Saturday, September 27, 2008

BC Half Time Update

Just a few thoughts after the half.

O'Neil Wilson? Can't catch crap in Hamilton, makes multiple catches for BC in the first half. Wtf?

Porter has made a few nice runs, however I think he's stayed a little too long in the pocket for others. Of course two interceptions, perhaps he's not the next saviour.

I like the Cats going after Pierce and trying to knock him out of the game early. Hasn't worked, but I like the strategy.

Yet another third and one we should have gone on in hindsight.

Would have liked to see a bit more runnnig, but now that we're well behind again, well. We're not going to see it.

Hamilton wins the time of possession. Yippee.

In the preceeding Argo game, I saw Jonta Woodard starting at left tackle for the Argos. Wow the Argos are hurting if they're starting him.

Another Crushing Loss on the Horizon

The Cats are in Vancouver to face the of late hot Lions, who smashed the Cats at Ivor Wynne a few weeks ago. The Lions are 13 point favourites this game, which I think may be somewhat generous. All signs point to a blowout, but there is always a chance.

Casey Printers will aparently not face his former team, due to a wonky ankle. Quinton Porter will get the start over Richie Williams. Obviously the Ticat braintrust thinks Porter may be the real deal and if he can show he is over the next few games, Printers might be jettisoned over the offseason. Unfortunately for this game, I don't think the BC Lions are the best team for Porter to start against. The Lions front four on defence, led by Cameron Wake are a load. Porter is the least mobile of the Ticat QBs, when the recipe for success for the Lions is to constantly roll out of the pocket, preferably to the side of the field away from Wake. We'll see what Porter is made of this game.

The Lions were rather successful the last go around against the Cats running game. This time, the Cats may have to keep at the running game, even if they get stuffed a few times early. Certainly the biggest draw for this game is how Kenton Keith will do. Situations like this with limited practice for a player don't often generate successful outcomes, but Keith is an exciting player. Hopefully the Cats will be able to utilize his receiving abilities. With both Lumsden and Caulley injured, Tre Smith will get to show his stuff. For the receivers, the standard four are listed as starters on the depth chart, Rodriguez, Mitchell, Bauman and Miles. Tigercatatonia favourite JoJo Walker is on the practice roster. New signing and former Lion and apparent friend of crackheads Josh Boden is listed on the depth chart. Hopefully he doesn't get mixed up with some of the denizens around Ivor Wynne.

On defence, interior lineman Tory (don't call me Victoria) Collins has been released and imports Terrence Patrick and Darrell Adams occupy the middle of the line. At ends, newcomer Alain Kashama (who had a sack last week) and McKay-Loescher, both nonimports. Kania, another nonimport backs them up. In some ways, it is good the Cats can start two nonimport ends, but the fact the Cats have not found a decent import end by this point of the year is rather damning. I know the Cats traded for Kashama, who is probably better than the import stiffs we've had at end this year, but still.

For the rest of the defence, it is fairly standard. Anthony at middle linebacker, Robinson at safety and Tisdale in as a DB. For a 2 and 10 team, the linebackers and secondary have been somewhat stable. Of course, one would think they would have developed some synergy by this point in the season, but hey, it's the Ticats.

Talentwise, the Cats are overmatched, both imports and nonimports. Frankly I think the only strategy the Cats could follow to allow them to win is to get to noted glass man Buck Pierce, who makes Jesse Lumsden look like Cal Ripken. The Lions have sucked with Jarious Jackson in at QB, so blitz Pierce early and drive him into the turf any time you can, even if you take the odd borderline roughing the passer call. Otherwise, Pierce will just rip apart the Cats in the middle. Otherwise, a long tedious game...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Its Raining Running Backs

Well the Cats have signed former Colt and Rider Kenton Keith. According to Perry Lefko of Sportsnet,
Keith will average 175K for 2009 and 2010, plus incentives. I would love to see the particulars of that contract. Considering the Cats probably have some caps space remaining after shipping out Moreno and not receiving a player back, I hope the Cats front loaded his contract and maxed out the cap space this year to leave room for next year. If the Cats release Casey Printers in the offseason and go with Richie Williams and Quinton Porter at QB next year, hopefully we can sign some impact free agents next year, preferably on defence and perhaps a superior offensive lineman.

