Monday, April 24, 2006 - 09:00AM
Rouge, White & Blue
By Jack B. Bedell,
Anyone requiring proof that a healthy running game is one of the keys to success in the CFL should take a look at Edmontonâ€™s season after the arrival of Troy Davis. Or they could always ask Anthony Calvillo how much easier his play-calling became after Robert Edwards started piling up 100-yard games.
Aggressive running games provide changes of pace to keep pass rushers off guard. Whether itâ€™s the solid possession running of a big back like B.C.â€™s Antonio Warren or Calgaryâ€™s Joffrey Reynolds, or the gashing speed of scatbacks like Winnipegâ€™s Charles Roberts and Torontoâ€™s John Avery, effective running can break any defensive scheme down over the course of a game giving quarterbacks time and space to work.
There are new ball carriers all over the league heading into the 2006 season. Hereâ€™s a look at how I think theyâ€™ll stack up by seasonâ€™s end:
- Montreal Alouettes
Robert Edwards established himself as a premier performer in 2005. With Edwards, former PAC-10 standout Sultan McCullough, and returning veteran Eric Lapointe, the Als are sure to have a formidable ground game in 2006.
- Calgary Stampeders
Even with the Stamps vaunted aerial assault dominating the game plan, Joffrey Reynolds still managed to be among the league leaders in rushing yards in 2005. Now that Henry Burris has even more weapons in his passing game, Reynoldsâ€™ production may fall off a bit, but heâ€™s too talented to taper off much.
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The combination of Josh Ranek and Corey Holmes is sure to add some serious punch to Hamiltonâ€™s run game once coordinator Joe Paopao figures out how to distribute the rock. Ranekâ€™s forte has always been ripping off huge chunks of yards on carries up the middle and off the short passing game. With an invigorated front line and familiarity with the system, he should have no problem continuing his production in Steeltown. If Holmes can contribute on offence as well as special teams, the Ticats will be hard to contain on the ground.
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Charles Roberts is the CFLâ€™s premier little back. Heâ€™s got a lethal combination of speed and toughness, and heâ€™ll need both while the Bombers adjust to coach Berryâ€™s system. Look for Roberts to carry the load while the offence gets untracked.
- Edmonton Eskimos
Ricky Ray had to feel like he had fallen into a meat grinder with all the pass rush he faced before Troy Davis came over from Hamilton. Now that Davis is locked up for the near future, the Esks are sure to pick up where they left off in 2005 with their rushing attack. Donâ€™t underestimate the value of Davisâ€™ blocking to Edmontonâ€™s offence either.
- B.C. Lions
Antonio Warren sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when the leagueâ€™s top backs are discussed, but his production over the last few years is as good as anyoneâ€™s. With a better O-Line, Warren could easily lead the CFL in rushing. If Dave Dickenson loses any extended time to injury in 2006, the Lions will have to lean heavily on Warren to get them where they want to go.
- Saskatchewan Roughriders
The addition of a 1000-yard rusher at pivot should warrant a higher spot in this list for Gang Green, but how Kerry Joseph and Kenton Keith mesh is simply too big a question. Keithâ€™s sure to suffer from the loss of Corey Holmes as well. Holmes and Keith were an excellent one-two punch in the â€˜Riders attack, and while thereâ€™s little doubt Joseph will more than replace that production, thereâ€™s bound to be period of adjustment before everything clicks.8) Toronto Argonauts
Even though the additions of Keith Stokes and former XFL standout Saladin McCullough are sure to help the Argosâ€™ ground game, the inconsistency of injury-prone John Avery and the status of Sean Millington leave too much doubt for Toronto to be ranked any higher here. When healthy, Avery is a dominant player, but that â€œwhenâ€? has been more of an â€œifâ€? during Averyâ€™s time in Toronto.
In a few days, Iâ€™ll take a look at offensive lines around the league as teams gear up for training camp. Until then, take care.
I don't know about the rest of you, but whenever I read this guys I have to say What??
How does the team with the best rushing attack in the league last year go to seventh??? The O-line is still close to the best if not the best. Kenton Kieth is injury prone, but he is still a hell of a football player and able to break it at any time, and yes we lost Corey Holmes, but we also gained Kerry Joseph who rushed for more yards than Corey did last year. Also gained supposedly one hell of a fullback in the dispersal draft. And we have Dominique Dorsey.
Where did they get this guy?? why do we have to have this rouge white and blue stuff. This is a Canadian Game, why not have Canadian analysts.
I have noticed a bias toward the Riders all along with this guy, and I think its kind of ridicuous.
(And no where am I saying the Riders should be #1, but with the o-line they have i don't think you can put them lower then 3)