Saturday, 27 February 2010

Is Ian the Smart Move?

It was announced on Thursday that the BC Lions have parted ways with a number of players, one of them being Running Back and Kick Returner Ian Smart.

Hm, return man, eh? Sounds to me like the Ti-Cats should be calling up Smart's agent to get his name on a contract. I've been stumping for the Cats to sign a new Kick Returner since before free agency began to fill their glaring need at the position. Last season Marquay McDaniel started as the Kick Returner, but an early-season injury made him ineffective, and his promotion to the offense as a Wide Receiver, where he began to excel as the season went on, made him unsuitable to remain as the team's return man. Now, Tre Smith is still on the roster and has been a good, though not great, Kick Returner in the past, but adding someone like Smart could be the move that puts the Cats over the top.

Every move that Bob O'Billovich has made so far has been great. Re-signing Otis Floyd, Darrell Adams, Peter Dyakowski, Quinton Porter and Kevin Glenn has given the team some much-needed talent cohesion, while adding Maurice Mann via trade and Jason Shivers, Will Poole & Sandro DeAngelis via free agency has helped give the Ti-Cats upgrades at some key positions. Adding Smart to that equation would be the cherry on top of an already fantastically built sundae.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Where in the World is Kenton Keith?

A little history lesson. In 2008, following the NFL cuts in August, the Tiger-Cats announced they had signed former Saskatchewan Roughriders Running Back Kenton Keith. This came a year after the Ti-Cats made a similar splash by signing former CFL MOP Casey Printers. As we all know, the Printers experiment failed miserably in Hamilton, and after two lackluster seasons Printers was let go.

It looks like the Cats have gone 0 for 2 with mid-season star acquisitions because since signing with the Tabbies, Kenton Keith has pretty much been invisible. This is not entirely Keith's fault. He never played a snap in 2009, after sustaining an injury in training camp, and was replaced in the starting lineup by Terry Caulley, who was injured in a Week 1 loss to the Argonauts at Ivor Wynne. Caulley was in turn replaced by Tre Smith, who was also injured in the loss to Toronto. When the Week 2 matchup against the Lions in BC rolled around the only RB wearing Black & Gold was little-known DeAndra' Cobb. Cobb would explode for 175 total yards (rushing and receiving) and score a touchdown in the Cats' 31-28 victory.

After that game Cobb would remain the starter and go on to amass 1,759 total yards (1,217 rushing and 542 receiving) and 8 total TDs (5 rushing, 3 receiving). He became the latest in a long line of successful Tiger-Cats rushers and quickly became a fan favourite in Hamilton.

With Cobbs' success last season where does that leave Keith, the aforementioned big-name signing of 2008? Right now, Keith is still under contract to the Tabbies, but his days in Black & Gold must be nearing an end. While his talent is undeniable he unfortunately never had the opportunity to showcase his skills in Hamilton for the Tiger-Cats. I would be stunned, stunned, if he is still in a Ti-Cats uniform come training camp. Hell, I'm stunned he's still in a Tiger-Cats uniform now! While I would love for the team to keep him and pair him with Cobb (imagine how dangerous that combination would be for opposing defenses), I just do not see a scenario where they keep Keith, mostly due to his hefty contract. Keith is being paid like an upper-echelon player, and he has not performed as such during his tenure with the Cats.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

So Long, Rodriguez

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced today that they have traded WR Prechae Rodriguez to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for WR Adam Nicolson, a 3rd Round Draft Pick in the 2011 CFL Draft and the rights to a negotiation-list player, who Perry Leftko of predicts is Return Specialist Chris Williams.

I predicted that Rodriguez wouldn't be long for the team when the Cats traded for Maurice Mann, so seeing that he was traded today wasn't a surprise. He was a good player a couple of seasons ago, but last year he was injured and ineffective. With the surplus of talent at the WR/SB position for Hamilton, it only made sense to unload an underperformer like Rodriguez.

