former Rider Maurice Lloyd, Kitwana Jones and defensive coordinator Richie Hall are all returning to Saskatchewan to face the Riders. After leaving the Riders to coach the Eskimos this season, Hall has struggled so far. The Riders on the other hand started the season strong with two straight wins, and then faltered with a blow-out loss against the Alouettes.

Saskatchewan’s Keys to the Game:

Give Cates the Ball: Wes Cates returned last week but he was a bit rusty. With another week of practice in, Cates should be ready to go and the Riders should give him the ball. Cates always has success against the Eskimos.

Take Care of the Ball: The Riders cannot turn the ball over! It seems that the Riders have been very successful this season except for when they turn the ball over. The thing is, most of these turnovers have been fumbles, which shouldn’t be happening.

Where’s Clermont: The Rider have neglected to use Jason Clermont this season. Clermont is perfect for catching short passes and turning them into big gainers.

Edmonton’s Keys to the Game:

Protect Ray: Rick Ray has struggled during the season, but he hasn’t gotten any help from the offensive line. The o-line needs to give Ricky Ray time to get the ball out to his playmakers.

Run the Ball: The Eskimos have failed to run the ball at all this season. Saskatchewan is a bit weak against the running game, and Edmonton could have success in the game if they develop a running game.

Put Pressure on Durant: We all saw last week that Darian Durant isn’t good when he pressure on him. Edmonton’s defensive line has been there bright spot this season, and they should try to create as much pressure as they can against the Riders.

With plenty of former Riders returning to Mosaic Stadium, it should be a heated atmosphere. The Riders crowd is always loud and should cause problems for the Eskimos on offense. Ricky Ray always has the potential to have a big game, but the Eskimos are struggling a lot right now, and the Riders are still playing very well this season.

My Pick: Saskatchewan
My Record 6-6 (50%)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kitwana Jones Tackles Thief

EDMONTON, AB-Eskimos defensive lineman Kitwana Jones tackled a robber at about 6:45 this morning.

The man allegedly robbed a 50 something year old woman and stole her purse and laptop.

After robbing her, the man was being chased by Jones and another witness, with Jones tackling the man in an alley.

I have a feeling Jones should get a pay raise for making a tackle on a dayoff.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ranking the Rookies

Rookies always make an impact. Whether they're returning kickoffs, catching passes or sacking quarterbacks. The purpose of this slideshow is to try and rank the top ten rookies in the CFL. Every team but the only unbeaten team have been mentioned. Which isn't shocking since Montreal didn't have many holes to fill this offseason.

Whether you disagree or think I I'm the smartest feel free to comment. Enjoy.

No. 10-DB Bobby Keyes, Edmonton Eskimos
Keyes began his career with the Washington Redskins before moving on to the Birmingham Steeldogs and Dallas Desperados.

So far, this season Keyes has recorded 14 tackles tying him for the lead in tackles with some more rookies who'll you'll meet later on.

No. 9-DE Odell Willis, Calgary Stampeders
After going undrafted in 08' out of West Georgia, Willis signed with the af2's Peoria Pirates. He was later traded to the Green Bay Blizzard.

Willis has put fear in the hearts of all quarterbacks out there, with three sacks.

No. 8-DB Darren Toney, BC Lions
Toney joined the Carolina Panthers in 2008, before being cut. He signed with BC this offseason and has been impressive.

For the season, Toney is tied with Keyes with 14 tackles surpassing preseason expectations.

No. 7-DB Lin-J Shell, Toronto Argonauts
No, Shell doesn't have 14 tackles like Keyes and Toney, but the former Orlando Predatos, Philadelphia Eagle and New Orleans VooDoo does have something Willis has.

Shell has two sacks and adds to that with one interception in his rookie season in Toronto.

No. 6-LB Kye Stewart, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Stewart a product out of Illinois State has done outstanding on special teams for the Roughriders.

Stewart has seven special teams tackles along with two on defense.

No. 5-DE Greg Peach, Edmonton Eskimos
Peach graduated from Eastern Washington after setting the school record for most tackles for a loss in a career with 63.

As a CFL rookie, Peach has 14 tackles and on top of that one sack.

No. 4-RB DeAndra Cobb, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Cobb has impressed after spending three years out of football. Following his Michigan State career he joined the Atlanta Falcons in 2005 and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006.

During his CFL rookie season, he has 25 rushes for an astounding 142 yards. Cobb also has eight catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.

No. 3-RB Martell Mallett, BC Lions
Mallett is in his first professional stop after having 2,888 yards on 582 carries with 27 touchdowns at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

He has rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries. Mallett has also caught nine passes for 114 yards.

No. 2-WR Titus Ryan, Calgary Stampeders
Ryan has made three NFL stops but never saw any game action in Kansas City, New Orleans and Carolina. So, after not getting any attention in America, Ryan decided to go north.

And boy did he made an impact, so far he's gotten eight kickoffs for 248 yards which includes a 104 yard score.

No. 1-WR Emmanuel Arceneaux, BC Lions
Making his first pro stop following a successful career at Alcorn State, Arceneaux has been nothing short of impressive. He has caught nine passes for 143 yards and has added three touchdowns which puts him beind grisled vetertans Avon Cobourne, Joffrey Reynolds and Geroy Simon.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

CFL Recap Week Three: Ray Can’t Do it Himself

In perhaps one of the more shocking outcomes in week three, the Edmonton Eskimos were humiliated 40-22 at home by the BC Lions.

A few things have become evident about the Edmonton Eskimos after their latest defeat: their secondary needs some improvement, and their offense hasn’t been able to engineer much of anything through the first three weeks.

The most surprising thing about the loss in my opinion was the blame that was placed on quarterback Ricky Ray following the loss.

Fans booed Ricky Ray during the contest, criticized him after the game, and a few sportswriters and fans have even suggested it is time for a change at the quarterback position.
What Edmonton fans needs to realize is the fact that Ricky Ray’s play isn’t the Eskimos problem right now, it is the rest of the team.

