Monday, 17 September 2012

10 Things I Learned... In Week 12

A bit of a blowout week in the CFL with just one game ending with the winning team less than one score up on their opponent (BC by five over Toronto). Both Calgary and Hamilton handed 40-plus-point losses to their opponents, and Montreal beat Saskatchewan with relative ease. A rather ho-hum week in the CFL, but there is still plenty to talk about.

(1) Roughing the passer needs changing
I understand the desire (and maybe even the need) to protect the quarterback, but some of these roughing the passer calls take things to the extreme. Numerous times this seasons I've seen players sneeze in the direction of certain quarterbacks and get called for roughing. There were a few calls in Edmonton-Hamilton game that, to me, stretched the roughing the passer rule to its very edge. I know there is a concern about player safety, but this is football and you can't take all the violence out of the game or you end up being left with no game at all. I know this will probably fall on deaf ears (there is no way the league will make a rule in this climate that protects players less), but it has been an issue that has bothered me for sometime and just came to a head this week.

(2) Nik Lewis' milestone
The more I watch Nik Lewis play the more I end up liking him. I used to despise him for his antics, but he has become one of my favourite players to watch. This past week, Lewis picked up his 700th career catch and passed the 10,000-yard mark in career receiving yards against the Bombers. Lewis, a surefire Hall of Famer, reached both milestones on the same catch in the second quarter. Lewis has caught at least one pass in every game he has played in the CFL and if he continues to play at the high level he is playing at now, he cold end up as a CFL record holder before his career is over.

(3) Kevin Glenn's milestone
Anyone who has read my stuff before knows how much I admire Kevin Glenn. I have been a fan of his since his days in Winnipeg, became a bigger fan when he signed with Hamilton and remain a fan now that he is in Calgary. So it brought a smile to my face when Glenn, against of all teams Winnipeg, passed Dieter Brock for 12th all-time on the career passing yards list. Glenn is only in his 12th season, so it is possible he could get himself into the top 10 before his career is over.

(4) Bombers' offensive ineptitude
Having watched the Joe Paopao-led Tiger-Cat offense, I know what bad football looks like, but what is going on with Winnipeg's offense right now is worse than anything I have ever seen. The Bombers have not scored a touchdown in the first quarter so far this season; that in and of itself is a remarkable feat of futility. But on top of that, the Bombers have not scored an offensive touchdown of any kind since the third quarter against BC on August 24th. For those keeping track, that was the final game of Paul LaPolice's tenure as Winnipeg head coach. It has been over 199 minutes since the Bombers last put it into the end zone because of their offense. In the CFL, where offense is king, it's no wonder Winnipeg is 2-9 right now.

(5) Odd play for the highlight reels
Wild and wacky plays are nothing new to the CFL. Throw any game on and you're bound to see something strange happen. Such was the case in BC this week when a fumble recovery of a fumble recovery led to a touchdown by the Argos. Lions running back Andrew Harris had the ball knocked out of his arms and Toronto's Kevin Huntley plucked it out of the air, began running towards end zone and looked to score a touchdown until Marco Iannuzzi channelled his inner Don Beebe and knocked the ball out of Huntley's arms. Iannuzzi then tried to knock the ball out of bounds, but whiffed and Toronto's Matt Black scooped it up and scored a touchdown. It was one of those, "Did that just happen!?" plays that makes the CFL one of a kind.

(6) Game-changing penalty
The Argos, despite being just 6-5, look like a team that could win he Grey Cup. But they won't win a championship if they continue to play undisciplined football. The Argos could have won Saturday's game against BC, but one penalty (and a really stupid one at that) cost the Argos the game. Ricky Ray hit Spencer Watt for what looked like a beautiful 62-yard touchdown pass, but it was called back on perhaps the stupidest holding penalty I have ever seen. After Watt had already gone by him, knucklehead extraordinaire Maurice Mann decided to hold BC's Byron Parker for no reason at all. The hold did not help Watt get into the end zone and did not need to be made. The penalty wiped the touchdown off the board, Toronto had to settle for a field goal and they lost the game by five. Trading Mann was one of the best decisions Bob O'Billovich ever made as Hamilton's GM.

(7) Sometimes numbers do lie
Jay-Z once said "Men lie; women lie; numbers don't." But in the case of Kerry Joseph, numbers do lie. If you look at Joseph's stat line, 21 of 33 for 290 yards, you'd think he had a pretty decent day. Except the team he was quarterbacking lost by 43 points. Joseph was replaced by Steven Jyles who was replaced by Matt Nichols who then had to be replaced by Kerry Joseph. I said a couple of weeks ago that the Eskimos should go with Joseph because he gives them the best chance to win now. I take that back. Since then, the Eskies have lost three in a row and Joseph has looked ordinary at best. I don't know who the best QB for the Eskimos is, but it doesn't look to be Joseph.

(8) Willy's first chance
Drew Willy was thrust into the role of starting quarterback because of an injury to Darian Durant and I think Willy acquitted himself nicely. He went a respectable 22 for 34 for 225 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Not world-beating numbers, but not bad for a guy that was fifth on the depth chart when training camp opened. Durant is still the unquestioned starter in Saskatchewan, but Willy looks to have a future as a CFL quarterback.

(9) The receiver pecking order in Montreal has changed
For the last couple of years, it has been Jamel Richardson and S.J. Green, but now people should probably change that to put Green at the head. Green is now clearly the No. 1 option for Anthony Calvillo and the proof is in Green's league-leading 953 yards to Richardson's 18th ranked 483 yards. Yes, Richardson has missed games, but Green has clearly surpassed him as the top guy in Montreal, and Brandon London picked up the slack for Richardson more than adequately when the latter was out with his injury. Richardson, whose contract is up at the end of the season, might be in his final months with the Alouettes.

(10) Players of the Week
Warning: potential homerism coming up in this section.

After a month of not playing particularly well, Henry Burris deserves to be the offensive player of the week for his first 400-plus-yard performance as a Tiger-Cat on Saturday afternoon. Burris was masterful in guiding the Hamilton offense in their 51-8 pounding of the Eskimos, throwing for 418 yards and three touchdowns. It was the type of game Burris put up back in July, but had been sorely missing as the Ti-Cats went on a five-game losing streak. But Burris was every bit his former MOP self in Hamilton's dismantling of the Eskimos.

I didn't see many outstanding defensive performances this week, so this award goes to Hamilton's Dee Webb. Depending on how you view things, Webb could be considered for special teams player of the week because of his blocked kick that led to a field goal, but I'm adding that play with his 98-yard interception return for a touchdown and giving him my defensive player of the week award.

And while Webb gets the above award, his partner on the blocked field goal, the man who returned the block for a touchdown, Bakari Grant gets the special teams award. I didn't really want to give it to Grant, but his was the only special teams performance that stood out this past week, so he gets it.

And rounding out the Tiger-Cat sweep.... I'm kidding. The top Canadian award goes to none other than Jon Cornish. Another stellar game from No. 9 as he picked up two touchdowns to go along with 53 yards on the ground in Calgary's 44-3 win over Winnipeg. Cornish would have had more yards, but he played sparingly in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, when Calgary had such a big lead. But there is no doubt that he was the best Canadian-born player on the field this past weekend.

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