Delays, Controversy and a Winner

Courtesy of Sportsology.com and The 20-Yard End Zone

By Footloose

It was an interesting week in the CFL.

Things started Thursday night in Winnipeg on Milt Stegall Night. 

After a lightning delay of more than two hours, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stormed out of the gate and took a 34-0 halftime lead on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and would win 37-11.

Stegall, the second all-time leading receiver in CFL history behind Geroy Simon, was honored with his family at halftime. Stegall, a Cincinnati native, played at Miami (OH) and then was a Cincinnati Bengal for three seasons before going to Green Bay and then to Winnipeg. During his career, he was a favorite of ESPN personality Chris Berman.

CJ Roberts scored on a pick six early in the game, and then Matt Nichols fired TD passes to Thomas Mayo and Clarence Denmark. Andrew Harris scored a touchdown on the ground.

Hamilton scored a TD in the third quarter when Jeremiah Masoli connected with Terrence Toliver for a 44-yard gain to set up a one-yard TD run by Jeff Mathews.

BC wins in Montreal

Friday night, the BC Lions went into Montreal and outscored the Alouettes 15-0 in the fourth quarter to win 38-18.

Jonathan Jennings completed 27 of 32 passes and tossed a TD to Manny Arceneuax. Jeremiah Johnson scored a touchdown on the ground, and Loucheiz Purifoy made the play of the game by scooping up a loose ball and scoring on a fumble recovery. Richie Leone added four field goals.

BC sacked Montreal QB Kevin Glenn six times. Glenn threw a TD pass to BJ Cunningham and ran for one score.

Bo knows winning

Bo Levi Mitchell of the Calgary Stampeders is the all-time leader CFL in winning percentage among quarterbacks, and he played like it Friday.

Mitchell threw for 312 yards and fired a TD to Anthony Parker in the 35-15 win over Saskatchewan. Jerome Messam and Andrew Buckley ran for TDs. Rene Paredes kicked four field goals.

Rob Bagg scored on a 48-yard pass from Darian Durant for the Riders.

Controversy in Ottawa

All eyes were on Henry Burris as he bounced back with a 23-20 win over the defending Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos in a penalty-filled contest in Ottawa Saturday night.

Burris threw TD passes to Ernest Jackson and former New Orleans Saint Chris Williams. After a Jermaine Robinson interception and long return in the dying minutes of the game, Chris Milo kicked a 17-yard field goal to give Ottawa a 23-20 lead. The Redblacks’ defence then came up big by forcing three Mike Reilly incompletions for the win.

Edmonton scored the most unusual TD of the year when a Burris pass appeared to hit the ground but it actually bounced off Williams’ foot and went high into the air. JC Sherritt interception the ball on the run and raced down the sideline to dive into the end zone. Reilly hit Chris Getzlaf, the brother of NHL star Ryan Getzlaf, for the two-point convert.

At halftime, Burris was interviewed by TSN’s Matthew Scianitti, and he unleashed a rant about the criticism and doubts he has faced from fans and, in particular, the TSN panel.

“Henry and I are friends and we have talked about it and shared a laugh,” said Milt Stegall, one of the panelists, in an interview that can be heard on our podcast.

This week’s games

Thursday – Montreal at Edmonton

Neither team has consistently been able to put a full 60 minutes of football together this year, but both teams have explosive passing games. Look for a high-scoring barnburner.

Friday – Winnipeg at Toronto

Toronto is quietly one of the best teams in the league, and back-up Logan Kilgore shone in his first CFL start after replacing an injured Ricky Ray. Winnipeg is also trending upward, and this is a new team after Matt Nichols replaced Drew Willy as the starting QB.

Saturday – Calgary at Saskatchewan

The Riders are a much better team playing in front of the best fans in the CFL at home. They beat Ottawa at home, but can they beat Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders?

Saturday – Hamilton at BC

Zach Collaro smakes his return to the Tiger-Cats’ line up as they face the red hot BC Lions in Vancouver. Hamilton needs a win to keep pace with Toronto and Ottawa in the standings, but BC has been a juggernaut behind coach Wally Buono and quarterback Jonathan Jennings.

Thanks for reading!

@DefendTheR

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Jason Maas Takes the Offensive Reins

By: Santino Filoso

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Yesterday afternoon, the Ottawa Redblacks held a press conference to formally introduce Jason Maas as the team’s new offensive co-ordinator. Maas’ hiring had been rumoured since the weekend but only became official on Wednesday afternoon.

