Monday Mailbag: Fajardo’s headshot, B.C. starts Rourke over Reilly

The 3DownNation Monday Mailbag answers questions from readers across the country every week.

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Please note that by sending us a question you are giving us the right to publish it along with your name. Questions may be lightly edited for spelling and/or formatting.

We’ve answered a handful of questions below. If your question didn’t get picked, don’t panic — we’ll save it to potentially answer here next week or on the 3DownNation Podcast.

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Photo courtesy: Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards/Saskatchewan Roughriders

Why wasn’t there a penalty for hitting (Cody) Fajardo’s head? That was obviously a missed call by the refs and I don’t really see the point of challenges if the CFL still can’t fix stuff after looking at the replay.

-Jeff K.

Thanks for the question, Jeff.

I assume the play you’re referring to was when rookie linebacker Jordan Williams hit Cody Fajardo late in the third quarter deep in Saskatchewan territory.

I agree that the hit could have been penalized, but I also understand why it wasn’t. I went back and watched the play several times and Fajardo pulled the ball down long before he’s touched by a B.C. defender.

The reason that’s relevant is because there are rules in place to protect passers. Players are vulnerable while throwing the football — their chest, throwing arm and shoulder are exposed with little to no opportunity to brace for contact. It’s different when a player has the ball tucked under their arm and are looking to make a play with their legs.

On the play in question, Fajardo tucked the ball under his arm as soon as he sensed pressure. He was then wrapped up by defensive end Obum Gwacham but kept his legs churning to avoid taking a safety.

Williams flew in to stop Fajardo’s forward progress and made contact with his helmet, which is what drew the ire of Rider Nation.

Head coach Craig Dickenson challenged the non-call and the CFL football operations department explained why it was unsuccessful on its Twitter account.

Play #110: Saskatchewan challenged a called legal tackle by BC (#21 Williams) for roughing the passer. After reviewing the play the replay official determined there was no roughing the passer as Saskatchewan QB (#7 Fajardo) was deemed a runner at that point in the play.

I still think the play could have been penalized because any helmet-to-helmet contact is dangerous, but Fajardo’s decision to run with the football meant that he no longer had the extra protection that is given to passers. He was essentially a running back at the time, which is why no penalty was called.

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Photo courtesy: B.C. Lions

I think it’s dumb that so many people angry that Michael Reilly didn’t start for the Lions like they said he would. They can play whoever they want and it’s not their fault if somebody bets wrong. Just watch the game and be happy we have the CFL back.

-Paul

Thanks for the message, Paul.

The issue I took with the last-minute change is that it was never communicated to the fans or members of the media, including the league’s television partner. TSN pays approximately $50 million per year to broadcast the CFL — when a team provides an inaccurate depth chart, it makes them look bad when their pregame graphics are wrong.

B.C. has insisted that they didn’t mean to deceive anyone by listing Reilly as the starter and I appreciate that injuries can be tough to predict. With that said, twenty minutes passed between the national anthem and when the Lions’ offence first took the field. The team had ample opportunity to clarify that Nathan Rourke would be the starter and chose not to.

Even if the Lions didn’t intentionally deceive people, there was another team that did in Week 1.

Toronto misled everyone when they listed Kurleigh Gittens Jr. as the starter at field-side wide receiver but actually started Ricky Collins Jr. in that spot. Gittens rotated in at times — he even caught a touchdown pass — but Collins led the entire game with six receptions for 126 yards.

Some fans aren’t interesting in betting on games, which is perfectly fine, but there are millions of sports bettors across North America who enjoy placing wagers on football games. One of the ways in which the CFL can grow is by being the No. 1 betting option for gamblers before the college and NFL regular seasons get underway.

The CFL is a professional league and it should carry itself accordingly. It’s that simple.

Having accurate depth charts and injury reports are essential to attracting experienced bettors, which is critical if the league wants wagering to become a meaningful stream of revenue. If certain teams are permitted to fudge depth charts or injury reports, there’s no reason for other teams to be truthful.

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