Typically when a CFL team is continually adding and auditioning receivers, it takes place in the off-season at tryout camps or in the preseason where the games final score doesn’t matter.
The Stampeders have no such luxury and it’s starting to show. For three weeks now, the Stampeders have struggled to find consistency in their passing attack which has left the running attack to be far less effective than they would like.
Earlier this season, the Stampeders were a “pick your poison” offence; focus on shutting down the run and the likes of Kamar Jorden, DaVaris Daniels, Marken Michel and Eric Rogers would beat you through the air. Stop that group of pass-catchers and Don Jackson, Terry Williams or Romar Morris would light you up.
Starting with the since-returned and recovered new father Eric Rogers, the Stamps lost a major target every single week. The streak included Reggie Bagelton who showed out in the absence of Rogers and Jorden during a very impressive albeit brief time as Bo Levi Mitchell’s go-to-man.
Markeith Ambles and relative newcomer Chris Matthews have been tasked with stepping in and it’s clear that the chemistry just isn’t there yet. Bakari Grant may offer some familiarity once he gets into the lineup, but the Stampeders still find themselves waiting to clinch a playoff spot after having two kicks at the can already.
Some other thoughts from a fall day that may have provided the best weather of the season for the fans of the red and white:
The Stampeders were able to get to Rider QB Zach Collaros on several occasions finishing the day with three sack dances. It would have been more, but they had one wiped out by an illegal contact penalty. The Stamps defensive line has to give other offensive coordinators in the league fits because they don’t need to blitz extra guys to get to the quarterback. Micah Johnson’s one-hander of Collaros was a thing of animal ferocity after a slick move to the outside.
At the half, Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson told TSN he needed his defence to get the ball back to give his offence a chance to win the game. The memory of the second quarter still fresh in his mind obviously, as the Riders had possession for 10:40 of frame number two including a field goal drive that took nearly eight minutes. Keeping Mitchell and the Stamps offence off the field is a sure-fire recipe for success.
Despite Saskatchewan leading the league in two-and-outs this year, the Stamps were only able to force a quick turnaround twice in this game. Far below the Riders average of almost six per contest. On the other side the Riders ‘D’ averages almost six per game forced and if you don’t count the final two plays of the game then they were able to get a quick return air mail from Rob Maver just three times.
Every turnover has the potential to be disastrous and the third quarter interception that stood as the game’s lone takeaway proved substantial. With the ball on the 19-yard line, Mitchell took aim at Eric Rogers at the back of the end zone only to have the ball land, contested, in the hands of Mike Edem. The former Dino took a possible seven points off the board for the home squad which would have likely seen them head to the fourth quarter with the lead. In that scenario, the Stamps are undefeated this season.
The Stampeders fall to .500 on the year against Western Division opponents at 4-4 having lost to the Riders twice and Edmonton and B.C. once each. They have swept the East this year so one would think that should they make the Grey Cup, they’d love to see either the Ticats or Redblacks on the opposite sideline. The West has seen a whole lot of parity this year though as .500 is still good enough for the second best divisional record. The Riders are on top at 6-3.
The Darkest Timeline
The Eskimos are hosting this year’s Grey Cup and are in danger of missing the playoffs and need a Calgary win next week against the Bombers to keep their slim chances alive. It’s going to feel pretty dirty, I imagine, rooting for their hated rivals rather than against them.
Also bizarre to see Winnipeg ahead of B.C. in the standings with the Lions having clinched and the Bombers in danger of being the lone prairie team not invited to the dance.
Crazy Finish Ahead
Should Calgary lose to the Bombers this week, we could see a final weekend that might include a play in game between the Bombers and Eskimos and Calgary playing the Lions with the division title up for grabs. There hasn’t been much drama in Calgary this late in a season in a long, long time. For the last few seasons, the questions have been when is too early to rest starters. Now they may be required all the way to week 20.
Honestly, I don’t mind that one bit.