Ricky Ray is undeniably a great quarterback, but he still needs to have some talent around him to succeed. There has been added pressure on Ricky Ray all season thanks to the lack of a running game in Edmonton. Failing to develop any sort of a running game in the first two weeks of a season, the Eskimos never really tried to develop a running game against the BC Lions.

And then there is the offensive line. Not only has the line struggled in the run game, but they have failed to provide protection to Rick Ray in the pass game. Teams are averaging three sacks a game against the Edmonton Eskimos, which means that a lot of pressure is being placed on Ricky Ray.

Then there is the receiving core. I have said it before, but the loss of Kelly Campbell has really affected the Edmonton Eskimos. Campbell was the deep threat that complimented a bunch of mid range threats the Eskimos had. Without him, the Eskimos have been very conservative in the passing game.

Maurice Mann has been having a surprisingly good season, but Kamau Peterson and Andrew Nowacki have been failing to stretch the defense vertically. Fred Stamps has had a disappointing season so well.

Throw in the recent struggles of the Eskimos defensive secondary, and it really goes to show that Ricky Ray perhaps shouldn’t be the man taking the heat.

Ray has definitely made some mistakes this season. However, the man who has thrown for a career 28,218 yards and 156 touchdown passes while leading the Eskimos to two Grey Cup victories, doesn’t deserve the heat he has been taking. Ray can only so much himself.

Ray is a prime time player, and almost every fan of the CFL would like Ricky Ray on their team. If Eskimos fans would rather go to veteran quarterback Jason Maas, then they can go ahead. I for one, would welcome Ricky Ray on to my team with open arms.

Other News and Notes From Week Three:

We’re Going to Jackson: The situation appeared dire for the BC Lions. Buck Pierce had been injured after taking a nasty hit. The outlook quickly brightened for Lions fans, as Jarious Jackson entered the game, and on his first pass hit Geroy Simon on a deep pass that set the Lions up for an easy touchdown. Jackson had a masterful night, finishing with 362 yards and four touchdown passes. Jackson had help from his star receivers, as Geroy Simon two touchdowns and 122 yards receiving and Paris Jackson had one touchdown catch and 126 yards receiving.

That’s More Like It: In Calgary’s 44-9 spanking over the Toronto Argonauts, fans kind of got a feeling that things were back to normal. The Argonauts struggled like they were expected to this season, and Calgary played well like they did in last season’s Grey Cup run. Calgary didn’t really develop a solid running game, but Henry Burris threw for 348 yards. Kerry Joseph had 306 yards for the Argonauts, but had two interceptions. Jamal Robertson didn’t get anything going for Toronto.

On Top of the World: Following their 43-10 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Montreal Alouettes cemented themselves as the best team in the league right now. It wasn’t a pretty game from start to finish, but Montreal took advantage of a lot of timely Saskatchewan turnovers and penalties. Avon Cobourne had a great game rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns.

Milestones in Saskatchewan: There were a few milestones in the Saskatchewan-Montreal affair. Roughrider receiver Andy Fantuz breached the 2,000 yard mark for his career early in the contest. But the bigger news came from Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo. Calvillo’s two touchdown passes moved him up to 333 and into a tie with Ron Lancaster for second on the all-time list. Congratulations are due to both Anthony Calvillo and Andy Fantuz on their accomplishments.

Glenn Get His Revenge: The CFL has been all about revenge this season. The latest incident saw former Bomber’s quarterback Kevin Glenn lead the Hamilton Tiger Cats over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 25-13. Glenn came in to replace Quinton Porter in the second half and threw two crucial touchdown passes. Glenn had some help from receiver Chris Davis, who had 122 yards receiving and one touchdown pass.

Ouch: Stefan Lefors only threw for 99 yards in Winnipeg’s loss to the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Lefors appeared to be a bit injured in the game and was replaced by Bryan Randall with six minutes left in the game.
Power Rankings: Week Three Check back every week to see who sits where in the power rankings

1) Montreal Alouettes 3-0 (LW:1)A no-brainer here. Montreal proved their dominance again this week by crushing the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home. Avon Cobourne was finally given a lot of carries and responded by rushing for well over 100 yards.

2) Saskatchewan Roughriders 2-1 (LW:2)Yes the Saskatchewan Roughriders did suffer an ugly loss to the Montreal Alouettes, but the game wasn’t as one sided as it appeared. Saskatchewan was leading the game for a lot of the first half, before they imploded with turnovers and penalties. Montreal is a tough team however and losing to them is no shame.

3) Hamilton Tiger Cats (LW:5)Hamilton is on the move once again! The Tiger Cats are showing early on they have what it takes to win ball games. There impressive defense has been improving each game, and they have the right blend of players on offense to get the job done. The Tabbies seem to have temporarily shaken off their losing ways.

4) BC Lions 1-2 (LW:8)BC experiences a huge jump in week three. The Lions, who had lost two close contest leading up to this week, responded by blowing out the Edmonton Eskimos. Jarious Jackson looked solid throwing the football and Geroy Simon and Paris Jackson finally stood up for the Lions. If Jarious Jackson keeps this play up, the Lions could be a dangerous team.

5) Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1-2 (LW:4)A tough loss to the Hamilton Tiger Cats in week three sees the Bombers drop in the power rankings. The Bombers defense was solid for the most part and the Bombers got good rushes out of Fred Reid, but Stefan Lefors struggled once again. If Lefors becomes more consistent, things could turn around in a hurry for Winnipeg.

6) Calgary Stampeders 1-2 (LW:7)The Sampeders looked much better this week. Burris threw the ball better and they young Stampeders defense stepped up. A loss against the Argos at home would have been tough to take, but Calgary came to play. As the weeks progress we will soon learn if this performance by Calgary was a fluke or not.

