Comparing this year's team to last year's

I see many posts in other threads about what's changed this year so I thought a dedicated thread might be of interest.

Last year before Collaros was injured the team looked unstoppable. There were problems, at O-Line and DB but special teams and a killer D-Line made up for that. We were GC bound!

Zach is back and I think as good as ever if not better. We still have problems at DB and the O-Line (something that has existed throughout Austin's tenure).

Our receivers are solid.
CJ is great.
D-Line is different but still good.
Linebackers are better.
Kicking is good if not better.

For me the biggest difference is special teams. We are average at best and special teams is not winning games like they did for us last year.

[Please remember all of the above is just one man's opinion!]

Special teams have been disappointing, but where I see real problems is at DB, especially the corners.

There is some excuse because the situation has arisen because of injuries to Butler, Sears and Washington, but the weakness has to be addressed if we are to advance to the Grey Cup this year.

Lee, Pointer, Vaughan, Sermons and company have never played as well as Stephens played at corner. Why not bring Daly in at safety, where he was a perfectly adequate replacement for Butler during his last injury. Then move Stephens back to corner, and stop the merry go round of NFL cast offs who never even have time to learn the CFL game before they are sent packing.

I guess this will be entertaining and a fun exercise for the memory, but my gut feeling is ‘what’s the point?’. Last year was last year, and its gone. Making the comparison might be like trying to fix your last golf shot with the next one. Or maybe, it’s like trying to fix your last shot with the one before that. :frowning:

That's a fair comment.

I'm just trying to figure out what's wrong with this year's team. In the off season the consensus was the Cats did well to lock up Ted Laurent and with John Chick the D-Line was going to be solid despite the loss of Hickman and Hall. Receivers were the same (Maybe better with the return of Spencer Watt who you figure had some history with Collaros). CJ was going to be back. We knew the O-Line and the DBs were a problem, but it seemed the big question was with kicking with the loss of Medlock. Kicking now is the least of our problems.

I am far from a punting expert but is it the blocking or does our kicker have a slow release on his punts to allow 3 in the last 3 weeks.
ST coach JR does not get dumb over night, I am sure he is working hard to correct the groups flaws.

Steve Milton, in his latest column, mentioned that KA said that it was a blown block by an individual. No names were mentioned...

IMO the two biggest problems are ST's and the secondary. Although the OL is a close 3rd

I also wanted to add...
I think a lot of the problem is a group of players that think they are...great.
Inflated heads and egos..
The lack of effort in Toronto sure showed that..
"Oh we got these guys"...how many of our guys were thinking that, before kick-off.
Prob more than we would care to know.
A Team is only as good as it's record..period. :thdn:
We have a hell of a lot of talent on this Team.
It's about time they truly started to show it.

I was afraid that this thread might turn out to be an exercise in ‘what ifs’ or nostalgia, but am glad to see that I was mistaken and am impressed by the thoughtful tone of the posts. Until I come along again?

For me, a huge difference appears to be the confidence we have in back-ups and fill-ins. Last year, when we seemed to have a lot more injuries, it was ‘next man up’ and on with the game. This year we seem to be lacking that depth and/or experience. Girard for Filer and Ravenberg for Dyankowski worked well, but we seem to have a huge drop off in receiver depth and in DBs especially corners. There seems to be different vibe somehow in the confidence level of this team, despite the overall quality of the starters.

The difference between this year and last year in my mind is
-Lack of talent/depth in the d-backfield...this has been beaten to death so no further comments.
-Offensive line is vastly overrated by some around here, Filer is not that good and Dyakowski has been showing his age as sad as it is to type that out. Lewis can look downright awful sometimes, Simmons is very serviceable but also known to miss a block or two, and Bomben is only one who I see consistently looking like he knows what is going out out there. Far to many times the o-line has just looked lost trying to pick up blitz, especially since ZC has been back he has taken some ferocious hits. Last year not like they were gangbusters but they have missed Olson so much since he went down.
-Lack of big plays. Last year the team was scoring points at will to start the season, on offence, defence and special teams. The defence was good for at least two turnovers game and were absolute ball hawks in the secondary, these types of plays make the world of difference during a football game and we have been on the wrong end far to many times this year. Banks despite taking 3 or 4 back to the house, I have found he is being quite lazy on returns, maybe that is just me but we have been dominated in the field position battle almost every game.

