Why the Ticats have exceeded expectations & the Riders haven’t

At the end of last season the two teams that probably intrigued people the most were the two teams that will meet tomorrow night in Regina, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Ticats, as we all know, got off to a horrendous 0-8 start in 2017 that cost Kent Austin his job as head coach. In stepped June Jones and the Ticats went on a mini-run, winning six of their final 10 games and nearly doing enough to crash the playoff party.

The Riders offer a different story. After finishing 5-13 in Chris Jones’ first year as head coach, the Riders reeled off 10 wins and made a run all the way to the East Final before they were finally felled by the eventual Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts.

So with both teams exceeding expectations somewhat — the Ticats in the second half of the season, the Riders all season — a lot was expected of both in 2018.

And that was before an off-season that saw the two teams make a couple of major trades. The Ticats sent both Zach Collaros and Charleston Hughes to Saskatchewan during the winter months, and while the Ticats mostly netted draft picks in return (and the since-released Vernon Adams) many saw these deals as wins for the Riders.

The Ticats spent their off-season mostly bringing back their own free agents — Ted Laurent, Luke Tasker, Brandon Banks, Jeremiah Masoli and Larry Dean are just some of the veterans who opted to return to Hamilton — that shine of that 6-4 finish had Ticats fans thinking big things could be on the horizon.

So with the moves both teams made over the winter it is fair to say a lot was expected of them. And here we sit on the precipice of their first of two head-to-head matchups and one team has quite possibly exceeded those expectations and one has come nowhere close to matching them.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats sit at 2-1 and in sole possession of first place in the East, and with the way they have looked over the season’s first three games they may never give up their perch atop the division. The Saskatchewan Roughriders, meanwhile, are 1-2 and coming off two dismal losses, the latest of which an embarrassing 23-17 home loss to the Montreal Alouettes, losers of their previous 13 games.

So why have the Ticats exceeded expectations while the Roughriders have not? It comes down to a few key areas.

Firs, as is always the case in football, is quarterback play. The Ticats have, in Jeremiah Masoli, the QB who is currently playing the best football of any player in the CFL. The Riders, conversely, have seen their starter go down — Zach Collaros has been out with a concussion for a game and a half, and will be out longer — and their backup, Brandon Bridge, playing so poorly in his first start that Chris Jones pulled him at halftime. The CFL is a quarterback-driven league (all football leagues are, really) and at the game’s most important position, the Ticats have a guy who is operating at an all-star level while the Riders have guys who are decidedly not.

Secondly, is offensive line play. It’s not all on the quarterback and a big part of the problem in Saskatchewan is the play of their offensive line. The Riders thought they found a solution to their o-line woes when they signed Travis Bond in free agency, but he was shown the door after training camp. Now the Riders are relying on Brendon LaBatte, who has started the downside of his career, one of the reasons I said he should not have been on the TSN Top 50 list, and Dan Clark to anchor a line featuring younger players. The results so far have not been good, and it is part of the reason Zach Colloras will be in civvies when his old team plays his new one.

The Ticats, however, have received exceptional line play, and this comes after the team dealt perhaps its best offensive lineman to move up in the draft. No one would have thought that anyone would be able to replace Ryan Bomben, but the Ticats are starting a rookie first-rounder in Darius Ciraco and the line hasn’t missed a beat. Add in that four-fifths of the line returns from a year ago, and the constant rotation of American players in both tackle spots has been stopped (the left side by Tony Washington, a gift from the heavens after Edmonton cut him last year; the right side by second-year man, and top contender in any Braun Strowman lookalike contest, Ryker Matthews) and you have a recipe for success.

Thirdly, it comes down to schemes and how one team is using its talent to the best of their ability while the other is… well… stubbornly still playing Duron Carter at defensive back. June Jones has cooked up some offensive schemes that are seemingly giving opposing CFL teams fits, most notably his deployment of six- and seven-man protection schemes. The Ticats have put a system in place to maximize Jeremiah Masoli’s effectiveness. By giving him more blockers it is allowing him to have more time to find his receivers and it allows the receivers more time to get open. No matter how good any defensive back is he can’t cover forever. Jones is giving Masoli that extra split second he needs to make the big play and it is working tremendously.

