Area51 Season Preview

Disclaimer: The following post does not reflect the views of anyone other than Area51. If you are a journalist/agent/fan/player/coach/GM who is easily offended by strongly worded opinions, I’d suggest you either grow a pair or skip to the next topic.

Hamilton TiCats 2013 Season Preview
After George Cortez took the fall for last season’s embarrassment, Kent Austin was brought in as the latest saviour for the Hamilton franchise. Unfortunately for Austin, the most dynamic player in the CFL has decided he’d rather sit out than play in the little village of Guelph this year. It’s going to be interesting to see how Hank Burris does now that Cortez is no longer scripting plays for him. Last year’s defence was a complete misfit of players and scheme. Things can’t get much worse this year, which is a good thing for inexperienced DC Orlondo Steinauer. As has been the case for the past few years, Hamilton was very aggressive in the off season free agent market. Maybe one of these years the TiCats will actually have something to show for their spending?
Austin gets a free pass this season, so he’s essentially playing with house money. The loss of Cortez along with Chris Williams being a no show is a huge blow to the offence. Hamilton might scrape by and get into the playoffs, but there’s not going to be a whole lot for the good people of Guelph to get excited about.

Montreal Alouettes 2013 Season Preview
In 2008 Jim Popp went off the board bringing in a head coach with zero CFL experience and hit the jackpot with Marc Trestman. Fast forward five years and Popp is hoping to follow the same blueprint with the hire of Dan Hawkins. But while Trestman came to Montreal renown as a QB genius, Hawkins comes in renown for his comical interview sound bites while running the storied Colorado football program into the ground.
Despite the questionable coaching hire, the biggest question facing the Als is can a 40yr old QB defy time and continue to carry the franchise? Anthony Calvillo showed in the playoffs that he's no longer willing to stand in the pocket and take punishment to make a throw. The Argos took away the aura of invincibility that Montreal had when they walked into the Big Owe and beat the Als in their own house en route to the Grey Cup.
All dynasties inevitably come crashing down and Montreal will be no exception. With the number of leadership departures over the past two years and an aging QB, the foundation of success is starting to crumble in Montreal. They should be able to stay competitive in the weak Eastern Division, but the Als are a shadow of what they were a few years back.

Toronto Argos 2013 Season Preview
Any team with Ricky Ray at QB will always have a puncher’s chance at a championship. Unfortunately, the Argos don’t seem to realize the importance of building a strong OLine to protect their franchise QB. Last year Ray missed four games after his C was pancaked backwards and crashed into his knee. Without Ray the Argos were 1-3 and averaged a pathetic 15 points per game.
Andre Durie continues to emerge as one of the top Canadians in the CFL, but beyond that there’s not much NI talent. For a team that so badly lacks Canadians like Toronto, letting DE Ricky Foley walk seems like insanity. But in reality the Top Canadian from the Grey Cup was being wasted in the Argo scheme as Chris Jones insists that his DLine do everything except pass rush. For good measure, Toronto got rid of the other three starting DLinemen as well. There’s not much support behind them, as Toronto’s LBs are among the weakest in the league.
Really have to wonder what the Argo decision making process is based on. Drafting a coach with their 7th round pick this year? Having a 39yr old kicker take up a spot on the practice roster? Making a receiver who has more career fumbles than TDs the highest paid non-QB in the league?
Going back-to-back is extremely difficult, especially when so many key contributors from last year’s championship team were let go. Having the best QB and being in the weakest division gives Toronto a chance at making it to Regina in November. But a repeat looks unlikely.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2013 Season Preview
What a disheartening time to be a Bombers fan. The season hasn’t even started and it’s already a foregone conclusion that Winnipeg will extend its futility to 23 consecutive years without a championship. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Bombers are now saddled with an $85M debt thanks to the overpriced new stadium. Joe Mack somehow came to the conclusion that his top off season priority was upgrading Ian Logan, 2011 CFL All Star and a Non Import, so Cauchy Muamba was the Bombers big free agent signing. In a comical misuse of NI talent by Mack, Logan was then promptly released.
After the sideshow of Chip Garbage as DC last year, Casey Creehan returns to take over the role and try to recreate the pressure defence they ran in 2011. If the defence can somehow find a way to come up with one or two scores each week, Winnipeg might have a chance at mediocrity this year because the offence is going to be brutal . Gary Crowton has spent his career bouncing from one job to another, and has never lasted more than three years anywhere. For the good of the CFL, hopefully it doesn’t take the Bombers three years to realize he’s a terrible coach. Couple that with the worst QBs in the league, the worst NI talent in the league and you’ve got a complete disaster.
The formula for building a winner in the CFL is pretty simple - - get the best Canadians you can find along with a good QB. The Bombers fail miserably on both counts. About the only thing Winnipeg fans can look forward to this year is for Mack to finally be euthanized as the GM.