I don't know much about Adam Nicolson. He's a Canadian, which is a good thing, but I don't see him contributing much on offense; with the team already having Arland Bruce, Dave Stala, Marquay McDaniel, Chris Bauman, Maurice Mann and Drisan James, I don't see where Nicolson will fit. My guess is that he'll fit in on special teams and contribute there.

The acquisition of Chris Williams might be the key here. I don't know anything about him either, but the chatter is that he is a marvelous return man, so perhaps he could fill the void the Tiger-Cats have at that spot. Of course he's only on the negotiation list, which means he isn't signed to a contract, just that the Cats have first "dibs" on him should he be released from his NFL commitments.

I wish Prechae luck in Riderville. I hope he adds something to that team. With his physical gifts he can dominate, but he has yet to show he can do so consistently. Maybe a new location will be just what he needs.

Here's a video of Prechae talking about one of the prettiest catches I have ever seen.

The Cats also announced that they have released Tyler Ebell. He didn't contribute anything while in the Black & Gold last year, so I just thought I'd mention it as an aside.

Say Hello to Jimenez, Godspeed to Goodspeed

The Ti-Cats continued to make moves today with the signing of former BC Lion Offensive Lineman Jason Jimenez and the release of Offensive Lineman Dan Goodspeed.

I will freely admit to liking Dan Goodspeed. He was great in the community; his and Alex Gauthier's program allowed for hundreds of high school football players to see the Ti-Cats live in 2009. However, his play on the field was not up to the caliber that it should have been. Goodspeed is getting older, and his contract couldn't be justified based on his level of play in 2009. In the past the team would've kept guys like him and Nick Setta - great community leaders, but not the best player they could attract. Releasing them in no way diminishes what they meant to the Hamilton area in terms of volunteer work, but it does signify a shift in philosophy. While it seems cold, the bottom line is winning. Releasing Goodspeed was the correct decision based on his play in 2009.

I will also admit to not knowing much about Jason Jimenez. Let's be honest, no one watches the games to see what the offensive line is doing. Plus, he played in BC, and their games don't usually start until 7:00 or 8:00 PM PST, which is 10:00 or 11:00PM EST, which means I don't get a lot of opportunities to watch the Lions. From what I've read about him he seems like a nasty, borderline-dirty player. That's something that I'm OK with. Having played on the offensive line I know that it's an area of the field that calls for nasty play. I welcome adding a player who straddles the line between nasty and dirty. As long as he can avoid stupid penalties, all should be fine. My hope is that in adding Jimenez to the Tiger-Cats' offensive line we have added that nasty O-Lineman that has been missing since Carl Coulter retired.

Monday, 22 February 2010

DeAngelis on the Dotted Line

Well I was going to write a gigantic entry entitled "In Defense of DeAngelis," but that is moot now. Today the Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced the signing of former CFL All-Star Sandro DeAngelis.

As people who frequent Blogskee Wee Wee know, I am a HUGE fan of DeAngelis's. I have more than once expressed my opinion that signing DeAngelis was needed. After Drew Edwards's column Sunday I thought that the chance of DeAngelis donning the Black & Gold in 2010 was slim to none, with slim having exited the stadium.

In Edwards's article he quotes a trepidatious Bob O'Billovich. "The problem with a guy like [DeAngelis] is that you need somebody to punt if he's going to kick. If you don't have that scenario on your roster, it makes it tougher." While O'Billovich never came out and said the Cats wouldn't sign DeAngelis, he intimated that the way that the Tiger-Cats roster was currently constituted made it difficult to sign DeAngelis because he didn't punt.

PUNT!?!? Are you serious? Not to demean any punters out there, but they are a dime a dozen. While I admit that punting is not the easiest task to do well, finding one should not have been a problem. Make Ito do it. If having an import do it causes a problem, then find a non-import. Needing him to be Canadian should not have been an issue. The CIS churns outs punters, most, if not all, of which are Canadian.