The Riders, on the other hand, are defining insanity by doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. The biggest one is defensively where Chris Jones refuses to find a corner to replace the ineffective Duron Carter. Yes, Carter has two pick-sixes in his three games at corner, but he has also been burned for two long touchdowns by speedsters Diontae Spencer and Chris Williams the last two weeks. With a matchup looming with the man whose nickname is Speedy, Brandon Banks, it seems now would have been a good time to make a change. But instead, the Riders will role with Carter at corner once again hoping for a better result.

But offensive play calling has also been an issue for the Riders with their seemingly abject refusal to establish a running game (and Ticats fans know all about how successful that game plan is). The Riders are middle of the pack in rushing yards, but three of the four teams behind them have only played two games. The only other team with fewer rushing yards than Saskatchewan that has played three games: Montreal. You do not want to be mentioned in the same company as the Alouettes.

Lastly, Canadian talent. The Ticats have masterfully used their Canadian talent so far in 2018. On offence, we have seen big games from Mike Jones, Mercer Timmis and Sean Thomas-Erlington, while the team has also deployed Landon Rice as a tight end (read: extra blocker). On defence, Mike Daly has stepped into a starting role at safety, with key contributions coming veterans Ted Laurent and Justin Capicciotti, and second-year man Justin Vaughn. We have also seen the team get stellar special teams play from rookies Jackson Bennett and Nicholas Parisotto, veterans Nic Shortill and Courtney Stephen, and second-year man Connor McGough. The Riders, meanwhile, are starting Sam Hurl at middle linebacker. Ask any Riders or Bombers fan what that says about a team’s Canadian talent.

Both Hamilton and Saskatchewan came into 2018 with designs on taking the next step. For one team, it looks like they have. For the other, it looks like that next step was a backwards one.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
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Josh Smith
About Josh Smith (392 Articles)
Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

71 Comments on Why the Ticats have exceeded expectations & the Riders haven’t

  1. Stubborn is the key word. Chris Jones wants to see things in his terms. June Jones uses any and all resources wisely and most of all looks and listens. Maybe it’s an age thing, but it seems that one coach doesn’t care how he wins, and the other one is hammering the square peg in the round hole.

    • Puck Hog // July 6, 2018 at 12:06 am //

      Well…..the Ticats didn’t exceed expectations against the Riders. They lost!

  2. Funny thing is. If the Riders win tomorrow… Both teams will be 2-2. And these articles will be useless.

    • Esksfan_81 // July 4, 2018 at 11:33 pm //

      The Riders winning tomorrow is the funniest thing I’ve heard yet. Did you watch the game on Saturday?

    • greenrider89 // July 5, 2018 at 2:07 am //

      Rob, the funny thing is Chris Jones pries players like Duron Carter (and this includes Charleston Hughes, Zac Evans, etc.) with big dollars. One would assume that if Chris Jones is to spend so many greenbacks on a player, he would play that player in his position of strength. Ditto the defensive line. I still can’t get over the fact how Jones decided to do a three-man rush against Ottawa for nearly the entire game. Believe me, I’m a hardcore Rider fan and have been for over 45 years. I’ve never seen in my lifetime a coach do the things that Chris Jones has done. Unorthodox, weird, whatever? Not sure what he’s trying to pull but its got me shaking my head.

    • Riders4Last // July 5, 2018 at 10:24 am //

      The actual funniest thing is the riders worst team in the league and the laughing stock of the league along with their fans,looks so good on them being laughed at and the brunt of jokes nation wide.lol ,lol,lol

  3. Puck Hog // July 4, 2018 at 9:48 pm //

    Although your comments are reasonable, Josh, there are 15 games left in the 2018 season, so I would neither write off any team nor anoint one as champions.

    • BC Dave // July 4, 2018 at 10:55 pm //

      He’s not doing either. I think you disagree and want to see that he is trying to do that maybe ?