BC Lions 2013 Season Preview
The Lions have been a strong team for most of the past decade so it’s natural to assume that will continue. But there’s some serious issues with a lack of quality NIs in BC. The Lions have five good Canadian starters, and after that it’s a crapshoot. Finding 20 competent Canadians on this roster is a tough challenge. James Yurichuk is not legitimate starting LB so his departure might not seem to be significant, but he was an excellent contributor on special teams.
The interior of the OLine is especially weak and that takes away from the strength of their OTs. Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill are considered great MLBs, but neither is anything more than average as an OLB. Unless BC switches to a 3/4 defence, having the two MLBs is a redundant waste of talent. The Lions would be much further ahead trading one of them for a good Canadian starter.
If BC played in the East they’d be the clear favourite in the division, but in the West they could finish as low as third and it would be no surprise. The Lions can scrape together seven Canadian starters, but after that the Canadian talent drops off quickly. That will be the undoing in BC this year.

Calgary Stampeders 2013 Season Preview
You’ve got to hand it to John Hufnagel. Even after being stuck with career journeyman Kevin Glenn at QB after his starter went down to injury, Hufnagel still found a way to get to the Grey Cup. Although the goofball act that Drew Tate tries to play is a bit of a farce, he plays with the mentality of a gunslinger. At this point in his career, I’d compare him favourably with Travis Lulay. Tate is the better passer but Lulay is the better scrambler.
For all the hype that Jon Cornish gets as the greatest Canadian RB of the past 20 years, there’s a very simple game plan to shutting him down as Toronto showed everyone last year. Cornish is wonderful at running through arm tackles, but as soon as the going gets tough and he starts getting hit hard, he shuts down and goes into a shell. Once other teams come to this realization, either Cornish is going to have to toughen up or Calgary is going to have to find a new feature back. The Stamps have quietly added some excellent talent since the end of last season. Getting Ben D’Aguilar in the mid second round was the steal of the draft, and getting Shawn Lemon was a gift from Edmonton.
A legitimate front runner to get back to the get back to the Grey Cup and finish what they couldn’t get done last season. If Tate can cut the comedy routine and just focus on developing in his progression as a QB, the sky’s the limit.

Edmonton Eskimos 2013 Season Preview
Edmonton finds itself in a similar position as Winnipeg: an unproven QB and a lack of Canadian talent. It’s pretty much impossible to win in the CFL when you’re faced with those two obstacles. Eric Tillman had begun to rebuild the NI depth, but was run out of town before he could complete the task of resurrecting the franchise. The elitist Eskimo fans always seemed to regard him as sloppy seconds from Saskatchewan despite his record of success in every previous GM role.
The old adage that games are won in the trenches means good news and bad news for Edmonton. First the good: Edmonton has the best DLine in the league. A fantastic trio of Canadian DTs and a pair of good young DEs made the signing of Odell Wills seem like an unnecessary over indulgence. But then the bad: Edmonton’s OLine is worst in the CFL. Put a young and inexperienced QB behind that porous line and it doesn’t look good for the offensive attack.
Even if Edmonton finishes 0-18, Eskimo Fan will still consider Ed Hervey to be an improvement over Tillman. The defence will keep them competitive, but without a major breakthrough from Mike Reilly this team is a long way from being a legitimate contender.

Saskatchewan Roughriders 2013 Season Preview
Apparently the Riders decided three wins in 100 years was unacceptable, so the team has gone all in to be the first champion of the Grey Cup’s second century. GM Brendan Taman decided it was time to bring in some football players who are proven winners and signed Ricky Foley, Dwight Anderson and Geroy Simon.
If George Cortez could turn a mediocre QB like Hank Burris into the league’s top passer, you’ve got to think he should be able to improve Darian Durant’s performance. Unlike Hamilton, the Riders will be very strong on defence this year and the offence won’t need to put up 40+ points just to keep it close each week. There’s enough talent surrounding him that Durant just needs to drive the bus with a steady hand while limiting mistakes and the Riders will have a chance to be a Grey Cup favourite this year.
This is a team that will be better in November than it is in July. Clearly they’re built to win now, and anything short of at least a Grey Cup appearance would have to be considered a major failure. If they do get to the Grey Cup it will be the biggest game in CFL history, and if there was some way to seat 250,000 it would still be sold out. With no dominant team in the league, the Riders have as good a chance as any to have parade this year.

IMO, Hamilton is the team to beat. Austin makes average QBs great...what will he do with Henry?! Their O was tops last year, and even with Williams gone, I think it is as good or better. The D is heavily revamped...if the D would have been even respectable last year this team would have been hard to touch.

