Who Will Rise and Who Will Fall in 2017

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Blitz
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Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:49 pm

Jamie Nye predicts a B.C. Lions/Hamilton Grey Cup game for this 2017 season.

In looking at each CFL teams off-season moves prior to the 2017 draft..... which teams, at least on paper, do you think have improved the most?

My thoughts are the Montreal Als and the Saskatchewan Rough Riders look to be the most improved the most for 2017. The Calgary Stampeders could be even stronger than in 2016 if they can replace Dennis well enough.

Our B.C. Lions will very likely be even more dangerous on offence if Steward of Facault can play left tackle well. Our receiving crew, with four Internationals, while adding Chris Williams to the mix will be high octane but our defensive changes make our Leos hard to assess this early. Our Leos were only .500 in our division in 2016 and feasted on the Riders, who don't appear to be as easy an opponent for this 2017 season.

The Eskimos and Blue Bombers mostly stayed the course. Hamilton and Ottawa will likely experience the most changes to their roster. Hamilton doesn't look to be much improved unless they can bring in some talented new blood. Toronto is the biggest question mark. Trestmann and Popp are back together as a combo but they also have a lot of rebuilding to do.

Montreal Alouettes

I think the Als will go into this season as a very improved team. They have made some good off-season moves by bringing in some mature, experienced vets onto a roster that needed player leadership. Darian Durrant, Jovan Olifioye, and Ernest Jackson will make the Als offence better. Keith Sholagan, Ryan Phillips, and Jabar Westerman will likely benefit from playing in an aggressive defensive system and also provide a steadying influence.

The Als lost Winston Venable and Marco-Olivier Brouillette. Chapdelaine should be a big improvement than having Popp on the sidelines and Thorpe, one of the CFL's best defensive coordinators returns.

Saskatchewan Rough Riders

I didn't anticipate that the Riders would struggle as long as they did in 2016. Willie Jefferson and Muamba will play a full season for the Riders and the free agent additions of Marc-Olivier Brouillette, linebacker Glenn Love, defensive tackle Eddie Steele and defensive lineman Zach Minter will bolster their defensive depth.

The Riders also signed last year's CFL Best Offensive Lineman in Derek Dennis.

The Riders also have a slew of receivers with a lot of talent competing for this year's squad. Bakari Grant and Chad Owens were added to the mix in free agency that already had Roosevelt, Ricky Collins and Celeb Holly. The Riders look to be much tougher to play than they were in 2016 and could be the CFLs' most improved team if their quarterbacking is good enough.

B. C. Lions

Our Leos offence will likely be improved for 2016. Jonathan Jennings enters 2017 with a full season as a starter under his belt. Manny, Burnham and Johnson return and Chris Williams is ahead of schedule to play and he will bring an additional threat to our passing attack with his speed. Shawn Gore, coming off an excellent season retired.

The loss of Olifioye can be mitigated if Steward can play well at left tackle and he has a lot of tools. Facault adds another first round National draft choice to our offensive line. We now have three first round draft choices in Fabian, Vaillencourt, and Facault on our offensive line roster.

But defence will be a question mark. Our Leos lost our leading pass rusher in Bazzie, a talent in Bighill, a National starter in Westerman, and a potential star who played very well for us as a rookie in Anthony Gaitor. We also lost some defensive backfield leadership with the departure of Ryan Phillips who turned down a reduced role and a salary cut and talented depth in Bo Lokombo.

New free agents have been signed for our defense for 2017 to fill those holes. How well we can do that will play an important role in our overall team success or not for 2017.

Calgary Stampeders

The Stamps could not afford to sign Bakari Grant but with their impressive group of receivers, they will transition well. They have favorite target McDaniel back and DeVaris Daniel became a star in hi s rookie season. With Kamar Jorden emerged and Anthony Parker the Stamps receiving corps give Bo Levi a lot of weapons. Mitchell Gale was signed for quarterback depth but Bo Levi doesn't get injured often behind an outstanding offensive line, no matter who is starting on their offensive line or where.

The Stamps lost Derek Dennis, named the CFL best offensive lineman in 2016. While Dennis will not be easy to replace, the Stamps have replaced another Best Offensive Lineman in the past (Stanley Bryant) because they have a lot of depth on the offensive line and are very good at targeting International tackles who can step in quickly and effectively.

The Stamps also lost Matt Bucknor, Glenn Love, and Zack Minter but these three players were not key to their best CFL best record in 2016 and Hall will replace Minter more than adequately.

Alex Singleton, at middle linebacker will start his first full season and appears headed for stardom. The Stamps signed free agents Anthony Woodson for National depth behind Jerome Messam. They also signed Internatioal Brian Hall. Cordarroh Law joined the Stamps towards the end of last season and he was a tough player to pass defend and the Stamps already. had Charleston Hughes.