7) Toronto Argonauts 1-2 (LW:3) Toronto has devolved as the season has progressed. They stared off solidly against the Hamilton Tiger Cats, cooled down against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and collapsed against the Calgary Stampeders. Toronto’s defense has been struggling in recent weeks and their offense has been inconsistent. I guess we’ll have to wait an see if Toronto’s early success was a fluke or not.

8) Edmonton Eskimos (LW:6)Plug your noses Eskimo fans, because that loss stank. It wasn’t the score in Edmonton’s loss to BC that was so disheartening, it was how easy BC was able to march the ball. Time and time again BC was able to pass the ball deep against the Eskimos. Edmonton’s offense has also continued its struggles and it will be interesting to see how they respond in the coming weeks.

Biggest Rise: BC +4

Biggest Drop: Toronto -4

Check back twice a week for preview and recaps from the CFL. Also, check back every couple of weeks for a look at who is winning the race for the MOP award.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lions Tear Eskimos, 40-22, Get First Victory Of The Season

Man, I cannot believe how long it has been since I have written a BC Lions article. Well, I'm back, and better than ever (seriously).

The Lions have been struggling this season but for the first time this year, their opponents were the ones where trampled. The Lions roared to victory as they punctured the Edmonton Eskimos' lung in a 40-22 win.

With the sad wake of crying of Buck Pierce out, quarterback Jarious Jackson came in to re-capture greatness for British Columbia as he and Geroy Simon had a great day together as they were pretty much playing catch with the pair of touchdowns that have been made.

Jackson came out strong on Thursday night, reeling in 362 yards and dropping four bombs. The Lions improve to 1-2 in the Western Division, being ranked second there after the very impressive victory.

The Eskimos fall to 1-2, as they have ran threw another painful loss after the 50-16 nightmare from Montreal.

Pierce went out of the game after five minutes of play, as Jackson stepped in and started with a 45-yard strike to Simon down at the one-yard line. Running back Martell Mallett then broke in for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Lions a 9-0 lead after a safety in the first.

After that 45-yard pass, Jackson found Simon again as he blew up a 33-yard touchdown to Geroy Simon to size up their lead to 16-0. After hell was raging for Edmonton, the Eskimos recovered a fumble on the Lions 20 after the ball got popped loose from Jarious Jackson's arms on a vicious hit.

A passing touchdown as made to give a glimpse of hope for Edmonton as they were catching on, trailing by nine points in a 16-7 deficit. It then became 16-14 as Edmonton's Ricky Ray found Calvin McCarty open for a happy seven points.

It showed doubts that the Lions were going to win after their performance on defense lately. But never doubt the BC Lions, especially with Jarious Jackson in the game and with some comfortable targets.

Misery has begun, for Edmonton.

Jackson started out as he flew in 46-yard pass to Rufus Skillern and then hitting Paris Jackson for a 15-yard touchdown. He then found Geroy Simon on the next drive for a 40-yard lob to guarantee a score in the end zone.

It was all over from there as there really isn't much to explain anymore. The Lions captured a great victory.

Their next stop as at Calgary as the BC are the ones to stampede. Hold on Lions fans, the season isn't over for BC. Never doubt them, or they'll doubt you. It's how they get it done.

Calgary Stampeders, yes they will be tamed, next Friday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ex-Red Raider Graham Harrell Signs With Riders

REGINA, SSK-The Regina Leader-Post is reporting that ex-Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell has agreed in principle with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

During his collegiate career, Harrell was the 2006 Insight Bowl MVP, First Team All-Academic in the Big 12 three times, winner of the Sammy Baugh Trophy, 2008 Gator Bowl MVP, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award winner and a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Last season he had 5,111 in the Red Raiders pass happy offense.

After going undrafted in this year's NFL Draft he tried out for the Cleveland Browns but didn't make the final roster.

Saskatchewan now has five quarterbacks, three active. Darian Durant, Steven Jyles and Dalton Bell are the active ones with ex-Montana quarterback Cole Bergquist on the practice roster.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

CFL Preview Week Three: Expect the Unexpected

There were a few sure things fans of the CFL were expecting heading into the season.

They were expecting the Montreal Alouettes to be one of the dominant teams in the Eastern Division. Teams like Hamilton and Winnipeg were expected to struggle greatly, and even the BC Lions were expected to enter a rebuilding year.

In week one of the 2009 season, the script was followed nicely. Montreal handled the defending Grey Cup champions easily, Hamilton and Winnipeg both struggled and the BC Lions also lost.
In week two, there were a few surprises. Fans were expecting Montreal to beat the Eskimos, but the fact that Montreal put up 50 points was shocking.

In a pair of upsets, the Hamilton Tiger Cats outlasted the BC Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers handled the Calgary Stampeders.

If week two taught us anything, it is that we should expect the unexpected. There are a number of intriguing match-ups this week, that shou bvld make for some difficult picks.

Prediction TimeEvery week I will predict the winners of each game. Disagree with my picks? Comment down below with your picks and see if you can do better

Thursday July 16th

Game One: Edmonton Eskimos vs. BC Lions

In a battle of two struggling teams, the beleaguered Lions will stagger into Edmonton to take on the Eskimos. The 0-2 Lions have already lost two games they could have potentially won this season, and will look to take out their anger on the Eskimos.

Edmonton on the other hand is 1-1, but is likely still reeling from their 50-16 defeat at the hands of the Alouettes.

Edmonton has been having a lot of problems on the offensive side of the ball, and they will need to be more productive if they hope to beat the Lions. The running game can be an important part of the offense, and Edmonton’s has struggled all year long.

Whether it be Arkee Whitlock or Calvin McCarty, the Eskimos offensive line needs to do a better job blocking.

In the passing game, Edmonton needs to try and go deep. They tried to stretch the Alouettes defense on a few plays, but struggled. Unfortunately for Edmonton they are playing against a solid secondary.

On defense, Edmonton needs to try and throw Buck Pierce off of his game by applying pressure. When Pierce to throw the ball he can make good reads. But when he is pressured he struggles.
BC should also look to utilize the running game. Martel Mallet has improved each game, and if BC can get him going their offense could have success.

