MILTON: Ticats getting pressure, whether it’s quantified or not

The CFL isn’t compiling “quarterback pressure” defensive stats this year — which is too bad for the guys in the middle of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats line – so we’ll just have to go with the way we used to rate it: with the naked eye.

As reported on 3DownNation, the league felt there was an accuracy issue with the pressure gauge, because it’s hard to define with any exactitude what actually comprises pressure on the quarterback.

But our loose definition is this: whatever causes panic back there.

So, step up and take a bow Ted Laurent and Jason Neill, and give a nod to your understudy, Nikita Whitlock and backup Justin Vaughn. You defensive tackles are giving quarterbacks the runs (Um, yes, we do mean that in two ways).

It’s not necessarily reflected in the classic numbers — the Ticats rank CFL mid-range with seven sacks, and low-end with just two interceptions — yet the defence is allowing just a 58.6 per cent pass completion percentage, second-lowest in the league to the Ottawa RedBlacks.

Secondary coverage comes into play here, but when pressure up the middle moves or collapses the pocket and you have to throw more quickly than you’d like, or from someplace other than where you’d rather be, your completion rate usually goes down.

“Gut pressure is probably the most important thing in football,” says Ticats defensive line coach Dennis McPhee. “The edge guys (ends) get a lot of the accolades and the stats. They come around the corners and they’re usually solo-ed, unless the backs are chipping them. Against the middle, it’s always three of them against two of us. And if you’re real good, there’s often a back slushing in there.”

And the veteran Laurent and Neill, a second-year Cat, are real good.

“The two of them have got a great thing going, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” McPhee continues. “They’ve been able to get guys deep in the backfield, five, six yards deep, and that creates problems for the protection of the quarterback because he’s got to move around.

“It starts with depth pressure. Period.”


To borrow a little Alice, it gets curiouser and curiouser.

The eye tells us it’s bizarre, and this time the CFL stats makes it official.

We keep harping on this, but when the Ticats return from the bye week to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders again next Thursday in the east end, they’ve just got to secure better field position for their offence. Either by forcing more turnovers in the other team’s end, forcing the offence to kick from deeper in their own zone or, most importantly, injecting a lot more adrenalin into their return game. All three would be nice.

In four games, the Ticat offence has come onto the field 54 times: exactly zero of those on the opponents’ side of centre.

That is a slow-bake recipe for failure, and it started to show in Saskatchewan with drives leading to field goal attempts, not touchdowns. The odds against successful conversion after conversion are way too long in three-down football.

Every other offence in the league has at least three starts on the good side of midfield, and four of them have had seven or more.

The Ticats punt returners, usually Frankie Williams or Brandon Banks, are averaging only 7.5 yards per, barely longer than the size of the restraining zone and ranking seventh in the league. The kick return game is ranked eighth.

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (244 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

16 Comments on MILTON: Ticats getting pressure, whether it’s quantified or not

  1. The defence has been pretty stellar this year, the offence just has to become a little more consistent and maybe the team needs a few more breaks. Looking forward to a much better effort against the Green Riders at home next week.

    • Paul Bomber // July 11, 2018 at 10:38 am //

      I get what you’re saying but it’s just weird to hear the your guy Masoli and the boys need to be more consistent after having rattled off one 300+ yard passing game after another… but you win games with points, not yardage.

      • I am far from a Masoli lover – he can do some good things at times but he is very inconsistent when it comes to scoring points and will often make inconceivably poor throws.

        • Paul Bomber // July 11, 2018 at 11:26 am //

          You gotta admit he’s improved under Jones – are you thinking he’s kind of topped out?
          Scrambles effectively, hard to sack even if you get a hand on him, good arm strength, good attitude (at least from my cheap-seat here in Wpg).

          • I really prefer the 6’4″ quarterbacks that can see over the line rather than the more diminutive quarterbacks that have to scramble to see downfield. This is just my personal bias and I realize there have been many successful quarterbacks that were not tall. My personal feeling about Masoli is that he is just good enough to break your heart – he will play well enough to make you believe but when you have the ball with 2 minutes to go and need a touchdown to win he is simply not the guy you want behind the centre.

  2. Paul Bomber // July 11, 2018 at 10:28 am //

    I can see how keeping stats on pressures would be difficult because it is so subjective… there are even scenarios where allowing pressure is actually part of the play to get a defender out of position. Oh well.
    I love the first 3rd of the season (ok, and the 2nd and 3rd parts too) … so many questions about all the teams (Wpg crushed the Als, the Als beat Sask, Sask beats Ham, Ham shreds the Bombers, yadda-yadda).
    Anyway… yeah, Sask better figure out how to give their pivot a little more protection next game, or there’ll be much different results the next time.

  3. The kick return game needs something new. I wouldn’t risk Banks in the return game. The answer must be in the blocking scheme to set up the return.

  4. Definitely agree that the return game needs work to improve and give the offense shorter fields to navigate. The returners always seem to be running into a wall of opposing jerseys before gaining much ground. Hopefully the bye week will afford the coaching staff to come up with some better blocking schemes open better lanes for whoever is back there returning kicks. Williams has seemed to be the best returner so if Leonard is able to return from injury then Williams can be freed up to concentrate only on returns. I agree that Banks needs to stay on offense only and do returns only if absolutely necessary.

  5. Enrico Arcuri // July 11, 2018 at 11:59 am //

    Any word on Mark Chapman ?

  6. This article is just echoing exactly the thing I posted on 3Downnation right after both wins.Yes the tackles are playing great(Teddy is Awesome)but you have to get pressure and Sacks from the edge and Tracy”s not getting it done and Capicciotti is terrible.Think Grey Cups 86 Covington 99 Montford 17 Lemon if you want to be a championship calibre Team you need edge rushers that put some fear into QBs and give Offensive Coordinators fits trying to account for them while game planning.The Cat returners are well, Williams is average at best and Lawrence is terrible.The Cats like one as a DB and the other as a RC but with their CDN depth especially having Hajrullahu they should find a explosive returner, at training camp I thought Shakier Ryan showed a burst and got north south in a hurry And the Argos cut Chandler Worthy who looked really good as a returner in the last two exhibition seasons but the Argos already have M.Jackson. When you are winning and the two wins against two really good west teams were really big wins you tend get complacent.If the Cats want to be contenders and not pretenders they need to address this.Think 2013 the Cats got off to a terrible start and added a elite pass rusher and a explosive returner and went to the Grey Cup that year and the next(Eric Norwood,Brandon Banks)Sometimes Wins make you overlook big deficiencies.

    • I agree with most of your comments on the DL. Teddy is good but overrated. The DL coach needs to work out more frequent rotations for the DE in stock with Howsare and Mcgough…Keep them fresh and relentless…

  7. I tbink masoli has done great cosidering he starts at his own 20 yard line most of the time . He needs to cover a complete field . The o line and receivers are gassed by the time they get to the red zone. The return game does suck and wish they would just leave banks at receiver he doenst have the return capabilities as he once did

  8. Lindsay Wilcox // July 11, 2018 at 2:06 pm //

    Many (most?) calls in football are judgement/subjective. Where the ball was spotted, was there holding or not, etc.

    Yes, Ticats definitely need a KR/PR. Banks is too valuable on offence.

    Where is Sinkfield ?

  9. bigplay // July 11, 2018 at 3:16 pm //

    Sinkfield I believe is playing cornerback for theJets

  10. Should try WHITE as KR. he may have the right moves.

  11. Good analysis Steve Milton

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