A lack of a Canadian punter was an insane reason to not sign DeAngelis. With his signing today, it looks like the team saw the error in that mode of thinking and put the name of the most accurate Placekicker in Canadian Football League history on the dotted line.

DeAngelis has a career FG percentage of 83.8 and has never missed an Extra Point in his 5-year CFL career.

This marks the second year that the Ti-Cats have gone out to get a "hometown boy." Last season, the team signed SB Dave Stala. Stala quickly became a fan favourite, and his play was key in the Tiger-Cats ending their 5-year playoff drought. DeAngelis is a native of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and his signing gives the team another player that they can market as a "hometown hero." Stala and DeAngelis are to current Ti-Cats fans what Mike Morreale and Rob Hitchcock were to fans in the 1990s. We in Hamilton love our local boys (except I hated Jesse Lumsden, but he's from Burlington, so it doesn't count), and DeAngelis will fit right in.

When free agency started I outlined three positions that the Tiger-Cats needed to focus on:
  • Defensive Back
  • Placekicker
  • Kick/Punt Returner
The team signed Will Poole and Jason Shivers last week to address DB. Today they signed DeAngelis to address PK. Now if they can get a KR/PR the Cats will have addressed their major needs. The team now also needs to sign a Punter. My guess is both positions will be addressed during the annual CFL Draft.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Boatman Cut QBs Joseph and Pickett, LB Moreno

So it looks like the Toronto Argonauts are starting back at square one. The Argos released both their starting Quarterbacks from last season today when they announced that former CFL Most Outstanding Player Kerry Joseph and semi-starter Cody Pickett had been let go. Also released was former Tiger-Cat Linebacker Zeke Moreno.

The QB moves are interesting since the Argos now have no QBs on their roster with any CFL experience. As Perry Leftko pointed out it smells like one of the BC Lions' FIVE QBs will be headed to the Big Smoke. I don't know who makes more sense between Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson. Pierce has been injury prone, but it's not like Jackson has been a model of health either. My gut says Pierce because he is younger. But I wouldn't be shocked if it was Jackson.

A trade between the Lions and Argos would also be interesting because of the ownership situation. David Braley owns both teams, and issues regarding the fairness of a deal between the two teams could spring up. The deal makes sense from a financial and player standpoint. The Lions have too many QBs; the Argos, too few. Pierce and Jackson make starter's money, and with Casey Printers now fully entrenched as the Lions starting QB (and due for a HUGE pay raise) it only makes sense for the Lions to ship Pierce and Jackson out. I have no doubt that one of Pierce or Jackson will be wearing Double Blue soon.

How does a player three years removed from being voted as the best player in the entire CFL become unemployed so soon? Kerry Joseph looked done last year in Toronto, but this can't be the end of his story. I suspect someone like Winnipeg will give him a serious look, and perhaps he could be the starter on Opening Day when my Tiger-Cats visit Winnipeg on July 2nd. I've always liked Joseph. I will never forget when he threw an 82-yard pass at the Damon Allen Quarterback Challenge in Hamilton in 2008. That was only two years ago, and it was just a few months after Joseph was named the MOP of the CFL. He must have some gas left in that tank. A team will be getting a good one, at least for a season or two, if they go get Joseph.

All the talk of the QB cuts in Toronto has relegated the news of Zeke Moreno's release to beyond the back page. Moreno is another player who must have some mileage left. He was fantastic when he played here in Hamilton just a couple of seasons ago. Could a return to the Black & Gold be in the cards? Would the fans of Hamilton want to see Zeke & Destroy return for another go-around with the Tabbies? I wouldn't mind, but our Linebackers are among the best, if not the best, in the entire CFL, so I don't see where Moreno would fit. I doubt highly that Moreno will return. I see Saskatchewan or Winnipeg as the likely landing spot for him.

CFL Coaching Carousel

It's been a tough off-season for two of the Tiger-Cats' main competitors in the East Division. Both the Toronto Argonauts, who fired Bart Andrus on December 14, 2009, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who fired Mike Kelly on December 17, 2009, will have new Head Coaches when the 2010 CFL Season begins.

