EDWARDS: Ticats still have some growing to do

The last time the Hamilton Tiger-Cats won three straight games was 2015, when they won five straight on their way to a 7-2 start. That team was the peak of the Kent Austin / Zach Collaros era, a veritable offensive juggernaut that was also stout defensively while playing excellent special teams. They talked constantly about playing “complimentary football.”

Over the previous two games, the 2018 Ticats had shown some of those same traits: an efficient Jeremiah Masoli leading a seemingly unstoppable offence, a swashbuckling defence playing aggressively with strong kicking and coverage units. Putting all phases of the game together is what allows a team to string together wins.

But they aren’t there yet, clearly.

Thursday night’s performance in Saskatchewan wasn’t a complete regression, the giant two-steps back that have accompanied signs of progress during the last decade or so of Ticat football. But it was enough of an unraveling to cost Hamilton a road win and to put some of the old questions about this team back on the table.

Let’s start with coaching. June Jones has been lauded, and rightly so, for his old school offensive schemes that somehow seem refreshed in the CFL. His willingness to use extra offensive linemen in six and seven-man protections to buy time for Masoli had the added benefit of stimulating the running game while a fleet set of receivers made the passing game work, even with diminished numbers.

But Riders head coach and defensive coordinator Chris Jones found a way to thwart the Ticat attack: say what you will about his unorthodox personnel management decisions but the man can flat out coach. The Riders brought relentless pressure, stymied the Hamilton run game, generated a key turnover and deployed an unusual match up scheme that saw Duron Carter, the receiver turned newbie DB, following receiver Terrence Toliver around the field.

Masoli got his ninth straight 300-yard passing game-tying Sam Etcheverry and (somewhat deliciously) Austin – but it came with a 54 per cent completion percentage and no offensive touchdowns. And for the second time in four games, Masoli had the game in his hands as the clock wound down and couldn’t find a way to get it done. Again, he’s been generally good in the clutch during his career but hasn’t found the magic so far this season.

The other tight loss came against Calgary, another team with a creative defensive coordinator and the personnel to execute. And if there’s a larger concern, then this is it: that DeVone Claybrooks and now Jones have established a blueprint to put the clamps on the CFL version of the run-and-shoot. The Ticats aren’t catching teams by surprise anymore and the smart coaches are catching up.

Defensively, the Ticats did a good job containing whatever that was the Riders were doing on offence with a two-quarterback system that features essentially the same quarterback in two different bodies with two different passports. Most days, limiting a team to 12 first downs, under 300 yards of total offence and controlling the ball for almost 33 minutes will get the job done.

But Hamilton generated just one turnover and while it was a touchdown-saving doozy, they are still among the worst in the league in takeaways: the offence still hasn’t started a drive in enemy territory through four games and they have zero points off turnovers.

That is not a compliment and it isn’t complimentary football, either. And if we’re going to impugn Masoli for his lack of late-game heroics, it should be mentioned that the defence couldn’t protect a slim lead when it mattered and allowed former Ticat Marcus Thigpen to waltz into the end zone untouched for the winning score.

During that 7-2 start in 2015, the Ticats felt more-or-less invincible, the offensive execution and defensive excellence a foregone conclusion. These Ticats don’t have that aura, at least not yet, and until they do games like this – wins that dissolve inexplicably into losses – will always be on the table.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1568 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

58 Comments on EDWARDS: Ticats still have some growing to do

  1. Enrico Arcuri // July 6, 2018 at 3:10 pm //

    I don’t care how many consecutive 300 yard games Masoli puts up. If he continues to throw few TDs, or no TDS, and silly interceptions, he’s on pace for 18 picks this season, then it will be time to usher in the Manziel era.

    • Tiger man // July 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm //

      And projecting a whole season based on less than a handful of games is silly and a waste of time…

      And I project that if you keep up these ridiculous comments you will be ignored…

  2. It is still early in the season and maybe we thought Sask. was worse than they are because they lost to Montreal – they looked very good in the first game of the season with their 2 dynamic rush ends that were then shut down against Ottawa.

  3. So friggin sick of you reporters one week you think there going to win the grey Cup the next it’s negative ….for God sakes guys they are 2-2 a long left in season…FOR ALL TEAMS !!