      • Puck Hog // July 6, 2018 at 12:13 am //

        Wrong, Dave. As I said, his comments are reasonable. What I questioned is his premise that for the 2018 season, the Ticats are zooming upwards, and the Riders are tanking. A bit early in the season to make that declaration. Read his last paragraph.

  4. How disrespectful! If the Riders win they will have the same win loss record as the Ticats. Where does an unheard of sports writer get the balls to write an article like this three games into the season.

    • Stampeding // July 4, 2018 at 10:39 pm //

      They won’t win.

    • For 3 games into the season, the report is an accurate analysis. 6 games in and it might require an new analysis.

      No one, not even a Rider fan, can deny that Jones has gone against conventional wisdom in drafting and roster management and done some surprising game management with QBs playing time in game.

    • Cat Fan // July 4, 2018 at 11:42 pm //

      So essentially you are saying the Riders are the victims of their dominating defensive performance in game one?

      As for “unheard of sports writer” – AFAICT he is a fan who isn’t being paid by a media outlet.

      BTW … Masoli is looking at tying a CFL record for consecutive 300+ yard games (Austin being one of the two QBs at 9 games) while Jones seems to think Carter has learned how to cover small, fast receivers.

      I’m not sure this is going to work but that’s why they play the games.

    • Tiger man // July 5, 2018 at 8:48 am //

      This success started on Labour day of last season..and not just the past 3 games.

      Please try to stay current with the sports section and put away the regina kool aid.

      • Cat Fan // July 5, 2018 at 9:15 am //

        A good point … though I suspect ABC’s comment about three games into the season is more about that there are fifteen games for the situation to change.

        • Tiger man // July 5, 2018 at 10:25 am //

          And it can. That is why I have been tempering my jubilation over these first few games.

          The start of the 2015 was amazing. In all the decades I have followed my team, I have never seen them so dominant on offense or defense. And then Zach got injured.

          ABC does NOT refer to those games last season at all in their statement.

          While I agree with what Josh is saying, we DO need to be careful with our platitudes until later in the season or, better yet, at the end of it.

    • Bombs Away! // July 5, 2018 at 10:53 am //

      You are absolutely right!! Why would a guy who is obviously fresh out of school dare write this stuff. Jones is a genius at his job and it would be sad if he were to change his ways. I am not the greatest football garu but his moves to keep Carter at the corner and his dismissal of Bond are shear brilliance. His deep depth of Canadian talent will give him the opportunity to have a dominant team for years to come. But…. I would not mortgage the farm on the possibility the Riders might win today. Why? reread the kid’s article.

  5. Lol foolish

  6. Just saying // July 4, 2018 at 10:25 pm //

    Here’s the difference, when the riders win they just win. When they loose they stink the place out. When Hamilton wins they are dominant, when they loose they still play an awesome and entertaining game. I don’t see the riders winning tomorrow, and it’s absolutely crazy considering what we’ve seen from both teams this year that they would.
    Having said that Go Riders!

    • Attempt #3:
      loose-not tight
      lose-not win
      why is this so hard?

      • Evil Empire // July 5, 2018 at 5:01 pm //

        @trevor.

        Because Rider fans are uneducated loosers.

        It’s a lost cause. They don’t understand the differences between then, and than. Or to, and too. Or there, and they’re. I honestly don’t get it either. But, just go with it, or you’ll go crazy.

  7. Wow… ignorance is a dangerous thing when it’s so easy to reveal your thoughts on 3DN and show the rest of the CFL just how dumb your comments appear…

    So… if by some huge miracle the Riders steal a win against the Ticats it doesn’t change a single thing that Josh Smith has said in his well written and interesting analysis…

    The Ticats are currently playing at the highest level and are the best team in the CFL… and well the only difference between the Riders and the Al’s is the location of the dumpster fire…

    Just saying…

  8. Jeff May // July 4, 2018 at 10:29 pm //

    Exceeded expectations??! Ah! 2018: The Year of Our Cats!

  9. Chris Jones has taken the pride out of ‘Rider Pride’

  10. Just saying // July 4, 2018 at 10:43 pm //

    Snake, I think you miss understood me. The ticats are a vastly superior team in every fast. And you crush teams. The riders are polar opposite. I’m agreeing with all the Ticat fans.
    Having said that I will naturally cheer for the riders!