Andrus seemed in over his head and unable to adapt his NFL coaching style to the Canadian game. His clash with Arland Bruce led to the Argos sending Bruce to Hamilton (thanks for that, coach!) in July for basically a sack of beans and a thank-you. Bruce helped the Cats reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004, and Andrus was fired after the season. Guess Bruce won that one, eh, coach?

Kelly was, for lack of a better term, a complete buffoon. He embarrassed himself and the team with his multiple off-field problems, which came to a head days before his firing when he was arrested for assault. Kelly clashed with the media, clashed with his players and was generally disliked by the vast majority of Bomber fans. He swore during press conferences, he banished team leader Barrin Simpson, and he was uncouth enough to verbally battle with Otis Floyd following the Ti-Cats' season-ending win in Winnipeg. Basically, Kelly made a complete fool of himself every time he spoke.

Neither firing should come as much of a surprise. Each team took its time in naming a successor. Paul LaPolice was hired by the Blue Bombers on February 5, 2010, and Jim Barker was hired by the Argonauts on February 9, 2010. How each of these hirings pans out for their respective clubs remains to be seen.

Since both teams missed the playoffs in 2009, the determiner of whether the change in Head Coach was successful will be whether either team will challenge the Cats and Als for playoff spots in 2010. I see both teams struggling to make the post-season in 2010. Aside from Head Coach, each team has turmoil at the most key position in football: Quarterback. The Argos need to decide which direction they want to go in with Cody Pickett and Kerry Joseph. The Blue Bombers need to decide if they plan to retain the services of Michael Bishop, who provided a spark for the Bombers when he arrived, but whose mistakes in the end cost them a chance to host the East Division Semi-Final when he stunk the joint out against the Tiger-Cats (thanks, Mike!) on the final day of the 2009 CFL Regular Season.

If I was forced to choose one of the two teams to make the playoffs in 2010, I'd put my money on the Argonauts. Since free agency began they have been very active, and they also acquired the best player to change teams so far this off-season when they traded for Jeremaine Copeland. That gives them a slight advantage over the Bombers as of now. That said, I still expect the Cats and Als to remain the top two teams in the CFL's East Division. The Boatmen might sneak in as the #3 seed in the East, but I still expect that a crossover team from the West Division will play either the Ti-Cats or Alouettes in the East Division Semi-Final in 2010.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Poole, Shivers, Obie React

New Tiger-Cats Jason Shivers and Will Poole as well as GM Bob O'Billovich have commented on Shivers and Poole signing with the Tiger-Cats. Both Poole and Shivers seem happy to be playing for the Black & Gold, and O'Billovich seems excited as well.

Initially, I wasn't too excited about Shivers and Poole coming to town. I think both are decent players, but my hope was that a superstar DB like Byron Parker would sign with the Tabbies. Looking at both players' 2009 stats they had somewhat productive seasons for DBs. Shivers had 64 tackles and 1 interception, while Poole had 54 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception. Not terrible, but not great either. Adding both Shivers and Poole in with guys like Geoff Tisdale, Dylan Barker and Jykine Bradley could make the Cats' secondary pretty formidable. I guess only time will tell.

Notice in the videos that the GM says that more movies are to come in the next couple of days or so. Can it please, please, please be about a certain Niagara Falls native who plays Placekicker? Man, I hope so.

Friday, 19 February 2010

So Long #4

Don't worry Tiger-Cats fans, Arland Bruce isn't going anywhere. However, his jersey number is changing. I have it on good authority that Mr. Bruce will be ditching his #4 jersey (which I purchased last season on a whim) for a new number in 2010. That number is..... drum roll please......


Un. Eins. Uno. Arland Bruce will be sporting a #1 Black & Gold jersey in 2010. This information has not yet been released to the public, but I have the scoop thanks to sources within the Tiger-Cats organization.