  4. Enrico Arcuri // July 6, 2018 at 3:42 pm //

    Masoli could throw a million yards between the 20s, means nothing henif can’t throw TDs.

    • Elwood Harris // July 6, 2018 at 4:44 pm //

      Yeah Enrico….. The only thing that is guaranteed is that the Calgary Stampeders will CHOKE in the Grey Cup if they make it to Edmonton this November. ROTFLMBO

  5. The only thing that matters is winning the Grey Cup! Masoli is not the QB to get the job done and the D and special teams are currently inadequate! Changes are required if the Cats want to win the GC! As pointed out it’s early in the season so you have time to make adjustments! Are the coaches good enough to do it and do they have the balls to do it!

  6. Guess what Drew? Your precious Ticats are a .500 team right now. Time to stop your gushing….

    • longtimetcfan // July 6, 2018 at 5:25 pm //

      Guess what Bob? Drew’s job/assignment is to cover the TiCats but his favourite team is, or has been, Montreal Als. Go figure…

    • Tiger man // July 10, 2018 at 12:45 pm //

      Hey Bob, keep your ignorance to yourself.

      The rest of us do not find it entertaining…just annoying.

  7. Ticats chick // July 6, 2018 at 3:46 pm //

    It was a short week, late game and stuff happens. Can’t be perfect and 2 and 2 is better than 0 and 8. Need the biweek to gather strength again. Cut them some slack. Calgary won most of their games last year and the year before. Don’t see any GC rings on their fingers. And by the way for all those Manziel seekers he hasn’t thrown a pass in the regular season. Fairly certain that he’s not going to throw every pass perfectly. We all have off days. If Masoli off day is no touchdowns but still completing over 300 yards really not that tragic. We will get them back at the donut box. The season is young yet.

    • Ticat chick. As you point out Manziel needs to be more game ready by getting some game reps. Jones had to get him into games on selection of plays. I believe Manziel would have scored touchdowns. He is a natural talent. We need to get him in not saying start but get into games.

      • Steve J. // July 8, 2018 at 12:45 am //

        She didn’t say that at all. She said Manziel has never thrown a pass in regular season game so he would be prone to made the odd mistake. What he needs to do is park his ass on the pine until the starter goes down or, at the very least, gets abducted by aliens. You can’t keep spewing about how magnificent Manziel is in one breath, and then say he needs more reps to get better. You’d let somebody pound your stones flat with a wooden hammer if you thought it would get your boy into the game. The only natural talent he seems to have is screwing up at life.

        • Steve it will be a pleasure to discuss this as things unfold. You don’t know him or followed him. So let’s follow the to see who is right.

      • Tiger man // July 10, 2018 at 12:49 pm //

        What you SUPPOSE does not change history.

        This is Masoli’s first season as a starter, he needs the playing time.

        I’m not for giving it over to Manziel (the backup).

  8. Enrico Arcuri // July 6, 2018 at 3:49 pm //

    Why no post game video on this site or the TiCats page ?

  9. Well said ticats chick …

  10. TSN Turning point of the game happened right out of the gate on the Ticats first drive…they move the ball allll the way down the field…and we kick a field goal on 3rd and 2?? really?..They were unstoppable on that drive. This loss might be what they need…get some anger going. Riders will not have the same luck in the Hammer. Ticats by lots…..

    • Gubs … I agree. The decision to take the field goal was a mistake. I am also of the view that Tolliver should have caught the ball in the end zone … Masoli hit him in the hands … he has to make that catch. Either play would have turned the game around.

      • Cat Fan // July 9, 2018 at 11:34 am //

        Or avoiding the fumble for a TD.
        Or having a more consistent plan to deal with all out blilzing.

        Or having ST have a good run back as the offense moved the ball when the I thought they’d have problems.

  11. I can’t believe people are happy with 2-2 because last year they were 0-8 to start. Cats could/should be 4-0 right now. 300+ yard games mean nothing with 0 TDs thrown in 2 of the last 4 games. This is the CFL and FGs aren’t enough. I like Masoli, but you CANNOT keep throwing 4th quarter INTs. If you want to be elite like a lot of people are talking about , then you must be able to complete a drive at the end of the game to win. I’m not saying Masoli can’t get it done but if he keeps gagging in the 4th quarters of games and costing us Ws I’m not sure how long he will continue to be the starter.

