There were some very good games this week past. Three came down to the fourth quarter while quarterbacks continued to shine in all four games; so important to the overall quality of the game.
I don't know whether to feel exhilaration for the way the Edmonton Eskimos beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or remorse for the way the Bombers lost. I thought Winnipeg did a masterful job or running plays to support their two new offensive tackles Jarvis Jones and Dan Knapp. Early in the game they used tight ends, running backs, motion, and movement to make sure they weren't isolated one on one in space. It was excellent play calling by the offensive staff of the Bombers.
The difficulty for Winnipeg the rest of the season is at 2-10 making the playoffs is not realistic and if it were to happen, it would likely be a one and done run.
So how do you improve a team with new personnel and try to maintain continuity? That is supposed to happen in training camp, not Week 14. The last six games will be a painful one for Bombers fans in the stands but an inevitable step. Am I saying sacrifice the 2013 season for 2014? Yes, to a point. Until mathematically eliminated, play on. But find talent and let it shine in game conditions.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are getting better and better. Montreal played well on defence and moved the ball against them, but the Tiger-Cats were 4-4 on field goal attempts, scored on a fake field goal, and continue to be productive with the Dan LeFevour experiment. It is so true there are a lot of ways to lose and a lot of ways to win, and both reasons why are often subtle.
Every Tuesday morning I have an errand to run that takes me by the new Ticats Stadium. It looks good! With Kent Austin as head coach improving this team, another year with Henry Burris (you know he wants to come back), I would by a season ticket ASAP. Why don't I? My blood still runs Argonauts Blue.
And speaking of the Double Blue, the Toronto Argonauts have now won three road games in a row. At Montreal, at Saskatchewan, and now at Calgary. That is impressive. The East may come down to Hamilton and Toronto as both teams are pulling away from Montreal and Winnipeg.
I was not sold on Zach Collaros until the win over Calgary. He is not Ricky Ray and he is not Darian Durrant; Collaros has his own style and way of getting things done. He is definitely in the Ottawa RedBlacks picture as an expansion pick as his skill set is only surpassed by his competitive attitude. You can build around that quality of “never say die” leadership.
Watch out for Jerious Norwood as a running back as well. He had 135 all-purpose yards in Calgary and his acceleration combined with his last minute elusiveness is excellent.
Three straight wins with no Chad Owens, right now the Argonauts are peaking as a team and need to relax and keep it going.
In BC, I was impressed with another young QB in Thomas DeMarco. For a first game starter his statistics weren't mind blowing – 18-33, 208 yards and no turnovers – but he was excellent responding in pressure plays. Also, DeMarco has big time velocity and accuracy when he lets the ball go. Just add his name to a list of exceptional young talent that will compete for a starting position somewhere in the near future.
And for the Saskatchewan Roughriders all I can say is don't panic. Panic only brings more panic. You are 8-4 with six to go. You play BC twice more and Calgary once. As a team, you control your destiny and after 13 weeks that is a blessing realized, not a curse carried.
I am not one of these guys who says you can't learn anything from losing (Milt Stegall). To come from behind and take the lead only to then lose it again was excellent experience for Darian Durrant and that offence. It's not over yet for the Roughriders; far from it.
Good week of football and 24 more games to go!