Friday 7 September 2012

The Good and the Bad

There is a lot of negativity right now in Tiger-Cat Land and that is understandable. I was very angry after the Labour Day Classic; I even went so far as to openly wonder if the team will win another game again this season. But having had a chance to think about things all is not lost and this season is not over. Despite the four straight losses and the mounting concerns that the final season at Ivor Wynne Stadium will end with a whimper and not a bang, I thought it was time to look at both the good (yes, there is some good) as well as the bad surrounding the Ti-Cats.

The Good: They've lost their last two by five total points
This cannot be overlooked. Despite all the angst, the Ti-Cats lost their last two games on field goals in the final minute. That tells me that the team isn't as far off and have a chance to turn things around this season.

The Bad: They've lost four in a row
The flip side of that is the old saying that "you are what your record is." The Ti-Cats are 3-6, they have lost four in a row and two of those losses have come at home. Professional sports is a results-oriented business (we have been told this countless times over the years) and the Cats are not getting the results they need. They may not be far off, but moral victories have to start giving way to actual victories very soon (as in Saturday).

The Good: Chris Williams
Getting to watch Chris Williams in person has been a treat for everyone. We are truly watching one of the greatest seasons a player has ever had unfold before out eyes. Whether the team doesn't win another game and finishes 3-15, wins out and finishes 12-6 or does something in between, we all got to watch the Chris Williams show live and in person and that is something to be happy about.

The Bad: Every other receiver not named Chris Williams
Conversely, pretty much every other receiver has been a disappointment. Andy Fantuz has been underwhelming for most of the season and is on pace for less than 1,000 receiving yards. That is not the player the Cats thought they were getting back in February. Sam Giguère, who came to the team with a lot of hype in May, has been invisible. A lot was expected of Giguère and will not live up to those lofty preseason expectations. Dave Stala has been decent, but rarely used; same for Onrea Jones and Aaron Kelly. Bakari Grant is the lone receiver that gets an 'INC' on his report card because he hasn't played since July 21st against the Als.

The Good: The defense during the first three quarters
The Tiger-Cat defense has been a source of much frustration and fan anger, but if you look at their points allowed in the first three quarters of their losing streak (I prefer to judge defenses based on points, not yards, because you win by scoring not by gaining yards) and the defense has actually been pretty good. They allowed 17 to Calgary, 17 to Winnipeg, 18 to Montreal and 11 to Toronto. Those are great numbers. The fourth quarter has been a problem, but the first three quarters of the last four games have shown that the Tiger-Cat defense is capable of playing well.

The Bad: The offense during the last four games
What was supposed to be the better unit has been pedestrian during the four-game losing streak. The team has scored 30 points or more just once, in comparison to four times in their first five games. The biggest problems have come in the fourth quarter, where they have score just 26 points in those four losses. The third quarter used to be the problem quarter for the Cats, but now the fourth seems to be their nemesis.

The Good: Revenge came come quickly
They lost on Labour Day, but have a chance to exact some revenge rather quickly with the rematch scheduled for Saturday. At 4-6, and one game behind Toronto, the Ti-Cats would be back in the thick of things. They would still be in the third spot, but they would recapture the tiebreaker over the Argos (at least until the two teams meet once more in the final week of the season) and would trail them by just two points for second place.

The Bad: The season could be over on Saturday afternoon
A loss to Toronto on Saturday would all but end the Ti-Cats' season. They would sit at 3-7 and would have to go 5-3 over the final eight games just to match last season's 8-10 record (a record that got Marcel Bellefeuille fired) and 6-2 to get to 9-9. They would, at a minimum, be six points back of both Toronto and Montreal (possibly eight back of the Als) and their chances of hosting a playoff game would be over. They might still sneak into the playoffs, but the Grey Cup title that many expected would be a pipe dream.

The Good: Winnipeg's terrible
The only saving grace for the Ti-Cas in their quest to make the playoffs is that they don't have anyone nipping at their heels. The one team below them in the standings is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and they are so bad they just lost 52-0 to Saskatchewan. Winnipeg might be 2-7 and even own a victory over Hamilton, but the Bombers are no threat to creep up and challenge the Ti-Cats for a playoff spot. In the East, the Cats are pretty secure even at 3-6.

The Bad: The potential for a crossover
Hamilton's playoff hopes will not be derailed by Winnipeg, but by the fourth-place team in the West. As it stands right now, the Roughriders, not the Ti-Cats, would be the third playoff team in the East. There is a very real threat that the last-place team in the West will have a better record than the Tabbies. The Ti-Cats need to get things going in the right direction to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Things are pretty tense around these parts, but not everything is as hopeless for the Ti-Cats as their 3-6 record makes it appear. Things are bad right now, but I heard in a movie once that it is always darkest before the dawn. Hopefully, dawn arrives on Saturday.

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