More importantly, Buck Pierce and the rest of the offense need to make smart decisions and take care of the football.

On defense, the Lions should put the pressure on Ricky Ray. The “immortal” Ray has struggled this year at times, largely due to pressure from the opposing defense.

It is always hard to win in Edmonton, but the Eskimos are struggling a lot right now. Though the Lions are 0-2, they have played decently in their first two games. Edmonton is doing alright on defense, but they are struggling greatly on offense.

If Edmonton can’t score a lot of points, Buck Pierce, Geroy Simon and the rest of the Lions just may steal the show.

My Pick: BC

Friday July 17th

Game One: Calgary Stampeders vs. Toronto Argonauts

Both the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders are coming off losses, but these two teams are heading in opposite directions. The defending champs are 0-2 on the season, and have looked nothing like the team who won the Grey Cup.

The Argos on the other hand, have looked solid like a team on the rise. Under the guidance of Bart Andrus, the Argos currently hold a 1-1 record.

Calgary will have a chance at home this week to turn their season around as the welcome Toronto into town.

Calgary has been struggling in all phases of the game.

For the Stampeders to improve, they will need to go back to the basics. On offense, they need to work at establishing the run with Joffrey Reynolds. Last year, Reynolds led the league in rushing and the Stamps had one of the best records in the league. In both games this year they have failed to get him going.

Henry Burris also needs to play better if Calgary hopes to best Toronto. Burris threw three more interceptions last week. Burris needs to go back to what worked for him last season and start living up to his contract.

On defense, the Stampeders will need to focus on stopping the run. Jamal Robertson has been nearly unstoppable for the Argonauts this season. When Saskatchewan started to shut down Robertson, the Argos offense struggled.

If Toronto wants to get a tough win on the road, they will need to continue their tough play. Expect a healthy dose of Jamal Robertson and Kerry Joseph on the ground, as the Argonauts will try to wear out the Stampeders defense. Toronto shouldn’t be afraid to test the Stamps pass defense, as their secondary has struggled.

On defense, Toronto need to be aggressive, but not take bad penalties like they did against the Riders.

If Toronto can shut down Joffrey Reynolds, it will make the Stampeders one dimensional on offense.

Calgary has failed to live up to expectations so far this season. If I had looked at the schedule before the season had started, I would have never picked Toronto to win this game. But this isn’t the Calgary team that won the Grey Cup, and this isn’t the Toronto team that only won four games last season.

My Pick: Toronto

Saturday July 18th

*Game of the Week*

*Game One: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Montreal Alouettes*

In a battle of the titans, the 2-0 Saskatchewan Roughriders will face the 2-0 Montreal Alouettes. Montreal is averaging 45 points a game this season, and Saskatchewan broke out for 46 points last week.

Both Montreal and Saskatchewan are playing well on offense, defense, special teams, and are well coached. What a matchup!

Darian Durant cut down on the turnovers against Toronto, and the Rider offense was effective. Avoiding turnovers will be crucial against the Montreal Alouettes, as they will pounce on any mistake.

Saskatchewan should try to develop the run with running back Hugh Charles, who had a pair of touchdown and showed a wicked back-flip against the Toronto Argonauts. The Riders should also look to big time targets Andy Fantuz and Weston Dressler.

On defense, the Riders need to try and disrupt Anthony Calvillo. Calvillo isn’t often sacked, but if the Riders can get some pressure on him, it could put him off his game. If not, Calvillo could torch the Riders defense all night long. Luckily, Gary Eteceverry is known for bringing new defense to the game. Stevie Baggs should be a force to reckon with.

Montreal will likely use a balanced attack on offense like they’ve been doing so far. Calvillo will spread the ball around to multiple players and use Avon Coburne when they need to,
The best way to stop Sasktchewan is to put pressure on Darian Durant, but the young offensive line has been giving him a lot of protection. Montreal will also need to key on slot backs Andy Fantuz and Weston Dressler.

This game is also really hard to call. Montreal has been the hottest team so far, but Saskatchewan hasn’t been bad themselves. They have played aggressively on defense and Darian Durant is coming into his zone.

Anthony Calvillo is always solid, but he is going into a hostile Mosaic Stadium where the fans will be loud and proud. If this game was in Montreal I would definitely pick Montreal, but you can’t count the Riders out at home.

My Pick: Saskatchewan (Tough Call)

Game Two: Hamilton Tiger Cats vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Fan or not, you had to be happy for the Hamilton Tiger Cats last week, as they not only won a game, they won a game on the road in a different time zone. Winnipeg also has something to cheer about, as they dethroned the defending Grey Cup Champions on the road.

Both teams will look to continue their success and the winner will move up in the Eastern Division.

Hamilton got a much better effort out of Quinton Porter in week two, and new running back DeAndra Cobbs. They will need a continued effort from both of these players in week three.
Hamilton needs to utilize their stars on offense. Quinton Porter needs to manage the game for Hamilton. Also expect a healthy dose of DeAndra Cobbs and Prechae Rodriquez.

On defense, Hamilton needs to focus first most on the running game. Fred Reid and Lavaerus Giles have been solid on the ground for the Bombers, and shutting them down will put pressure on Stefan Lefors.

Winnipeg on the other hand, will try to use the running game as much as they can. Terrance Edwards should also be a go to guy for the Bombers, as he stepped up last week with Derrick Armstrong’s absence.

On defense, Winnipeg needs to continue to be aggressive. They need to flow to the ball prevent the Tiger Cats from getting a big play.

This is really a hard game to predict, as both teams were so bad in week one and good in week two. There will definitely be a lot on the line as both teams play in the East. The game really could go anyway, but I am always hesitant to pick the Tiger Cats.

My Pick: Winnipeg (Another Tough Call)
My Record: 5-3 (63%)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

CFL Recap Week Two: The East Strikes Back!

