Scaredy Cats won't gamble
Mass's numbers say it all, but Ticats refusing to make a change at QB
July 31, 2007
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 31, 2007)
While watching the last few minutes of the Ticats' latest entry in their quickly expanding loss column, my nine-year-old son turned to me and asked what many are thinking.
"Dad," he said.
"Why are the Ticats always bad?"
Would've been easier if he'd just asked how babies are made. But for someone who was still in diapers the last time the Cats were in the Grey Cup and whose entire sports-watching years have offered little but losing from his hometown team, it was a fair question.
"Lots of reasons," I answered.
Truth is though, one stands out.
If you're trying to accomplish something and your method fails, repeating the process that led to the failure time after time isn't going to yield a different result. Just more failure.
Yet that's exactly what's happening here. The Ticats have made plenty of changes in the last few years. They've gone through presidents, general managers, coaches, co-ordinators and players like there was a contest to see which team could employ the greatest number of people this decade. But at the most important position on the field, they have stubbornly refused to admit failure and make a change.
That, of course, is at quarterback.
Jason Maas is a good human being and a stand-up guy. And, according to head coach Charlie Taaffe, he's also going to be the starter again on Friday when Winnipeg visits. What he isn't is a player who's done the job expected of him or who is showing any real indication that he soon will. Instead, he's a player who's been adequate at best for a team that needs great.
Yes, he looked better picking up nearly 350 passing yards against Winnipeg on Friday, but once again he couldn't get the ball into the end zone. Yes, he completed a reasonable percentage of passes in the short-to-mid-range but once again he had little or no luck going deep. Yes, he performed OK, but once again he couldn't produce a win.
This isn't new.
Maas has now started 20 games for Hamilton. The team has won four of those. That's a .200 batting average, hardly the numbers you want from a guy at the heart of your batting order.
He's tossed just 10 touchdown passes while serving up 22 interceptions in that span. He's thrown for 250 yards or more -- a total that most CFL quarterbacks would see as a barely average day -- only five times. And 10 of his past 14 starts have seen passing totals of fewer than 200 yards.
Doesn't matter how you parse those numbers, they're awful. Bad enough that it's hard to imagine another CFL team obstinately plugging along with a guy who's performing like this.
Yet the Cats act like a compulsive gambler at a slot machine, refusing to cut bait and move on because they're sure -- or is it afraid? -- the next pull will be the one that hits the jackpot.
Some say now isn't the time to make the move to rookie pivot Timmy Chang because the team's still in the playoff hunt. After all, there's no way to know if he could be the great QB the Ticats need by Friday since the Canadian game is still new to him.
"There's still a big learning curve," he admits.
What we do know however, is that recent history dictates Maas won't be great. Even if he did put together a fantastic game, there's no current evidence to suggest he could do it three or four or five times in a row as the team needs. So continuing to give him the ball at this point is nothing less than wishing and hoping.
Three lengthy oh-fer starts at the beginning of consecutive seasons is unprecedented in its putridity. The Cats are well on the way to missing the playoffs for a third-straight season for the first time in the modern era, which is bloody hard to do in a league that awards post-season berths to just about everyone.
Meanwhile, this franchise keeps asking its dwindling fan base for a little slack. Fair enough. But the promise of a brighter day only holds when the radar shows the clouds will soon be passing. Calling for a different outcome while showing the same gloomy forecast just doesn't work. Nobody buys it.
No, Maas isn't the only reason they're losing. But to alter the forecast that continues to look like bad weather ahead, it's time for a change.http://www.thespec.com/Sports/article/227292