The Demise of Mike Reilly Greatly Exaggerated!

The B.C. Lions design a game plan that sends a series of blitzes and the CFL world declares that they have figured out how to beatMike Reilly. Scoff

As of last night, Reilly is now over 25,000 CFL passing yards and had another great night. He was 32 or 42 for 424 passing yards throwing for 3 TDs and rushing for 1 TD. Now some will try to downplay it saying that was against Montreal, but B.C. and Montreal have very similar defenses and the stats show that. What the real difference was in the game plan and Reilly executed it perfectly.

Now a few of the naysayers will say, but Reilly took some shots when the Als blitzed. That will happen when defenses send 6 and 7-man pressure and there in no way to avoid it. The key is to make the other team pay by putting up points against an attacking defense and Reilly delivered repeatedly. This is what makes Reilly so special. His ability to deliver from the pocket while under pressure. There really isn’t another QB in the CFL like Reilly. His ability to execute a game plan while under duress more often than not makes him one of the best Eskie QB’s of all time.

Eventually DC’s in the CFL will get that attacking defenses are open to big plays and putting up points quickly and often. Yes, the Lions adjusted their game plan and found a way to out game plan the Esks. Now the Esks have found a way to work around that type of a game plan and Reilly executed it without fail. I am certain that the Esks will roll with their edge testing and over the middle passing game with a mix of power running for one more game. Reilly owes a beat down to the Ti-Cat defense and I fully expect him to deliver on that beat down this coming week.

Football is a game of constant adjustment. Therefore what worked against Mike Reilly in the previous game will probably be ineffective in the next. Every game requires a new winning strategy. Yesterday’s tactics are old news suitable only for wrapping fish 'n chips.


Tis true there is an ebb and flow of tactics in pro football, just look look at how many 3-4 defenses there are in the NFL right now. Pro football is a copycat world. The Seahawks 4-3 Under Cover 3 defense from 2014 was copied for a couple of years and then it has been New England’s Hybrid mix of Zone/Man. Both were sit back and pick their shots type of defenses. Certainly not attacking defenses, but rather pressure in certain spots on the field and in certain situations.

We are seeing a lot of the CFL teams playing cover 2 and 3 with enforcement of the DPI rules the stopped the “catch technique” for DB’s more than 5-yards off the line. With the exception of Chris Jones who decided to play man bump-and-run cover with an attacking 4-3 and playing a SS at Sam LB in 2014 the CFL has largely been a cover 2 and 3 zone league. Change is much slower and more subtle in the CFL, largely because of the rules such as only having 3 downs.

One shift has been around the timing of when to send pressure. Right now there are two schools of thought, send pressure often and hope not to get caught or reserve the pressure for when it is needed to get key stops, but hope to not die from a thousand cuts.

Most CFL teams no longer play a traditional 4-3 and are some form of a 4-2 and the defense is defined by three things:

[ol]- Often Played Coverage: Press Man, Cover 2 Man, Cover 2 Zone, Cover 3 Zone, etc. and this is often dependant on what the SAM LB really is, where the FS is deployed and the drop of the CB’s.

  • How often the LB’s, FS and HB DB’s are activated on the blitz. Mostly the LB’s.
  • Gap technique, over, under, wide and standard.[/ol]

Right now we are seeing a lot of Under 4-2 Zone Blitzing mostly from the Weak side while in Cover 1 and 2 against the Esks. The Ti-Cats are more a traditional 4-3 attacking using the OLB’s while in man and rotating the FS to cover rather than play high. It baits the QB to hang on to the ball and deliver deep while the D-Line and LB’s try to get their first. We have to hope that the Esks don’t take the bait and simply check down where the LB’s have vacated to make high percentage plays rather than going for the home run too often. Dump it off to the RB, throw underneath where the LB’s are not and then run the ball to make the LB’s stay at home has to be the game plan for the Esks.