Will the Stamps, overall be better in 2017? Hard to say. But they should be at least as good.

Edmonton Eskimos

The Eskimos offence suffered a major blow for 2017 with the departure of Derel Walker to the NFL. However the Eskimos didn't really lose any other starters of their 2016 team to free agency.

The Eskimos signed Kendial Lawrence and Trevon Vann as running backs. Other than those signings the Eskimos mainly stayed the course.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Bombers lost Khalil Bass and Tony Burnett, who didn't fit into their plans going forward, signed with our Leos. The Bombers signed Drake Nevis to a defense that led the CFL in takeaways in 2016.

The Bombers are looking to keeping the same group that improved so much together in 2016. They added T.J. Heath later last season in their trade with Toronto for Drew Willie and also received the first choice in this year's CFL draft.

With Nichols in place for a second season as a starter and Kevin Glenn as a backup, the Bombers have solidified their quarterback position after a number of seasons of not doing so.

Hamilton Tiger Cats

Hamilton will have a lot of new players in uniform after losing Matt Coates, Kendial Lawrence, Jeff Mathews, Drake Nevis,
Ron Omara, Chad Owens, Jacory Harris, and Beau Landry. Most were not key players fitting or fit into Hamilton's plans for 2017 but the loss of Drake Nevis will likely hurt.

The Tiger Cats added a lot of talent to their defensive backfield with the signing of defensive halfback Abdul Kanneh.
who had played with Ottawa the past three seasons and is a top notch defensive back. The Tiger Cats will need to bring in some new blood to improve.

Ottawa Red Blacks

The Red Blacks will experience some significant change for 2017. They lost Kienan Lafrance, Abdul Kanneh, Domaso Munoz. Chris Williams, Ernest Jackson, Travon Van and Aston Whiteside. Not all figured into Ottawa's plans for 2017 but losing Jackson and Kenneh were players Ottwa would have liked to have back.

Ottawa quickly signed a number of free agents to fill holes for 2017. AJ Jefferson, Kenny Shaw, Khalil Bass were added and the Riders traded for Drew Tate to give them an experienced backup behind Trevor Harris.

Toronto Argos

Toronto lost AJ Jefferson, Kenny Shaw, Diontae Spencer, Alexander Dupuis, and backup depth quarterback Dan LeFevour to free agency. The Boatmen also signed a slew of players including Jeffrey Finley, Winston Venable, James Tuck, Jeff Fuller, Khalif Paden, and Johnny Sears Jr.

Its difficult to assess the Argos for 2017. The Argos plan to use Ricky Ray as their starter and have him adapt to Trestmann's quick passing West Coast offence. Popp will likely bring in some good players and Trestmann is an innovative and very smart coach. The big question is how long will it take for Trestmann's strategies to be translated to his squad successfully.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Gridiron Ernie
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Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:48 pm

I never feel comfortable making predictions about ultimate outcomes to still-to-be-born seasons (i.e who will end up sipping from the Grey Cup) -- too many intangibles, and important clues such as how training camps pan out and who all came away unscathed (injuries) etc. etc... but I'd imagine there's going to be pretty decent league-wide parity through 2017.

And since I was thinking the exact same thing I'll here echo what you suggest Blitz -- that the Riders are arguably the most improved team with the caveat " if their quarterbacking is good enough". (Note: you had a little typo or maybe memory lapse, and that's easy to do with Glenn who moves from team to team every second year it seems -- just reminding he is not with the Bombers but indeed with the Riders) -- and behind him are a huddle of unknown back-ups. So there's that question for them. But if he has one of his better campaigns (which he does do every now and again), they could be quite the handful.

That said, I think every team will be a handful this season. That's exciting! While I want our Leos to excel (and win games!), I want to see top-notch play and memorable contests. And with all the ex-Lions with the Als now, I have a new fave eastern team (for sentimental reasons) -- but also think they are significantly improved (both in roster and in staff). Thanks for the detailed work in your preview Blitz -- helpful reminders of significant changes/player movements. But this is about as far as I'll stick my neck out at this juncture. The Als and the Riders -- not in the Grey Cup, but hugely improved contenders. And I'm not sure who might falter and fall in the standings, although the three Ontario teams seem all to have significant question marks from this off-season perspective.

Oh, and while I would wish all teams well through training camps and onward --as I said -- for entertainment's sake and regards the players' health, still, I sure wouldn't mind if a certain team that gallops a white horse would fall flat on their collective arse a few times coinciding with when we play them! I know that's small of me, but... Anyhow all that's still a ways off. But I see us very much in the mix -- that's for sure.