    • Cat Fan // July 4, 2018 at 11:49 pm //

      Snake knows for sure … but as his post is one minute after yours, it may not be a response to yours.

  11. I’m not sure what expectations you are talking about concerning the riders.
    Anyone with a rational eye could see this team wasn’t that good. It’s well documented by myself and many others on here throughout this past winter. No Canadian depth, weak O-line, and injury prone starting QB and a so so prospect behind him. The rider actually added age this off season and sacrificed youth and Canadian content for old expensive veterans. You had the fewest draft picks thanks to bad trades. And to top it all, the main guy on your team has proved to be an immature, lazy, selfish Prima Donna.
    Last year was a mirage thanks to the weakness of the east. If Ottawa and Hamilton were as good last as this year, you would have been a sub .500 team.
    Sorry guys, that’s how she goes. You happily sacrificed your future so you could win a Grey Cup at home, now you are paying the piper, but Chris Jones is bouncing the cheques adding interest to the payment!

    • BC Dave // July 4, 2018 at 11:01 pm //

      ummm Prima Donna is a female. Literally means first woman Italian. Comes from opera.
      Male equivalent is primo uomo..

      • Yeah; thanks Pavarotti. Clearly we aren’t talking about opera anyways. We all know it’s a figure of speech. Don’t quit you day job Mr Witt.

  12. Just saying // July 4, 2018 at 10:55 pm //

    Well we heard him, the great red. Let’s all just sell are tickets

    • I thought that was one of Stampy’s most intelligent thought out posts ever. (the standard is pretty low)

    • Just saying
      Believe me, I’m not bragging. It doesn’t take smarts to know that a weak o-line and by extension, weak Canadian depth, is not a recipe for success in the CFL. Jones has done NOTHING to address this.

  13. Masoli has been helped by a good coach in a system that fits his skill set. The addition of Manziel is competition to keep both guys on their toes. However, the two M,s also have been very professional and help each other out.

  14. @Jyst Saying… hey dude my comments were definitely not directed at yours… you happened to submit before me (slow typing by me I guess)…

    In fact I agree fully with what you said…

  15. Sorry @Just Saying…

  16. Just saying // July 4, 2018 at 11:27 pm //

    Haha you ended with just saying alls cool but I’m still cheering for the Riders.

  17. Glenn Chernick // July 4, 2018 at 11:46 pm //

    Great article Josh, although I believe it is a bit early to write off the Riders

  18. Expectations are not relevant three games into the season. Second, the Riders have lost their Star quarterback making any comparison a foolhardy endeavour.

    The Cats must be careful as The Riders will be rough and ready to steal at least one victory from the feel good Cats.These back to back games usually mean the Cats could face one loss as is the case, usually.

    The Cats must win both games from the so called hapless Riders or the Cats will no longer considered an elite team and these are daunting and dangerous games ahead for the Cats.

    • For sure // July 5, 2018 at 1:09 am //

      “The Riders have lost their star quarterback”. Collaros has done nothing at this point to make anyone believe that he has recaptured his star status. People are toying with the idea of putting Masoli into elite status but Collaros has yet to prove that he is still a bonafide starter. Of course, with that O line, who would look like a starter?
      The Riders have their own daunting and dangerous games coming up because they have yet to play any divisional opponents.