Guess I have to go get a new black home jersey now. I wonder who I should get?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Ti-Cats Upgrade Secondary

Talk about a busy day. The news just keeps on coming.

The Tiger-Cats just announced on their website the signing of DBs Will Poole and Jason Shivers, both formerly of the Toronto Argonauts. Both players represent an upgrade over what the Tiger-Cats have, especially with the trade yesterday that sent Chris Thompson to Edmonton for Maurice Mann.

One of the areas that I outlined previously that the Ti-Cats needed to address was Defensive Back, specifically saying they should make a run at Byron Parker. However, Parker decided to sign with the Argonauts, and landing Poole and Shivers helps offset losing out on Parker.

Kick Returner and Placekicker are still two areas that the Tabbies haven't addressed, and with the recent announcement that Dominique Dorsey has signed with the Riders, it looks like the draft may be where the Cats will land their explosive Kick Returner to replace Marquay McDaniel who is now a full-time WR.

Argos, Stamps Make Blockbuster Trade

According to the CFL's own website, the Toronto Argonauts have made another huge move, acquiring WR Jeremaine Copeland from the Calgary Stampeders in exchange for recently re-signed WR P.K. Sam.

The Argos have been very busy in the first days of free agency, signing DB Byron Parker, OL Cedric Gagne-Marcoux and now trading for Copeland. The Argos were a CFL-worst 3-15 last season which led to the firing of Head Coach Bart Andrus.

It seems as if the Argos are attempting to put the last two dismal seasons (where they finished a combined 7-29) behind them and are attempting to play catchup with the Grey Cup Champion Alouettes and the Tiger-Cats, who made the playoffs last season for the first time in five seasons. Signing Parker and trading for Copeland should help the Argos. One very glaring weakness last season was at WR, and Copeland provides an upgrade in that department. Copeland is a 2009 CFL All-Star and provides a top-flight #1 WR for whomever the Argos decide will be their QB in 2010.

And We're Off (UPDATED)

Free agency is now open. Players without contracts are free to sign with any team they choose. There aren't a lot of big-name free agents, but I will monitor all the moves and report on some of the major ones, especially if they involve the Tiger-Cats. With Bob O'Billovich in control you know the Cats are primed to make some major acquisitions.

TSN has compiled a complete list of free agents that are available.

Looking at the list and analyzing the needs of the Ti-Cats I'd say that there are three players that, if possible, the Tiger-Cats should make a play for:
  1. Placekicker Sandro DeAngelis (who I wrote about previously)
  2. Defensive Back Byron Parker (who has expressed an interest in playing in Hamilton)
  3. Running Back/Kick Returner Dominique Dorsey
Signing one or more of these players would help fill the glaring weaknesses in the Tiger-Cats roster as it currently stands. It's unlikely that all three would be signed (I expect Dorsey to re-sign with the Argonauts) but I think any one would be important in taking the Tiger-Cats from 9-9 in '09 to being a Grey Cup contender in '10. Hopefully we'll see at least one of these players donning the Black & Gold in 2010.

UPDATE: Byron Parker has signed with the Toronto Argonauts.
UPDATE 2: Dominique Dorsey has signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Brain Drain: CFL Players Heading South

With free agency opening up this week I thought I'd touch on a subject, CFL players going to the NFL, which is heavily debated amongst CFL fans.

People say that only two things are constant in life: death and taxes. Well I'd like to add a third thing: CFL players going to the NFL. It's nothing new for players to go from the Canadian Football League to the National Football League. Many people look at the mass exodus that occurs every off-season as a bad thing for the CFL. I strongly disagree. When players leave the CFL to play in the NFL I believe it only elevates the stature of the CFL.

