Bo Levi Mitchell falls short of Stamps record and eight other thoughts on an ugly win in Ottawa

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Coming off of back-to-back losses to undefeated Winnipeg, the Calgary Stampeders were looking for a little bit of salve in the form of the Ottawa Redblacks; who had only won once this season. While the Stamps were never in dangerarelythis game, they were almost never in danger of winning it either.

An ugly effort offensively and some rare special teams miscues made a stellar night for the defence seem lacklustre, as the Stampeders came out victorious by a final score of 17-3.

Here’s what I saw on a laptop near the beach in B.C.:

Bo still behind Burris

Bo Levi Mitchell needed just 143 yards through the air to move into first on the Calgary Stampeders’ all-time passing yardage list.

Given how Mitchell has played so far this season, that pursuit should have been a cakewalk for the two-time MOP.

Not so, as Mitchell went just 13-of-27 for 137 total yards and one interception.

I’m not sure if he was aware of what the record was but there seemed to be a lot of forced throws deep into coverage, as if he was trying to get past the marker before settling in.

The Stampeders got the ball back with just eight seconds left on the game clock and TSN’s Matt Dunigan cheekily suggested the Stamps should try for the record, but they elected to kneel the ball.

While there was little doubt that Mitchell would pass Burris this season, I guess the silver lining is that it will now happen in front of the home fans in Calgary next week against the B.C. Lions.

I know that each of the following names had shorter tenures in Calgary but for Mitchell to be able to boast that he has the most career passing yards and completions for a franchise that has had Hall of Fame quarterbacks like Burris, Jeff Garcia, Dave Dickenson and the CFL GOAT Doug Flutie isn’t nothing.

When Mitchell passes Burris for yards, the lone career mark left for him to capture will be passing touchdowns, where he currently trails Smilin’ Hank 203 to 186.

Kilam with kindness

The idea that Mark Kilam will get his first win as a CFL head coach in his 18th season is only shocking because of how long it has taken.

In my never-to-be-humble opinion, there is no better candidate for the top job with any franchise looking than the long-time Stampeders’ special teams coordinator.

Kilam has been interviewed a few times for jobs but no team has yet made the right choice to bring him in, or if they did, the offer wasn’t good enough.

As a three-year assistant head coach, Kilam may be the internal succession plan, much as Dave Dickenson was when he stayed to eventually replace John Hufnagel on the sidelines after a few years in waiting.

Players universally love the enthusiasm that Kilam brings to the room and his special teams units are always among the league’s best.

Something is off for Jorden

Receiver Kamar Jorden is having a Jekyll and Hyde season and it didn’t get any better against Ottawa. There seemed to be several miscommunications with Mitchell, some clear drops, and an overall struggle with his game.

Jorden finished with just two catches on ten targets for 22 yards. This is coming off a six-of-seven game against Winnipeg, where he was very sure-handed and rebounded from catching just one-of-seven targets the week before.

Jorden has been targeted a total of 55 times so far this season and has 31 catches. The 24 incompletions are already nearing a career-high.

Mitchell keeps feeding Jorden the ball as the former West Division All-Star has been incredibly consistent before now, but his struggles this season has killed drives and could prove costly in tighter games.

Monson delivers near perfect game plan

Stampeders’ defensive coordinator Brent Monson and his players have been telling us all season that they were not executing to the level they thought themselves capable of.

In this game, they clearly fixed that.

The team produced five turnovers, including three interceptions, one fumble recovery and an early short yardage stop on downs. The Ottawa offence didn’t drive the ball beyond the Calgary 48-yard line until there were just over eight minutes left in the game.

The Redblacks had two plays in the Calgary red zone after an interception set them up in scoring position, but Cameron Judge forced a Caleb Evans fumble on a strip sack and the Stampeders recovered.

During garbage time, Nick Arbuckle was able to move the ball against the Stampeders and ended up with a game-high 186 yards through the air, but he was also responsible for two of the three interceptions as he tried to spur a comeback and forced some throws.

Wall to Wall carpeted

The Stampeders must have wondered in the offseason what they would do to replace Jamar Wall, a long-time defensive stalwart in Calgary.

They only had to change the jersey number, and not the name bar, as Titus Wall earned his job out of camp.

While there is no relation between the two, the Stampeders’ defensive Wall hasn’t shown any holes from the switch.

Stampeders’ linebacker Jameer Thurman was heard on the TSN broadcast calling for Wall to be named Rookie of the Year in the CFL and his case got a lot stronger as the SAM linebacker grabbed a pair of interceptions, one in the endzone and another returned all the way back for the Stampeders’ lone touchdown on the evening.

Mills grinds and peppers some yards

When the Stampeders announced they would be without star running back Ka’Deem Carey for this week, there were many outside Calgary that questioned how effective the run game would be, especially when centre Sean McEwen was added to the six-game injured list.

Those people hadn’t had the benefit of seeing Dedrick Mills in the preseason and at training camp.

A hard runner who seeks out contact, Mills would carry the ball 16 times for 100 yards and add 32 yards receiving on two catches.

With Carey, Peyton Logan, and Mills, the Stampeders are overstocked with talent in the backfield.

Carey will be back on top of the depth chart when he is ready, but there is zero need to rush him back before he is fully healed.

Special Teams miscues

Rene Paredes missed a field goal. Peyton Logan lost sight of a punt. Cody Grace scored his first regular season rouge and had a punt that travelled less than 40 yards through the air.

I’m not sure if it was because Kilam was also the head coach on the night, but none of those things normally happen in a game — let alone all four at once.

Grace did end up winning the net punting battle thanks to Logan, who went for 103 yards on eight returns versus the 67 yards on seven returns from Ottawa’s Terry Williams. The punters were used often in this stinker, exactly the opposite of the thrilling game Calgary had against Winnipeg last weekend.

The Paredes miss came as the TSN commentary team of Dunigan and Marshall Ferguson were talking about him and Lewis Ward being the two best in CFL history for kicking accuracy. Ward put one off the upright and through later in the game.

Paredes is still getting closer to Ward in terms of career percentage, as he has gone 24-of-26 on the season and Ward is now 20-of-24.

Geo 1000

A major congratulations to equipment manager George Hopkins, who was on the sidelines for his 1000th CFL game on Friday and was busy marking balls for players who scored defensive touchdowns and got their first career interceptions.

Hopkins has missed just three games in his 51-year career and has six Grey Cup rings. A member of the Wall of Fame in Calgary since 2014, he has also been an integral part of Football Alberta and the development and protection of generations of minor football players by running an equipment inspection program and teaching organizations how to care for and store equipment.

He was also the genius behind the Stampeders’ chrome helmet look from a few years back, which for my money is the finest lid this league has ever seen.