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away… the Western Division reigned supreme over the weaklings in the East Division. For four years in a row, teams from the West claimed the coveted Grey Cup over the East and teams from the West were so good they often crossed over to the East.

But this week, things were different, things swung in the favour of the East. The East struck back this week!

Teams from the East won three out of the four games against the West this week. What made these victories all the more impressive was the fact that two of these victories really weren’t expected.

Though no one was surprised when the Montreal Alouettes beat the Edmonton Eskimos, I’m sure no one was expecting them to score 50 points. In a 50-16 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos, the Montreal Alouettes achieved their second straight win over a Western Team. Montreal was a dominant team last year, but did struggle against the West.

Then there were the lowly Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger Cats, who no one really expected to win their respective games.

Winnipeg started off strong against the Calgary Stampeders. They outscored the Stamps 21-4 in the first half and maintained their solid play in the second half. The final score was 42-30 for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Bombers handed the defending Grey Cup Champs their second consecutive loss.

Hamilton didn’t dominate BC in their 31-28 victory, but they got the big plays on both sides of the ball. Quinton Porter was very efficient on offense, and Geoff Tisdale got an interception return for a touchdown that sparked the Tiger Cats to victory.

The only blemish in the ‘Week of the East’ was Saskatchewan’s 46-36 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.

Other News and Notes From Week Two

Jamal Who?
Jamal Richardson did not play in Montreal’s victory against the Eskimos, but they didn’t miss him. Replacement S.J. Green caught five passes for 113 yards and one touchdown. Green dominated the middle of the field, much like Jamal Richardson did last season. In fact, Green reminded me a lot of Jamal Richardson with his solid play.

The Debut From Hell!
The Edmonton Eskimos were confident even without Jesse Lumsden going into their game against the Alouettes. The reason? Arkee Whitlock. Whitlock was said to be the answer at running back. After seeing his performance against the Alouettes, it might be time to find a new answer. Whitlock rushed 29 yards on 12 carries with a fumble. He also dropped two passes in the end zone. To Whitlock’s credit, he had no help from his offensive line.

Quarterback Controversy in Calgary?
Henry Burris threw three interceptions against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with no touchdowns. Back-up Barrick Nealy came into the ball game and threw two touchdown passes in nine throws. While it may be premature to suggest a quarterback controversy, Burris has been struggling early in the year.

The Revenge of Otis Floyd
Otis Floyd was one of the many players released from the BC Lions in the off-season because he was ‘too old’. Floyd got the best kind of revenge against his former team. Floyd got an interception that sealed the victory for the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Former Lion Jamall Johnson also made a statement against his former team, making 11 tackles.

Thumbelina Shines for Saskatchewan
Darian Durant was questionable to start against the Toronto Argonauts after injuring his thumb in practice. Durant did get the start and besides a few throws, played excellent football. Durant threw three touchdown passes and took much better control of the football.


Power Rankings: Week Two
Check back every week to see who sits where in the power rankings

1) Montreal Alouettes 2-0 (LW:1)
Montreal continued their dominance by crushing the Edmonton Eskimos 50-16. Monreal is playing well in all phases of the game, and should be a tough draw for any team.

2) Saskatchewan Roughriders 2-0 (LW:3)
Saskatchewan leapfrogs the Toronto Argonauts after an impressive 46-36 victory in Toronto. The Riders cut down on their turnovers and had another solid effort from their defense. Two of Toronto’s touchdowns came late in the game.

3) Toronto Argonauts 1-1 (LW:2)
Toronto stared off hot against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but sizzled down as the game progressed. Still, with Bart Andrus calling the shots, the Argonauts looked like a much improved team.

4) Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1-1 (LW:6)
Winnipeg jumps up two spots to the number four in the power rankings. Winnipeg responded from a loss in week one by pounding the Calgary Stampeders.

5) Hamilton Tiger Cats 1-1 (LW:8)
Just when you thought Hamilton was bound for mediocrity, they come out with a huge W over the BC Lions. Hamilton got a big effort from Quinton Porter and their new running back DeAndra Cobb.

6) Edmonton Eskimos 1-1 (LW:5)
Edmonton was once again shaky on offense as they feel 50-16 to the Montreal Alouettes. Edmonton is struggling to find their identity and will get a chance against the struggling BC Lions.

7) Calgary Stampeders 0-2 (LW:4)
How far the mighty have fallen. Everyone expected Calgary to possibly repeat for a Grey Cup this season after they won it last year. Maybe they should focus on getting a win first.

8) BC Lions 0-2 (LW:7)
Everyone though BC would be in a rebuilding mode this year, but a loss to the Tiger Cats at home! BC has a lot of work to do early in the season.

Biggest Rise: Hamilton +3
Biggest Drop: Calgary -3

Check back twice a week for preview and recaps from the CFL. Also, check back every couple of weeks for a look at who is winning the race for the MOP award.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CFL Preview Week Two: Forging an Identity

Week one of the CFL season has come and gone, and with it, we have begun to learn a bit more about each team.

In the pre-season, we only see a mere glimpse of what each team has to offer. This often leads to a few surprises in the first week. I also found it made some games a bit more harder to pick because we hadn’t seen any team in action yet.

Some teams are happy with the first impressive they’ve made so far.

Others are hoping that they just had the opening day jitters.

Take the Hamilton Tiger Cats for example. They opened the season with yet another disappointing loss, this one at the hands of the Toronto Argonauts. Hamilton needs to win this week to show fans that they aren’t the same Tiger Cats of old.

On the flip side, there are teams like the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders, out to prove that their week one wins weren’t a fluke. A win in week two would make a strong case for either of these teams.

When week two comes to a close, we may get a better idea about how each team will far in the upcoming season. Games like this early in the season are crucial for teams looking to build a strong identity.

Some teams will fall in a hole early at 0-2, some will strike even and 1-1, and others will sit on their throne at 2-0.

