2020 is officially upon is, bringing with it optimism, excitement, and opportunity.
It’s common for people to make a New Year’s resolution, identifying a personal weakness and a solution to remedy it. Results are often mixed — people don’t always follow through with their resolutions — but they remain a nice way to embark on a fresh year.
Below you’ll find a resolution for each CFL team — a shortcoming or challenge for them to overcome in 2020. I suspect some will be successful, while others may need to be pushed to 2021.
Sell the team
David Braley has owned the Lions since 1997, bringing the team back from obscurity and winning three Grey Cups (2000, 2006, 2011). The club has recently fallen on hard times, however, with crowds and fan interest waning.
The 78-year-old told 3DownNation in 2017 that the team “has to be sold.” B.C. requires new ownership in order to ensure the long-term success of the franchise — it’s time for Braley to find the right buyer and make a sale.
Stop the penalty parade
Edmonton struggled with penalties throughout Jason Maas’ four-year stint as head coach. The club averaged 85.9 penalty yards per game in 2019, almost 50 percent more than the league-best Winnipeg Blue Bombers (60.6).
The Eskimos are heading into 2020 with a ton of talent, a solid coaching staff, and an elite quarterback. If they can clean things up in the penalty department, the club could finish atop the West Division in 2020.
Make McMahon great again
It feels odd criticizing a pretty good home record (7-3) from 2019, but Calgary has long-since been a place where visitors went to die. The Stamps have rarely lost at home over the past decade with most defeats coming in meaningless late-season games.
All three of Calgary’s losses at McMahon Stadium in 2019 came in meaningful games, including a 35-14 manhandling in the West Semi-Final. The Stamps need to make McMahon Stadium a place teams hate to visit again in 2020.
Embrace the youth
Rider Nation was home to one of the CFL’s oldest teams in 2019, starting 13 players in the West Final who were 30 or older. That’s the sign of a team that needs to get younger.
Cody Fajardo has become the face of the franchise at age 27, so the Riders are plenty young at the game’s most important position. Jeremy O’Day needs to put more youth around Fajardo in 2020, trusting him to lead a younger squad.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Pick a quarterback
The Blue Bombers relied on three quarterbacks in 2019 — Matt Nichols, Chris Streveler, and Zach Collaros. All three are pending free agents and it’s possible the club’s former offensive coordinator, Paul LaPolice, will try to lure one (or two) to Ottawa.
Nichols is still recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder, Streveler is drawing NFL interest, and Collaros has a history of injury. It’s a tough decision, but it’s one that Winnipeg has to make.
End the drought
Hamilton now holds the CFL’s longest Grey Cup drought (20 years) following a 33-12 loss to the Blue Bombers in the 107th Grey Cup. The league’s second-longest drought belongs to Montreal at just nine years.
History might be on the Tiger-Cats’ side as they seek to capture the Grey Cup in 2020 — the club’s last title (1999) came one year after the team lost the championship game.
Bring the fans back
This is hardly a fresh take, but the Argos desperately need to drum up fan interest in the 416. Toronto averaged crowds of just 11,368 during the regular season in 2019, which was down 20 percent from 2018.
The return of Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons as general manager should help bring some fans back, but the club needs to start winning games. The Argos have won only eight contests since capturing the Grey Cup in 2017.
Score some points
The Redblacks’ offence was pathetic in 2019, finishing the season with a league-worst 312 points scored. Toronto recorded the league’s second-worst scoring output last season but still finished with almost 20 percent more points at 373.
The good news for R-Nation is that new head coach Paul LaPolice coordinated the league’s second-highest scoring offence with Winnipeg in 2019 (508). If Ottawa finds a quarterback who can run LaPo’s system effectively, the points should follow.
Sell the team
The CFL assumed control of the Alouettes in April and the sale of the team has languished ever since. A number of potential buyers have been identified — Clifford Starke, the Lenkovs, Vince Guzzo, the Wetenhalls — but none have closed on a deal.
Khari Jones returned Montreal to respectability in 2019 and fans responded by buying more than 21,000 tickets to the East Semi-Final. Finding the right new owner in La Belle Province is long overdue and it’s time to get a deal done.