  19. For sure // July 5, 2018 at 12:56 am //

    The observation that if the Riders win, both teams will have the same record, is a little misleading. Yes, they would both be 2 and 2, but take a look at who each team has played up to now. The Riders only win is against a team that has only played two games but are winless. Their losses are to Ottawa, who spanked them, and Montreal, who has only one win and that is against the Riders. Hamilton’s only loss is to the undefeated Stampeders. The Cats have defeated Edmonton and Winnipeg, who are rated much higher then Toronto and Montreal. In short, the Riders were supposed to be racking up the wins early because this part of their schedule is all against supposedly weaker eastern games while the Cats were projected to have a rough start because all their opponents have been western teams, including both Alberta teams. Head coaches both named Jones but couldn’t be different. One Jones is trying to put his players in the best position to excel and win; the other Jones is putting his players in positions they don’t know how to play or not playing them at all. June Jones has two young Canadian running backs who are surprising the league by putting up big numbers. Chris Jones has two older running backs who have done very little. One who he resurrected from the scrap heap and one that, after two games, he didn’t use in the last game because he is 33 years old and Chris claims he has to keep him fresh for later. Although that just angered Messam. June is using as many blockers as he needs to keep Masoli clean while Chris is giving his quarterbacks practice at running for their lives. One has an OC willing and able to change offensive schemes to suit the quarterback and the opponent. The other has an OC that stubbornly insists that his schemes will work for any quarterback against any team. One has a team that is playing good tough football and appear to be playing for each other. The other has a team that looks increasingly confused and angry and regressing.

    • lol! There’s some lame spin. The Riders beat the defending GC champions, with Ricky Ray. Funny you forgot to mention that part. The fact that the Argos are 0-2 is the anomaly. They are a very good team, or at least with Ray they are. Yes, the Riders HOPED to rack up wins early, but much has changed all over the league since those words were written. The Ticats look MUCH better than expected. The Esks look much worse. And as for us our #1 QB is injured and our #2 is struggling. Our OL is struggling too, but that’s not surprising given that we lost 5 Canadian OLs in the pre-season. With Bladek back things looked better this last game, and let’s hope that continues. But whether our QBs bounce back, or our current OL gets it together, we know Chris Jones can fix both problems. He rebuilt this team from a 3 win team 3 years ago to a 10 win team last year, so we know he can do it because we’ve watched him do it over the last two years. The road to the top isn’t a straight line, and teams suffer setbacks, and the the last two games have been setbacks, and with the Ticats being a top team we may well lose a couple more, but there is no question that Jones can fix this. We’ve watched him do it. If the old boys do manage to get rid of Jones, however, the this team will be in BIG trouble. His players would follow him to his next gig – Montreal? – just like they followed him here from Edmonton. If that happens we’ll very soon be sinking like a rock and wishing we had someone like Chris Jones to rebuild this team.

      • Cat Fan // July 5, 2018 at 9:38 am //

        Can you explain why the Argos being 0-2 is an anomaly?

        They started the year 1-1, with a gift win from the Cats (who would go on to 0-8).

        Or look at it by the teams the Argoes played against. They were 0-4 the Riders and the Stamps last year, with only one game a close one (3 point loss).

        Rather than an anomaly, it seems like the same old/same. So yes … if you want to take consolation in beating the GC champs, you can but I’m not sure it means much. Particular if the defense can’t play something a lot closer to the way they played against the Argos.

        I’m also not sure why people questioned whether the Cats could keep doing well or think the Cats are “much better” now.

        Last year finished up with five 300+ yard games passing so why is it surprising that the first three games of this year have 300+ yards passing?

        Yes … Jones can fix the Riders.

        His decision to play Carter on defense looks like an advantage for any team with a speedy receiver. Unless he or one of the other coaches can fix both Carter’s lack of experience as well as his temper – it may be a series of long nights for the defense.

        • Cat Fan // July 5, 2018 at 9:39 am //

          Opps … that should be “They started the GC year 1-1”.

        • I would submit that the Argos were a different team at the end of last year than they were at the beginning. It was Trestman’s first year. Wilder hadn’t emerged yet. Going into this year, however, I think everyone expected them to be the top team in the East. Didn’t you? On the Ticats, I thought teams would catch up with Jones’ offence, and I wasn’t sure Masoli could stay consistent. He hasn’t been able to in the past, and I think a lot of people thought similar things. Masoli has been the man, however, and Jones’ offence has been firing on all cylinders.

          Spencer burned Carter a couple of times and Carter burned Ottawa for a pick 6, but with Williams it was mostly one sided, which is why I expect to see some changes against Banks.

          • Cat Fan // July 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm //

            The late 2017 Argos lost to the Riders Oct 7th then had a hard time winning the EDF. Calgary … is Calgary (also two regular season losses plus being behind most of the GC game).

