Mid-Season Review

After 9 games, we're 7-2, but I think we can all agree that the team needs improvement in certain areas. What do you think we need to do going forward? Remember, the goal here isn't to finish the season with a respectable record, then lose in the playoffs. The goal is to win the Grey Cup. Do you think we can win the big one this year, and if not, what has to happen for us to win?

My list of recommendations:

More commitment to the run. It is critical for us to get Cobourne involved in the game earlier. Not only does it make our offense more effective, but it saves Calvillo wear and tear from a pass rush that otherwise can tee off on the quarterback without worrying about play action and run D.

Improvement in the deep-passing game. Somehow, we have got to find a way to make defenses respect our ability to go deep. Calvillo needs to work on his touch and the receivers have to be committed to running their routes properly.

More creativity. Trestman & Milanovich have to dig into the playbook for a more creative mix of plays. What worked to perfection last season no longer works in 2009: teams have figured out our quick-passing game and our dink and dump offense. We have to stop expecting our receivers to earn YAC to get a first down, and we have to find ways to get playmakers like Richardson more involved in the offense.

More McPherson. Yes, I think the time has come. I'm not advocating that we make Adrian our starter, but I do think he needs to see the ball in more than just short-yardage situations. This, to my mind, goes hand in hand with keeping Calvillo on a slightly shorter leash during periods when he's struggling. There is nothing wrong with McPherson playing a series or two when the offense is going two-and-out under Calvillo and we can't move the ball. Rolling with Calvillo exclusively was fine when he was posting MOP numbers and piling up TDs by the bucketful. This season, his efficiency is diminishing with each game. Playing McPherson gives us a chance to evaluate our QB of the future while also presenting opposing defenses with a very different look at quarterback.

More blitz. I know our four-man pressure is generally good, but to my mind anything that you do repeatedly, whether on offense or defense, becomes a tendency that other teams can scout and exploit. We simply don't bring enough blitz pressure on a regular basis, which makes it easier for the other team's QB to make his reads pre-snap. While I don't believe going back to the blitz-happy Matthews days is warranted, I do feel that our D could benefit from more blitz packages that give other teams different looks as far as what we like to do on certain downs and in certain situations.

Guzman for Cox. I hate Chip Cox. It's not personal, but he was a terrible DB and is now an average linebacker. He has two positive attributes: speed and tackling ability. However, he simply cannot read plays worth a damn. He constantly gets confused on coverage assignments, particularly when his man leaks out into the flat, and often winds up double-covering another receiver, leaving his man wide open and leading to a big gain for the other team. He doesn't match up well with receivers one on one, but isn't enough of an impact player at the line to compensate. Guzman, from what I've seen, is a stud who can make plays at the line of scrimmage. He doesn't have Cox's speed, but is much better at reading the play as it's developing.

On the whole we have the players to win the East and, hopefully the Grey Cup. I do agree on your suggestions. I believe Chip Cox is playing better than last season- he is better placed at linebacker. His best plays this year came when the Als were defending short on a goal line stand and Cox got himself into the opponents backfield to stuff a run. Would Cox be the player to give us more blitz? I agree the Als have to stop being so predictable on defense. I was quite impressed by Guzman in the little he has played this year. He is a big and strong linebacker and, the Als are in a position to try some new formations and players. Their big lead in the east is an opportune time to make some moves.

The last game against BC cried out to the fact that we must use Colbourne more often. Every game to date the Als have gone with the pass for much too long before showing the ground game. They have become too predictable! By all means lets play Colbourne earlier than the third quarter. In Watkins, Richardson and Bratton we have the tools to go long. I would imagine the use of Seagraves means that SJ Green or Hawkins cannot play re the American quota. When Bourke returns then one of these two players should be played in the slots. WE do need another American receiver as we are weak at Canadians in this position and, these guys have the ability to go long also.

Finally, Cavillo is our best QB [one of the best in the CFL] and, is the QB to take us to the Grey Cup. However, at this point in time we should give McPherson and or leak some opportunities to play QB. Without doubt there are time When Calvillo gets rattled and, if another QB is available he should go in on these times. With our schedule there is time to experiment and, we would be a better club if we had another QB with some game experience.

I like your review Discipline. I will add one and disagree with one.

Kerry Carter is underutilized big time. Best fullback in the CFL and he gets two touches a game, incredible...

Chip Cox: I think he's doing great playing LB for the first time in his life. You were very harsh on the DC, well patience seems to have paid off, you might want to consider doing the same with Chip. The worst performance by a LB this year was Shea Emry in Vancouver but you choose to hit on Cox :thdn:

Everything else you are spot on IMO. Especially the lack of balance with the run, Milanovich said after the GC loss that he would work on that and it's the same as last year. I don't like when people know there is an issue and keep doing the same thing...I understand they want to compensate for the loss of Josh so use Kerry better.

Awesome first half by the Als...Go Als Go !

Agreed, he is woefully underutilized. The man has good hands for a fullback, too! His last TD catch was not a gimme by any means.