One of the first examples, and maybe the most famous example, of a player using the CFL as a springboard for NFL success was Warren Moon. Moon won a Rose Bowl and was the game's MVP in 1978 but couldn't find a job in the NFL as a Quarterback because of the stigma at the time against black Quarterbacks. Instead of taking the money in the NFL and converting to another position, Moon decided to ply his trade up north, in Edmonton, for the Eskimos. We all know how that turned out. FIVE consecutive Grey Cups later, Moon was a member of the Houston Oilers. After the Oilers, Moon would go on to play for the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs before retiring from football following the 2000 NFL season. Moon never won, or even played in, a Super Bowl, but he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in 2006. Moon was also enshrined in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ontario in 2001. During Moon's induction speech in 2006, the NFL Network (which broadcast it) showed footage and graphics detailing Moon's career in Edmonton. It was clear that his time in Edmonton helped in his selection. Moon himself thanked Hugh Campbell, then Head Coach of the Eskimos, for giving him a chance to play Quarterback at the professional level. Without the CFL Moon may never have been given the chance to become a Hall of Fame QB.

If Moon is the most famous, then Doug Flutie is a close second. Flutie won three Grey Cups, one with Calgary and two with Toronto. After the second of back-to-back championships with the Argonauts in 1997, Flutie made the move to the NFL, where he was signed by the Buffalo Bills. Flutie would also play for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots during this stint in the NFL. While Flutie never dominated in the NFL like he did in the CFL, where he won an unprecedented six CONSECUTIVE Most Outstanding Player awards in the 1990s and was voted the greatest player in CFL history, Flutie still had a memorable NFL career. He successfully attempted the first dropkick since 1941 on January 1, 2006, while playing for the New England Patriots, and he was famously benched by then-Bills, and current Cowboys, Head Coach Wade Phillips the last time the Bills made the playoffs in 1999.

Flutie's exit from Canada opened the door for others to shine in the CFL and then go on to the NFL. Players like Jeff Garcia followed in Flutie's footsteps. Garcia left Calgary following the Stampeders' 1998 Grey Cup Championship to play for the 49ers. Garcia has had a relatively successful NFL career, making three Pro Bowls with the 49ers and being the only player in 49er history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season (no small feat when the names MONTANA and YOUNG directly preceded you). Garcia's departure opened the door for Dave Dickenson, who himself left for the NFL but came back with the BC Lions later on.

Players have always left to go to the NFL, but not all succeed. For every Flutie, Moon or Garcia, there is a Henry Burris, Jesse Lumsden, Dave Dickenson, Casey Printers or Ricky Ray, who make their way back to Canada. That's not to say these players aren't talented, it's just that their skill sets are better suited for the CFL than the NFL. So while players like Martell Mallet (the 2009 CFL Most Outstanding Rookie), John Chick (the 2009 CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player), Ricky Foley (the 2009 CFL Most Outstanding Canadian), Larry Taylor (the 2009 CFL Most Outstanding Special Teams Player) and Stevie Baggs all look to parlay their success in the CFL to success in the NFL, history has shown that some will come back and others will not. The ones that don't return just provide an opportunity for new players to step in and fill the void created by their departure. Heck, Martell Mallet was one of those guys just last season when Stefan Logan signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mallet took over as the starting Running Back for the BC Lions.

Players come and players go. The CFL will always be home to outstanding athletes, and players leaving to go to the NFL just shows the type of talent that calls the CFL home, even if only for a short time.

Cats Get Their Mann

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats today traded for Wide Receiver Maurice Mann. In exchange the Tiger-Cats sent Defensive Back Chris Thompson to the Edmonton Eskimos.

This trade is somewhat odd to me. One of the areas that the Ti-Cats needed little help at was Wide Receiver, with Dave Stala, Arland Bruce, Marquay McDaniel, Drisan James, Chris Bauman and Prechae Rodriguez all still with the team. I would imagine that one or more of these players will be let go prior to the season. (If I was to guess I'd say that Rodriguez, Bauman & James should probably stick with the rental properties.)