            As much as I like Popp/Trestman, I didn’t see enough changes so like others I saw it as more of a dog fight.

            As for the Cats offense “being caught up with” – did you not realise that the 2017 offense was a mere shadow of the full offense?

            Jones had all of three weeks to see players before he was HC, calling the shots.

            Did you not notice that under Jones’ more balanced offense, Masoli put up five consecutive 300+ yard passing games? (Six in total – Argos game was 288 so it as close to seven).

            As for Carter – from a TD perspective, wasn’t it even between Spencer and Carter (i.e. one each)?

            It will be interesting to see whether some setup forces Carter to cover Banks or whether something else opens up.

  20. Just saying // July 5, 2018 at 1:24 am //

    Agree

  21. Just saying // July 5, 2018 at 1:26 am //

    Agree With for sure

  22. C Stephen Cassin // July 5, 2018 at 1:37 am //

    Too bad Jones won’t be able to stay on as DC. once the hammer falls. He’s proven himself capable of that position on a team. Head coach & GM not so much. The Riders have actually proven just how instrumental Ed Hervey was in Edmonton’s run to their last Cup. No easy fix for the Riders and a painful exit for Jones is on the horizon.

    • For sure // July 5, 2018 at 2:31 am //

      I am even wondering about his ability as a defensive coordinator. What kind of good DC would have no backups on the defensive backfield? At the same time that he has a ridiculous number of linebackers and D linemen. That shows a lack of fore sight with no plan for the rest of a long season because in football, injuries are inevitable, as certain as death and taxes.

  23. Can’t wait till Thursday night.
    Definately year of the Cats.
    Been a long time coming.
    Hope they destroy the Riders.
    34 – 17 Cats
    Time to win back some of the bottles I forfeited last year.
    Cheers to cats fans all over the universe.

  24. Pretty good analysis overall. Excellent at the beginning and weaker at the end. QBs and OL. What more can you say? Masoli is blossoming into a star, while Collaros is on the 6 game, Bridge is struggling, and Watford was seeing his first game action in the CFL. Part of why the Ticats’ OL is succeeding is that they’re keeping extra bodies in to block. The Riders should look at this because it seems to be working. A BIG part of the reason why the Riders OL is struggling is because we lost 5 Canadian OLs in the pre-season. Bladek is back now so we’re back up one, but that kind of attrition is going to bite any team.

    The Carter analysis is where this starts to get weak. The pick 6s are big. Even though he got beat a few times against Ottawa he more than compensated with the pick 6. It’s only in this last game that he was a net minus to the team, and so saying that Jones, “refuses to find a corner to replace the ineffective Duron Carter,” doesn’t really work. Don’t expect Carter to be playing the whole game at CB tomorrow, btw. And don’t forget that Carter is an injury replacement himself. He’s not our starting CB. Marshall is. So ragging on a backup DB who had two pick 6s in his first three games is pretty weak.

    The “refusal to establish a running game” bit is also weak, especially right after you talked about our OL struggles. There is a relationship between the two. Jones has talked about this and he’s said that sometimes the problem has been the OL not opening holes, and sometimes it’s been the RBs not hitting the holes. The OL was in chaos in the pre-season, and Messam didn’t play, so I think we just haven’t found our rhythm yet. Here’s hoping it comes tomorrow!

    The bit about the Canadian talent also doesn’t work. Save for your Canadian RBs – and we’ll see if they can keep this up all year – I wouldn’t take Ticats’ Canadian talent over the Riders’. I would take our safeties, LBs and DLs over yours, and I’d even take our receivers. Yes Mike Jones had a good game, but I remember him last year too. Hamilton definitely gets the edge on the OL and at RB, however, in spite of us having Messam, but as I say we’ll see how long those RBs can keep this up. Just a note on our LBs. Hurl has been rotating with Judge, who was our first round pick last year but missed most of the year because of an injury, so he’s essentially a rookie this year. He’s playing well and his time will only increase as he gains experience, and Hurl has been doing well in his current role. Our defence has played well overall, so ragging on Hurl doesn’t really work either.

