The CFL season is now past its first trimester and it’s time for a report card — a real simple pass or fail report card.
Each team will receive a grade on offence, defence or special teams.
Let’s go east to west in this report card.
• The Montreal Alouettes have performed well in the first third of the season. Here’s the report card for them. Offence: Pass. Any team with Anthony Calvillo at quarterback cheats on exams because this guy is that good. Defence: Pass. The Als have a very aggressive approach to the ball with active linemen and aggressive linebackers who like to get to the ball angry and in a hurry. Special teams: Pass. A great return game and an accurate kicker give Montreal a racer’s edge in this department.
• The Toronto Argonauts are the CFL’s Bart Simpsons in the underachievement department but I doubt they are as proud of their lack of effort as Bart. Offence: Fail. I wish I could give the Argo offence a grade lower than fail. It hurts to watch them. Defence: Pass. No offence means plenty of action for these guys. Special teams: Fail. Too many penalties and missed assignments.
• The Hamilton Tiger Cats are a pleasant surprise early in the season. Offence: Pass. This team has a balanced run and pass game. Defence: Pass. Aggressive and consistent on defence if not overly gaudy in sack numbers. Special teams: Pass. The Cats keep mistakes to a minimum.
• The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are brutal. So brutal that Michael Bishop is their quarterback. Offence: Fail. I repeat, Michael Bishop is their quarterback. Defence: Pass. Overworked and underappreciated. Special teams: Fail. No return game and inconsistent kicking/punt game.
• The Saskatchewan Roughriders have been a disappointment this year. Offence: Fail. Darian Durant and Steven Jyles can’t execute a pass game or read a defence at the pro level. Defence: Fail. Poor run defence and sloppy wrap-up tackling have hurt them. Special teams: Fail. Inconsistent punting and a nonexistent return game are a way of life in Riderville.
• The Edmonton Eskimos are better this year. Not great but better. Offence: Pass. Two words — Ricky Ray. He is not quite vintage Ricky Ray, but consider the current choices in Toronto, Winnipeg and Regina. Eskimo fans should feel fortunate. Very fortunate. Defence: Fail. You can run on these guys and they give up big plays. Special teams: Pass. Great return game and strong kicking game.
• The Calgary Stampeders are a bit of a mystery this year. They have a good report card but their win-loss record sucks. Offence: Pass. Henry Burris is not having a great season but he gets things done. Defence: Pass. The Stamps have an aggressive defence that likes to leave marks. Special teams: Pass. A punter and kicker who like to throw down in their spare time give them the best kicking tandem and amateur boxers in the league.
• The B.C. Lions wrap up my report card list. Offence: Pass. I like Buck Pierce at quarterback because he is a warrior who wants to win at any cost. Defence: Fail. Don’t let the last game against the ’Riders fool you about the B.C. defence. Special teams: Pass. Not spectacular in any phase, but consistent.
See you on Friday.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer whose CFL column appears Tuesdays and Fridays in the Advocate. He can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com