    • Cat Fan // July 9, 2018 at 11:37 am //

      Really?

      Were you predicting 4-0 at the start of the season when people were predicting 0-5? Or when people were thinking all defenses would stuff the run and shoot?

      I’d like them to 4-0 but that’s why they play the game.

  12. 2 and 2 with the worst part of the schedule over heading into a bye week. They beat Sask. at home and I think they’ll be fine.

  13. I really like this years Hamilton team. Sure, there’s always griping after a loss but this team is talented and there are going to be bumps and growing pains along the way. Did anyone really expect the Cats to go 18-0 this year? Jeremiah Masoli and the Tiger-Cats are going to be just fine in 2018.

  14. The TiCats just needed to stick with the run game more and try some screen passes now and then. Let’s remember the Riders do have a pretty solid defensive line that can really put the pressure on

  15. “The man can flat out coach.” Yes he can. And he can find talent too. The Ticats have some very good coaching as well, but both June and Gerry are new to the league, and as with any rookie they’re going to get schooled a few times before they earn their stripes as veteran CFL coaches.

  16. big guy // July 6, 2018 at 5:21 pm //

    Hamilton could be 2 and 4 and I would still think they will be there at the end when it counts. Its an eighteen game schedule, lots of games left. The Rider D kept them off balance after the 1st quarter but they will learn, along with the coaches. I’m a lifelong Rider fan but I still enjoy watching other good teams(not counting the Stumps of course). Its looking like a much better season with the east being stronger right out of the gate.

  17. Enrico Arcuri // July 6, 2018 at 6:24 pm //

    What would Angelo Bruno say about all this ? Too bad he’s been silenced.

  18. Was heartbroken to lose to a team with only a running game and a defence.

    However, I was pleased that Masoli tied the CFL record and to think he has tied Kent Austin who did not see him as a starter.Masoli has the last laugh so to speak with this ironic twist of fate.

    I remember Austin blasting away in Masoli’s face with a ferocity of anger just after coming of the field.Masoli politely listened,but Austin continued his tirade upon Masoli.Masoli, then turned and slowly and gingerly walked away as Austin continued yelling for a time.Masoli was not going to take the yelling right in his face any more, and walked away slowly as not to offend his coach, Austin.
    In fairness to Kent Austin, he did present a plaque to Masoli after his consecutive catch record and Masoli was very surprised and pleased.

  19. Don Froggett // July 6, 2018 at 7:28 pm //

    Watching our none returns, week after week, is a big reason we got beat last night. You can’t expect an offense to march close to 100 yards every time they get the ball so they can score. We need a wiser special teams coordinator if we are to get better.

    • Philski // July 6, 2018 at 7:59 pm //

      Agree. The return game used to be one of the most feared in the league…now it’s not even mediocre. Frankie Williams is not the answer. Put Banks back in there…if those wheels fail to spin then it’s time for a trade.

      • Philski … you want to use Banks in the return game? really? I think that he is too valuable as a receiver to risk returning punts. and clarify perhaps who you want to trade. I agree that Frankie Williams has not shown anything. Watching on TV it is hard to tell but I haven’t seen any daylight in the blocking schemes … so I don’t know where the problem lies.

        • Cat Fan // July 9, 2018 at 11:48 am //

          Banks had 113 yards to Toliver’s 70 so I expect putting Banks more on returns would have helped the Riders out.

          Banks had a similar return average to Williams against Winnipeg so it looks to me to be bad schemes.

          Throw in that Banks two returns in the Riders game were for negative yards.

      • Cat Fan // July 9, 2018 at 11:45 am //

        Hate to tell you Philski … but Banks was used in the return game for negative yards.

        He was used far more in the Winnipeg game for an average that was 1.6 yards more than Williams.

        It looks more to me that the blocking is the problem and possibly creativity.

        Why would you want the receiver who had the most yards in the game on returns more?