Last week, I went 3-1 with my predictions, and this week I feel more confident. In fact, I would go as far as to guarantee I will be flawless this week.

Prediction Time: Every week I will predict the winners of each game. Disagree with my picks? Comment down below with your picks and see if you can do better

Thursday July 9th Game One: Montreal Alouettes vs. Edmonton Eskimos

In a battle of two 1-0 clubs, the winner of this game may sit alone atop the standings in their division.

More so, this game will feature two of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league.
The veteran gunslinger Anthony Calvillo will look to continue his early season success. On the other side, Ricky Ray will look to play a little better than in week one, where he was in no means flawless.

Montreal ran over the Calgary Stampeders in their first game, using both the running and passing game effectively. The Als scored 17 unanswered points to start of the game. So how can Edmonton hope to stop Montreal on offense?

Luckily for Edmonton, they did look very impressive on defense in week one, especially there front seven. They generated a lot of sacks and tackles in the backfield against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Usually, a defense tries to focus on one area of the opposing offense, but this would be a mistake against the Als. Edmonton needs to focus on playing smart all around defense. They need to flow to Avon Cobourne whenever he runs the ball and gang tackle him. When Anthony Calvillo drops back to throw, Edmonton needs to generate pressure to throw the veteran pivot off of his game.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

Without Jesse Lumsden carrying the ball, the Eskimos will need to look to new means on the ground. Whether it be Arkee Whitlock or Calvin McCarty. If the Eskimos are one-dimensional on offense they will struggle.

In the passing game, Ricky Ray needs to test Montreal deep. Edmonton was too complacent against the Bombers and they only scored 19 points.

Montreal on the other hand, needs to continue what they’ve been doing on offense… score points in bunches. The only flaw in Montreal’s offense last week was that they lost some of their aggression as the game progressed.

On defense, Montreal should try and throw Ricky Ray off his game. If Montreal can force Ray to make some mistakes, it could mess up Edmonton’s offense.

Both teams desperately will want to go to 2-0, but there a number of things going against the Eskimos in this game,. They are playing away from home against one of the hottest teams in the CFL. Throw in the question marks in their running game, and the odds don’t seem to favour the Eskimos this week.

My Pick: Montreal

Friday July 10th Game One: Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. Calgary Stampeders

Calgary’s “Grey Cup” part last week was spoiled by the visiting Montreal Alouettes. Montreal simply played with more intensity than the defending champs. The only thing worse for the Stampeders than losing at home in week one, would be falling to 0-2.

The “New Look” Bombers weren’t awful in week one. They only lost by two points to the Edmonton Eskimos, but the Bombers definitely need to improve their effort if they hope to stick with the Stampeders.

If Calgary hopes to avoid falling to 0-2, they will need to improve on offense. Calgary failed to develop a running game last week and their passing game was far from stellar.

If it wouldn’t have been for the solid play by Titus Ryan and the rest of the special teams, Calgary wouldn’t have had a chance in week one.

Establishing Joffrey Reynolds should be the biggest priority for the Stamps on offense. Every time Reynolds can burst out for a first down, it will put less pressure on Henry Burris. And of course, Calgary needs to take care of the ball.

On defense, Calgary should key on Bomber’s running back Fred Reid. Reid was solid in week one and could be a game changer for the Bombers. They should also look to put pressure on Stefan Lefors.

Winnipeg showed a lot of creativity in their play calling in week one. This is fine, as long as they are able to move the ball consistently. The Bombers offense struggled in week one.
To improve their offense, the Bombers need to pound the ball with Fred Reid, who had success in week one. Success in the ground will take pressure off of Stefan Lefors.

Montreal had a lot of success against the Stampeders in week one when they got pressure on Henry Burris, and the Bombers should look to continue this trend.

While it would appear that the Stampders will win this game easily, people also said the same thing about the Bombers-Eskimos game last week, yet it was a close one. Winnipeg is at home and Calgary struggled in week one. However, they were playing a tough Montreal team, and I have to have some faith in the defending champs.

My Pick: Calgary

Game Two: BC Lions vs. Hamilton Tiger Cats

The second game of the double header also features two more winless teams. In week one, BC suffered a lot of turnovers in their loss against the Saskatchewan Roughriders where as the Hamilton Tiger Cats simply were out played by the Toronto Argonauts

Both teams will look to avoid going 0-2.

The obvious key on offense for the BC Lions is avoid turnovers. The Lions had six turnovers against the Riders, and will struggle a lot if they do so against the Hamilton Tiger Cats
I liked what I saw out of Lions running back Martel Mallet. Mallet ran the ball hard against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the Lions should continue to use him against the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

The offensive line needs to protect Buck Pierce better this week, so he has a chance to get the ball out to Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon.

On defense, BC should key on Hamilton’s biggest star, Prechae Rodriquez.

Hamilton couldn’t get the job done at home, and now they will have to travel to the confines of BC Place.

Quinton Porter had some success for the Tabbies in week one, but he will need to be better in week two. Hamilton should try to utilize the running game against the Lions.

Much like the Riders got pressure on Buck Pierce in week one, the Tiger Cats should also try to throw Pierce off of his game.

Both teams will be desperate to get their first win of the season. Hamilton needs to give the fans something to cheer about. Unfortunately, it will be tough to get a win at BC. The Lions struggled last week against a tough Riders defense, but should find success against the Hamilton Tiger Cats
My Pick: BC

Saturday July 11th

*Game of the Week*

*Game One: Toronto Argonauts vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders*

The Saturday tilt between the Argos and Riders is intriguing enough to be this weeks game of the week.

Both teams will hope to improve to 2-0, Kerry Joseph will face his former team once again, and the Riders will travel to the place where they won the Grey Cup in 2007 and play against the quarterback who got them there.

In week one, the only flaw in the Riders performance was the turnovers. Darian Durant showed that he has the potential to be the Riders starting quarterback. He moved the ball effectively when he didn’t turn it over.