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Hambone
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Wed Mar 29, 2017 6:56 pm

I'm going with two old adages. Things happen in 3's and 3rd time is a charm. Ottawa hosted the GC in Canada's Centennial year of 1967. 2017 marks the 3rd occasion Ottawa will host since then. BC was in the previous two. Since things happen in 3's BC will be there. The Lions lost those previous two. Since 3rd time is a charm BC prevails! :yahoo:
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WestCoastJoe
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Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:39 pm

The West ...

I expect the Stampeders to be excellent once agaIn. Hufnagel is top notch. Dickenson does a great job preparing his team. Game planning.

I think we should compete for #2 in the West. If we shore up the DL, and if we modernize our game planning, fresh for each team, focusing on details of vulnerabilities, we could compete for #1.

Eskimos. Dunno about Maas yet, in terms of his upside as a HC.

Bombers. About the same as last year, methinks.

Riders. Wha hoppen to Chris Jones? I did not expect the abject failures of last year. Not quite the second coming of Don Matthews.

The East ...

Ottawa. Campbell and Desjardins deserve top marks. Great game prep.

Montreal. JC to the fore. He might be a better HC than coordinator. Dunno. But I will be rooting for him.

Hamilton. Has Kent Austin reached his best before date? We will see. They could compete for #1, or be an also ran.

Toronto. Might compete for #1. Trestman has an excellent record in the CFL. It seems clear his enlightened approach suits the CFL better than the NFL.
.........

These are not rankings, nor predictions, just snapshot comments.
John Madden's Team Policies: Be on time. Pay attention. Play like hell on game day.

Jimmy Johnson's Game Keys: Protect the ball. Make plays.

Walter Payton's Advice to Kids: Play hard. Play fair. Have fun.

Blitz
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Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:43 am

WestCoastJoe wrote:The West ...

I expect the Stampeders to be excellent once agaIn. Hufnagel is top notch. Dickenson does a great job preparing his team. Game planning.

I think we should compete for #2 in the West. If we shore up the DL, and if we modernize our game planning, fresh for each team, focusing on details of vulnerabilities, we could compete for #1.

Eskimos. Dunno about Maas yet, in terms of his upside as a HC.

Bombers. About the same as last year, methinks.

Riders. Wha hoppen to Chris Jones? I did not expect the abject failures of last year. Not quite the second coming of Don Matthews.

The East ...

Ottawa. Campbell and Desjardins deserve top marks. Great game prep.

Montreal. JC to the fore. He might be a better HC than coordinator. Dunno. But I will be rooting for him.

Hamilton. Has Kent Austin reached his best before date? We will see. They could compete for #1, or be an also ran.

Toronto. Might compete for #1. Trestman has an excellent record in the CFL. It seems clear his enlightened approach suits the CFL better than the NFL.
.........

These are not rankings, nor predictions, just snapshot comments.
Insightful for 'snapshot' comments WCJ :thup:

Regarding Montreal......like you, WCJ, I always thought that JC could be a better HC than a coordinator. That doesn't mean he won't get fired this season if Montreal struggles for too long out of the gate. I can see Kavis Reed coveting both the HC and GM jobs. JC will coordinate the offence in Montreal again this season while also being the HC. Montreal selected free agents who had vet experience for almost every unit of their team and that may have been the plan. Montreal got older but this was a team last year that badly lacked player leadership and it seems as if bringing in some vet leaders who were also character guys was a priority to change team culture.

Chris Jones often took a beating on Lionbackers and he is definitely a different duck who can engage in some very questionable things. But he is a football man and a knowledgeable one.

Chris Jones last season in Saskatchewan did what many others before him have done, when they want to put their own stamp on a team. They do some major house cleaning, sometimes throwing out some old stuff that needed to be discarded and sometimes throwing out some good stuff too because they want to change team chemistry or have players loyal to them. Sometimes they trade or dump a previous player leader or star player.

They decisions can be put in the basket of 'football decisions' or 'cap decisions' but often there is more to the equation. Kent Austen cut numbers of vets when he took over in Hamilton and parted with Henry Burris. Tillman traded Ricky Ray. Buono returned to the sidelines last year but didn't want Harris back, in part, because he was not going to put up with Harris questioning things that he expected Benevedes and Tedford to tolerate as well as to send a message and to change player leadership.

Jones made a ton of changes, including saying goodbye to fan fave's Weston Dressler and John Chick and had a private and media peeing contest with Durrant last season. But Jones is smart when it comes to assessing talent and x and o's, especially on defense. The Riders will be a lot tougher to play this year - their talent level has improved significantly.

I didn't see Edmonton or Winnipeg improve much, talent wise from last year. Perhaps those West teams, having most of their players playing together for a second season will bring a consistency that will pay dividends.