Chip Cox: I think he's doing great playing LB for the first time in his life. You were very harsh on the DC, well patience seems to have paid off, you might want to consider doing the same with Chip. The worst performance by a LB this year was Shea Emry in Vancouver but you choose to hit on Cox :thdn:
I don't dispute that Emry was awful against B.C. He was completely ineffective in his gap, got washed into blocks 90% of the time, couldn't track Mallett at all, and wasn't tackling well when he did get to Mallett. But Cox has been bad for a few weeks now. Go back to the Riders game and you'll see at least one Sask TD is the result of his blown coverage.

Cox at LB is an improvement over Cox at DB, no doubt. But is he an improvement over T.J. Hill at LB? I don't think so. I'm still not entirely sure what we gained by releasing a veteran and team leader to put Cox at his position. I've been patient with Cox through the first half of the season, but I frankly can't see what he brings to the table besides speed and tackling, both of which are ineffective if you can't check off at the line and stay disciplined in your drops. He is always caught out of position: playing off, beaten over top, blowing coverage, whatever. He is just not a very good football player. Were it not for those two blocked punts he had in his first year in the CFL, I doubt he'd still be playing in the league.

Everything else you are spot on IMO. Especially the lack of balance with the run, Milanovich said after the GC loss that he would work on that and it's the same as last year. I don't like when people know there is an issue and keep doing the same thing...
Yeah, it bothers me too when we keep making the same mistakes over and over again with the run. Cobourne is a fabulous back. He'll give you what you need if you just give him the damn ball!

Cox is a lot faster than TJ was, he also has better hands than TJ, overall I think it is an upgrade all around with the exception of Discipline... maybe that is why you punish LOL!

I enjoyed watching the Hamilton game this evening. I liked to see Dave Stala catching passes again. He had one TD catch and made several second down catches. I believe the Als management made a mistake here. Stala was for two years on the injured list. It certainly looks like he has recouped from his injuries. The management kept him for two years and released him when he regained his health. In my opinion the weak spot in the team is the area of Canadian receivers. the two D’s have not done anything to speak of in the last two years. I believe that as a team the Als are the weakest re Canadian receivers. I like to see Kerry Carter coming out of the backfield to pick up a pass and, I agree with the above note that KC in underutilized. It is a shame that Stala is not catching for the Ti Cats.

Yeah he had a great game and set the tone for the Ticats.

Stala was given a really nice contract by Popp three years ago and he played less than five games in two years. Jim offered him a lesser contract this year in consideration of the last two years and Dave chose to go and play home for that kind of money. I'm happy for Dave but you can't have it all...

Hands and speed, to me, don't mean jack if you can't read the play and can't play decent man coverage. Hill doesn't have Cox's speed but is a smarter player at the line IMO.

with the exception of Discipline... maybe that is why you punish LOL!
:lol: :lol: Nice!

Re: Stala, I'm happy to see Dave excel, but we really had no choice but to scale back his offer, given how frequently he'd been injured. As for the Ds, Deslauriers is useless, but Desriveaux has potential. He just doesn't get to play very often behind Cahoon, Watkins, Richardson, Bratton, and Green. However, I do agree that we need to strengthen our NI receivers. Once Cahoon retires, we'll have nobody proven in that area.

My "beef" with the Als,-my team- throughout the years, has been their size or lack of it. We have and have had, for quite some time, a "small' team,particularly on defense. We have small defensive tackles,small outside linebackers and even small defensive backs,except Parker. There is no standout defensive players on our defense. Like we say in french: "Une bonne petite équipe" Even Hamilton is getting better than us defensively. Forget the stats! We usually dress 13 imports,but we do not produce accordingly.

When we play against the bigger teams we usually lose; since the other East teams have been weak for the past years, we usually have a good regular season; we even go to the Gtey Cup, but hardly win.

Another weakness is our Non-import talent; yes, we are exceptional in terms of offensive linemen and Ben Cahoon but the rest is not of star caliber; Emry may become one,but he is not,yet. We are weak at non-import WR/SB.OLB,DL. When you consider players such as Hucklack,Wright,Giffin,Allard-Cameus,Robertshaw, Deslauriers these are no future stars; most would not even make most of other teams. Compare Calgary and BC non-imports with ours and you realize our weakness. BC will probably sign Jamell Lee before next sunday's game. BC will beat us.

We will continue to win some games in the regular season, but we will not go to the Grey Cup with this team.


Note: Watkins is an ordinary receiver; not worth was he is paid. When was he a CFL All Star? Never! I hope that we don't sign him for next year. Does not compare with the Copeland,Lewis,Simon,Bruce,Mann,Stamps. Bratton is also ordinary.

Excellent recommendations discipline and I would agree with most (if not all) of them.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why the Als won't commit to the run more. They have a great, elusive running back and yet, although they faced a team who had trouble stopping the run, gave Cobourne the ball what, 3 times in the first half?

As far as AC goes, he doesn't look like he has the arm strength at all to stretch the field. Even those throws to a wide open Richardson were wobbly and forced the latter to practically stop running so he could get under them.

Yep, a whole three times, one of which doesn't even count because they fumbled the handoff and the play ended with a loss of yardage.

