What’s more upsetting? Your team inevitably losing yet another game as it proceeds into its multi-year graveyard spiral or getting bounced from the fantasy football playoffs while attempting to defend a title? When the Calgary Stampeders-Montreal Alouettes game began, The South had long given up on this dreadful Alouettes season, despite mathematical opportunities to somehow squeeze into the playoffs as fodder for the fourth-place team in the West division.
So it was Stamps LB Deron Mayo’s injury in the first quarter that had me yelling at the screen; I’d’ve cried “Nooooooooo!” if it were a Nicholas Cage movie. Well more than my team throwing away a tremendous defensive effort did Mayo’s departure fill me with a sense of dread. Sure enough, my fantasy team lost by four points. Nooooooooooooooooooo!
This is football fandom in the 21st century. Let’s get to what happened last week – after I check out my daily fantasy lineups…
Ottawa RedBlacks 30, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 29. Now *this* is Henry Burris! All the driver of last year’s Cinderella CFL team did was go 27-of-39 for 393 yards and one TD pass plus two more rushing scores even giving up the helmet on a goal-yard plunge. The South believes that this performance in this game proves my (and lots of people’s) theory that Burris came back from that bizarre pinky injury too quickly this season. So who’s scared of the RedBlacks with Burris back at the helm? That no. 3 seed in the East may not have such an easy time.
And beyond Burris’s show, this game was an instant highlight clip, a fantastic commercial for the awesomeness of the CFL. The Ticats’ Terrence Tolliver contributed a pair of nice grabs (on somewhat shakily made decisions by QB Jeremiah Masoli). Burris favorite Ernest Jackson had some great stuff on display – oh, that spin move at the 25 while contributing mucho YAC for a touchdown! Oh, the juggling on the final RedBlacks TD in the third quarter!
And how about that Ottawa defense stripping the ball for fumbles a whole buncha times, most importantly including on the long kickoff return from Brandon Banks.
And then there’s Masoli. Zach Collaros may not have been the answer to every Ticats question this season, but Masoli’s bad habits – apparently based on the belief that he’s a gunslinger, for which he certainly does not have the tools – feels lethal to Hamilton come playoff time.
Heck, Masoli’s stat line doesn’t even look so bad, at 25-of-32 for 278 and three TD passes, until you get to the two interceptions. Two silly interceptions. The first saw the quarterback throwing across his body in the air, across the field, while maybe four feet from the sideline. Bad throw, even if he got away with a similar chuck in the third quarter on the pass to John Child. Later, he threw from in the air to the end zone, only to be picked off by Boris Hightower. The Tiger-Cats lost by one point; didn’t Masoli throw more than that away…?
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 35, BC Lions 32, a.k.a. a microcosm of BC Lions’ second half of the 2016 season. Once again did offensive coordinator bring an exciting and interesting game plan, breaking out the trick plays from early in the second quarter; and once again did the Lions bring little more than an impressive-looking roster – and fell short once more.
Indeed, talk about your teams heading in opposite directions. The Bombers have evolved a viable passing game around Matt Nichols preferences. The passing lanes being created on medium-range passes to Weston Dressler are a thing of beauty; the red zone offense was awesome again: Winnipeg got within 25 yards of paydirt six times in this game and scored all six teams for 22 points. (Compare this to Masoli’s work for the Ticats in week 17.)
Meanwhile, BC did as BC has through 2016. The Lions built up a 32-22 lead with less than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Wally Buono probably never dreamed that his offense would see one snap in the rest of the game. Jonathon Jennings threw one away and Chris Rainey tried to put too much mustard on the hot dog returning a kickoff just a few plays later. Snap, just like that, another L for BC.
Statistics That Will Make BC Lions Fans Even More Depressed. For those who haven’t noticed, the Lions are 1-3 in their last four games. They’re 4-4- in their last eight overall, and – and here’s the heavy bit – they’re 1-5 against the Stampeders, Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos. Should BC lose out (a definite possibility, the way they’re throwing away games these days), they’ll end the season a combined 2-8 against the West. Best argument for the crossover ever?
And those two other games: Saskatchewan Roughriders 29, Toronto Argonauts 11; Calgary Stampeders 22, Montreal Alouettes 8. Look, the only reasons for the Argonauts and Alouettes not forfeiting the remainder of the season are the fascinating rise of the Riders and the Stampeders’ chase to the best 18-game CFL record.
What can we take away from these games? Speculation as to where at least a couple of coaches are going in 2017. Montreal defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe put another gold star on his résumé for the Argonauts head coaching job from which current HC Scott Milanovich will seemingly be dismissed – whether justifiable or not with this double-blue mess.
Rod Black’s Weekly Crime Against the English Language. Apparently, TSN talking head Rod Black has decided that the meaning of individual is completely dependent on the context of the sentence. It’s a democratic way of using the English language, in a way: The meaning of a given sentence is dependent upon the listener.
Or maybe the man’s vocabulary is just lacking.
From the Saskatchewan-Toronto game, Rod early on hit us with “second down conversions have been “a lament for both of these teams.”