Our Leos have added a speed weapon in Chris Williams and will use four International receivers, all who are proven quality receivers. We lost Olifioye but Steward is a freak, in terms of physicality and talent - he's tall, very athletic, has powerful legs, a great punch hand, a huge wingspan, and he's incredibly strong. The key as to whether he can star at tackle will come down to technique. Facault has big potential. Vaillencourt is another first round draft choice and he is powerful, goes 330 pounds, and is mean and aggressive.

I think we can get the job done in the defensive backfield, with some young talent, and a Davis or Burnett (who I consider undersized to take over for Bighill) will likely get the job done, but I don't see us in the Grey Cup game unless our defensive line is very good this year and right now its a real question mark.

Calgary didn't make a lot of big moves for 2017 and lost Dennis and Bakari Grant but they also had a number of rookies with talent start for them last season. Players like Alex Singleton and Devaris Daniels are emerging stars who were rookies last season. Ciante Evans and Tommie Campbell were first year starters.

Hufnagel is an outstanding GM and Dickenson, last season, had tremendous success as a rookie HC. Calgary will still be the team to beat in the West. Kamar Jorden, who only played 9 games for the Stamps last season, was on pace for a 1,000 yd. season.

So, in the West Calgary will still be the team to beat. The Eskimos have lost a star receiver but they have solidified a defense that started last year dealing with a lot of changes. The Bombers have also not done a lot of upgrading but they go into 2017 with an aggressive defence and an offence that has a season working with LaPolice's offensive system.

I see the Riders as potentially a very, very improved team, talent wise. But obviously their quarterbacking is a question mark going into 2017 and there will be growing pains with whomever is under center.

There has been a lot of focus, as well as excitement, about our offence this season. With Jennings back for his sophomore season as a starter, with the signing of Chris Williams, with Manny leading the recieving corps, with Burnham back after we thought we had lost him, with Jeremiah carrying the mail, and with Chris Rainey utilized as a dangerous weapon, our offence has tons of firepower.

But defensively, that is not the case. Outside of the impressive Sol E, Purifoy playing his second season as our nickelback, the talent of Ronnie Yell and Stephen Clarke, and the potential of Brooks, our defense does not say Grey Cup champion defense at this point or close to it. Craig Roh, Dequin Evans, Maxx Forde, Tony Burnett, Tommie Campbell, Mike Edem, Kenyan Parker, and Matt Bucknor don't scream "oh oh, we're playing the Lions defense today".

In order for that to happen, either new blood such as a Dyshawn Davis will need to emerge as an emerging star, a Dequin Evans, with his 3 CFL career sacks so far will have to surprise as a CFL defensive end talent, and Nationals as Maxx Forde, Kenyan Parker will have to take major steps up (which I believe they are capable of) and a new signing or two, like Purifoy last year, will need to make an impression. Mark Washington will also need to take a big step up as well. Last season, he showed improvement in terms of strategies of getting quarterback sacks but our defense was not aggressive and the CFL's worst team in terms of defensive takeaways.

Our defensive coaching often did a poor job in terms of pre-scouting and game planning, which was very evident in our last two regular season games against Calgary and our last regular season game and Semi-Final game against Winnipeg. Much improvement needs to happen in 2017 in coaching too.

We may be able to have a very successful season in 2017 by outscoring opponents but that is not the best recipe for success. Jonathan Jennings and Company pulled out some miracles last season, including a come from behind victory in the West Semi-Final against the Bombers, after being down 16 points in the second half. But there was no come from behind victory over the Stamps in the WDF. The Stamps scored 30 points on our defence in the first half alone and the playoff game was over.
And since I was thinking the exact same thing I'll here echo what you suggest Blitz -- that the Riders are arguably the most improved team with the caveat " if their quarterbacking is good enough". (Note: you had a little typo or maybe memory lapse, and that's easy to do with Glenn who moves from team to team every second year it seems -- just reminding he is not with the Bombers but indeed with the Riders) Grid Iron Ernie
Geez, Grid Iron Ernie, I'm losing it!! Sorry about the error. That Kevin Glenn is hard to keep track of. :wink: :wink:

I' dating myself here as well as embarrassing myself too but Kevin Glenn should adapt the theme song of the old CBC Tommy Hunter Show " I Am a Travelling Man".