Against the Argos, the Riders will need to take care of the football. The offensive line will also need to give Darian Durant protection so he can get the ball out to his playmakers. Hugh Charles also showed success on the ground last week and the Riders would be smart to use him often.

On defense, the riders need to contain Kerry Joseph, who can always hurt a team with his legs. They will also need to keep an eye on player of the week Jamal Robertson. Robertson ran wild against the Hamilton Tiger Cats in week one. Saskatchewan’s defense generated a lot of pressure against the Lions, and should continue to do so against the Argos.

Toronto executed their offense effectively in week one, and they didn’t even have to rely on Kerry Joseph running the ball. Toronto should continue to pound the ball with running back Jamal Robertson.

On defense, Toronto needs to put pressure on Darian Durant. We saw last week that if Darian Durant has pressure on him, he may make mistakes. This could lead to turnovers.

Both teams had success in week one. Toronto was merely flawless and Saskatchewan was stellar besides their turnovers. Toronto may feel confident at home this week, but they need to realize they aren’t playing against the Tiger Cats any more.

My Pick: Saskatchewan
My Record: 3-1 (75%)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

MIA: Is Derrick Armstrong's Bomber Career Coming To And End

To be a Bomber or not to be a Bomber? That is the question for Bomber's wide receiver Derrick Armstrong.

Armstrong's future with the Bombers remains in doubt, after he refused to play in the Bomber's season opener against the Edmonton Eskimos this past week. Armstrong reportedly was frustrated with the fact that he wouldn't be starting in the game.

Bomber's head coach Mike Kelly recently came out saying that if Derrick Armstrong didn't want to be a Bomber, they would be happy to get rid of him. As of now, it appears that Armstrong's days with the Bombers are coming to a close.

If Armstrong is indeed traded away from the Bombers, he would have no problem finding another team.

Armstrong's career stats are very attractive to potential suitors.

In a fairly short CFL career, Armstrong has 3,994 yards and 20 touchdown passes. He has gone over the 1,000 yard mark three times in his career: twice with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and once with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was also a driving force in Winnipeg's 2007 playoff run.

As mentioned before, Armstrong could realistically find work with any other team in the CFL. The Hamilton Tiger Cats, for example, could definetly benefit from Armstrong's services.

The team could use another star wide receiver to start opposite of star Prechae Rodriquez.

The Toronto Argonauts could also use another target for quarterback Kerry Joseph.

Though the Montreal Alouettes are loaded in the receiving core, adding Armstrong could give them an even more dominant group of receivers. Teamed up with Cahoon, Watkins and Richardson, Armstrong could make the Alouettes offense unstoppable.

If Derrick Armstrong were to be traded, it would likely be to a Western team. Each team in the West would be just as eager to snatch up this talented receiver.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have a lot of talent at the slotback position but could use a dominant wide receiver.

Armstrong could also help out both the Eskimos and BC Lions. The Eskimos are without a deep threat now that Kelly Campbell is gone and the Lions could use a good wide receiver to line up with star slotbacks Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon.

Even the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders could use Armstrong in their arsenal.

So, while it is unknown whether Derrick Armstrong will remain a Bomber for long, it is certain that he would have no trouble finding another team if the situation arises.

BC Lions Add a Pair to Practice Roster

VANCOUVER, BC-The BC Lions have signed veteran running back Tyler Ebell and import offensive tackle Daren Heerspink to their practice roster.

Ebell entered the CFL in 2007 with the Edmonton Eskimos and had 124 rushes, 650 yards and a touchdown. Following the season he was traded to the Toronto Argonauts bu tore his achilles tendon and missed all of 2008. He was cut by Toronto on June 25.

Heerspink signed with the NFL's Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent but never saw the field before he was cut. He then joined the St. Louis Rams before being released last week.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

CFL Recap Week One: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The first week of a new CFL season is in the books… doesn’t it feel good to be watching football again?

Speaking about feeling good, I went 3-1 with my predictions this week.

My only wrong pick? Hamilton over Toronto. I don’t feel bad about picking the lowly Tiger Cats to beat the Argonauts, because Hamilton not only improved over the off-season, but they also handled the Argos quite well last season.

Overall it was an intriguing opening week in the CFL.

Their was an exciting Grey Cup rematch, a Toronto Argonauts playing dead, and a bitter western rivalry decided in the last seconds of the game. What better way to further examine week one then by looking at “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” of week one in the CFL:

The Good

Saskatchewan’s Defense: In the Roughriders 28-24 victory over the BC Lions, the Riders D took center stage. Gary Etecheverry’s defense generated a lot of pressure on Buck Pierece, registering nine sacks. They were just as stellar in the secondary as they recorded three interceptions. They did give up 24 points, but seven of these were off an interception and on the rest BC was given great field position following Rider turnovers.

Montreal’s Offense: How do you silence the defending Grey Cup champs. Go into their house and put up 17 unanswered points to start the game. Montreal looked sharp and determined to win in their 40-27 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. Anthony Calvillo was stellar, throwing for 255 yards and one touchdown. Led by Avon Cobourne with 107 yards, the Als’ were able to run on the Stampeders defense.

Titus Ryan: The bright spot in Calgary’s lose to the Montreal Alouettes? Titus Ryan. Ryan had a kick return touchdown, sparking the Calgary Stampeders. The rookie receiver also caught three passes for 44 yards.

Bart Andrus: Give credit to Bart Andrus, he looks to have begun righting the sinking ship that has been the Toronto Argonauts. The Argos beat the Tiger Cats 30-17. Toronto looked well prepared for this contest. Kerry Joseph looked solid, throwing three touchdown passes, and Andrus used the running game effectively as Jamal Robertson rushed for 134 yards.

Andrew Nowacki: Nowacki was the best receiver for the Eskimos in their 19-17 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He had seven catches for 79 yards and one touchdown. On a night when the Eskimos struggle to generate a lot of offense, Nowacki was a reliable option.