Maas, a former QB, played 11 seasons in the CFL with the Eskimos, Ticats and Alouettes. Twice he was a finalist for the league’s MOP award and also sports two Grey Cup rings from the 2003 and 2005 seasons. In 2004, Maas established a CFL record with 22 straight completions, a record that still stands to this day. After retiring in May 2011, Maas was quickly hired as a WR coach by the Toronto Argos. In 2013 he was promoted to QB coach and worked closely with Argos QB Ricky Ray.

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By choosing to hire the 39 year old (who is actually 5 months younger than Henry Burris), the Redblacks went with youth and potential over more established candidates such as Paul LaPolice or George Cortez. Here’s Head Coach Rick Campbell’s explanation of the hiring:

“Jason has many qualities that make him a great coach with a bright future.  His positive approach to teaching brings out the best in the players.  His outstanding work ethic and ‘can-do’ attitude are infectious and help to create a winning team atmosphere. He has an outstanding knowledge of the CFL, the game and its players and we know that having him as a member of our staff is going to help our team.”

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Personally, I love this move. Maas is an extremely intelligent guy known for his attention to detail and strong work ethic. The fact that he’s a proven winner and been around a guy like Ricky Ray in the Argos offensive system, one of the best in the league, is a huge positive. Furthermore, Maas has strong relationships with many current players as not too long ago he played with or against them. Those relationships could prove to be beneficial as Ottawa tries to sign free agents.

Though expectations are high, former offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson didn’t exactly leave big shoes to fill. In 2014 the Redblacks averaged 15.4 points a game and only scored a pathetic 24 touchdowns. When pressed for details about the kind of system he’s looking to implement, Maas replied by saying

“It’s not hard to figure what kind of offence I’ll run, I’ve been around some great offensive minds in the CFL, starting with Danny Maciocia and  Scott Milanovich, and the offence we’ll run is very similar to what Scott’s been running in Toronto and what Marc Trestman brought up here.”

How can a member of R-Nation not smile when hearing those words?

@RedBlackGade

P.S. Have to call out TSN1200 for failing to cover the press conference. I get that Ottawa is gripped in Alfie mania but it wouldn’t have killed them to switch gears for a few minutes.

Ranking the CFL’s Signature Looks

By: Santino Filoso

Sig·na·ture (ˈsignəCHər,-ˌCHo͝or/)

noun

  1. a person’s name written in a distinctive way as a form of identification

The CFL in conjunction with Reebok recently released a brand new line of 3rd jerseys. This new “Signature Look” line has been mainly met with scorn and criticism even though they’re not all bad. In fact, we here at Defend the R took it upon ourselves to conduct a thorough analysis of each team’s new getups and rank them for you! Factors that went into our decision included visual appeal, style, fan interaction, use of team colours, how the uniforms looked in person vs being photoshopped/enhanced and ties to team history. Without further ado, here are the rankings:

9) The Saskatchewan GREENWHITES

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Though we are a fan run, independent blog, we here at Defend the R were privileged to sit in on Saskatchewan’s meeting with Reebok’s creative team. Here’s the *actual* transcript of how it went down.

Reebok: Thanks for coming today everyone, before we begin I’d just like to-

Saskatchewan: Green

Reebok: Uh, yes, okay, as I was saying-

Saskatchewan: Green

Reebok: Okay, maybe I’ll just give you the floor

Saskatchewan: Green, green, green

Reebok: Hmmm, alright, we can work with that, how about 50 shades of green?

Saskatchewan: GREEN!

Reebok: Why don’t we break for lunch?

Saskatchewan: Did you say watermelon!?

Reebok: I’m sensing a theme here….

All kidding aside, these uniforms are a complete mess. If every shade of green was meant to be sewn together on a piece of fabric, Martha Stewart would’ve done it already. The helmets a look like watermelons which is an ode to the fans who wear them in the stands and the “Rider Nation” tag inside the collar is a nice touch. The GREENWHITES also deserve praise for breaking new ground as the first and only team in pro sports history to feature a tramp stamp on their jersey.

Montreal Alouettes v Saskatchewan Roughriders
You can get your own GREENWHITE tramp stamp tattooed for free after every home win!

8) Winnipeg Blue Bombers

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Traditional team colours, who needs’em? Not the Bombers faithful, at least to management’s thinking. Ditching their beloved golden threads, the Bombers instead embraced their inner warrior by sporting the US Military’s Arctic camouflage. There’s not a lot to like if you’re a Bomber fan, as even the helmet looks like the after splatter of a flock of seagulls. It’s as if Reebok mixed up their Toronto and Winnipeg files with this look being the bastard love child. Last time I checked the team without gold and wearing double blue was based in Toronto. Maybe these uniforms will prove to be a stroke of genius late in the season as the team will blend in and disappear into the snowy weather. When even your players struggle to appear enthusiastic, you know you’ve missed the mark.