I am a travelling man
Following the breeze
Travelling here, travelling there
Gathering memories
So let me wander, let me wander
All my life away
Just a travelling on my way

....or better still:

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be short quarterbacks!! :wink: :wink:
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

Lionsfan65
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Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:46 am

Lots of insight on this thread. I think I will hold off on my official predictions untill the season is closer, and untill training camp has past, and we have a clearer picture of the rosters of all teams.
BC: Offence: The personell is pretty much the same as last year, essentially replacing Gore with C. Williams, and upgrade imo. Williams is a dangerous weapon. I keep thinking of the game Ottawa played in BC this year when he torched us for 155 yards. It will provide quite the conundrum for defensive coordinators, since it is impossible to double cover 4 good recievers, one of them should be open every play. Deffence: Elimimian is back, imo one of the best linebackers to ever play in this league. If he stays healthy there is no reason he won't have another 100+ tackle season. The WIL linebacker spot is a question mark. Burnett is undersized at 210lbs, however this may fit better into Mark Washington's scheme if he wants to continue playing a linebacker as a deep safety. It is possible that he is used a passing situation sub for someone like Ontko, or Davis who could win the job in Camp. I think our defensive backfield might be the stregnth of the defence. Keynan Parker has prevoen that he can be a solid player in the limited times he has played. Yell, Lee, and Clarke are as good as they come, and Buddy Jackson, when healthy, is actually a pretty decent back. The Big question is on the defensive line. After Brooks there are a lot of question marks, although we have bought in a lot of players to compete at these spots.
Calgary: I honestly think this is the year that Calgary slips. I don't think they will be terrible, but I don't think they will be great either. They have just been too good for too long. They lost the reigning CFL most outstanding lineman, and the year before lost Stanley Bryant, a pretty good offensive lineman himself. Should Mitchell get hurt, Gale is a mediocre QB at best and there is little depth after that. On defence, their best pass rusher is in his mid 30's and will soon start show his age. Again, I don't think they will be terrible, they will find a way to win a few games, however I wouldn't want to put them above 11-7 this year.
Edmonton, Consitency: Aside from the loss of Walker, not much has changed. They may be better, now that the coaches have had a year to implement their system and work out all the kinks.
Winnipeg, Same boat as Edmonton. Pretty much the same as last year
Saskatchewan. On paper the most improved team, the only question is at QB. Glenn is nearing 40, and has never put up outstanding #s. Young is in his mid 30's and has never played Canadian football. After that they have a bunch of prospects. They do have a pretty good receiving group however, with the addition of Duron Carter, this makes them even more dangerous. If they can stay healthy, and whoever their qb is can do a decent job, they should contend for a playoff spot.
Toronto. I have a lot of respect for what Popp and Trestman have done throughout their respective careers. While I think the team is on the right track, they waited too long to make a coaching/gm change. While Toronto will improve, it might be too late for this season, although I expect them to remain in the hunt in the East, and might make a push late in the season.
Montreal: Chap has one of the better offensive minds in the game, and this team should improve as well. They have a proven asset at QB with Durant, and a decent receiving group. Thorpe always put out a pretty good defense. I fully expect Montreal to finish #1 or #2 in the East this year.
Ottawa: They lost a couple of big receivers, and a future hall of fame qb in the off season, however they should still contend for a playoff spot
Hamilton: This team is not as good as it was early in Austin's tenure, when they went to back to back grey cups. If they can stay healthy, they have a decent team on paper, however things can go sideways pretty quickly.

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WestCoastJoe
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Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:40 pm

Blitz wrote:
WestCoastJoe wrote:The West ...

I expect the Stampeders to be excellent once agaIn. Hufnagel is top notch. Dickenson does a great job preparing his team. Game planning.

I think we should compete for #2 in the West. If we shore up the DL, and if we modernize our game planning, fresh for each team, focusing on details of vulnerabilities, we could compete for #1.

Eskimos. Dunno about Maas yet, in terms of his upside as a HC.

Bombers. About the same as last year, methinks.

Riders. Wha hoppen to Chris Jones? I did not expect the abject failures of last year. Not quite the second coming of Don Matthews.

The East ...

Ottawa. Campbell and Desjardins deserve top marks. Great game prep.

Montreal. JC to the fore. He might be a better HC than coordinator. Dunno. But I will be rooting for him.

Hamilton. Has Kent Austin reached his best before date? We will see. They could compete for #1, or be an also ran.

Toronto. Might compete for #1. Trestman has an excellent record in the CFL. It seems clear his enlightened approach suits the CFL better than the NFL.
.........

These are not rankings, nor predictions, just snapshot comments.
Insightful for 'snapshot' comments WCJ :thup:

Regarding Montreal......like you, WCJ, I always thought that JC could be a better HC than a coordinator. That doesn't mean he won't get fired this season if Montreal struggles for too long out of the gate. I can see Kavis Reed coveting both the HC and GM jobs. JC will coordinate the offence in Montreal again this season while also being the HC. Montreal selected free agents who had vet experience for almost every unit of their team and that may have been the plan. Montreal got older but this was a team last year that badly lacked player leadership and it seems as if bringing in some vet leaders who were also character guys was a priority to change team culture.
Thanks, Blitz.

One has to be pleased with the quality of comments on this site. Very high level. Virtually no sniping. In depth analysis. Very enjoyable.

