Monday 23 August 2010

Mid-Season Grades: Secondary

I know, I know, it's not technically the midway point of the season, but close enough, and since we are in the midst of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' bye week, and I have nothing else to write about, I figured now would be as good a time as any to grade the performances of each unit so far this season.

Over the next week or so, I'll grade one of the eight different position groups on the team – Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Receivers, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebackers, Secondary and Kickers/Special Teams.

Today, I'll look at probably the most maligned group on the team so far in 2010: the Secondary.

The one area where the Tiger-Cats were hoping for a leaps-and-bounds improvement heading into 2010 was the Secondary. The team added former Argonauts Jason Shivers and Will Poole (since released), traded for Jerome Dennis, traded away former All-Star Chris Thompson, and watched as Bo Smith left to sign with the NFL's New York Jets. Turnover, it seemed, was the name of the game.

So far in 2010, these changes haven't paid the type of dividends that was hoped for. For one, Shivers has had a very up-and-down season, with there being more down than up. He has become the fans' favourite whipping boy, and probably for good reason. Shivers has, to put it nicely, underachieved so far in 2010. I understand that he plays against the opposing team's top Receiver, but that's no excuse. That's not to say he hasn't made some nice plays, but his overall play has been lackluster so far.

Dylan Barker was finally able to assume the role as the team's starting Safety following the abrupt retirement of Sandy Beveridge in July. Barker has shown flashes of what made him the first overall selection in the 2008 CFL Draft. He's made some mistakes – and he really needs to work on his hands – but the talent is clearly there.

The one revelation has been the play of Will Heyward. He filled in more than admirably for Jykine Bradley when Bradley was injured for two games. Bradley has since retained his position as a starter, but Heyward looks to be the real deal and will be a staple of the Tiger-Cats secondary if he continues on the route he is headed on.

The rest of the Secondary is pretty much doing what is expected of them. Geoff Tisdale continues his solid, but unspectacular, play. Jykine Bradley still goes for the big hit too much. Jerome Dennis lays out big hits and mostly stays anonymous.

This is the weakest aspect of the Defense, if not the team. That doesn't mean they are terrible, just that they have a lot of room for improvement.

Mid-Season Grade: C+

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