  20. Philski // July 6, 2018 at 8:09 pm //

    If you let a team “hang around” long enough the results are as expected. This game should have been over in the 1st quarter. The TC ghosts of the past reared their ugly heads again – abandonment of the running game, missed “routine” field goal, failure to conjure up turnovers, inability of the D to make a key D stop(s), stupid play calling on a potential game winning drive, and my personal favourite…losing once again to some 10th string QB. I loved Marcus Thigpen when he was with the TC’s…but when you let a 32 year old seldom used RB outrun half your D for the winning points then there are some serious issues…too many spectators on that play.

  21. Ari Katz // July 7, 2018 at 6:16 am //

    Drew, where are your tweets before the game about the two players that did not make the game day roster? You always use to give us this information.

    I think the Ticats gave up on Willie Quinn too soon. Our return game is not giving us any field position. I think Willie Quinn should be brought back to the practice roster and given another chance.

    Now with the week off is also the time that the team needs to sign Mark Chapman if he is to have any impact whatsoever this year.

    Where was Erlington or was he one of the two guys left off the game day roster?

    What’s up with only one handoff to a John White all night?

    Why is Banks the only one being thrown the hitch screen? To me this is a play that many others would excel at with Saunders coming straight to mind or Jones given their speed?

    Very frustrating to watch as Masoli is great when he is on his game but he is awful to watch when he is not. Yes, he has been consistent in terms of 300 yard games but his performance has been up and down in all games so far with the exception of the Winnipeg game. Why does he go so cold so often?

  22. Steve Oliver // July 7, 2018 at 8:53 am //

    The reasons the Ticats lost, to summarize:

    First drive, kicking field goal. On 2nd and 2 why throw a long side pass when you can run up the middle for a TD or at least gain one yard and go on 3rd and 1 or 2 after that ? Bad decision by coach to pass.

    What happened to the Timmis and Erlington duo starting in backfield? Who are these other guys?

    Poor punt returners. Even when the returners could easily gain 5 yards after catching ball, they would try a deak and get no where. Advice, run forward immediately.

    The missed field goal hurt strategically in the early going. It should not have been missed.

    Too much reliance on Banks. Other teams are figuring it out.

    Masoli was rocked with a hit that hurt. Probably has an undiagnosed concussion that caused him to miss pass after pass in second half. He should have been sat for a few series and examined by doctor.

    No response by coaches to the massive 8 and 9 defensive line man rush by Sask.

    Conclusion ;

    Most of the fault on coaches. Defence played great. Offence generally did as well.

  23. That kind of extreme pressure either works or it backfires. But it’s the only way to play top tier QBs when they’re hot. Ray when he’s on can drop the ball in an ice cream bucket 50 yards away. He can put the ball where only the receiver can get it, and the only way to defend against that is to blitz like crazy and try to put him on his butt. And when you have a QB who can move and run like Masoli it gets that much harder, see Doug Flutie. But Chris Jones was able to pull it off. Masoli got his 300 but his completion percentage was way down and we kept him out of the end zone. The rematch is going to be interesting, especially with the extra week to prepare. I think it’s going to be hard to do the same thing twice.

  24. I for one am so sick and tired of all the Mazoli haters and all the put Manziel in! It’s laughable and ridiculous. Why is he shouldering all the blame with these people. Like others have said if Toliver catches that perfectly thrown ball or Banks kept his toe in bounds(which by the way it looked like he did ,not that the command center has ever gotten a replay wrong before! Lol) , if not for the lucky play by Hughes for TD, not going for it when they were down on in deep on the first drive, or the missed field goal any one of these plays happen or not happen!We win! And you would still get these put Manziel in types! Rant over!

    • Geoff. Do you have a problem with Manziel going to change things up OR a series of planned plays. If so why? No one is saying Masoli is not starting.

      • No I don’t have an issue with putting Manziel in at all, if Mazoli wasn’t moving the ball downfield or was (the whole length of the field every drive by the way.) But he was moving the ball well! Do I want to see a Sask Jones offensive scheme? A definite no!

        • Geoff as Jeff basically said moving the ball between the 20 yard lines and passing for over 350 yards and no touchdowns is not the same Harris who had 3 touchdowns. Put Manziel in for a series of plays just as Winnipeg did when it was 2nd down and 1 yard to go. Streveler went in for a series of plays then nicol went back in.

