The past weekend was a little like an old Steely Dan song for some because the “weekend didn’t turn out the way you planned” for a few CFL coaches.
The plan was a victory for three out of four CFL coaches who lost over the weekend. Probably Mike Kelly had no such illusion for his Bombers.
The Calgary Stampeders lost in Steeltown in front of a very disappointing crowd of Tiger-Cat faithful that obviously have difficulty with the notion of a competitive home town team. Hamilton is a good but not great club that fields a competitive team against every opponent and has a real opportunity to upset Montreal in a one-game playoff if the two meet in the East final.
Calgary found out about Hamilton when a Ti-Cat defence shut down Henry Burris to an embarrassing degree. Hank had a brutal game and was largely responsible for Calgary’s loss, along with an incredible number of bonehead penalties from his teammates.
Arland Bruce has proven to be the theft of the decade for Hamilton as a superstar clutch receiver.
He could be the difference between playoff success and failure for the ‘Cats. The trade — with the Argonauts — was a little like the U.S. selling nuclear warheads to Russia during the Cold War.
It barely made sense. The B.C. Lions beat Toronto in a sloppy game where Argos quarterback Cody Pickett showed that he has a lot to learn about the pro game.
He held onto the ball too long and had some real trouble with his reads against an aggressive Lion defence.
Unfortunately, the best receiver that started the season with him (Arland Bruce) is now building the confidence of another team’s young quarterback (Quinton Porter) in hated Hamilton.
The Lions bared their teeth against the Argos on defence and came alive against a shaky young quarterback who saw a lot of the ceiling fabric in B.C. Place with the willing help of Lion defensive ends Rick Foley and Brent Johnson. The big sack total will not translate into future success against good quarterbacks, but it looks good on paper.
B.C. quarterback Buck Pierce managed to avoid another concussion, but he did take some vicious hits in the game and he also has a history of upper body injuries, including shoulder and rib problems.
He’s a talented football player in a fragile body and every other team in the league will try to exploit this reality in a violent way.
Right now Pierce is the thin line between a competitive B.C. offence and an offence led by rookie quarterback Travis Lulay.
That is enough to keep Wally Buono awake night after night.
The Edmonton-Saskatchewan game was a tale of two quarterbacks. Ricky Ray was on fire in Regina as he put on a clinic during the game.
Ricky has always had the capacity to win in a clutch game and he executed a perfect 68-yard pass-and-run play to win a close game on Sunday.
Saskatchewan’s Darian Durant could not answer the bell with a minute to play and that is what separates adequate quarterbacks from Hall of Fame quarterbacks. You pick the future Hall of Famer.
Lastly, I have nothing to say about the Bombers’ game. They are too brutal for words. See you on Friday.
Freelance writer Jim Sutherland’s CFL column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays in the Advocate. He can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com