Insider Talk: Bo gets benched, B.C. loses Rourke, Marino squanders possible NFL shot

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Insider Talk is a bi-weekly staple on 3DownNation that includes anonymous quotes from people around the CFL — players, coaches, personnel people, executives, agents, etc. — regarding the latest news around the league. It’s a combination of insight, analysis, rumours, and friendly gossip.

This week’s Insider Talk is full of discussion regarding Bo Levi Mitchell and Cody Fajardo getting benched, Matthew Shiltz taking on the starting role in Hamilton, the state of offensive line play in the East Division, B.C. having to make due without Nathan Rourke, and Garrett Marino squandering a possible shot at the NFL.

Enjoy this week’s quotes and come back in two weeks for another edition of Insider Talk.

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Calgary’s offence used to be built around (Bo Levi) Mitchell but now it’s built around (running back Ka’Deem) Carey who, frankly, is their best player. There’s been more pressure on Mitchell since Carey went out and those receivers are not making enough plays to support him. If he’s upset with them, I wouldn’t blame him.

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I think (Matthew) Shiltz is a better fit for Hamilton in terms of scheme and play style. I could see (Dane) Evans ending up in Ottawa next year. I like (Jeremiah) Masoli, don’t get me wrong, but he’ll be pushing 34 by that point. It’s tough to build around a guy that old coming off a serious injury.

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B.C. better have a plan because neither of their quarterbacks are anywhere near (Nathan) Rourke’s level. He’s a generational talent. He makes life easy for everyone around him. He puts the ball in the perfect place for his receivers and gets rid of it extremely fast behind that offensive line. (Michael) O’Connor and (Antonio) Pipkin are decent, don’t get me wrong, but that offence and that team as a whole will look completely different without Rourke.

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The state of offensive line play in the East Division is just sad. Montreal’s offensive line is the only one that’s really any good at all. Injuries have been part of the equation, but there’s just no consistency whatsoever. Some well-tenured veterans just aren’t good anymore but there’s nobody better on the street to replace them.

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I’ll give Ottawa this – they’re not any good on the field, but at least they’re functional behind closed doors. There’s continuity. That’s more than I can say for Edmonton. They’re going to have a hard time recruiting free agents this winter unless something changes in a big way. How do you draw good players if you’re turning over the roster every other week? They’ll have to overpay again like they did last year in free agency.

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Toronto won’t skip a beat with (running back A.J.) Ouellette in the backfield. He’s underrated and is actually a lot like Andrew Harris as a really strong receiver out of the backfield. The problem with the Argos is their offensive line. I’m surprised that McLeod Bethel-Thompson hasn’t gotten hurt yet.

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I think (Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defensive lineman Garrett) Marino would have signed an NFL contract this winter but any chance of that happening ended the second he made headlines for the wrong reasons. Any NFL team that Googles him will see the hit and the celebration and move on. You can do stupid things if you’re a first-round pick, not if you’re some guy coming from the CFL.

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I’m never a fan of pulling your quarterback at halftime. You get in the (locker) room, you make adjustments from the first half and you give your quarterback a chance to make things happen in the third quarter. The fact that we saw that twice this week (with Cody Fajardo in Saskatchewan and Bo Levi Mitchell in Calgary) is crazy to me.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.