Either you're a Tillman apologist, or you really didn't follow his tenure in Edmonton. Like, at all!!!

He traded a top 2 or 3 all-star QB away for a kicking tee and some eye black. A move reminiscent of the hopelessly incompetent Joe Galat. You don't think that the elitist Eskimo fans have just a wee bit of a point?

Can’t argue with success. Rusty’s won championships with three different teams. Like him or not, the guy flat out wins.

Let’s see how patient Eskimo Fan is with Ed Hervey. Right out of the gate Hervey has two major mistakes - - letting his best DB walk and wasting money on an overrated and one dimensional import DE.

I'll assume said DE is Willis...who had a solid and well rounded season last year. He was a respectable pass rusher, and was generally a beast against the run.

Odell Willis - - "a beast against the run". LMAO. Are you sure you're talking about the same player? Because I've never heard anyone accuse Willis of being a run stuffer before.

Is it possible to be a "beast against the run" without actually making any tackles? Maybe teams are so fearful of running at Willis every run play goes to the opposite side?

"A beast against the run". Wow. Hard to take you seriously after a comment like that.

So instead of basing your comments on what he actually did in Edmonton, you're basing them on what he did back in the day? OK then... :lol:

He's so great he was tossed on his arz in just about every job he's had.

Guess it comes down to which GM you have more confidence in - - a proven winner who's built three different teams into Grey Cup champions, or a rookie GM with ZERO record of success?

If I had a franchise and was serious about building a winner, I'd go with Tillman over Hervey every time.

That comment is more than fair on its own, absolutely. But it has nothing to do with 'Elitist Eskimo fans' having or not having justification for criticizing his time as Edmonton GM. In my opinion, Edmonton has a right to complain that Tillman didn't deliver as good a job as expected, as good a job as he did with the Lions in the 90s or the Riders a few years ago. Edmonton did not get Tillman as billed.

That's ridiculous. That's like saying Kerry Joseph gives the Eskimos the best chance at winning a Grey Cup, because he's won one in the past. Just like players, GMs lose their edge, which was certainly the case with Tillman.

Hervey hasn't done anything yet. He might turn out to be the best GM of all time...but he has not done anything to back that up yet.

I'd take Wally first, Popp 2nd.

So being a GM is a physically demanding position? Most GMs are retired in their mid 30s because their body breaks down or they lose a step?

Let's get serious - - team building and talent evaluation isn't something you "forget" once you turn 50. If that's the case, I'm sure there's a few people here who should not longer be posting.

So Ron Lancaster didn't lose his edge as a GM in Hamilton? The game evolves, players' skills evolve and playbooks evolve to take advantage of these skills. The CBA also evolves and you do have to keep up. I'm not saying that in this case Tillman couldn't keep up, but some guys don't keep up. In fact I would argue that Tillman did NOT lose his edge as argued above, he made a lot of great moves on defense for Edmonton proving that he was still a leader in acquiring talent, but he monumentally cocked up the Ricky Ray trade which ruined the team's performance, and to think that this does not count against his tenure is wrong. That trade is on Tillman 100%. It marred his whole tenure and criticism of his tenure is therefore justified by fans of any team, especially those from Edmonton.

Now, just to be clear, I would agree with you that Tillman is still more proven than Hervey, What do I think of Hervey? No idea, no one can really judge him this early in his tenure. I will say this, if Mike Reilly proves to be the real deal then he might actually end up GM of the year for that trade. Only time will tell. Should Tillman have been kept around as the best guy capable of fixing the mess, despite the fact that he was the one who made it? Maybe. Excellent debate, and you make great points for the 'yes' side. Why do you feel the need to weaken your stance with cheap rhetoric about the fans?

So this brings me to the only issue that I have really been questioning you on. Is it really the fans fault for 'running Tillman out of town' as you say, or did Tillman run himself out of town for making such a horrendous trade with such unarguably disastrous results?

OR do you just find it fun to take a cheap shot at the 'Elitist Eskimo fans'?

This thread has quite happily reminded me of something I had forgotten to do: add Area_51 to my Foe list. :smiley: :cowboy:

This makes me shake my head for one simple reason: Should no one new ever be given a chance? Even your god, Tillman, had to be given a chance to have success. Fact of the matter is Tillman royally screwed up in Edmonton (go read some of the articles that were posted in the Eskimos board shortly after his firing), and Edmonton decided to go in a different direction. It had nothing to do with elitist fans running Tillman outta town. Your comments about the Eskimos fit the definition of ignorant. :wink: Anyway, I'm done in this topic. We've games on right now.

Add away, my friend. But that's not going to stop me from calling you out on ridiculous comments like Odell Willis is a "beast against the run".

Except that wasn't him who said that. :wink: :roll:

LOL, don't confuse him with facts. . .