Keep up the good work, Guys. :thup: All posts, big and small, bring value. This is a football site. Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar are not compulsory. LOL Don't be shy. We know there a lot of readers out there, who are somewhat reluctant to post an opinion. Jump in. It is all about opinion, not so much about right and wrong, or definitive answers. :thup:
John Madden's Team Policies: Be on time. Pay attention. Play like hell on game day.

Jimmy Johnson's Game Keys: Protect the ball. Make plays.

Walter Payton's Advice to Kids: Play hard. Play fair. Have fun.

Blitz
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Thu Mar 30, 2017 1:57 pm

Lots of insight on this thread. I think I will hold off on my official predictions untill the season is closer, and untill training camp has past, and we have a clearer picture of the rosters of all teams
. lionsfan65

I didn't quote your entire post lionsfan65 but I enjoyed reading it and will make a few comments regarding it.

I'll start with the Eastern teams.

Hamilton.

My view is that Kent Austin is a HC who is the type of guy who can come in and make a lot of positive changes and create some quick success but he is a 'change' type of coach but less suited for the longer term. Collaras will always give Hamilton some good quarterbacking and they have some good talent.

Ottawa

Rick Campbell has earned his stripes and his Grey Cup victory last season showed he can prepare a team for a big game against an outstanding opponent and come away victorious. Ottawa had a great game plan for Calgary. The Riders won it all without Chris Williams and they brought in some good receivers to take Williams and Ernest Jackson's spots. They lost a great cornerback and they will have Harris at the controls but the Riders are still the team to beat in the East.

Toronto

They signed Trestmann and Popp late, as you note and were behind the 8 ball but Popp will bring in some good players and Trestmann has an experienced quarterback to implement his system. If they can pick up a few victories and stay in the hunt they will be much better in the second half of the season.

Montreal

The chaos should be over as long as Kavis Reed stays out of the dressing room and doesn't feel the need to give long speeches. If he can just stay in his GM position and let Chap and Thorpe coach the team, Montreal could give Ottawa some good competition in the East.

Calgary

I'm not on the same page with you on the Stamps. They just have too much talent to slide much this season. They have some emerging stars and Cordarrow Law was a late addition last season that will really help their defense. They have a very good mix of vets and youth and everything in between.

Saskatchewan

This is a team that could surprise. If they can get decent quarterbacking, their offence has some excellent receivers, Dennis will really help their offensive line, and their defense is going to be a hell of lot better than last season.

Edmonton

Edmonton stuggled on defense for most of last season. They also had a number of changes on defense to deal with. But if their defense can get solidified, they should still be good.

Winnipeg

This team is the biggest question mark for me in the West. They won a lot of games last year on the strength of their defensive turnovers. LaPolice used a high percentage passng game to advantage. But the Bombers have the least weapons on offence than any Western team. This season will tell a lot about the Bombers and whether they can maintain their success of last season.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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David
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Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:52 pm

Blitz wrote:I think we can get the job done in the defensive backfield, with some young talent, and a Davis or Burnett (who I consider undersized to take over for Bighill) will likely get the job done, but I don't see us in the Grey Cup game unless our defensive line is very good this year and right now its a real question mark.
Blitz, I am big on Dyshawn Davis to emerge this year, but my sleeper pick to really impress at camp is Cam Ontko. We picked him up from Calgary last year (one of their last cuts) and he really excelled with us on special teams. He's got good linebacker size and has been core training this off season (here in town) like a beast!! He's bulked up to 226 lbs but has a fairly low centre of gravity at 5' 11," has toughness, and really good quickness. This is a battle (Biggie's vacated role) that I shall enjoy watching at camp this year!


DH :cool:
Please sell the team, Mr. Braley.

Blitz
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Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:50 am

David wrote:
Blitz wrote:I think we can get the job done in the defensive backfield, with some young talent, and a Davis or Burnett (who I consider undersized to take over for Bighill) will likely get the job done, but I don't see us in the Grey Cup game unless our defensive line is very good this year and right now its a real question mark.
Blitz, I am big on Dyshawn Davis to emerge this year, but my sleeper pick to really impress at camp is Cam Ontko. We picked him up from Calgary last year (one of their last cuts) and he really excelled with us on special teams. He's got good linebacker size and has been core training this off season (here in town) like a beast!! He's bulked up to 226 lbs but has a fairly low centre of gravity at 5' 11," has toughness, and really good quickness. This is a battle (Biggie's vacated role) that I shall enjoy watching at camp this year!

DH :cool:
I really like Dyshawn Davis too David. He had an excellent training camp last year. Davis had an impressive 37.5 stops for a loss while at Syracuse. Davis dressed for our season opener last year but then spent the next 17 games on the practice roster. He obviously wants to play CFL football and he has a chance to take Bighill's spot this year.