  25. For sure // July 5, 2018 at 7:00 am //

    No doubt we will see how long those young Canadian running backs can keep it up. Chris Jones has already given Messam a game off to keep him fresh for a long season. After only two games. He left Messam seething on the sidelines when the running backs out there were having little to no success. Instead of putting Messam in the game who is known for being a powerful work horse that can grind down the defence, the Riders basically abandoned the run. Chris Jones and McAdoo now already have a discontented, frustrated vet who is supposed to be a team leader in the locker room, not an angry, resentful presence. June Jones took note last season of which players were a strong presence on their roster and contributed to their late season success and concentrated on getting them signed. He filled in the rest of the positions with some young players, such as the running backs and a Canadian O lineman, who is already starting and performing well. Chris Jones dumped some players that contributed last year, a Canadian middle linebacker and a thousand yard receiver who was touted as being one of the best blocking receivers in the league to cite a few. I mean, who needs an extra blocker on the team that can catch the ball? His draft picks included a promising Canadian O lineman who the Riders badly need, but he had already signed in the NFL. Chris Jones signed some free agents that have been all stars in the past in Messam and Charleston Hughes but are getting long in the tooth. June Jones signed some young guys who certainly look like they could be future all stars. Now one team looks promising while the other team looks to be struggling. Yes, we will see.

    • Well, this is a jumble.

      No, Messam knew very well that his carries would be limited this year. Jones has openly talked about it as “limiting his pitch count”. I’m sure they’ve discussed it and he knew ahead of time that he wouldn’t be getting many carries in this game.

      No, we haven’t “abandoned the run”. We have struggled with the running game, which has forced us to put it on hold at times, but we’ve got some great RBs and it’ll be back. Jones has discussed this in one of his recent daily press conferences.

      Every player who plays contributes in some way, so every time you cut a non-rookie you are “dumping someone who contributed.” You’ve got a whole bunch of melodramatic BS in this post and this one of many examples. I like Grant but we tried to trade him for quite a while before we cut him and there were no takers, and no one has signed him since. He was also clearly beaten out by Williams-Lambert, who has the size to be a great blocker himself.

      No, the Riders didn’t badly need Shepley when we drafted him. We had 7 Canadian OLs at that time, for three spots, and maybe only two if we had Bond penciled in at OG at that point. By the time the season started, however, we had lost 5 of those 7 and Bond, and THAT’S when we were in need of OLs.

      Yes, Hughes and Messam are in their 30s. And? Hughes is clearly still a beast, and we can’t really tell with Messam because our whole running game is struggling, but he had 1,000 yards last year and it’s unlikely that he’s lost it all in one year.

      Name a few of these players Hamilton brought in this year who you think look like future stars. Ciraco is starting at least, and …? Hamilton’s success this year is mostly about Masoli emerging as a star QB. They didn’t bring in a lot of good young players. The Riders, otoh, did – Marshall, Williams-Lanbert, Evans, Mason, Vaughn I think has played well, Geter and the recently trade Striker got rave reviews in camp – but unfortunately none of these guys are helping our QB situation at the moment.

  26. Ticats63 // July 5, 2018 at 9:08 am //

    Riders are a bad football team right now, and not well coached. Will Chris Jones be the first coaching casualty of 2018?

    Also, the league had better not quietly nudge the Ticats towards trading Johnny M to the Riders “for the league’s sake”, as happened prior to the 100th Grey Cup Game in Toronto when the Eskimos (Tillman was the GM there at the time) gave Ray to the Argos for a bag of chips.

    I’m sure TSN want to see Johnny in a game, but good for Masoli to pick 2018 to have a career year (so far).

    Cat’s will win tonight by 20+.

    (Where’s Schultz? Where’s Drew?)

  27. Wideout // July 5, 2018 at 9:19 am //

    “For the leagues sake” ?The Riders are the league. For the leagues sake would be a trade to anything out East plus B.C. Furthermore, why would Riders want another 3rd string Q.B.?

  28. True Blue // July 5, 2018 at 10:23 am //

    No one team is “the league”. Get over yourself. Yes the fan base is loyal and all the rest of it and we acknowledge that is admirable, but every, and I mean “every” team is important, lose one and the whole league suffers.

