Wednesday 14 September 2011

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

There has been a lot of talk about the Tiger-Cats' pitiful performance Sunday against the Alouettes, and surprisingly it hasn't focused on Marcel Bellefeuille or Kevin Glenn.

OK, not all of it has.

Scott Radley wrote a piece in the Hamilton Spectator comparing the Tiger-Cats to a John Grisham thriller and Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. His basic points were that the team is full of surprises and "you never know what you're going to get" from one week to the next.

Radley is right; the Ti-Cats have not been a consistent football team in 2011. What that means, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see.

Drew Edwards looked at the "two schools of thought" most fans are taking following the latest loss in Montreal.

There are people in one camp who believe the Bellefeuille-Glenn duo has taken this team as far as they can go. That with these two men, the Cats are destined to be nothing more than a .500 ball club who will never win a championship.

A Tiger-Cats loss – any Tiger-Cats loss – cannot be dissected without someone bringing up those two men. Regardless of what happens, it is somehow always their fault.

The second group sees the loss in Montreal as being part of a long season and not worth getting worked up about.

I reside very squarely in the second group.

The Cats put up a listless, disappointing effort on Sunday in Montreal, but this came just six days after the Als did the exact same thing against the Ti-Cats in Hamilton. An argument I have made numerous times is that every single CFL team has laid an egg or two.

Case in point:
  • Winnipeg: lost 27-7 and 45-23 in back-to-back weeks against Saskatchewan
  • Calgary: lost 35-7 to Edmonton
  • Montreal: lost 44-23 to Hamilton
  • Edmonton: lost 28-16 to Winnipeg; lost 27-4 to Montreal; lost 36-1 to BC
  • BC: lost 33-17 to Edmonton; lost 30-17 to Winnipeg
  • Saskatchewan: lost 42-28 to Edmonton; lost 33-3 to Hamilton; lost 24-11 to BC
  • Toronto: lost 40-17 to Montreal; lost 29-16 and 28-6 in back-to-back weeks against BC
Heck, the Argos (the league's worst team) beat Calgary (maybe the league's best team) in Calgary in Week 1. Sure, the Stamps' Rob Maver missed three field goals because of an injury, but the result counts regardless.

Every team has at least one horrendous performance on their résumé this season. Hamilton has laid three such eggs: the Week 1 loss to Winnipeg (in which neither team played particularly well), the Week 2 loss to Edmonton and this past week against Montreal. The Ti-Cats' other two losses (to Winnipeg, 30-27, and Calgary, 32-20) were not the same as the other three. The Cats played very well against Winnipeg, and that game could have gone either way. Against Calgary, the team came out on fire and then lost it in the second half.

All this proves is that it is foolish to get too high or too low based on any given week's outcome.

Moving on from the past and looking into the future, I see a Tiger-Cat schedule that looks very promising.

Yes, the Tabbies will play five of these eight games away from Ivor Wynne Stadium, and they are an uninspiring 1-4 away from home so far this season. But these five games are not like the previous five games. The Cats play in Moncton against Calgary, in Toronto, in Montreal, in Saskatchewan and in Toronto again. The Montreal game is the only one where the Cats will be prohibitive underdogs. The best-case scenario is probably four wins; the worst-case is two.

At home, Hamilton faces Edmonton, Winnipeg and BC. Edmonton hasn't won in Hamilton since 2008. Winnipeg has already won in Hamilton and has beaten the Ti-Cats twice, and sweeping a team is never easy. BC has actually done fairly well in Hamilton in recent years and have won their last two games at Ivor Wynne Stadium. That said, I like the Cats to pull out victories in all three games.

Under the best-case scenario, the Cats will finish the regular season 12-6. Worst case, 10-8. I will say that 9-9 is possible, but that's only if they don't take care of business at home. There is no way they go 1-4 on the road, because Toronto will not beat them. I know I said that sweeping a team is never easy, but Toronto is everyone's whipping boy right now, and the Cats are 6-3 against Toronto in the last two regular seasons.

While nothing is set in stone, and anything can happen, things are set up nicely for the Tiger-Cats down the stretch.

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