    • Masoli should have studied Trevor Harris last night.
      He moved the ball and scored 3 TDs when he was in the red zone.

  25. Just an adieum to above which I forgot to ad also not starting out a drive deep in our end everytime would be helpful too. You win as a team and you lose as a team coaches and players all!

  26. Ari Katz // July 7, 2018 at 9:47 am //

    Has Ticats TV taken over the post game interviews and because possibly they had no one in Saskatchewan no post game interviews?

    Have the Ticats said that only they can release the two game day scratches from the active lineup and if this is so why is this information not released immediately before the games on the Ticats twitter account.

    Could you please clarify this.

  27. TicatTO // July 7, 2018 at 4:41 pm //

    Manziel is fine. The Manziel zealots are not.
    Masoli could win every game and set records and still we’re going to hear this ridiculous noise about their Messiah.

    • Steve J. // July 8, 2018 at 12:51 am //

      You got that right, Ticat TO.

    • TicatTO. Not zealots. All CFL TSN ESPN and fans in USA and many Canadian fans want to see Manziel. If Johnny football shows up then the CFL is the biggest benefactor. The CFL grows. You don’t get that from any other player in CFL or combination of players. That is reality.

      • Steve J. // July 8, 2018 at 11:59 am //

        Your reality, maybe. I don’t care if he can play football or not. I have followed his career, and the shambles that it has become. John Manziel has nobody but himself to blame for his epic fail. I’m quite sure, based on a plethora of documented accounts over the years, that many people have tried to intervene on his behalf. Despite that, he has continued to piss away every opportunity, beginning with his steady decline following his freshman year to the time the Browns showed him the door. I don’t question his ability, but there’s more to it than talent. Maybe that s***t flies in the NFL, but we don’t need it here. I’d rather lose without him than win with him.

        • Johnny Manziel agrees with what happened to him and takes full responsibility. Everyone knows that. This is his comeback and many scheptics are very pleased with his humility and work ethic and team player attitude here in Hamilton. Everyone deserves another opportubity plus wish he does well with his bipolar disorder. This could be a good story if things go well. Many waiting and not at the expense of Masoli want to see him get back into a professional cfl game.

          • Steve J. // July 8, 2018 at 11:17 pm //

            I’m sure if Manziel ever does get into a game it will be a symphony of Unicorns farting rainbows, almost as magical as his sudden bipolar diagnosis to conveniently explain all of his zany antics. Funny how some of the best doctors at Texas A&M and within the Browns medical staff weren’t able to pick up on that.

        • Steve you should go in for testing. Who knows you have a few symptoms of being bipolar. If you decide to go in I will be praying for you

          • Steve J. // July 9, 2018 at 5:56 pm //

            Thanks John. I’ll sleep better tonight knowing that. By the way, congratulations on your recent graduation from medical school. I didn’t realize you were a licensed MD. Well done!

  28. MR. Green // July 7, 2018 at 4:46 pm //

    We have Kyran Moore on the PR. He looked good on returns in the preseason. I hope he gets an an opportunity with us as a receiver too, but we are deep there, but if not and Hamilton needs a returner, they should trade for him. Or can you still steal PR players?
    I have a feeling Bridge will finally play well next game. I also think June may sneak Manziel in for a couple plays to change it up next game. I’m curious what our and Hamilton’s QB’s are doing on the week off. Durant use to stay, study film and work out.

  29. I see the old Ticat habit of playing “down” to the bottom teams. Whether it is over-confidence or what, they tend to take the lower teams lightly. No killer instinct. Beware games with Montreal!

  30. TicatTO // July 9, 2018 at 10:45 am //

    The Manziel fanatics fail to recognize that June Jones is paid to win football games and not to pander to the extremes of some fans. So at this point Masoli is the starter and with good reason but unfortunately that wont be good enough for some until they drive Masoli out.

  31. Relax everybody ….it’s one game…. sometimes the better team doesn’t win (remember last years grey cup?)…. If you step back and look at things objectively would you rather be in the Ticat or Rider locker room right now? Sask is in a lot more trouble than it appears and we are a better team than our record shows… this will play out as the season progresses.

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