One area that the Ti-Cats needed help at was Defensive Back so trading a DB for a WR just doesn't make a lot of sense to me at this moment. Mann is a great deep threat and could be a welcome addition to the WR core, but to give up a player at a position where the Ti-Cats are weak for one where they are, dare I say, stacked seems strange.

I trust that GM Bob O'Billovich will make the correct decisions, but as it stands now this trade is a head scratcher for me.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Re-sign Rewind: Glenn, Porter Get Extensions

Before free agency starts at midnight tonight I'd like to give my thoughts on the Tiger-Cats extending the contracts of both Kevin Glenn and Quinton Porter.

Last season Porter began the season as the starting Quarterback for the Tiger-Cats but was hurt and ineffective later in the season and was replaced in the starting lineup by Kevin Glenn. Glenn played masterfully in the final month of the season, throwing for over 500 yards in a loss to the eventual Grey Cup Champion Alouettes in Montreal and going 3-1 in the final four games to help Hamilton secure a playoff spot for the first time since 2004 and a home playoff game for the first time since 2001. Glenn's fantastic play in the final month of the regular season garnered him the Offensive Player of the Month award for October.

I'm glad that both players have been re-signed. I was not one of the people last season who screamed for Glenn to start when Porter was struggling. I do belive that Quinton Porter, who reminds me of a young Matt Dunnigan, can turn into a great Quarterback in the CFL in the future. The key is "in the future." I believe that Kevin Glenn gives the Tiger-Cats the best chance to win NOW, whereas letting Porter watch and learn for maybe another year or two will allow him to develop in the same way CFL greats like Danny McManus and Damon Allen developed during the early years of their Hall of Fame careers. Both the present and the future look bright for the Tiger-Cats at the game's most pivotal position. By locking up both Glenn and Porter, Quarterback is one less thing that GM Bob O'Billovich has to worry about with free agency beginning.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

New Kicker To Hamilton?

The Calgary Stampeders have announced that they could not come to terms on a new contract with Placekicker Sandro DeAngelis, and he will become a free agent at 11:59PM EST on Monday, February 15, 2010.

As many people may or may not know, DeAngelis worked out for the Tiger-Cats in 2005 before he signed with Calgary. DeAngelis is a native of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and it would seem likely that the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats would be in the running to acquire DeAngelis's services. Both teams recently lost their kickers (the Ti-Cats released Nick Setta; the Argos saw Justin Medlock sign with the Washington Redskins), and both are still in the market for one. With DeAngelis being a local product it would seem only natural for him to sign with one of the two Southern Ontario teams.

DeAngelis is a great kicker and, our kicking game needs an upgrade with Setta gone. DeAngelis is a much better, although a much more expensive, option than Jeremy Ito. The Tiger-Cats do not need to make too many moves to upgrade the team from 2009, but signing DeAngelis would be a smart move to make. Hopefully Ti-Cats GM Bob O'Billovich feels the same and DeAngelis is kicking for the Black & Gold this summer.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Canadian Football Hall of Fame Adds Four New Players

I'd just like to take this time to give congratulations to the four newest members of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame – Quarterback Tracy Ham, Defensive End Elfrid Payton, Punter (and Hamilton native) Bob Cameron and Wide Receiver Don Narcisse. There is a great article about the 2010 Canadian Football Hall of Fame class on the CFL website.

These are four very deserving individuals, and I am happy each man will take his rightful place in the hallowed halls of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in downtown Hamilton.

Re-sign Rewind: Floyd is Back!

Linebacker Otis Foyd signed a contract extension on January 6, 2010, to stay with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Details can be found on the Tiger-Cats website.

I love Otis Floyd and last season he quickly became my favourite player on the Tabbies, so I am completely in support of the team re-signing him. I know he is no longer a young player, but he has a role to fill at Middle Linebacker and, along with Markeith Knowlton and Jamall Johnson, the Tiger-Cats might have had the best linebacking group in CFL in 2009. Floyd's numbers weren't great, but he did win Defensive Player of the Month for September and was the Defensive Player of the Week winner for Week 18.

