Saturday, October 3, 2009

Edmonton Eskimos: Shake-ups Will Help Bring Team Closer to CFL Grey Cup

Edmonton's defense has undergone numerous major changes over the past few days as they acquired defensive back Byron Parker from Toronto and signed defensive back Randee Drew, linebacker Reggie Hunt, and defensive tackle Jerome Haywood.

When you look at it you see aging veterans (Hunt and Haywood), an injury-prone player (Drew) and a player who failed to crack the lineup in Toronto potentially due to him "not learning the playbook" as coach Bart Andrus explained it.

But when you look at it further you see a 6-6 Eskimos team that holds a one-game lead over BC, a two-game lead of, and a three-game lead over Toronto for the fifth out of six teams in the playoffs.

Also, Edmonton has given up the most points in the league, 369 with the next closest being Saskatchewan with 331 and they are adding Hunt, a seven-year CFL veteran, to a linebacking corps who's most experienced player is four-year CFL vet Maurice Lloyd.

Haywood was brought in to replace the injured Dario Romero, yet while Haywood isn't as talented he, just like Romero, has seven-plus years of CFL experience and will likely combine with six-year veteran Kai Ellis in leading a group that contains two two-year veterans and a group of rookies.

Now Parker and Drew, while they are not as experienced (Parker has four years in the league, Drew has two), bring in more talent.

Jason Goss leads the secondary in tackles with 39 and Kelly Malveaux leads them with two interceptions after they failed to get one in seven weeks.

Both Parker and Drew should help in the tackling game with Drew having 86 (67 in 2007) and Parker having 99 (40 in 2008), while Parker has 18 interceptions with a season high of eight in 2006.

Bringing in these four players should in my opinion be able to pass the Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders who are both 7-5.

All they need now is for the the offense to step up from the fourth best (based on points for) in the league.

Is Mike Kelly Slowly Losing His Mind?

What a season for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

New coach Mike Kelly promptly made moves acquiring QB Stefan LeFors while releasing CB Stanford Samuels, DE Tom Canada, QB Timmy Chang, and QB Kevin Glenn.

The 2009 regular season, on the other hand, started with a bang as star wideout Derick Armstrong and Kelly did battle and Armstrong eventually earning his way out of town.

LeFors struggled so veteran Michael Bishop was brought in.

However, running back Fred Reid has been dominant and rookie linebacker Jonathan Hefney has been a pleasant surprise.

Through 12 games, though, they've struggled to a 4-8 record with LeFors hitting the 9-Game injured list and journeyman Casey Bramlet being brought in.

Don't get me wrong, the season hasn't been a total wash as the above-mentioned Fred Reid has been dominant, while Hefney's been okay, and Jovon Johnson and Ike Charlton have been tackling machines.

Fred Perry and Dorian Smith have also been wreaking havoc in the backfield with five sacks each.

Terrence Edwards leads the receivers in receptions (36), receiving yards (518), and touchdowns (1).

And no, the one touchdown is not the problem for Winnipeg as Fred Reid has six.

But the reason Winnipeg is struggling this year is new head coach Mike Kelly.

Not only was the Armstrong confrontation problematic but so was the most recent one.

This week, Kelly informed team leader Barrin Simpson (who leads the team with 58 tackles) that he'll be on the bench so they can shake things up.

Simpson obviously declined as he's blowing out his stats from last year and could contend with his career high 115 tackles in 2001.

So, Winnipeg responds by placing him on 9-Game injured list since they couldn't find a trading partner.

The issue, not only with the Blue Bombers handling of the situation, is that Simpson did not approve his placement on the injured list.

CFL rules require that a player okays the move before it can happen.

Not only is Winnipeg facing a rules violation and a road trip to Montreal, but they're also facing the dreaded "rebuilding" that plagued Hamilton for years.

Winnipeg fans better be prepared for the day Kelly tells Fred Reid that they decided to go with another player since Kelly and stars clearly clash, which just shows that he's slowly losing his mind by the day.