Coming into Week 8 against the Eskimos, the talk surrounded a struggling Calgary team that was winning in spite of themselves to sit at 4-2.
After a 24-18 win over an Edmonton squad that had their last gasp attempt fall incomplete in the end zone, with no time left on the clock, that idea hasn’t gone anywhere. Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson knows it.
“We are not pretty right now, but you know, sometimes we are effective.” Dickenson said.
Dickenson won’t just be content with victory though.
“There’s a lot of things to improve on, but I’m excited about that. If you can win while you aren’t playing that well, that’s a real good thing for your team,” he said.
“Ultimately we know we can play better, we have to play better, and we have to keep improving.”
Typical of the John Hufnagel and Dickenson era in Calgary, it isn’t enough to win, it comes down to how you win.
Now some other thoughts on the first Battle of Alberta in 2019:
Nick of Time
Nick (or John if you follow certain betting websites and Twitter accounts) Arbuckle came in needing to be good enough to keep Calgary in the hunt while Bo Levi Mitchell was hurt. He did just that.
Never flashy, rarely downfield, and often sacked, Nick Arbuckle went 4-1 as a starter for the Stamps. The lone loss came from a game in Hamilton where the Stamps allowed two special teams TD’s and lost by seven. One could argue that if Rene Paredes hadn’t missed against the Ticats, the Stamps would be undefeated in Mitchell’s absence.
Arbuckle has done enough for this team to be successful, but one wonders if he has done enough to catch the eye of other GM’s in the league. Calgary is in a rare position, for this team anyway, where the backup may be wooed instead of groomed.
Over the last several decades, Calgary has had a capable backup pivot for when the first moves on. However, given the youth and contract status of Bo Levi, you would have to assume that Arbuckle is starting somewhere else, if he is to be given the keys to the kingdom.
Given the return for a pending Mike Reilly to Edmonton, or Vernon Adams Jr. in the past, looking way ahead may find a decent return for Arbuckle should he decide he wants to be the top dog somewhere else.
Back to the Neighbourhood
Eric Rogers had hist first TD catch in a few weeks, and it was the first offensive touchdown in almost two full games for the Stampeders. Rogers may be happy to see a potential return of QB Bo Levi Mitchell this week in Winnipeg.
I asked him about beating Edmonton and he said that while it is always good to beat a Western Division opponent, he would like to see the field being stretched a little further.
“We didn’t attack downfield too much, but that’s the way it is, the way it’s being called right now, and the way we are throwing the ball, check downs and stuff…” Rogers said, “we’ve got to mix it up, make the reads, make the throws and make the catches.”
Given Mitchell’s propensity to throw the deep ball, Rogers may soon get his wish.
Defence Hangs On
The Stampeders defence did a fantastic job in the first half stifling the Eskimos offence while shutting them out. An 83-yard TD strike to Ricky Collins Jr. from Trevor Harris inflated his numbers a little as he finished with 373 yards on the day.
The Stampeders were also without an interception for the first time this year although DeSean Amos had a real good shot at a pick-six in the first half, but only got one hand on the ball.
They came up big on the final play however, breaking up a pass intended for Kevin Elliot who was covered on the play by Jamar Wall.
Trevor Harris has made eight career regular season starts against the Stampeders and is now 0-6-2. Given that the Stampeders and Eskimos typically split the Labour Day week back-to-backs, Harris may finally beat the Stamps this season.
Next up for the Stamps on a short week is the suddenly reeling Blue Bombers who are coming off a loss to Toronto.
Practice will tell the story at QB this week, as Mitchell is expected to be a full participant.