CFL Conversations: Week 1

Edmonton Eskimos 33 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 30

It was the result we expected, in a binary sense. But this was far from the game anyone anticipated. Edmonton started the season widely believed (including by yours truly) to be the best team in the league. The Bombers entered week 1 believed by many (including yours truly) to basically be a lost cause after Matt Nichols suffered an injury late in the off-season expected to sideline him for 4-6 weeks. Enter Chris Streveler. The Winnipeg QB became the first quarterback to start week 1 in the CFL immediately out of college since, and I am not joking because I double checked this, 1994. The South Dakota alum (via Minnesota) fared pretty well in his historic start tossing 15-28 with three TDs and a pair of interceptions. Winnipeg had apparently been seeking a trade for a more experienced quarterback including Kevin Glenn out of Edmonton before deciding to go with the rookie. Streveler started slow but grew into the game and put in a solid shift. Unfortunately Mike Reilly is still extremely that dude throwing for north of 400 yards. The Bombers may be in a better position than we thought, but there is still a fair amount of doubt on both sides of the ball going forward.

Toronto Argonauts 19 – Saskatchewan Roughriders 27

Nic Marshall, former Auburn QB put a lid on this one with a late pick six to bury the defending Grey Cup champions in the Riders home opener. Chris Jones’ Wild Ride continues with a signature Week 1 win despite mediocre play from his star-studded offense. For his part, Zach Collaros started slow but worked his way into the game making efficient throws to defend a lead he maybe didn’t really deserve. His 203 yards don’t jump off the page, but his zero interceptions certainly deserve recognition as the former MOP hopeful started his first win since 2016. Doubts linger over the trade for the QB, especially after Brandon Bridge’s strong 2017, but one must imagine getting that win will feel like he’s got a zoo full of monkeys off his back. How he plays going forward will be an open question with his newfound confidence. For his part Ricky Ray looked pedestrian after a strong start and the Argos defense stayed fairly stout in this affair. We try not to take too much from week 1 games, but both defenses can feel somewhat hard done by their accompanying offenses who showed little.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats 14 – Calgary Stampeders 28

What more could Hamilton fans want? The last time the Ti-Cats visited Calgary they walked away with their tails between their legs suffering a 60-1 defeat. The Cats stayed somewhat in this game until halftime when the vastly superior Stamps just ran away with it. Jeremiah Masoli looked a useful starter for the first half before being held to just about nothing after the break. Calgary looked as expected. Flawed but really, really good, suffering specifically on converting red zone opportunities including a dead-duck interception from Bo-Levi Mitchell. Hamilton displayed a classic bend-don’t-break defense which has some value in the Canadian game played on larger fields, but big play vulnerability was destined to cost them, and it eventually did. It’s difficult to ultimately decipher if Calgary is more vulnerable than in the past or if Hamilton is looking more solid than last year. My money would be on a little from column A, and a little from column B.

Montreal Alouettes 10 – BC Lions 22

Drew Willy looked to be in solid form to start this game but was utterly absent in the second half. The Als posted a shocking zero points after the first quarter. Unlike the other seven CFL teams playing this weekend they looked to completely fail to catch their regular gear as the game went on either offensively or defensively. Jonathan Jennings posted a solid and efficient night behind center with a pair of touchdown passes and a stunning four incompletions. A ratio that would impress any coach. The Alouettes looked completely outmatched, which is not entirely unexpected after their surprising hire of Mike Sherman of Packers fame out of the American high school ranks. I have no doubt that Sherman understood the rules of the Canadian game. But knowing the rules and having an intimate knowledge of how to coach in this league are far from the same thing. For the Als’ sake one really must hope that Sherman will get a better grasp on gameday philosophy in a sport which, on a tactical level is worlds apart from the NFL, lest Montreal continue their streak of failing to qualify for the CFL playoffs before it hits a stunning fourth season.

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