With regards to how this signing affects Lumsden, Caulley and Smith, that depends on what the Cat braintrust thinks about the future of Lumsden. Keith I think likely has more upside than Caulley, as he's been a decent receiver threat in the past. I love the concept of Lumsden, however the fact that he is often injured would not break me up too much if he left. I would prefer the Cats did not trade him this year and at least made an honest effort to sign him next year. Even with Keith, all running backs get injured (look at Cates for the Riders, Cobourne for Montreal, and Caulley this week for Hamilton). Having Jesse next year as perhaps not the defacto starter might take a little pressure off him and last longer throughout the season. If he is backing up next year, his nonimport status can be useful if a nonimport starter gets injured for a game, as Jesse can start that game. I'll be curious to see if Lumsden can break his rushing total for last year, 743 yards. He's at 586 yards now with six games to go.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Close, Yet So Far

So the Cats have found new and improved ways to lose with a 25 to 23 lose to the moribund (but better than us) Winnipeg Bluebombers via a muffed field go at the end of the game. That pretty much blows our playoff chances, as the Bombers are now up two games and have won the season series. At least Toronto looks like they are imploding even worse than we are.

If I had to pick a TSN turning point, it would Tony Miles' fumble in the first half. The Cats had recovered the ball after a punt via a Cameron Siskowic forced fumble on the Winnipeg 40. After a 13 yard completion Miles fumbles it, giving away a chance for Hamilton to get up early against a rather hapless Bomber team. I don't care if you live in Burlington Tony and read your community newspaper, you have to hold onto the ball.

Printers was pretty mediocre in the first half going 8 for 19 for 110 yards and running twice for 24 yards. Porter looked good coming in relief in the second half going 11 for 17 for 183 yards and running twice for 32 yards. It is too bad at the end that Porter couldn't get it in the endzone, but they certainly had the chance to send it into overtime. Porter certainly looked poised in the pocket and seemed to have way more time there than Printers. With Porter looking like a veteran rather than a frightened rookie, the Cats next year could release Printers and his now ridiculous 400K salary and go with Williams and Porter and use that money to improve the team.

Once again for the receivers, Rodriguez was the hero with six grabs for 136 yards including a TD. Apparently Bauman has a concussion. Caulley was fairly mediocre, only running for 46 yards on eight carries, however the Cats never really looked like they wanted to run the ball. However he had three catches for 34 yards.

On defence, nonimport linebacker Ray Mariuz is looking better with seven tackles. Anthony once again didn't look bad in Moreno's place at middle linebacker. The line looked like they had a bit more pressure with new pickup Alain Kashama getting a sack, but still has a ways to go.

The end result is the Cats lose and the season is for all intents and purposes done. There's always next year.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Crap versus Crap

Hamilton versus Winnipeg, the battle of the basement, the return of Moreno, etc., etc. Strangely Hamilton is still in playoff position and get can tied with Winnipeg for third in the East with a win. With the way Toronto seems to be imploding, if Hamilton got hot there is a chance for the playoffs. Let's face it though, Hamilton is quite unlikely to get hot this year. They may play well, but they'll find a way to lose. Perhaps I'm a little jaded.

Anyways, Winnipeg has looked somewhat better of late, although I think if the Cats could find a way to get ahead, Winnipeg could easily collapse. I'll be curious to see how Moreno does and Anthony for Hamilton in his place at middle linebacker. Hopefully the defence can play like they did last week (apart from failing miserably on second and long). At least the secondary is looking better and I'm hoping new signing nonimport Alain Kashama can do something at end. He had eight sacks last year for Montreal, so he's not a total dud and probably good for the ratio.

On offense, hopefully less interceptions by Printers, hopefully Printers runs for a few cheap first downs and Caulley does something running the ball against a tough Winnipeg front four. I think the Cats have a fairly decent offense right now so this game is certainly winnable.

Finally, so long to Ron Lancaster and thanks for bringing us another Grey Cup. During your later coaching years I certainly made some complaints, however the crap you had to deal with and the uebershit of what followed, well I'm sorry. Maybe the Cats can find a way to win tonight and I'm also sorry you didn't get a chance to see the Cats turn it around. Go Cats!

Edmonton Game

Well it was exciting, I'll say that for it. Certainly the team improved from the BC game, but this team still doesn't know how to win. They were definitely close at the end and like so many times this year, failed critically on second and long. Sure some of those are going to get completed against you, but the Cats seem to be the master at giving it up.

Printers had four interceptions, but so did Ray, maybe it was just that kind of night. Printers only going 14 for 30 for 213 yards for a very mediocre completion rate, but conversely he ran 11 times for 120 yards for numerous first downs. So for me that kind of balances out the completion rate. The line played well this week, sans Jonta Woodard no less (did the Argos really pick him up? What are they doing? How is it we have a worse record?). Lumsden injured again. I like the concept of Lumsden, but I'm starting to get a little tired of waiting for him to play. Caulley was ok. Receivers not too bad either.

