'Aging team': Perception vs. Reality

I was thinking about the issue of how old our team is because every once in a while, I'll read somewhere -- a journalist or a fan of another team -- that the Als are an aging team. So I looked at our roster and broke some numbers down.

Of our whole roster, 20 players are 30 or older.
Of those 20, 7 are exactly 30 years old.
Of the rest, 6 are 31, 4 are 32, 1 is 33, 1 is 35, and 1 is 40 (guess who those last two are, LOL).

Looking at the '30 or over' group of 20 again by side of the ball and position:

Running backs: 3 (Marc, Carter, and Diedrick)
Receivers: 3 (Richardson, Bratton, and Deslauriers)
Offensive line: 2 (Bourke and Flory)
Quarterback: 1 (Calvillo)

Defensive line: 5 (Mullinder, Bowman, Hunt, Jones, and Bekasiak)
Linebackers: 3 (Guzman, Ferri, and Davis)
DBs: 3 (Parker, Brown, and D. Anderson)

These age distributions seem pretty reasonable to me, particularly when you consider that seven of those players are only 30 and there is no particular position where we have too many old dudes. Yes, the D-line has 5 over-30 guys, but of that group, Jones will likely be cut, Mullinder is probably backing up Bekasiak, and the rest are all in their early '30s. We've got 3 LBs over 30, but so much LB depth (Cox, Restelli, Emry, Brouillette, Dublanko, Woods) that it's not an issue (in fact, a guy like Ferri might lose his job in TC).

Richardson is 30 and coming off a spectacular season, while Bratton is also only 30 and the 'old dude' Deslauriers (31) is a backup at best. The over-30 running backs are all backups or limited usage players (Carter at FB). The O-line is in great shape with one greybeard (Flory at 35), one young vet (Bourke at 30), and three players in various stages of their '20s (LBJ, Perrett, and Woodruff), with younger talent waiting in the wings (Bomben and Matte).

So again, I ask: why is the common perception that we're an old team? Particularly in an offseason when we've released older veterans like Anwar Stewart and Eric Wilson?

Our star QB is 40....he's the main face of the franchise....each time fans will see him in the line-up, they'll automatically associate the Als for an old team...

Most casual observers just look at the names they recognize. You have to look at your starting 24 and ST players to really look at the age of football team and like you do look at specific groups by position. A Defensive tackle at 30 to 32 is in his prime, a RB not so much. Jim even referred to JP as a youngster this week and I get what he’s saying.

The Als have 3 starters passed their prime IMO : Calvillo,Flory and Billy Parker and all 3 still play at a high level and even capable of allstar level of play. The other guys who are up there Diedrick,Mullinders and the like are role players so their age really does not have the same importance.

Jim has done an awesome job of keeping his roster young by replacing guys in a planned manner. A luxury he has in large part by AC’s extraordinary consistency. He didn’t have to deal with a complete melt down like Saskatchewan, Toronto or Winnipeg have and that is because AC at the helm gives you a chance to win every week.

When you look at the training camp roster you can pick up on a couple things of importance. On defense the ratio isn’t set and the org has done a very good job to protect the team in the event that Shea’s concussion problems return. A lot of flexibility there but the coaching staff will have to make decisions by the end of camp.

Here are some of the keys I see :

1- Can the Als play a NI receiver to go along with a NI fullback on offense. If they do they do they need One NI starter on defense but probably two as the Als like to play with 8 to deal with a game day injury.

2- Can JP win a starting spot inside the Dline. He would have to beat out Aaron Hunt and likely Montgomery at worst he will be part of the inside linesmen rotation. I think Moton will be tried at End with Akra. Bowman is a lock IMO.

3- Are we going to have two kickers on the 46 man roster ? If the Als don’t make a trade they have to protect Mcknight by either placing him on the 46 or the nine game IR.

4- Battle for the backup RB job between Emanuel Marc and Noe Devine. Devine has a history of unpredictability but he’s a superb talent made for the CFL.

5- Battle between Restelli , Ferri and Guzman for the utility LB position. Two will get to stay IMO and those who display the most effort on ST will likely win out. Another guy the team has high hopes for is Curt Dublanko who will be in his second season, John Surla is also in the mix. Can he take over the role Walter Spencer had with the team and progress at the LB positiion.

6- WR competition: Aside from our two starting slotbacks I think the WR positions are open. Bratton,Deslauriers and London will be the favorites but guys like Smith, Bowling, Huggins are for real and that will be real battle.

7-Offensive line: Again there are real battles going on there behind the starting five. Matte will be in his third season and second camp. Bomben is ready to start and then there is Barrette,Hashem,Reed. We can’t possibly keep them all . and we won’t even talk about Blake who is a real longshot to be at camp but there is a 1% chance. We can’t possibly keep them all. You could see a trade package developing there. Jim is in a great position to package a OL, FB and a receiver.

