Stampeders defensive backs lament the interceptions they missed
Josh Bell described himself as feeling “sour.”
On the surface, there was a lot for the Calgary Stampeders defensive backs coach to feel good about when he rewatched the tape from Monday’s Labour Day Classic.
The group he coaches helped limit Edmonton Eskimos QB Trevor Harris to his lowest passing yards total of the season – he threw for 216 yards – and were a big part of keeping the guests at McMahon Stadium out of the end zone for the entire game.
Halfback DaShaun Amos also had a highlight-reel pass breakup late on the goal line late in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory.
So yeah, there was a lot to be happy about.
The problem for Bell is that he wanted interceptions.
“The missed opportunities, man,” Bell said. “That was our first game to have those … We were human last week. We didn’t catch all the ones that touched us.
“That was a good breakup (by Amos). We give credit for that, but we try to not even give production points for missed interceptions. It’s a long debate in the meeting room about that. We’re not trying to give no credit if you’ve got an interception right in your hands but don’t get it.”
On Monday, safety Royce Metchie was the only Stampeders defensive back to get a pick. It was the first interception of his career, and the Stamps sideline celebrated wildly when he came down with the ball.
Unfortunately for Metchie, he also missed a chance for a second interception when an errant pass from Harris bounced right off his mask. That guaranteed that he was going to get an earful from his teammates all week, and apparently they haven’t let that opportunity pass.
Because it’s not just Bell who wants the interceptions, it’s everybody in the defensive backfield.
“Even the play everyone is saying I made at the end of the game, it’s cool, but in our room the expectation is if you can get a hand on the ball you should get both hands on the ball and it should be yours,” Amos said. “When that ball’s in the air, we only get a few opportunities to really get it. So when the chance is there, we’ve got to take it.
“If you get a hand on the ball, it’s gotta be yours.”
To their credit, no team in the CFL has been better at bringing down interceptions than the Stampeders this year.
They currently lead the league with a combined 17 picks. In Harris, they were also going up against a QB who has thrown a league-low four interceptions this season.
Outside of the locker room, there are few people who are going to be willing to criticize the Stampeders defensive backfield’s performance in the Labour Day Classic.
It’s the group’s own internal expectations we’re talking about here.
“That’s just our standard,” said corner Tre Roberson. “We want to get the ball and we want them to throw the ball, that’s what we want. We’re not a DB group that’s scared for them to throw. We want to make plays on the ball and any time we get that chance it’s what we want to do. If we come up short, it’s a disappointment for the group.
“I dropped two of them. We could have had more plays out there. It just wasn’t the day for us to come down with them.”
For anyone who rightfully wants to point out that football players are always critical of their own performances and strive to be better, that’s absolutely a fair point. It’s the way winning teams operate.
But there’s a reason for that way of thinking, and Bell elaborated on why the interceptions matter in the long term.
“We’re always looking for dominant performances,” Bell said. “Be dominant. Be great. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 16-point victory, we should have been able to put more points on the board and give our offence more opportunities. We can’t have missed opportunities because in a close game, those opportunities are going to win us that game.”
SINDANI IN A SLING
Richard Sindani was in a sling on Thursday morning.
The Calgary Stampeders receiver hurt what appeared to be his shoulder while getting tackled after making a 51-yard catch in Monday’s Labour Day Classic against the Edmonton Eskimos.
He went to the sideline but returned in full uniform for the second half.
It appeared the Stamps might have dodged a bullet, as Sindani has been filling in for the already injured Juwan Brescacin.
Now, though, it’s unclear what the immediate future holds for Sindani — although you can all but rule him out for Saturday’s rematch with the Eskimos.
“We’re not sure exactly what we’re going to do with it long-term,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “But certainly, he’s out here, trying to be a good teammate.”