Stamps need to cure a case of the drops, but might have found a third QB

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

It was a glorious run against the Hamilton Ticats.

The streak was a thing of beauty stretching as it did; no hiccups, no late game gaffes, and it included a Grey Cup Championship in 2014.

But it is over now. The Calgary Stampeders must now look ahead to their only July home game this season as they get set to take on the Toronto Argo-“nots”. A Thursday night barn burner that likely won’t become as the Stamps are likely to be ornery after giving one away in Hamilton.

Not a great time for the league’s “free space on the bingo card” to head in against the defending Grey Cup champs.

Now a look at the lessons the Stamps learned last week, and how they can correct them.

Special teams

It is all well and good that Stampeders running back Ka’Deem Carey blocked his first ever punt, then took it in for the touchdown, but the focus has to remain sharp on the following kickoff or you will get burned. Such was the case against the Ticats, when the Stamps scored a TD, the Cats roared right back with one of their own.

Lesson number two came just a few moments later as the Stampeders attempted a 51-yard field goal in windy Tim Hortons Field. That of course brought to mind the warnings of Fezzini to the Dread Pirate Roberts. Never start a land war in Asia, never enter a battle of wits with a Sicillian when death is on the line, and finally, never attempt a 50-plus-yard field goal in Hamilton when the wind is swirling.

Typically, the Stamps prefer to punt in plus-50 territory and given the way their defence was stymying Jeremiah Masoli at that point in the game, probably should have. As it was Brandon Banks took the ball to the house. Just like that a dominant first half by the defence was for nothing as they entered the break tied at 16.

Catch the ball

Coming in, while albeit in limited work, Nick Arbuckle had just three incompletions this season. He added to that total greatly in this game with 16 more. At least half of these were drops by the normally sure-handed crew in the Stampeders receiving corps. Eric Rogers had a particularly tough day, bringing in just five of 11 targets. Several of those incompletions would likely be classed as drops. As it was, Arbuckle had 368 yards passing and without those drops, would have easily surpassed 400 yards.

Throughout the receiving group, the drops were coming on second down and stalling drives.

Once you catch it, hang onto it

The Stampeders fumbled the ball three times, losing it twice. As a team that feasts on turnovers themselves, they were uncharacteristically careless with it this week. Both Reggie Bagelton and Markeith Ambles were guilty of putting the ball on the turf. Ambles fumble came with under two minutes left and at midfield with the Stamps down a score.

The Argos haven’t been nearly as productive defensively however, producing just six turnovers so far. Stampeders defensive back Tre Roberson has five interceptions by himself.

Don’t hang on to other things

The Stampeders offence couldn’t get out of their own way against Hamilton and will have to clean up their game against the Argos. Six penalties totalling 56 yards against the Ticats may not seem like a lot, but a lot of those wiped out first downs already gained.

It killed the offensive momentum. Face masks and holding calls were especially poorly timed. Carey had a face mask call that not only wiped out a 15-yard run, but also negated a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty after he was tackled out of bounds. The ball should have ended up on the Hamilton 46, but instead back on the Calgary 36.

Typically one of the league’s most disciplined teams, the Stamps would like to see a return to form this week.

Arbuckle no slouch

Drops and penalties aside, Nick Arbuckle is seeing the field well and making good reads. Any panic over Calgary losing Bo Levi Mitchell has subsided for now. However, this doesn’t mean that the Stamps should be considering a trade for Mitchell as was suggested to me on the Rod Pederson show. Trading a Hall of Fame QB usually doesn’t work out so well for teams. Ask the Eskimos. Arbuckle may play himself into a starting job elsewhere in the future, but this team belongs to Mitchell for the foreseeable future.

Run the ball

Calgary had a 4-1 pass-run ratio last week. Look for that to drop substantially this week. Toronto is the worst team in the league against the run so far, with an average of more than 150 yards against, the Argos have had real trouble stopping people on the ground. Last week against the Ticats, the Stamps ran the ball just nine times. Nine times? Nine times. Look for the total carry amount this week to double that or better.

Third QB possibilities

Since the injury to Mitchell, the Stamps have had just the two quarterbacks on the roster. Maybe it’s because of Rob Maver that they feel comfortable in that position. Maver hit a 19-yard completion to Ante Milanovic-Litre in the game on a fake punt. That means he still has just one career incompletion, a drop by Rob Cote. Maver tweeted this week.

Not sure about his three step drop, but his arm is just fine.

Ryan Ballantine is a lifelong Stamps fan and host of the Go Stamps Go Show Podcast. He has been covering the team since 2008.