It is beyond mind-boggling at this point how badly we're misusing Cobourne.

As far as AC goes, he doesn't look like he has the arm strength at all to stretch the field. Even those throws to a wide open Richardson were wobbly and forced the latter to practically stop running so he could get under them.
My theory is that the weight he lost in the off-season is affecting his ability to throw the deep ball. Calvillo was never a great deep-ball thrower, but he did have the ability to put air under the rock when he needed to. Now, he simply can't do it, and I find it hard to believe that his arm has declined that drastically in the space of 1-2 years.

He lowered his BMI that would not affect his arm strenght in any way. I don't think his arm strenght is any less. He's always thrown ugly balls anyway.

For one thing, there's no way to know whether all 10 pounds he lost were just fat. He may have lost some muscle. But regardless, I wasn't thinking of arm strength specifically, just a change in how his new frame affects his throwing motion, pivot, etc. It's just a silly theory and I have no evidence to back it up. But sometimes small things can wreak havoc with a QB's mechanics. Remember the ill-fated 2007 experiment to make Calvillo change his footwork the same season the league switched to different footballs? Things didn't go well for him either that year.

He would have lost some muscle for every gram of fat you lose you can lose as much as 4 grams of muscle. However you would assume that with the ressources available to them they would know how to deal with that. Like you say it is possible I just don't think he's confident throwing the long ball right now.

The biggest problem at LB is Emery. He has been missing tackles all season and is not too good in pass coverage. But the biggest problem is the offense, much to my surprise. Saying that AC must work on his touch is very funny-- I hope you intended it. He's 37 and been a QB for about 100 years-- if his touch was going to improve, I think it would have by now. I just cannot stand this continuous succession of one five yard pass after another. throw 14 completions in a row and miss the 15th and you have to kick. Its nuts. I don't understand what has happened. The first 3 games or so I saw a lot more variety in the play calling, motion that I had never seen before, patterns that I had never seen before. Now-- none of that is visible. And since i don't get to see the "Film" I don't know if the problem is AC not being able to find receivers downfield, or our receivers have suddenly forgotten how to run patters, or AC is dumping the ball off to the short receiver too early. But clearly something has to be done. I'll tell you I am giving my tickets away for the game against BC-- first time since the Als moved to Molson Stadium-- the games are so boring I'd rather stay home and read the NY Times.

I don't even want him to throw a tight spiral. I just want him to be able to put some air under it so the receiver doesn't have to stop in his tracks and wait for the ball to come. Which is what seems to happen with every deep ball Calvillo attempts this season.

We really need to start the transition from Calvillo to McPherson now, so Adrian gets quality playing time under his belt and Popp can convince him to re-up with us next year. I do not want to lose McPherson to free agency because we're living hand to mouth with a 37-year-old QB who can no longer test defenses deep.

i Question all the hype about McPherson- is he really the best of the other non-playing QB's.He is the best QB to win a third down push. However I have seen him play QB in only one offensive situation in which he took the ball and ran the wrong way losing yards. What is there in his past that would us to believe he will be the next Calvillo? Leak has thrown one TD pass this year- perhaps he might be the better hier to AC?
There is one post above this one that suggests the Als, as a team, are lacking in size. Last week I was thinking of that post when the big BC back overwhelmed the Als defense. I recalled Devone Claybrooks is his days with the Als who was very effective in stuffing the run- he was a big man and I wonder why the Als dropped him?

From what we heard he wanted a lot more money than Mr. Popp was willing to offer him. It had nothing to do with his play.

Mcpherson is a big, big talent... Does that mean he's the next Flutie ? No.

People need to remember that Eric Wilson was out of the lineup, making our interior more vulnerable to the run. Campbell is a good prospect but clearly isn't ready to be an every-down lineman just yet. Wilson takes a lot of the double-teams and I suspect his absence affected Keron Williams negatively. It also didn't help that Emry had his worst game as an Alouette against the Lions. He was absolutely dreadful. And when your MLB is having an off-game, chances are the other team will run the ball down your throat.

As for McPherson, he's a great athlete with a rocket arm who can scramble. No way to know whether he'll be a legit starter until he gets his chance, and expecting him to be 'the next Calvillo' is a bit too much pressure for my liking. All McPherson has to do is be himself and play within himself. Leak looks good, but hassall, both men have tossed short TDs from inside the 5-yard line -- remember Adrian's pass to Eric Wilson? :slight_smile: Leak may or may not be the better player. We don't know. But given that McPherson sits at no. 2 on the depth chart and probably sees more of the offense in practice than Leak, I'd rather see what Adrian can do.

Does anyone know about McPherson's play from his university days? I even typed his name into google but no information was forthcoming. Where is information about this guys credentials re passing, running, efficiency etc etc. I respect Trestman. When asked about future use of McPherson he replied that he wanted to use Calvillo 100%. McPherson is the best QB I have ever seen who can make big yards fron A QB sneak. Are we looking for a pig in a poke? The Als need an up and coming QB. Whatever, I would like to see McPherson or Leak get some playing time in case Calvillo is injured. If we lose Calvillo to injury we will have no hope of a Grey Cup!