The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced the re-signing of offensive tackle Tony Washington on Monday, meaning the offensive line that helped solidify the team’s last-season turn around last year will return intact in 2018.
Washington was signed by Hamilton on Aug. 8, a day after being released by the Edmonton Eskimos. He started four days later at right tackle for a Ticats team that was, at that point, 0-7.
But it was Washington’s move to the left side, where he’s played most of his career, and the insertion of fellow American Ryker Mathews at right tackle at the season’s mid-way point on Sept. 9 that provided the offence with some much-needed stability under new head coach June Jones and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
Over the first nine games, the Ticats gave up 22 sacks (2.4 per game), 81 quarterback pressures (nine per game) and averaged a league-low 57.3 rushing yards per game. After the offensive line changes involving Washington and Mathews those numbers improved significantly: 16 sacks (1.8 per game), 55 pressures (6.1 per game) and an average of 121 yards rushing per game.
While there were certainly other factors involved – Jones’ offensive schemes, Masoli’s excellent play – an improved offensive line was certainly a factor as well.
With Washington back on board, all five starters from the latter half of 2017 are slated to return. Mathews is entering the second-year of the two-year entry-level deal he signed last July 25 while Canadians Ryan Bomben (right guard), Brandon Revenberg (left guard) and Mike Filer (centre) are all under contract for next season. The team has excellent Canadian depth though will need some insurance behind their international starters.
Washington is 31 years old with 86 starts in seven CFL seasons and two Grey Cup rings (2012 with Toronto, 2015 with Edmonton.) He’s a veteran guy who knows the league.
If the game is won and lost in the trenches, the Ticats have a solid foundation upon which to build.