Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jeffrey Orridge New CFL Commissioner

It took some time, but the CFL finally named a new commissioner to replace Mark Cohon. Apparently Orridge is a former CBC executive. Kind of an under the radar pick I think.

Orridge will still have to concentrate on fixing the Argos, at least in terms of finding them somewhere to play. Good luck to him.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Former CFL First Round Pick Shomari Williams Released By Saskatchewan Roughriders

I saw on cfl.ca that the Riders released non-import defensive end Shomari Williams. Williams was drafted first overall by the Riders in 2010. Williams signed in 2013 with the Cats as a free agent and was pretty much injured the entire season, which was a major disappointment. The Cats traded him back to the Riders for the 2014 season.

Williams as a non-import was likely drawing a large salary, but only appeared to play special teams in 2014 with 17 special teams tackles. I'm doubting the Cats would sign him as they have plenty of Canadian (arguably too much) defensive line talent.

Photo of BMO Field Reconstruction

I took this photo of the reconstruction of BMO Field in Toronto last Thursday. The East stands look like they are being made  larger. Still no word on whether the Argos will be moving in. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 2015 CFL Power Rankings

If there is one thing Tigercatonia's likes it is power rankings that are not in season. Free agency has opened, so we have more information.

1. Calgary Stampeders
They won the Cup last year (although on a somewhat dubious call), and had the best regular season record. They have arguably the best quarterback in the CFL, who is still young and not at all washed up. They have lost some talent on the offensive line, but I'm sure they can compensate. The Stamps at this time of year are a safe bet to be at the Grey Cup in Winnipeg this year.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The other team in the Grey Cup, the Cats made some signings at the start of free agency, signing import receiver Luke Tasker, receiver and return man Brandon Banks plus linebacker Taylor Reed. The Cats may have problems signing all their import receivers, however the Cats have shown ability to find them the past few years. The Cats look good at running back if Gable can come back healthy, the return of guard Peter Dyakowski should improve the line and help with the ratio and the Cats are strong with starting Canadian defenders (especially at defensive tackle). As long as quarterback Zach Collaros doesn't get his bell rung too often in the season, the Cats are looking good.

3. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos had a great regular season, but petered off towards the end with quarterback Mike Reilly being injured. Assuming that Reilly becomes healthy over the off-season, the Eskimos should still have a good team, especially on offense. 

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders
I'm making the assumption that the Riders will have Darian Durant back as quarterback and he will be healthy. However the Riders picking up Kevin Glenn is a smart move for them. I'm a bit concerned about turnover this year, but the team still has talent and seems to benefit from being a place players want to play.

5. Montreal Alouettes
The Als were terrible in the first half of the season and then made an impressive turnaround in the second half, ultimately losing to Hamilton in the Eastern final. The emergence of Jonathon Crompton at quarterback was the main turning point for Montreal. His stats aren't particularly impressive, but combined with a strong defence and receivers like S.J Green and Duron Carter, the team was good. Carter's gone, but GM Jim Popp has always had a good pipeline of import talent.

6. Toronto Argonauts
The Argos barely missed the playoffs, mainly due to Ricky Ray being injured. Ray should be back and is consistent and good. There's concerns that the Argos ownership woes will affect the team next year.

7. BC Lions
I'm not sure what to say about BC. They have talent, but without a healthy Travis Lulay, they aren't very good. I think the era of GM Wally Buono fielding strong teams is ending.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers were great at the beginning of 2014 and ended up terrible. The Bombers off-season moves haven't impressed me that much. In a tough Western conference, they will be in tough.

 9. Ottawa REDBLACKS
I still think that Ottawa has the highest chance of finishing last, but they definitely will be better this year. However last year they had two wins, so improving by four wins would still leave them at six. Certainly the receiving corps has vastly improved, with the signings of Jackson, Price, Sinopoli and Ellingson. However they appear to still be going with Henry Burris, who was ineffective last year. Maybe a healthy DeMarco can do something.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dan LeFevour Signs With Als and Nic Grigsby Re-Signs with the Ticats

I had really expected Ticat free agent quarterback Dan LeFevour to sign with Ottawa. They have cap room and Henry Burris isn't getting any younger. But www.cfl.ca is reporting that he has signed with Montreal.

That isn't totally surprising. With the emergence of Zach Collaros as the Cats starting quarterback, LeFevour wasn't going to get a chance in camp to compete as a starter. Certainly he would have been valuable to the Cats as a backup, especially for sneaks, which he excelled at, especially compared to Masoli and to mix things up. And of course if Collaros gets injured, LeFevour is a credible backup in the CFL. The Cats do have a horde of backup quarterbacks that Kent Austin must think are up to the job. They're obviously cheaper

For Montreal, the move makes sense since starter Jonathon Crompton by no means has been statistically brilliant. LeFevour likely has a better chance to start over Crompton sometime in 2015 than Collaros. Hopefully LeFevour doesn't burn us next year too badly. Hopefully LeFevour has recovered from his season ending knee surgery from last year.

In other Ticat news, running back Nic Grigsby re-signed with the Cats. Grigsby who came late last season after playing in Winnipeg played well in relief of injured starter C.J. Gable. Grigsby played pretty well for the Cats and has decent ability receiving out of the backfield, which is a key requirement in today's CFL. I'm a little surprised the Cats could sign both to be honest, although running back salaries aren't usually that high considering how fungible they are.

Potentially the Cats could play them together occasionally in the backfield, provided a couple of Canadian receivers are in. That opens some interesting possibilities in terms of plays and defending teams having to scheme against both. Or the Cats could have one line up in an import receiver slot spot.

A good signing for the Cats, as they now have excellent depth in the backfield and an injury to one of them won't be a big deal.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ticats Sign Running Back C.J. Gable Through 2017

The Ticats announced on their website that import running back C.J. Gable has been signed through 2017. Certainly I like Gable, but he certainly was injury prone last year. Gable only had 30 rushes in 2014 for 138 yards and two TDs. He had 18 receptions for 224 yards in 2014. Likely Gable will be fully recovered by the time training camp rolls around.

The Cats seem to be hard up against the cap this year. I'm curious how much Gable re-signed for. Decent import running backs generally aren't that hard to find (example Nic Grigsby).

Friday, February 13, 2015

Wide Receiver Greg Ellingson Signs with Ottawa

In a widely predicted move (including by me), the REDBLACKS did end up signing former Hamilton import receiver Greg Ellingson. His last year's stats were mediocre, but he had a good 2013 with current REDBLACK quarterback Henry Burris. It will be interesting to see how Ellingson bounces back from 2014 and if there's still any synergy with Burris.