No question that Ontco had an excellent season on special teams for us last year and will likely be on the active day roster this season again and there will be two spots for an International at linebacker on the active roster, as well as Sol E.

Players competing for those two spots include Burnett, Davis, Ontco, and Micah Awe. Awe played at Texas Tech and he was the defensive captain there. He ranked 13th in the nation in solo tackles per game in his senior season.

Competing for National backup or rotational opportunities include Adrian Clarke, Nehemie Kankolongo, and Jason Aragki. We could draft a National linebacker to compete as well.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:02 am

To start with just to make clear, I am no RIDER fan . I've been a dye hard LION fan since 64,( I know that old and still breathing , amazing ). But I still have complete discust for Jones and what he has done here.

I won't go back to last year, the record says enough

Chris JONES is the most over rated PUTZ of a coach there ever was on both sides of the border,the only reason he has had any success is that he had people to tell him. WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO THAT, IT'S STUPID YOU PUTZ.

If proof is needed , he traded the franchise QB for a cheeseburger (or Vince Young ). On a team with no national depth , he got rid of 8 nationals , on the team he held a year long
training camp for he's made sure there will be at least 20 changes. I know there is still the Montreal free agent camp and the draft. You decide witch
is better.
Well I've had my little rant, I could go on but I have to go .

I know some don't like the moves he makes, but be ever so thank full for Walley.
We will see wen the season starts who is most inproved.

Blitz
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Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:17 am

Its always hard to know, with an older veteran quarterback, whether its time to part ways or believe the future the future with him is still bright. Travis Lulay here in B.C. has given way to a young gun. Ricky Ray won a Grey Cup in his first year in Toronto but has either been injured or had his struggles at times since. Darian Durrant won a Grey Cup in 2013 in Saskatchewan but has had his struggles at times since, as well as injuries.

Durrant has been the starter for the Riders since 2009. He has a career quarterback efficiency average with the Riders of 89.3, which is nothing to write home about. Should the Riders have parted ways with him? Not an easy question to answer. Travis Lulay has given way to a young Jonathan Jennings. Last season that looked like a wise decision.

In Ottawa and Toronto, last season, both teams wanted to go in a different direction. Harris was given the nod as the future. The Argos traded for Drew Willie to be the future. Burris ended up taking over the reins again towards the end of last season and leading Ottawa to the Grey Cup as a 41 year old.

Ricky Ray did not have the same kind of success last season in Toronto and has had more than his share of injuries sinc17e he won the Cup in his first year in Toronto and the Boatmen have not fared that well with him at quarterback the past 3 seasons. Durant has had his share of injuries too since last winning the Cup.

I ask myself, if we did not have Jonathan Jennings as our quarterback and I could have my choice of any other CFL starter, who would I choose for 2017?

My choices would be:

Bo Levi Mitchell
Mike Reilly
Zack Collaras
Trevior Harris
Ricky Ray
Darian Durrant/Matt Nichols


It would be close between Durrant and Nichols. Durrant is obviously much more proven. Nichols had a better quarterback efficiency average last season than Durrant and is younger. All the other quarterbacks listed had higher quarterback efficiency averages than Darian Durrant. Durrant also, over his career has not been a high efficiency quarterback and his career passing percentage average with the Riders is 62.1, which is also below average for a CFL starting quarterback.

Ricky Ray and Kevin Glenn will be the two oldest quarterbacks in the CFL. Darian Durant is the next oldest quarterback, followed by backup Travis Lulay here in B.C.

Does a team go with experience or a younger quarterback?

Was Durrant the quarterback of the future to lead the Riders back to the Promised Land. He would not have been my choice but I would not have traded him until I knew that there was a quarterback in place ready to take over.

As for Chris Jones, he created a lot of havoc in Saskatchewan football last season. If that continues this season, it will turn out to be a bad decision for the Riders to have hired him. This season, I think needs to play out before Jones is considered a total disaster or not. Do I like him? Not my cup of tea. With that, you are me are on the same page. But I think the Riders are the most improved team, on paper, for 2017. Like you, I would have had Durant at the controls to begin this season but I also would have been looking for the Next One.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:24 am

The off-season signing that most excites me, is Frank Alexander.

Alexaander was a foruth round draft choice of the Carolina Panthers. He played for Oklahoma and he was a big time player as a defensive end in college, as well as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He has NFL experience. He has excellent size for a defensive end at 270 pounds. He is only 27 years old.

If we want to have a great shot at playing in the Big Dance this season, we have to get a consistent pass rush. We need a rush end who can get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. We also need better inside pressure from the tackle positions. We didn't get that last season and the hope is that Brooks can do that this year.

