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.

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