6- Canadian Fullbacks. Carter and Diedrick will be competing with Bedard and probably another young FB.

The coaching staff will have some really difficult decisions to make if most of the guys show up to ready to play and stay healthy.

Pretty much… and fans from other teams especially in Hamilton and Winnipeg who have been hoping for AC to retire since 2004 :slight_smile:

Personnally, I count only 14 players presently aged 30 years old or more.-players born before April 23,1982.- Yes,some will get to 30, sometime in 2012,but they are not 30 now.

BC,on a roster of 53, has 14 players presently aged 30 years old or more.

Every year,particularly fans of Tiger-Cats, always mention that the Als have aged and won't be as good; they will have bad surprises,again in 2012.

Richard Veilleux

Richard, you’re correct about the age. I actually rounded up anyone whose birthday was in 1982 to 30 for the same of quickness. :slight_smile:

That does indeed seem to be how fans of other teams think. Calvillo is old, so the team must be old. :lol:

IMO we're a young, talented team with plenty of depth across the board and good players poised to take over when the few greybeards do retire.

Discipline and Hfx: Your views are very perspective and interesting. Kudos to Popp who continues to reassess the player needs of our team year by year. Is it time to look for a replacement for "the old dude"perhaps in the upcoming draft? Where will Hecht fit in this year? As an un-drafted rookie last season, he played above this status. He needs more coaching and experience. Is there an opportunity here for some development time for him? I would think we are all looking forward to the upcoming draft which has been quite successful for the team over the years.

I think Jeff will play a lot of special teams this year. He's not going anywhere but I doubt he'll be asked to shoulder as many responsabilities this year. His speed on special teams will be very important to our team.

With all the import talent at receiver, I have a very hard time seeing Deslauriers as part of the starting four. I hope he surprises me, but I'm not expecting much. There are two WR spots open, but Deslauriers will be fighting Bratton, London, Bowling, and the new guys for those spots.

2- Can JP win a starting spot inside the Dline. He would have to beat out Aaron Hunt and likely Montgomery at worst he will be part of the inside linesmen rotation. I think Moton will be tried at End with Akra. Bowman is a lock IMO.
If Hopkins is at end (and isn't he a bit large for the end position?), Bekasiak wouldn't necessarily have to beat out Hunt, assuming we're using a base 4-3 alignment. Maybe a projected starting four of:

Bowman
Bekasiak
Hunt
and one of Hopkins and Akra

With Mullinder backing up Bekasiak and one of the U.S. recruits backing up Hunt. I just can't see JP beating out Hunt for a starter's spot.

3- Are we going to have two kickers on the 46 man roster ? If the Als don't make a trade they have to protect Mcknight by either placing him on the 46 or the nine game IR.
I don't feel confident in Whyte's punting at all. This is one area where we need serious help.
4- Battle for the backup RB job between Emanuel Marc and Noe Devine. Devine has a history of unpredictability but he's a superb talent made for the CFL.
Marc is also 30, not getting any younger. As good as Whitaker is, we need to have a potential injury replacement for him who's in his physical prime.
5- Battle between Restelli , Ferri and Guzman for the utility LB position. Two will get to stay IMO and those who display the most effort on ST will likely win out. Another guy the team has high hopes for is Curt Dublanko who will be in his second season, John Surla is also in the mix. Can he take over the role Walter Spencer had with the team and progress at the LB positiion.
Ferri's the oldest of the bunch, takes the most penalties, and misses a handful of games every year because of his recurring stomach condition. I know who I'd cut if everyone's performances were equal.
6- WR competition: Aside from our two starting slotbacks I think the WR positions are open. Bratton,Deslauriers and London will be the favorites but guys like Smith, Bowling, Huggins are for real and that will be real battle.
I think Bratton has an edge because he is very very comfortable in Trestman's system and has been the Swiss Army Knife receiver for four years now. He's a solid team player who doesn't run his mouth, and he seems to be happy with the role he has. That said, Trestman and Brady may want to go with a younger receiver with better topspeed to provide some balance to the attack and open up space inside for Jamel and S.J.
7-Offensive line: Again there are real battles going on there behind the starting five. Matte will be in his third season and second camp. Bomben is ready to start and then there is Barrette,Hashem,Reed. We can't possibly keep them all . and we won't even talk about Blake who is a real longshot to be at camp but there is a 1% chance. We can't possibly keep them all. Yo[b]u could see a trade package developing there. Jim is in a great position to package a OL, FB and a receiver.[/b]
I see this happening as well. Bomben is ready to play, but where does he start here? Nowhere, as far as I can see. He's not displacing Flory, and Woodruff is a stud and not even 27 years old. There are CFL teams with severe holes on their O-line who would likely jump at the chance to acquire a 25-year-old quality guard versatile enough to line up at tight end occasionally.
6- Canadian Fullbacks. Carter and Diedrick will be competing with Bedard and probably another young FB.
We need to get younger and better here. Haven't been impressed with Carter and Diedrick recently.