On defence, couldn't stop them when it counted but not bad. Four interceptions with several for TDs, the defensive line even had a few sacks (Patrick with both) with some pressure. Cornelius Anthony did well replacing Moreno. I think he has a bit more speed and it wasn't like we were lighting up the league with Moreno. I still don't have a lot of love for Denny Creehan...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moreno Gonzo

After the booting of Charlie Taeffe, I certainly was surprised to see Moreno moved to Winnipeg (a divisional rival and in theory a rival for a playoff spot) for DE Tom Canada and a Canadian currently on the Bills practice roster (Corey Mace). Then Canada says he would rather retire and surf in California than report to Hamilton. Then Canada has an enlarged spleen and goes on the nine game disabled list. Finally the trade is reworked, where Hamilton gets Winnipeg's first round pick next year for Moreno and we get
the rights to Mace, a defensive tackle, and we send a conditional third round pick if we sign Mace. Uh,
magic beans?

One thing I will say first is that CFL trades are notorious for being somewhat meaningless in the long term. Certainly one team can lose immediately and the other team can get some results for a year, but after a year or two, often no one involved in the trade is still in the game. With regards to Moreno, I am sad to see him go, however let's face it, the Cats have been crap the past season with him. Last year, he was a force, but this year I often found myself blogging about the need for Moreno to have a big game for us and unfortunately it didn't really seem to happen. During last week's game, BC was repeatedly able to pass into the area that should have been covered by the middle linebacker. He will be 30 soon and there is certainly the possibility that after two more seasons he's not playing in the CFL anymore. Receiving Canada back, as was going to originally going to happen, would have strengthened the defensive line, which certainly needed it, although it seemed pointless to weaken yourself at middle linebacker to do it. Personally, I feel we should have done what Winnipeg did and signed Kai Ellis, a salary cap cut from Montreal to bolster the defensive line and forget this trade (and let Winnipeg rot with the fact they've lost two middle linebackers to injury).

What happens at middle linebacker now? Cornelius Anthony I guess. I'm a bit afraid to see what Ricky Ray does to that this week.

The one positive thing I see coming out of this week, has to do with the Argos firing coach Rich Stubler and hiring Don Matthews. If Hamilton can get him signed next year as the defensive coordinator, that may be an important step in leading us to the promised land of 9 and 9 (ah the soft bigotry of low expectations). Plus we can get rid of Denny Creehan (yes Dennis may be a shitty name, but man up and go by Dennis than rather Denny fuckwit). Don't know what the Don will mean to Toronto.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Taeffe Gonzo

So the Cats ended up turfing Charlie with eight games to go. I was more of the persuasion to keep him until the end of the season until last weekend's debacle. At that point I wondered about the fact that with Charlie knowing he would be gone at the end of the season, what motivation did he have to evaluate talent for next year? Promoting the offensive coordinator at least saves on the extra salary you would have to pay for a new interim guy.

So the Taeffe era ends as an utter failure. Probably the seeds were sown with the coordinators he picked in his first year who had little CFL experience. No doubt he was saddled with some mediocre talent in both years, but there was little evidence that some skilled coaching was going on either.

Not sure what this means for next year and I'm guessing the Ticat brass doesn't know now either. I suppose the new coach could go five and three down the stretch and impress for next year, but I think we all know that's not going to happen.

Anyways, see you Charlie. Ass, door, you know the drill.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Stench Squared

Wow, there's really not much you can say about that game. Certainly not a play you can look back on that if changed would have won the game. I suppose the early interception for a TD tossed by Printers was a turning point that helped get the game going in the wrong direction.

Printers' salary really looks like an albatross now. Either he renegotiates it down in the offseason, or we go with Richie Williams and Porter next year. Right now, I probably prefer the second option.

Marwan Hage seems to get love in the Spec as being a good player, but I've seen enough bad and mediocre snaps the past few games to wonder if he needs to pay less attention to his charity and his sartorial excellence and more to his gameplay. I can't imagine the kids like seeing the team sucking repeatedly.

Fortunately, both Toronto and Winnipeg lost today, so theoretically the Cats could be right back into it with a victory over the Eskimos this week. Frankly that disturbs me.

Article on sports, recession and oil.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The BC Game

I'm on my way now to the game, so I don't have much of a chance to say anything too elaborate.

BC leads the league in interceptions and sacks, so one benefit for the Cats is that since they are run oriented team, BC's strength isn't such a problem.

The other factor is BC QB Buck Pierce. Probably the most injury prone player in the CFL today. I say blitz him and hope he sprains something silly early and then go after whoever is next.

Looking forward to seeing the new line in action.

Go Cats

Friday, September 5, 2008

More Musings

Sadly, Tigercatatonia whipping boy and mediocre tackle Jonta (he may have an apostrophe in his name, but I'm not using it) Woodard was released after the Labour Day game, due to general overall suck. Apparently, as a five year vet, if had played in his next game, the tenth of the season, he would have been guaranteed his salary for the rest of the year. Ouch. That's what I love about football, the lack of sentimentality, the knowledge that some players will soon be filling out applications at their hometown Denny's. Incidently, Woodard also had two holding calls and a procedure called against him in the last game.