    I for one want to see Manziel play.

    • Wideout // July 5, 2018 at 11:38 am //

      Get over myself?? Who says I’m a Rider fan???? Just stating facts there sonny. To think Riders would need help from another team “for the sake of the league” is a bit of a stretch.

  29. Mikefrmthhammer // July 5, 2018 at 10:43 am //

    I’ll (finally) be satisfied with the Ticats’ season if they win their final game in late November. It is still very early and anything can, and does happen in the CFL. I am extremely pleased with my team’s performance so far, and hope they can continue.

  30. GreenInCalgary // July 5, 2018 at 11:11 am //

    I will be at the game tonight cheering hard for the Riders. Of course Rider fans are wildly optimistic at this time of year and are often disappointed by the end of the season, but we keep supporting our team. I believe that the Riders are much better than most of you haters and self-annointed experts think and that when the Riders win the Cup, many will look back at this game as the turning point.

    • Evil Empire // July 5, 2018 at 4:53 pm //

      @GreenInCalgary.

      Being drunk at 11:11 in the morning means you probably have a problem, son.

      You’re just another Rider Fan that’s delusional beyond belief. And living proof of why Rider Nation has become the most hated fanbase in Canada. In real life I know most Rider fans are good ppl. But, online it’s the opposite. At least 90% of Rider fans online are just ridiculous. That’s the most polite way to put it.

      Damn straight I hate the Riders, and their fans. But, it’s well earned, and I could write a book about why, and how it’s been earned. For the sake of expediency, and brevity let’s just say that your organization cheats to extreme levels. And the online fans justify, condone, and encourage further, and ongoing cheating. There is much more. But, it’s way too much to list here.

      “ When the Riders win the cup “

      LOL. Put down the freaking bottle, buddy. When you wrote that it was still 8 hrs until game time. Way too early to be that drunk out of your head.

      • Wideout // July 5, 2018 at 7:50 pm //

        I would love to see you say this insane rant to his face, pussy little hide behind the keyboard Alberta boy.

  31. Margaret Marshall // July 5, 2018 at 1:26 pm //

    Great article that captures the issues faced by both teams. The Cats are a force to be reckoned with for sure. The Riders are facing a reckoning. I love the analogy to the definition of insanity. How about Dante’s levels of hell. Abandon hope all ye who enter. Riders lost to Montreal. Embarrassing hot mess. Bridge needs an O line that can block for more than a nanosecond and a running game that involves Messam. Duron Carter needs to be back in the offensive scheme of things. Adaptability is a key to success and June Jones has been quite creative in resurrecting the Cats. Chris Jones seems similar to Corey Chamblin in certain ways. Both defensively talented coaches with too much on their plate and a penchant for digging in their heels when things go south. Coaching is a team experience – a creative diverse hub where the best ideas and strategies emerge as a product of their efforts. Jones should have the last word but after a process involving the sum of many diverse opinions.

  32. TigerProud // July 6, 2018 at 1:27 pm //

    As a Ticat fan all I can say is we got beat for 2 reasons. 1) The Riders we’re well prepared 2) The Ticats..not so much.

    -We didn’t pick up the bliz, I blame the coaching staff and Mazzoli for that.
    -We got burned on a few long balls and I blame the secondary for that. As well as the secondary have played this year (before last nite) I’ve noticed a little too much celebrating and not enough focus.
    The real credit to the Ticats pass defence thus far should go to the D line. They’ve been stellar and a little more humble in going about their business.
    I still think we can get to the Grey Cup but they must learn from there mistakes because last night they were schooled!

  33. wewert3 // July 8, 2018 at 7:07 pm //

    Told you Riders were going to win. It would have been “easier” like I said if Brandon Bridge didn’t try to make a showoff move of trying to jump over defenders on the goal line and thereby fumbling away a touchdown.

    Some people here are oversensitive. I wasn’t trying to insult the author. Rather, I was pointing out the same thing all the Ticat fans were ranting about when June Jones declared Vernon Adams already traded before it happened. It’s called don’t count the chickens before they hatch + KARMA BABY.

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