Je crois que cette perception tient aussi au fait que lorsqu'un joueur réussit à se tailler une place dans l'alignement des Alouettes, son nom est généralement dans l'alignement depuis quelques saisons. Les Alouettes prennent souvent le temps de faire progresser leurs joueurs avant de les envoyer dans la mêlée. Lorsque finalement ils réussissent à avoir un poste de partant, leur nom a déjà circulé dans la ligue. Ceci peut contribuer à cette idée que notre équipe est vieillissante.

L'autre point aussi, c'est que lorsque l'équipe avait Calvillo, Chiu, Lambert, Flory, Stewart et Cahoon, il y avait sans doute un peu de vrai dans cette perception (mais quelle équipe aurait refusé d'avoir ces gars-là dans son équipe, n'est-ce pas?). L'équipe s'est renouvelée depuis, mais certains ne s'en sont pas rendu compte parce que Calvillo est toujours là et il est la figure dominante de l'équipe.

As last season progressed I thought London played himself onto our team and, I believe Bratton showed stability. He can also, if needed, fill in as a punt/kick receiver. I believe he will continue with the team. Deslauriers- perhaps it is time to look to the upcoming draft as a player who will eventually beat out "the old dude". Whyte demonstrated his problem in the punting position last year- the team must have lost hundreds of yards last season as his opponent usually outperformed him. Will Mcknight be NFL bound and, does he punt well? We might have to look to the CIS to find to fill this gap. As for kick returning I lately saw Devine's videos. He looks good. He reminds me of "itsey-bitsy" ( cant remember his real name ) .He too was small but very fast. From his reputation, Hunt appears as " can"t miss." Ryan Bomben was a very good third down pick in one of the recent drafts and, our offensive line appears solid. Sorting out , position wise, our linebackers and defensive backs will be interesting.

Ezra Landry.

II think the nickname was "iddy-biddy".

Thanks MJ.

We were kind of thinking the same type of stuff for the 2012 season. He would get a chance to play a lot of specials this year and he was/is looking forward to that. In this league you can build a decent role for yourself just with strong special teams play and a Canadian who can play multi positions. He has always played on all the teams and then last year with the injuries he was just played sparingly during the second half of the season. Instead Jeff was released this morning by the Montreal Alouettes. We were talking about what a crazy business this is with the release of Jones/Carter/Guzman so close to camp. He hadn't heard much from the team all off season, nobody really called him, he didn't get invited to the Florida mini camp(we thought maybe because he was safe haha) and i asked him if he thought there was any way he could be axed just last weekend when i was in Edmonton. When they drafted a couple of Canadian DB's i thought maybe he wasn't in their plans anymore but he wasn't concerned because he was very confident he would stand out in camp after his off season training. We both agreed because he was on a minimum contract and had played so much his rookie year that there was no chance this would happen. Add in that Jones and Spencer weren't coming back and there were huge special teams opportunities. Today was his last day of work before leaving for Halifax to train until training camp and he got the message on his break.

He is in the best shape i have ever seen him in so that will at least help him with his next team but it's back to a multi year minimum contract and being brought in as an extra training camp body and trying to fight for a roster spot. Tough game.

I know i am incredibly biased but i believed Jeff would be a starter in the CFL when he was playing junior football for the Wildcats and JR Larose made the jump from the Huskies to the Eskimos. I believed he would be a starter after he didn't get drafted last year and even after starting and getting released from one of the top organizations in the league i still believe he will be an impact player in this league. I think this may be one that Mr. Popp got wrong in the future. He just works too hard and want's it too bad to ever be denied. He really did look average at safety last year but like i said all year, every single person looked out of place.

Either way it's been a blast following this board and this team for the last 13 months and if it wasn't for the Alouettes he would have never been given a shot to make a CFL roster in the first place. Good luck in 2012!

Well Kyle. It looks like Jeff is looking for a new "home". I am disappointed. These things happen when a team makes such a shift in philosophy and coaching changes happen. I am certain we will see him suit up elsewhere this year.

As HFx says, being a canadian player with a little experience, good chance he will end up somewhere in the CFL. TC is just weeks away!

Cant understand that if they didnt invite him to mini-camp, they didnt release him earlier. Or why his agent didnt question the Als why he was not invited.

Good luck to him, he gave it his best shot, nothing to be ashamed of.

Kyle, I enjoyed reading your posts on Hecht last year and am disappointed to see Jeff released, but like Hfx noted, change is inevitable when a new DC from outside the org wants to put his stamp on the team. I don't expect Jeff to be unemployed for long.