There was some talk in Hamilton of Kevin Glenn being replaced as the starting Quarterback in favour of Quinton Porter. That possibility has since been put to bed, and Glenn will start for the Tiger-Cats against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 5.
The fact that this is even being discussed is beyond ridiculous. There are a lot of problems with the Tiger-Cats right now, but the starting Quarterback is not one of them. Glenn has not played great, but he hasn't played badly either. He was the Offensive Player of the Week for Week 3, after all.
When a team that had Grey Cup aspirations begins the season 1-3, the locker room can get a little tense, and changes are inevitable. Drisan James was recently released because of his inability to show any consistency. I doubt that this will be only change to come out of the Tiger-Cat camp. But, one change the team does not need to contemplate is at the Quarterback position.
There are a couple of things I would like to see changed. I will not recommend firing coaches or other front office staff, nor will I suggest players that should be released due to poor performance. I truly believe that the team has the right people in the right places to compete for championships, and that a few tweaks – some minor, some major – are all that is needed to get this team back on track.
There is absolutely no creativity with this offense. It almost feels like the defense knows what the offense is going to do before they do it. Guys like Arland Bruce, Maurice Mann and DeAndra' Cobb should be having tremendous seasons, yet each and every one of them has underperformed to an almost ludicrous level. Bruce has one touchdown in four games, Mann has less than 100 yards receiving on the year, and Cobb's longest run of the year is for 16 yards. With the amount of talent on the offensive side of the ball, these types of statistics are inexcusable.
The man who can fix this (or at least whose job it is to fix this) is Offensive Coordinator Mike Gibson. Gibson has been a coach in the CFL in one form or another since 2001 (he also had a stint with the BC Lions in 1995 before going to Rutgers), so his experience is an asset. However, his offensive creativity leaves much to be desired. It's not only his plays, but his formations. It just seems like the offense has no groove, no consistency, no rhythm. A couple of wrinkles would add some mystery to what the offense is trying to do and would likely lead to more success for the unit as a whole.
The running game might be the most disappointing aspect of the team so far in 2010. In the first four games, the Ti-Cats have been able to muster next to nothing when running the football. DeAndra' Cobb is on pace for 616 yards for the season, a far cry from his 1,217 yards in 2009. Cobb might very well be a one-yard wonder, but I hold out hope that the running game will get going.
What ails the running game right now seems to be the Offensive Line. The line has played great when in pass protection (part of the reason why I don't think Glenn needs to be replaced), but their run blocking leaves a lot to be desired. The Line seems to get no burst at the snap of the ball. Cobb is not completely blameless here either. He dances too much before hitting the hole and needs to correct that if the running game is to get back on track.
Goal Line Offense
A more specific area of the Offense that needs work is the goal line packages. I have seen with my own eyes five, yes FIVE, instances where the Tiger-Cats had Something-and-Goal from the 1-yard line and failed to score a TD. Pardon my irascibility, but this is completely unacceptable. In the CFL, the Defense must line up one yard off the line of scrimmage. That means, in essence, that the Offense should be able to fall forward to gain one measly yard. On five separate occasions, the Tiger-Cats have failed to simply fall forward.
This has been a problem with the team since the days when Joe Paopao was the team's Offensive Coordinator, if not longer. I cannot recall a worse goal line team than this decade's Tiger-Cats. Much like the running game problems, the O-Line gets pushed around way too much when trying to punch it in in the red zone. There isn't anything schematically that the team can do to fix this problem. The O-Line needs to exert their will when they are in goal-to-go situations.
Another area that has been a weakness for the Cats for a long time. With the recent retirement announcement by Sandy Beveridge, who was probably playing the best football of his career, and the off-season loss of former All-Star Chris Thompson, the DBs are no better off in 2010 than they were in 2009.
One player who deserves to be called out is Jason Shivers. Shivers has had flashes of brilliance, but for the most part he has looked as bad as Bo Smith did in 2009. He is far from alone, however. Jykine Bradley still goes for the "Sportscentre hit" too often, and Dylan Barker was unable to unseat Sandy Beveridge for the starting Safety spot, so I am a little worried about how he'll hold up now that Beveridge will no longer be there to provide that veteran safety net.
All is not terrible with the DBs, though. Will Heyward has been a revelation. He has filled in more than admirably for Jykine Bradley since Bradley was injured in Week 2. Jerome Dennis has been a nice addition as well, and Geoff Tisdale has played consistently, as per usual.
I don't quite know what the team should do to fix the DB problem. Finding better players is always the answer, but it's not like young-ish All-Star-caliber DBs are just sitting on their couches waiting for a phone call. Also, as I said in the introduction, I won't advocate for the release of any players. Men much smarter than me are getting paid to make these types of decisions. If "In Obie We Trust" is to be more than just a cute t-shirt slogan, we fans need to have confidence that the front-office staff know what they are doing.
When the Tiger-Cats signed Sandro DeAngelis in the off-season, it was supposed to be the end of the kicking woes that had plagued the team since the retirement of Paul Osbaldiston. To say that DeAngelis hasn't lived up to his "Most Accurate Kicker in the History of the CFL" tag would be an understatement. He came into this season as a career 85% kicker, and so far with the Ti-Cats he has gone a paltry 6-for-11. I haven't seen a kicker lose his "mojo" so abruptly since Mike Vanderjagt with the Dallas Cowboys. DeAngelis was signed because Nick Setta couldn't be counted on to make the big kick. So far, DeAngelis has just been a more expensive version of Setta, except DeAngelis can't punt.
Which brings us to the final area that needs fixing: the punting game. Justin Palardy is a rookie, and therefore he gets a little more leniency than if he was a veteran. The kid still has mistakes to correct, and those corrections will come with time. He needs to stop with the stutter step that he seems to be fond of. He could get away with that stuff in the CIS because most of those players were never going to be professional athletes. In the CFL, he can't hesitate, even in the slightest. The punt block against Montreal was particularly troublesome because (a) it was Week 4 and that problem should have already been fixed, and (b) it gave the opposition great field position. The Cats will lose a lot of games if the punting troubles are not corrected soon.
So those are the five areas that I think the Cats need to improve on if they are to right the ship and get this season back on track. Not one of those problems has anything to do with the Quarterback, and a change there would only be a Band-Aid solution. It would appease the fan base, while not addressing the real problems that are evident with this team.
Even having said all that, I still believe that this is a team that can hoist the Grey Cup at season's end. I am still of the view that this is a good football team with many talented players. This is a team that can win, a team that should win, and it is a team that will win. I am confident that by the end of the 2010 season, the 1-3 start will be a blip on the radar. This team is capable of great things, and I still have confidence in this team to make 2010 a season for the ages.