Dickenson doesn’t feel need to address Grey Cup setback

By Dan Ralph

Dave Dickenson’s preparation for his second season as a CFL head coach won’t include addressing the Calgary Stampeders’ heart-breaking end to the 2016 campaign.

After posting a dominant 15-2-1 regular-season record, the Stampeders ended their season with a bitter 39-33 upset overtime loss to Ottawa in the Grey Cup. Not only did the Redblacks earn the Canadian capital its first CFL title since 1976 but they became the first franchise to win a league championship after registering a sub .500 regular-season mark (8-9-1).

“Yeah, it was disappointing but it’s not really, to me, needing to be addressed because it’s not part of our team,” Dickenson said during a CFL conference call. “You need to move on . . . so we’re going to address how to make our team better and we have some ideas.

“Ultimately if you can learn from past experiences, great, but we have a new challenge, new team, exciting team.”

Calgary will start the 2017 campaign with a home-and-home series against the defending Grey Cup champions. The Stampeders will visit the Redblacks on June 23 with the two clubs returning to McMahon Stadium six days later.

“That’s a huge challenge to face the Grey Cup champs twice right away so we understand we have to be ready and I believe our guys will be,” Dickenson said.

Still, there’s no denying just how dominant Calgary was in 2016.

The 15 regular-season victories was one behind the league record set in 1989 by the Edmonton Eskimos but were the most ever by a rookie head coach. And Calgary’s 14-game win streak was a CFL single-season best.

Predictably, Calgary dominated the CFL awards banquet with five individual winners. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell claimed the CFL’s outstanding player award with Dickenson (coach of the year), CFL rushing leader Jerome Messam (top Canadian), receiver DaVaris Daniels (rookie) and Derek Dennis (outstanding lineman) also honoured.

But in Mitchell’s mind, last year is in the rear-view mirror.

“We’ve got our eyes forward,” he said. “We’re looking forward to getting out there Game 1.

“Yeah, it’s Ottawa but even if it was a different opponent we’re going to approach it the same way.”

Calgary will be the team to beat in the West Division. That’s pretty much been the case since ’08 when current president John Hufnagel returned as head coach to lead the Stampeders to a Grey Cup title. Calgary won again in 2014.

“We don’t get to decide who puts the target on which team,” Dickenson said. “I personally don’t feel any year I’ve been here the target hasn’t been on us so it’s nothing new for the Calgary Stampeders’ organization.

“We had a good season last year and we kept as many of the core players as we could but we understand it will be a new season. It’s important for us to understand we need to get better, we have to coach better and we have to make sure we win the same types of games we won last year.”

Mitchell will have a tough act to follow after throwing a league-high 32 TDs and finishing second in passing yards (5,385). Mitchell also boasted a tidy 68 per cent completion average with only eight interceptions and CFL-best 107.9 quarterback efficiency rating.

But the Katy, Texas native has just one goal for 2017.

“The only personal goal I ever write down is to try to play all 18 games,” said Mitchell, who started 17 regular-season games last season. “Whether it’s playing through injury or being smart and not taking the wrong hits, I just want to make sure I’m here for all 18 games and giving us a chance to get to the dance and take a run at it.”

Mitchell clearly remains the starter but the backup position will be up for grabs in training camp with veteran Drew Tate being dealt to Ottawa. Calgarian Andrew Buckley returns for a second season while the Stampeders also signed veteran Mitchell Gale and have Nick Arbuckle, spent a month on the practice roster last year.

“It’s open, we’ll have good competition there,” Dickenson said. “You’d think Andrew Buckley has a better opportunity to move into that.

“We signed Mitchell Gale, who I think will be a good addition, and we’ll have a young guy (Arbuckle) in there who’ll keep battling. It’s time for these guys to step up and I think we’ll be in good shape.”

– CP


19 Comments on Dickenson doesn’t feel need to address Grey Cup setback

  1. Dan Bombers // May 13, 2017 at 4:22 pm //

    I would imagine they’re over it and will contend as usual

  2. mrnehnehincognito // May 13, 2017 at 5:43 pm //

    Correction to article Dan:
    You stated Ottawa was the first team to win cup after sub .500 season. In fact the BC lions in 2000 and the Calgary Stampeders in 2001 won Grey Cups with identical 8-10 regular season records.

    • Awesome statement dude – and you didn’t even mention you-know-what-team! Your visits to the shrink must be kelping you LOL

  3. Fans in Calgary won’t be impressed with a 9 win home record. I can see attendance down again this season at McMahon. They have to walk the walk & win the very last game of the year. Nothing else is acceptable.

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 13, 2017 at 6:52 pm //

      Well we all hope for a cup this year that’s for sure.
      But saying nothing else is acceptable I don’t understand. This sounds like ultimatum. Pretty sure whether we win the cup or not the stamps will have same fan support and same winning ways in 2018

  4. Me too Stampland – Happy Mother’s Day to you! Yuk yuk…

  5. mrnehnehincognito // May 13, 2017 at 7:21 pm //

    Was anyone at fan fest today? I dropped by to pick up my tickets, pretty good crowd even though in was a little chili. Call me old fashioned but I still love getting the fridge magnet schedule and they were a little more generous with them this year. Saw BLM and Huff.

  6. I think Mitchell should change his personal goal from playing all 18 games to winning the grey cup?

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 13, 2017 at 8:54 pm //

      That is the goal. The point he’s making is you must take it one step at time. Meaning you must get through the regular season first. Bo is loyal and a perfectionist and part of being perfect is playing the entire grind of the season.

  7. Going 15-2-1 and then losing to an 8-9-1 team must really sting in Cowville. It takes talent but also some luck to accumulate a record like that.

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 13, 2017 at 9:40 pm //

      Yeah it sure did sting. Some luck yes. In fact “some luck” was had by Ottawa in Grey Cup too. You ever hear the saying “You have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good”?
      It’s also based on stamps being a sound,smart organization that has a better sense of anyone on how to build a team properly. Remember this team was 15-2-1 last year, 14-4 year before,15-3 the year before that and 14-4 the year before that. This team clearly understands something no one else does.

      • “You ever hear the saying “You have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good”?”

        Nah, never heard that one before. Did you just make that up? 😉

        No doubt it’s been a golden era for the Stamps organization and their fans.

  8. Stamps seem to be able to draft and scout well, and prepare the young guys to take over as starters better than most. And I must admit I dislike Mitchel’s attitude but at the same time if he was on my team he’d be awesome.

  9. Antlerman // May 14, 2017 at 9:34 am //

    The Washington Capitals of the Cfl

    • mrnehnehincognito // May 14, 2017 at 12:38 pm //

      Incorrect because Calgary has won tiles and get sto many championships. Unlike the Capitals. Besides that I’d rather be the Washington Capitals than half the teams in the league

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