Landry's 5 takeaways from Week 7
Hello, Turf Monster. I hate you. Reaching up and grabbing Jeremiah Masoli like that? All the best for a successful and as speedy as possible recovery, Mr. Masoli. It’s a joy to watch you play. As for you, Turf Monster? You suck. No wonder players constantly spit on you.
Here are this week’s takeaways.
1) THE EAST: NO LONGER FAIT ACCOMPLI
The season-ending injury to Hamilton quarterback Jeremiah Masoli weakens the Ticats’ offence considerably and the widely-held idea that the division was Hamilton’s for the taking gets shaken up, with a major question to be answered:
Can Dane Evans be a QB1 and help the Ticats’ offence carry on in productive fashion?
We know the Hamilton brass is high on Evans. We know he has the physical tools that are necessary for making a quarterback successful. What we don’t know is whether he will emerge the way understudies like Cody Fajardo and Nick Arbuckle have this season. There just isn’t a big enough body of work for us to consider Evans a lock to step in and be the guy.
We’ll find out over the next few weeks whether the hype around Evans’ possibilities is well-founded.
With the Montreal Alouettes looking like a competent bunch on the rise, it would appear that being titlists in the East in 2019 won’t be a walk in the park for the Ticats.
If Evans emerges, the Ticats will remain the powerhouse of the division this season. If he does not, they will still have more than a puncher’s chance to claim first place and the reason why can be found in the next takeaway.
2) HAMILTON’S SURGING DEFENCE: COMING TOGETHER AS ANTICIPATED
With the keen defensive mind of head coach Orlondo Steinauer and top drawer personnel all over the field, the Ticats’ defence was expected to be one of the league’s stingiest in 2019.
While having their moments during the first five games of the season, the unit did not seem to be hitting its stride in a game-long, consistent way.
That all changed on Friday night against the balanced, big-play Winnipeg Blue Bombers as the Ticats’ defence dominated, particularly the defensive line.
With Ted Laurent and Adrian Tracy as incumbents, the additions of Ja’Gared Davis and Dylan Wynn as free agents made that front four look like they’d be hell on opposing quarterbacks and Matt Nichols could tell you today that it is indeed the case. Never mind that the Ticats didn’t get a sack until Tracy buried Nichols on Winnipeg’s last play of the game. They crushed the pocket like an empty coffee cup all night long and that was against a pretty decent offensive line.
So, Hamilton has the defence to keep it on top, most assuredly. Maybe even good enough should the offence stall with Masoli out of the line-up.
BONUS TAKEAWAY: Don’t you love to see industrious special-teamers take advantage of their shot? Hamilton’s Nick Shortill was all over the field on Friday night (9 tackles), securing the weak side linebacker position very well indeed in place of the suspended Simoni Lawrence.
3) THESE GUYS ARE CHANNELING THEIR INNER GLENN CLOSE
In the movie “Fatal Attraction,” Glenn Close famously tells Michael Douglas that “I’m not going to be IGNORED.”
Week 7 featured a clutch of performers who made it impossible to ignore them, even if you’d forgotten about them, or ruled them out as players to be reckoned with.
Josh Johnson, a star with B.C. a few seasons back but cut by Ottawa last year after just four games, then seeing some late-season time with Hamilton, has found a resurgence in Edmonton’s defensive backfield.
Against Toronto, Johnson had five tackles, one for a loss, an interception and two knockdowns. He looked, once again, like the swooping ballhawk we came to know in B.C.
Another Eskimo, back-up running back Shaq Cooper, reminded us all that, given the chance, he can deke and dart and cut like a diamond as he rolled over the Argos, to the tune of 128 yards on the ground, another
48 through the air. Cooper had impressed in a couple of games with Edmonton in 2018, but the presence of C.J. Gable has pushed him into the background since.
B.C.’s Ryan Lankford – released by Ottawa earlier this season – scored two majors on returns in a losing cause against Saskatchewan, reminding us that he’d been a killer kick returner in Winnipeg two seasons ago.
The Roughriders, as a whole, are showing signs that they are not to be taken lightly. Yes, their three wins have come against Toronto and then two against the Lions, that’s true. Saturday night’s victory showed a team that is clearly a rung above the Argos and B.C., and that was still in question before they swept the Lions in a home and homer. They are no pushovers. But are they progressing into contenders? The next few weeks will tell that tale.
4) SOMETIMES, THERE JUST AIN’T A HOLE BIG ENOUGH TO HIDE IN
Rick Campbell’s decision to give up a safety late in the game against Calgary ended up costing his team a win.
With a four-point lead and with the league’s strongest punter in Richie Leone (averaging nearly 52 yards per, heading into the game), Ottawa’s head coach needed to ask him to try and uncork a rocket, relying on special teams and defence to keep the Stampeders out of the end zone.
It would have been a short field, sure. But maybe not THAT short. With Leone’s average and with punts being, generally, held to shorter returns than kick-offs, it’s possible the REDBLACKS would have had to defend as little as 35 yards of territory against a major. But, it might have been as much as 45 or so.
Who knows? The Stampeders may have gotten the touchdown they needed to win. But if they had, it wouldn’t be Rick Campbell taking the heat for the loss the way he is now.
“It didn’t work out so it wasn’t the right decision,” said Campbell after the game.
Personally, I’d still think it was the wrong decision, but had the REDBLACKS won, this takeaway would have been all about Calgary’s impressive touchdown drive to win rather than Ottawa’s gracious hosting.
BONUS TAKEAWAY: In the immediate aftermath, the torches and pitchforks came out in full force and the “fire Campbell” lobby was in full voice.
Not that there’s ever a general overreaction to things on Twitter, right? Hopefully, as emotions have cooled, the realization that a good coach made a poor, in-the-moment decision has come, and Rick Campbell can do what all good coaches and even star players get to do; move on after a blown assignment.
BONUS BONUS TAKEAWAY: Hot takes are overblown and overrated. “Hot” takes are like cakes straight from the oven; they should never be on your tongue until they’ve been cooled to a reasonable temperature. Then, you can even top them with icing. Sweet, sweet, rational icing.
5) JOSH BELL MAY BE RETIRED, BUT HE’S STILL A PROBLEM FOR OPPOSING QUARTERBACKS
Josh Bell retired after the 2017 season, but he is still out there on the field with his old teammates, sort of.
Watching Stampeders’ rookie defensive back Robertson Daniel on Thursday night, you sure couldn’t help but notice his face was all painted up under that helmet and that, of course, was a Bell trademark when he played.
One reason Robertson wore the Heath Ledger-in Batman facade was because, he said, his favourite character is the Joker.
“The second reason is for Joshua Bell,” he said, referring to the Stamps’ Defensive Backs Coach. “We’re out here, making a lot of plays, getting picks, and we get the highlight of it but it’s really him. He’s the one that’s putting us in the position to make these plays.”
Robertson sure did make plays. Nine tackles and an interception, no joke.
BONUS TAKEAWAY: We all called him Josh Bell when he played, but it seems everyone’s calling him Joshua now. More “coach-like,” I guess.
Josh is for a hard-hittin’, face-painting wrecking ball in a secondary. Joshua is for a big-brained, technique-smoothing intellect in the coaches’ room.
AND FINALLY: If I were taking Jason Maas’ order at a drive-thru, I’d screw it up on purpose just to get him to tee off on me with that trademark intensity of his.