Friday, 19 August 2011

Grading the Off-Season

With the Tiger-Cats enjoying their bye week, there is a significant lack of news on the Ti-Cat front. I thought now would be a good time to look back at some of the moves the team made over the off-season.

Avon Cobourne
By far the most high-profile signing was when Avon Cobourne put his name on a contract to jump from the Als to the Tabbies. In his time here Cobourne has been everything he was advertised as. He is currently third in the league in rushing and tied for first in rushing touchdowns. There are still areas where Cobourne can be used more effectively, like in the passing game, but life with Avon has been very sweet. A great signing.

Grade: A

Rey Williams
I'm not going to lie; I was upset when the Cats signed Rey Williams because I knew it meant the end of the line for one of my favourite players, Otis Floyd. Williams was touted as a younger version of Floyd, and I'll be damned if that hasn't turned out to be true. Williams is currently in the top 10 in tackles and has fit in perfectly with Jamall Johnson and Markeith Knowlton. The Ti-Cats once again have the best Linebacking corps in the CFL (don't even argue for any other threesome, because you'd be wrong), and Williams is a big part of that.

Grade: A-

Justin Medlock
No position on the Ti-Cats in 2010 was more scrutinized than Kicker. Sandro DeAngelis came to Hamilton with much fanfare, and failed to produce. The Ti-Cats brought in Justin Medlock via a trade with the Edmonton Eskimos, and DeAngelis was cut soon after. Medlock then battled Eric Wilbur in Training Camp for the job, and won. Since then, Medlock has been nothing short of phenomenal. He has missed only two field goals all season and is, in my opinion, the clubhouse leader for Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. His steady foot as been a breath of fresh air after the adventure that was 2010. Medlock's addition might be the most important acquisition the Ti-Cats made this past off-season.

Grade: A+ (I'd make this an A-bazillion-plus if I could.)

Those were the three big moves that the Cats made in the off-season, but they also brought in a couple of guys that deserve a little press.

Daniel Francis
Daniel Francis was a classic "under the radar" signing – I even underplayed it – and he has been an exceptional Special Teams player. He hasn't contributed all that much on Defense, but his play on Special Teams has been outstanding, which means he has been a positive for the Cats.

Grade: C+

Wayne Smith
Injuries were a big concern with Smith, but he was being brought in for depth and wasn't expected to be a starter. He has filled his role perfectly, while staying healthy to boot. It's hard to judge the efficiency of a backup Offensive Lineman, but Smith has stayed healthy and the O-Line doesn't see a dropoff when he plays. I'd say bringing Smith back was a good signing.

Grade: B

Based on where the Cats are now, I think the moves paid off. Cobourne, Williams and Medlock have been as good as advertised, if not better. Francis is still finding his way, but has shown flashes of great play, especially on Special Teams. Smith has been great depth for the line, and the fact that he has remained healthy is a big plus for him and the team.

Teams don't win championships in the off-season, but so far the moves the Cats made this past off-season to try to position themselves to win championships look to be paying off.

1 comment:

  1. Can't disagree with any of that.

    It may also be worth mentioning the players who were released or not re-signed by the team during the offseason, some we don't seem to be missing and others we might.

    Chris Bauman - no loss there the way the Cats have been using their NI receivers; only 9 catches for 101 yards while being used sparingly by the Eskies.

    Demonte' Bolden - hello Albert Smith.

    DeAndra' Cobb - he would not be missed even if Avon hadn't signed here. His style was stale.

    Alex Gauthier - would have been nice to have around, but the trio of import tackles has been pretty consistent most games.

    Kyries Hebert - special teamer, others have stepped up.

    George Hudson - no loss of depth with Smith and Dewit around; wasn't likely to be a starter any more here anyway.

    Shannon James - backup LB/DB would not likely have played much.

    Jordan Matechuk - not much choice for the team here, but Kevin Scott has done a good job.

    Adam Nicolson - would have been hard pressed to beat out Carter and probably MacKay for playing time (if even healthy)

    Brian Ramsay - no loss of depth.

    Steve Schmidt - would not have supplanted Brown, and while Matechuk's departure demanded a replacement long-snapper we have done well with that.

    Adam Tafralis - a good guy, but our backup QBing has generally been no worse than last year.

    Jykine Bradley - getting old, but given our issues in the secondary his experience might have been good to have around; more of a hitter than a cover guy though so maybe not.

    Jermaine Reid - Steele has played great but Reid is definitely missed, especially with Kirk out.

    Geoff Tisdale - a quandary with plenty of lows to go with the highs when he played with us; he was probably a better corner than halfback so maybe he could have done well for us there.