With the loss of the undersized Bazzie, we signed free agent Dequin Evans. He may be part of a rotation and has better potential than Allen or Hudson. But Evans does not look like a dominant future pass rusher to me. But Alexander could be. He does not have overall character issues but he couldn't stop smoking bud, even with so much to lose, apologies and promises to teammates, and he lost big in terms of salary, etc, with his four negative tests and three suspensions, including a one year suspension for last season.

The CFL does not test for marijuana, so it won't be an issue here.

Alexander made the opening day roster as a backup defensive end with Carolina in his rookie season. He had a few starts with the Panthers. He's powerful, has long arms and good fundamentals. His style will be more a power rusher at defensive end rather than a speed rusher but he can shed blocks. He style is probably better suited to Roh's position as the boundary defensive end than the field rush end position but our biggest need right now is the field side rush end position.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

Blitz
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Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:10 pm

The more and more I look at this upcoming season, the more convinced I am that the Stamps and the Ottawa RedBlacks are favorites again and the Rough Riders will improve a lot this season.

Why? First of all the Stamps and the RedBlacks have the two best GM's in the CFL. Hufnagel has been the most successful GM in the CFL since he returned to Canada. Dejardins took an expansion team and had them in the Grey Cup game in his second season and winning it all in his third season.

Both teams also have excellent young coaches in Dickenson and Campbell.

There are some that believe that the Stamps will slide this season. Yes, they lost Derek Dennis, the CFL Best Lineman in 2016 and a few others off their roster. But they have emerging stars in Ciante Evans, DaVaris Daniels, Alex Singleton and Tommie Campbell. Daniels didn't even start the season with Calgary as a rookie but he was a very dangerous receiver in a hurry, Kamar Jorden will be back after only playing 9 games for the Stamps last season, while National middle linebacker Alex Singleton came off the practice roster to become a force inside, while also enhancing ratio options. The same is true for CFL leading rusher in 2016 in Jerome Messam. He was not only a load in the running game but showed his receiving skills last year. Cordarroh Law also signed with the Stamps towards the end of last season and he was a force.

The Stamps will find it difficult to replace Derrick Dennis but when one considers that they started 11 different offensive linemen last season due to injury and had many offensive linemen play multiple positions and they still opened huge holes for Messam and protected their quarterback better than any other team by far, the Stamps offensive line could be even better this season.

The Stamps should be an even better team in 2017 than they were in 2016.

Ottawa lost some players to free agency too. The biggest losses were Ernest Jackson and Abdul Kenneh. Ottawa had no plans to sign Chris Williams and won a Cup without him. But Dejardins signed Spencer and Shaw out of Toronto as well as corner A.J. Jefferson. Dejardins has more than proven that he can bring in as well as assess talent. Rick Campbell is a bright coach. Ottawa will still be the team to beat in the East, although Montreal has improved considerably this season with an experienced quarterback to lead the offence, one of the CFL's best lineman to protect his blind side, Ernest Jackson to make tough receptions, and have added vet leadership to almost every unit.

Talent wise, the Saskatchewan Rough Riders have improved the most. With Derrick Dennis and Brendon Labatte, the left side of their offensive line will be formidable. They have incredible talent at receiver. Willie Jefferson is a load at defensive end and Zack Minter and Eddie Steele will make them younger and better inside. A linebacker Muamba is a talent. Their defensive backfield has gained a year of experience and the addition of Marc-Olivier Brouillette will solidify the middle of their defensive backfield.

Chris Jones may be controversial but he is a very proven and very successful defensive coach and he proved that he could take a team to the Cup and win it in his second season in Edmonton. Jones was the butt of many comments last season and some of them were very deserved but he is no fool in terms of football and the Riders will not be the easy team they were to beat last season.

So, if our Leos want to be the best in the West they will have to improve more than Calgary has. The signng of Chris Williams gives us more deep speed and a more reliable receiver than Sinkfield and Waters will be a big upgrade on Leone. Jovan Olifioye is a loss for our offensive line as a 6 time CFL All-Star. Playing four Nationals on the offensive line will enable us to play an extra International receiver (Moore at this point) Bighill and Bazzie have to be replaced with at least the same standard of play. We will be younger and hopefully quicker and more aggressive in the defensive secondary.

Have our Leos improved? Jennings will now be in his second full season as a starter. At this point , we don't know if Jeremiah Johnson will go the full year at tailback but he played well after sitting a game or two and coming back fresh each time last season. Offensively, even with the loss of Johnson we should be better. However, defensively, there are a lot of question marks. Alexander looks like he has the potential to step into Bazzie's spot but time will tell.

It will make for an interesting training camp on defense.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:18 pm

Considering the timing, Ed Hervey being fired today is a bit of a head scratcher.
http://globalnews.ca/news/3363953/edmon ... ed-hervey/

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