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.
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