Floyd was clearly the heart and soul of the defense in 2009. The team fed off his drive and hard work. After the final regular-season home game (a Tiger-Cats thrashing of the eventual Grey Cup participant Saskatchewan Roughriders) Floyd told the crowd that the team would be back for one more home game, meaning that the Cats planned to go to Winnipeg the following week and beat the Bombers so that the Cats would host the East Division Semi-Final. Floyd's words rang true as the Cats hammered the Bombers and hosted the BC Lions at Ivor Wynne Stadium in the playoffs.

Otis Floyd epitomizes the type of hard-working, tough player that is always beloved in Hamilton. I'm glad he's back for another go-around with the Black & Gold.

Overtime in the CFL

The CFL, which I believe to be one of the most fan-interactive leagues in North America, is asking its fans to make suggestions on a new overtime format. If you are interested in making your voice heard you can go to the CFL's website and send in your suggestions. The deadline is February 15, 2010.

Last season the league asked fans to make rule-change suggestions, and the CFL adopted four new rules, most notably the allowance for the "Wildcat" offense that was all the rage at the time thanks to the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

This season the league has specifically asked fans for input on how to improve overtime. I must say that I tend to view the CFL's version of overtime rather positively. Unlike the NFL, which goes to sudden death, the CFL stipulates that both teams get the ball on offense with the opportunity to score. The system in place is almost identical to that of the NCAA with one minor exception, which is also the first thing I'd change about the CFL system: TIES!

In the NCAA, overtime continues until there is a winner. The CFL allows for two possessions for each team, max. In the NCAA, after two possessions the teams keep playing, except after any TD the offense must go for two points, instead of kicking the traditional one point. I would suggest that this should be adopted in the CFL. No one likes ties, and this would be a great way to get rid of them.

The second way I'd change overtime is instead of placing the ball at the 35-yard line, which basically guarantees a field goal, have the offense start from the 45- or 55-yard line. This way points aren't guaranteed, and the offense actually has to work for the points.

If the league chooses to keep the rules exactly as constituted currently, I will not be upset. At least in the CFL each team is provided with the opportunity on offense to score a field goal or touchdown; it's not a coin flip that decide who has the chance to win. The CFL overtime system is at least fair, and with these minor tweaks that I have submitted to the league I believe the CFL would then be able to boast about having the BEST overtime system in all of sports.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

And the Pass Falls Incomplete

November 16, 2009.

Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

BC Lions vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

2009 CFL East Division Semi-Final.

After 5 long years the Hamilton Tiger-Cats finally made the CFL Playoffs again. I consider my attendance at all 9 home games and 2 away games (both against the hated Argos in Toronto) a major cog in the resurgence of my beloved hometown team. Yes, I am that superstitious.

I spent almost 6 years living in Toronto, and during that time the Tiger-Cats were never once considered a championship-caliber team. In fact throughout most of my tenure in Toronto the Tiger-Cats were the worst team in the CFL – a once-proud franchise stuck in a cycle of something much worse than mediocrity.

After all the heartbreak, all the dashed hopes, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats – my Hamilton Tiger-Cats – were finally back.

Unfortunately, victory was not to be, on that cold November day in Hamilton. A spirited effort late in the 4th quarter tied the game and sent it to overtime after hometown boy Dave Stala caught a TD and Marquay McDaniel scored on a two-point conversion. Ivor Wynne was rocking; it was pure bedlam.

The Lions would score on their first possession in overtime, and on 3rd down, with the season on the line, Kevin Glenn's pass to Arland Bruce fell to the Ivor Wynne turf, and with that the season was over. The hope, however, stayed. A proud franchise had been resurrected, and I had officially fallen back in love with a long-lost mistress.

Following the 2009 season, I decided to take the plunge and become a season-ticket holder for the first time. People say that blood can only bleed red, but I'll be damned if mine doesn't bleed Black & Gold.

2009 was the season that renewed hope, 2010 will be where we.....