I could go on, but in my mind those are the three main differences from last year to this year, however the main similarity is that they are both mediocre football teams at the end of the day. Last year it wasn't really fair because they lost Zach, so who knows what the true potential of that team was, but I think they had a much much higher ceiling in 2015 than 2016. The only units that are better than last year for sure is the d-line and the receivers, other than that it is either the same or worse.

Last year, we had players that could both block and tackle on STs. We have some guys that can tackle, but it seems that nobody can block effectively; ie: either taking penalties or having to let opposing players blow past them with the blockers in a "hands up" pose in order to avoid taking a penalty.

I don't know if this is a schematic or personnel issue. Whatever it is, it needed to be fixed about 8 games ago...

I think some new negative patterns have emerged that are probably attributed to the loss of many free agents this year.

Losing Grant and Sinkfield has hurt on offense. Those guys offered more height and speed than what we currently have. With the exception of Toliver, we seem to be overloaded with the 8-12 yard possession type receivers. There is not enough of a credible deep threat.

On defense the loss of Eric Harris and Tank Reed is apparent. Those guys knew how to wrap up and prevented a lot of 5 yard catches or runs from turning into 1st downs. Keeping Rico Murray at Linebacker has weakened our secondary. He is a beast and needs to be playing at HB covering the opponents best receivers. Even if they complete a pass underneath that receiver is not getting by Murray. Also if we could get Johnny Sears back it would help the overall picture but the guy can't stay healthy.

Special teams is really poor this year. Sloppy tackling and missed assignments. Reinebold better get this in order.

Finally, I don't think Zach is where he was last year before the injury. He seems like he is hurrying his throws more and trying to force them into tight coverage. In the process he's missing wide open receivers. I think it's a combination of things. First of all the pocket collapses in a second or two with the weak O-Line. Also he seemed to have a very good rapport with OC Tommy Condell and something seems to be missing this year. I also think Zach is playing different because he's in preservation mode. He is definitely not as mobile as he was previously and more reluctant to run. Previously on 2nd and 7 he would scamper for a 1st down whereas now it could result in an incomplete pass.

Basically I think with the turnover this last off-season, what Austin has here is a mini-rebuild. Last year we were like a machine. This year some of the replacement parts haven't quite worked out.

^^^Well thought-out post. I disagree that Reed is better than Dean - if anything he has more CFL experience. We certainly are missing Harris at SAM, but we knew that it would be difficult to replace him. Sears is pretty darned good, but he does seem to have injury issues. From what I understand, his injuries (and Gable's) are not "repetitive-type" injuries, ie: not the same ones happening again and again. These guys, along with Fantuz, just seem to have bad luck.

I think that one of the biggest issues with regard to player retention is the elimination of the "team option" and the creation of 1-year contracts for CFL veterans during the latest CBA. Instead of signing for a longer contract, both Reed and Grant elected to sign 1-year contracts (Reed did this twice) and then left for different pastures. To me, Grant was no loss for many reasons - too many penalties, too many drops, too many poorly-run routes, etc. That being said, when he DID produce, he was very good. Tolliver, however, I feel is much better.

Just got home from the game. I'll probably take some heat for this, but I don't Zach .16 is playing as well as Zach .15. Either the knee is a bigger issue than we have been told, his confidence is a bit shaky, or he maybe misses Tommy Condell?

Whatever the reason Zach has not played as well these past two games, and against weaker teams, than he did last year. And after six games, the rust should be off.

I wonder if it is just the fact that teams have had time to watch film and get to know our play-book.
We are running much the same plays as we ran for the last two years, maybe teams are learning how to defend them.

I noticed in the past 2 games that Montreal and Toronto were sometimes rushing only 3 or 4, and dropping linebackers into the area where Fantuz and Tasker make most of their catches. That part of the field gets very crowded and it is harder for receivers to get open. We took advantage of that and made some decent yards on the ground in both games, but we don't do a very good job of using the full width of the field and spreading out the defense.

Yes, and even with only 3 or 4 rushing Zach, the pocket collapses in a hurry and he seems rushed to throw it into those tight coverage areas. With Zach being less mobile than previously we need to beef up our line to give him more time and protection.