Opening Day: Kudos to the schedule makers, who had the season start on Canada Day with a double header. You could just sense the atmosphere not matter where you were.

The Bad
Reffing in the Saskatchewan-BC Game: Witnessing the Riders- Lions game first hand, I was very disappointed with the reffing in the game. Now I am a Riders fan, but even I believe that there were some questionable calls on both sides. Calls that shouldn’t have been made and calls that should have been made and weren’t. It was definetly an off night for the referees.

Hamilton’s First Half Defense: It was disappointing that Hamilton allowed 30 points at home, it was that Hamilton’s defense allowed 30 points in the first half! If Hamilton wouldn’t have gotten off to such a bad start, they would have had a chance against Argonauts.

Calgary’s Playmakers: Calgary’s prime time players failed to produce in their loss to the Alouettes. Henry Burris completed just above 50 percent of his passes, Joffrey Reynolds only had 19 yards rushing and Mike Labinjo was invisible with one tackle.

Stefan Lefors: Though it was cool to see a left handed quarterback throw the ball, Lefors didn’t produce for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes and only threw for 174 yards. Back to the drawing board in the Peg.

Missed Opportunities: BC, Winnipeg and Calgary all had chances to tie or win their games near the end of regulation. BC’s Ryan Grice-Mullen got behind the Riders db’s and dropped a sure touchdown pass that would have won the game for the Lions in the dying seconds of the game.

Calgary had marched the ball into Montreal’s end of the field in the fourth quarter, when Chip Cox picked up a fumble and took it back for a touchdown, sealing the victory for the Als.

Winnipeg lined up for a field goal that would tie the game against the Edmonton Eskimos. Alexis Serna missed a field goal that would have tied the game against the Edmonton Eskimos.

The Ugly
Turnovers: It was a bad week for turnovers. Almost every starting quarterback threw at least one interception and there were a number of punt blocks. This was especially true in the BC-Saskatchewan contest, where there were a combined 15 turnovers in the game.

Injuries: Not only were there a number of players sitting out due to injuries, but a number of players fell to injury. Riders offensive lineman Belton Johnson fell to an injury, Lions running back Ian Smart was carted off the field, Jesse Lumsden re aggravated his shoulder injury against the Blue Bombers and even Toronto’s kicker was injured in their game against the Tiger Cats.

The Edmonton-Winnipeg Game: The Thursday night tilt simply stank! Both teams struggled to a 0-0 tie at half time and never really generated a lot off offense in a defensive struggle.
Power Rankings: Week One

Check back every week to see who sits where in the power rankings

1) Montreal Alouettes 1-0 (LW:0)
The Als looked impressive in their victory over the defending Grey Cup champions. Montreal looks to be contenders once again early on.

2) Toronto Argonauts 1-0 (LW:0)
Sure their victory came against Hamilton, but Toronto looks to have improved under head coach Bart Andrus. Kerry Joseph is making less mistakes and the team has found a running game.

3) Saskatchewan Roughrider 1-0 (LW:0)
If it wouldn’t have been for their turnovers, the Riders may have beaten the Lions by a lot more. Saskatchewan’s defense led the way for them on Friday.

4) Calgary Stampeders 0-1 (LW:0)
Calgary didn’t win their game against a tough Montreal team, but they hung in there. Calgary is still going to be a tough team to beat this year.

5) Edmonton Eskimos 1-0 (LW:0)
Edmonton won against the Blue Bombers, but didn’t look very impressive. The team was solid on defense but didn’t score a point in the first half.

6) Winnipeg Blue Bombers 0-1 (LW:0)
Winnipeg’s defense looked solid in their loss to the Eskimos. Unfortunately Stefan Lefors and the offfense couldn’t get things going.

7) BC Lions 0-1 (LW:0)
BC was able to generate a lot of turnovers to keep themselves in the game against the Riders. But BC’s offense struggled all game to move the ball.

8) Hamilton Tiger Cats 0-1 (LW:0)
Poor Hamilton. After a good off-season, the Tiger Cats disappointed their fans at home by losing to the rival Argonauts. They once again find themselves at the bottom of the power rankings.

Check back two times a week for preview and recaps from the CFL. Also, check back every couple of weeks for a look at who is winning the race for the MOP award.

Arland Bruce Fined for Jackson "Tribute"

TORONTO, ON-Arland Bruce of the Toronto Argonauts has been fined by the CFL for his so called "tribute" to the late Michael Jackson.

Bruce who removed his helmet, jersey and shoulder pads and laid in the endzone as if he was buried was given two objectionable conduct penalties in the win over Hamilton.

Bruce has reportedly apologized to his teammates and head coach Bart Andrus said that the next time Bruce scores he'll, "celebrate in an appropriate manner".

Hamilton Sign LB Jamall Johnson

HAMILTON, ON-The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have announced the signing of linebacker Jamall Johnson.

Johnson started his career in Cleveland but was cut before the beginning of the season. He then joined the BC Lions where he played for four seasons (2005-2008). In 2006, he was a key piece in bringing the Grey Cup out west. On December 31 of last year he signed with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was recently released on June 19, 2009.

Johnson's signing leaves other big name linebackers such as ex-Stampeder JoJuan Armour and ex-Alouette TJ Hill still on the market. A few weeks ago the BC Lions reported they were negotiating with both Johnson and Armour.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Poll Results Are In

The two formerly running polls, have come to a close and here are the results:

Poll 1: Who'll win the Grey Cup? (93 votes)
Saskatchewan Roughriders 22 votes
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 17 votes
Edmonton Eskimos 16 votes
Calgary Stampeders 13 votes
BC Lions 12 votes
Montreal Alouettes 5 votes
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 4 votes
Toronto Argonauts 4 votes

Poll 2:Who'll be this years most improved team? (38 votes)
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 12 votes
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 10 votes
Edmonton Eskimos 9 votes
BC Lions 4 votes
Toronto Argonauts 3 votes