Jason Vega isn't impressed
Jason Vega isn’t impressed

7) The Toronto Argonauts

chipmunk   should never go with this  titanswhite

What do you get when you cross Alvin the Chipmunk’s trademarked A with the Tennessee Titan’s road uniforms?  The Argos’ new signature look of course! Don’t get me wrong, I love me some powdered blue but the layout is simply all wrong. The best part of this look is the helmet, which looks crisp and clean.

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6) The Hamilton Tiger Cats

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Raise your hand if you thought these garbage bag grey uniforms would be ready in time. The Ticat’s new look features charcoal grey to incorporate the smog from the factory smoke stacks surrounding Tim Horton’s field. The yellow reflector numbers are a nice touch as they will help fans keep track of their favourite players through the haze of still settling construction dust. Much like the Argos, the best part of these looks are the helmets with the faded tiger logo on one side and the player number on the other.

If your pet tiger is looking this grey, take him to the vet ASAP!
If your pet tiger is looking this grey, take him to the vet ASAP!

5) The Montreal Alouettes

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The Als stuck to their traditional colours by going with grey and silver on their futuristic looking new uniforms. Going back to their roots, the Alouettes chose to honour the first French Canadian Bombing unit in the Air Force, the 425 Squadron, who were nicknamed the ’’Alouettes”. Renown for their toughness and bravery, the 425 Squad was the inspiration when Montreal chose it’s team name in 1946. The only real knock on this look that for whatever reason the team and league have released very few pictures, so it’s really hard to judge just how good the complete product is or what the helmets really look like. One thing that does stand out is that the feather sleeve design looks like snowflakes. The Als decided to only use MTL on the front because it’s a) unilingual so they avoid any problems with Quebec’s strict language police and b) it saves space.

Dévoilement 3e Uniforme des Alouettes de Montréal
It’s 425, not 4225!

4) The Edmonton Eskimos

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The Eskimos stuck to the KISS (Keep It Stupid Simple) philosophy with their new look and I can appreciate that. The Eskimos kept to what they and their fans know, the green and gold colour scheme and in so doing created something that both traditionalists and younger fans can enjoy. While the enormous double Es might not be the prettiest thing to look at, keep in mind that these are supposed to be signature looks, so who can fault the Eskimos for putting their signature front and centre? Stitching the lyrics to part of their fight song inside the collar is a subtle touch that links these jerseys to the team’s storied history

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“The Green & Gold is bold”

3) The BC Lions

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Jumping the gun on the rest of the league, BC actually released their signature jerseys last year, only they called them their “Premier Look”. The bane of sports announcers league wide, these sharp uniforms boast a gun metal look that is perfectly offset by the safety pylon orange outlining their black numbers. Though some complain the numbers are hard to read who cares, unless you’re playing the Redblacks, Ticats or Stampeders, you’ll be the only team on the field in all black! The Leos didn’t mess with a good thing by leaving the paw decal on the side of the helmet untouched.

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Sorry Bighill, you’re #3 actually

2) The Ottawa Redblacks

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A wise man once said that once you go plaid you’re always glad and boy was he ever right. From Day One the Redblacks have embraced Ottawa’s lumber history and considering that our mascot is an axe wielding (though kid friendly) lumberjack, it was only a matter of time before plaid worked its way onto our uniforms. It’s called a Canadian tuxedo for a reason and we here in the Nation’s Capital choose to embrace stereotypes. The Redblacks signature look definitely puts the red in Redblacks. The checkered helmet is the crown jewel of this uniform (literally), though it’s a bit strange to see an Ottawa helmet without the white iconic R on it. But to be fair to Reebok, it probably didn’t mesh well with the plaid since everyone knows that the only thing that goes with plaid is more plaid. The one thing holding this look back from top spot is the big white looking (but actually silver) saw blade on the front, it just screams out of place. Not to mention the fact that it has an uncanny resemblance to a Dr. Seuss character.

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Long lost cousins?

 

1)  The Calgary Stampeders

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The Stamps must really love the Redblacks home uniforms, because their signature look is almost exactly the same. This NRA approved uniform sports a pair of revolvers on the shoulders and gloves; a tribute to the Wild West or a reflection of the city’s gang violence? What vaults this look ahead of all the rest is Calgary’s new helmet. The bitumen black front of the helmet fades away to red and is highlighted by speed lines and a chrome horse logo. Like the GREENWHITES , Ticats, and Esks, the Stamps also have an engraving stitched on their collar, but theirs is in Latin. It doesn’t matter that nobody on the team could tell you what “Quidquid Requiritur,” means (Whatever It Takes), having a dead language on your jersey simply makes you cool.

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Will you buy your team’s new jersey? How would you rank’em? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know!

@RedBlackGade