No, no, no, see, Rod, the lament is what the fans utter after seeing said lame second-down offenses. Or what I did for my sad, sad fantasy football team. Or upon having to hear a Black-called game while beerless.
Ol’ Rod later described the Riders and Argonauts as “two teams going in ghastly different directions. Dude, “ghastly” is a modifier for your control of the mother tongue. The word you’re looking for is vastly differently in meaning, if not, you know, sound.
Look, The South realizes that proper grammar isn’t a be-all and end-all, that in the grander scheme of things, eloquence isn’t necessarily crucial; heck, I’m deep in a country full of English-manglers. But, geez, Rod, it’s your job. And taking that cash while substituting like-sounding words with no respect to communication, well, it kinda makes you sound like an under-edumacated dump truck.
Requiem for a Team. Normally, this would be the “My Favorite and Least Favorite Fantasy Players (This Week)”, but, as you may have read, my CFL fantasy football is dead. Sniff, sob … I’d just like to say thank you to those (weep) who contributed so valiantly to our cause this season. Th-th-thank you, Manny Arceneaux, Derel Walker, Naaman Roosevelt, Micah Johnson and Taylor Loffler, all of whom were just super.
And on the somber occasion, The South would also express disappointment in Justin Cappiciotti and any running back who “graced” my roster this season.
In conclusion, I can only say … only … (lamentations, rending of garments) … only … WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR!
The glory and the shame. In what is now his only statistic since entering the CFL in 2010, offensive lineman Kristian Matte caught a deflected pass near midfield, attempted to advance the ball and fumbled on the spot. (Sheesh, if he’d been on the charmed Bombers, he’d probably have taken it to the house.)
Weird Canadian News Story of the Week. Seriously, what is up with this creepy clown thing? Half the internet believes it’s an underground movement/conspiracy possibly tied in with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign; the other half is convinced it’s utterly 100% hoax.
Among those taking this psychotic s*** seriously is CBC Edmonton. The local wing of the national network proclaimed last week that “’Bizarre’ creepy clown craze comes to Alberta.” Sending otherwise sane and mellow Canadians into, well, slightly less sanity and mellowness are incidents like:
Harry Ainlay High School in Edmonton was locked down this week after an alleged threat was made online by someone who used the name YEG Clown.
Fort Saskatchewan RCMP were concerned enough to issue a press release after a red-haired clown was spotted “hanging out” at a spray park in the city northeast of Edmonton Wednesday night.
Let’s just keep the clowns in electoral races, mmmmkay…?
Last week’s CFL games began with…
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa Redblacks. Round 2 of Burris vs Masoli? Isn’t that enough? The South is taking a RedBlacks win, giving Ottawa a five-game winning streak against Hamilton in late season and playoff games.
Toronto Argonauts at Calgary Stampeders. Calgary head coach blamed the two-touchdown win against Montreal last week – hey, when you’re 14-1-1 in your rookie season as HC, you get to go negative about wins – on “a lack of focus.” Apparently, it’ll take that plus defense better than Montreal’s and, in the game, perhaps Ricky Ray to revert to his 2011 self. Ain’t gonna happen. Stampeders win.
Canadians in the NFL. Anyone who’s watched the NFL this season has surely noticed the, let’s say, lackluster play of the New Orleans Saints defense after a busy offseason. Last year’s top Canadian football prospect, David Onyemata, is still optimistically viewed. One charactersist assessment this month notes that “Onyemata has some burst, but the fourth-round pick is still adjusting to the NFL.” Despite the drawbacks, though, the University of Manitoba product’s “role continues to expand.”
Though the Saints’ defense can’t take a heckuva lotta credit for a 41-38 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, but Onyemata acquitted himself well enough with three tackles (his high thus far in the NFL) and seeing 47 snaps’ worth of action. This guy’s quest to a successful NFL career has begun in earnest.
Montreal Alouettes at Saskatchewan Roughriders. Geez, Vernon Adams is at quarterback for the Alouettes? Can’t we borrow Jared Goff? The L.A. Rams aren’t using him, after all … Roughriders win. (Duh.)
Bonus Statistic of the Week That Shows the Futility of The Alouettes in 2016. Montreal managed minus-5 yards of offense in the third quarter. So, yeah.
Edmonton Eskimos at BC Lions. At nearly any other point in the CFL season, The South’d’ve gone with BC, no questions asked. Bu this second half hasn’t been great for the Lions, considering the team’s 4-4 “run” in which both Johnathon Jennings’s inconsistency and that bizarre second-half malaise have reared their ugly heads repeatedly.
On the other side, Mike Reilly has grown accustomed to quick release of the ball against a pass rush. In week 14, Reilly was 24-of-31 for 300 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception; that’s probably enough to win this week, too, and right in line with BC average of 306 passing yards allowed per game. Eskimos win and the Lions slide continues.
Next week: BC Lions officials announce the franchise’s move to Prince Edward Island, effective immediately, and clinch first place in the East.