In his place returns the recently cut Marko Cavka. So I guess his release was somewhat BS after all. Welcome back Marko. I'm sure in about two years people will be calling for your head as well.

In other offensive line news, import tackle Charles Thomas is injured for the next tilt and will be replaced by year long practice squad import denizen Gerald Davis. Not sure if this is a good development or not. We'll have to wait for the next third and one and see how it pans out.

A lot of focus was on the stuffed third and one opportunity the Cats had at the end of the game. I'd rather talk about another third and one in the first half. At 6:35 in the second quarter, the Cats had a third and about a foot from what I saw on their own 22 yard line. There's probably some conventional wisdom that you should punt in such a situation. However, punting with the ball being hiked at the 22 is likely going to result in some good field position for the other team, unless there's a real monster punt. With only about a foot to go, there's probably an excellent chance of making it and continuing the drive. Sure in rare instances, you might turn it over. However on the punt itself in rare instances, you might get a big return too and leave you where you started, minus an attempt at making the first down. In hindsight, we know what happened, Dorsey returned a decent Setta punt to the 25, leading to an eventual Argo TD. Unfortunately, with more hindsight, we know also about the third and one at the end of the game that failed. There's been numerous other third and ones that have cost the Cats recently, including two in the Winnipeg game. The Cats have to make these plays and the coaches have to make sure third and one conversion opportunties are made at a high rate. For a running team, this is doubly important, as third and ones occur far more often than for a passing team. On passes, especially after second down, you are far more likely to be either short a number of yards (incompletion) or make the first down by a decent margin. Winning teams make their third and ones. Unfortunately the Cats haven't, so it is no surprise they are two and six.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Put Away the Brooms

A few quick comments before I do further analysis. First off, why did Ticat staff force the removal of the large Vandershank sign in the East endzone? I thought that was a pretty good sign and classless of the Cats to remove it.

At the end of the half with the Ticats trying to kick a field goal, I said, knowing the Cats past history, that barring a disaster, the Cats would get points and that the Argos wouldn't get any before the half ended. I was pleased. Of course the Cats manage to get the field goal blocked in such a manner that it flies upfield and an Argo can return it to help the Argos make a field goal before the half is done. Could have been a different outcome of the game if the Cats had gone into the half with the lead. Sometimes it seems that the Cats just don't get the bounces.

Nice to see Lumsden get 104 yards on 15 carries in his return from injury. I just hope his ankle is ok after this game. On track for over 1000 rushing yards on the season if he can stay healthy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labour Day, Get out the Brooms

With the Ballard Cup safely secured already, the Cats today go for the series sweep. In eight games, the Cats have only beaten the double Blue and are three point favourites. The Argos seem to be in a fair amount of turmoil going into this week, with the trade of Michael Bishop and the release of veteran Orlando Steinauer and the rumored return of the Pinball as coach. With a Cat victory, the Cats will move into second place at three and six, tied with the Argos on points and ahead because of the season series.

So the Cats will start Printers at QB, with Caulley listed as the starting tailback and Lumsden as the starting fullback. Not sure what to make of that, although for ratio purposes, if Lumsden starts at tailback and a Canadian at fullback, another starting import spot opens up. However the Cats import talent is so weak, there's nobody who obviously demands to be switched in. Perhaps they will limit the amount of times Lumsden gets the ball to ease him back from his injury. I can't see him doing a lot as the fulltime fullback as he has never seemed to be all that great at blocking. I guess we'll see what happens. I hope Printers has been studying Williams play the last few games and tries to get some first downs with his legs. The Argos are good at making interceptions, stopping a QB run, not so much.

With Tony Miles back, apparently somewhat not injured, JoJo Walker does not start at slot, however Scott Mitchell still does. I guess the Ticats like his size. I'm amazed that he is the Cats leading receiver yet doesn't seem to make much of a difference in any of the games so far. I assume JoJo will come in for five and six receiver sets.

On defence, it looks like both Rontarious Robinson and Jykine Bradley will start which is a good sign. Newcomer Tory Collins will start at defensive tackle as the Cats continue on their quixotic quest for a defensive line that can get some pressure. Apparently he's from the ambiguously named Northwestern State, which is in Louisana. I'm guessing they have no Nobel Prize winners there. Good gumbo in the cafeteria maybe.

I'm not sure what to make of the rejigged Argos defence. It will probably be better against the run. On offense, a lot depends on what kind of game Kerry Joseph has. The Argos will probably abandon the run for no evident reason in the second quarter.

Good luck Cats. Three and six here we come!