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Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Mike Abou-Mechrek
10-year CFL veteran, Grey Cup champion and 620 CKRM football analyst Mike Abou-Mechrek released his CFL off-season Power Rankings on Monday's SportsCage program.

Here they are for the West Division and CFL overall:

West Division



1 – SMILIN’ HANK HOLDS GRUDGE: Henry Burris created a stir with his CFL quarterback ranking back in February when he left Zach Collaros out of his top 9 but that isn’t the only dig he’s been throwing around lately.

Calling Chris Jones somebody “who doesn’t understand quarterbacks” and suggesting if he had played football last year instead of retiring, he would have wiped the floor with the Ticats. His appearance on a CFL podcast sounded like a guy without much respect for Tabbies coach June Jones either.

So why is Hank throwing all these daggers? Let me explain:

Henry was not re-signed by the Tiger-Cats following his 2013 Grey Cup loss at Saskatchewan when his coach Kent Austin chose instead to sign Collaros. I love Hank’s smiling personality and think he’s great for the league and the country but the bottom line is Hank still likes to hold grudges. He never forgave Roy Shivers for not giving him the keys to the Cadillac here in Saskatchewan and he won’t forgive John Hufnagel, Kent Austin or the Ticats for giving up on him either.

You got your digs in at Grey Cup 2016 Hank! Let it go, partner. Life’s too short for that nonsense.

2 – ANOTHER REASON WHY DURON IS DURON: While sniffing around old podcasts over the weekend, I stumbled across another one from down south where Duron talked about his “Uncle Randy” as in Randy Moss having the biggest influence on him other than his own dad, pro football Hall of Famer Cris Carter. Randy Moss was a crazy, erratic mess off the field when he would have played the role of “Uncle” for Duron.

Randy Moss today appears to be a level-headed, likable NFL analyst. It’s possible that he could perhaps influence Duron to clean up any bad habits today.

3 – ARLAND BRUCE III NOT THE RIGHT CHAMPION FOR CONCUSSION ARGUMENT: When reading about the case of Arland Bruce’s concussion lawsuit being tossed out by the Supreme Court, I couldn’t help but feel conflicted.

On one hand, I love the discussion being had in the hopes that we can root out the concussion epidemic in pro sports by helping those affected and finding solutions to keep our great games safe. But on the other hand, Arland Bruce’s lawyer spoke at great length about Bruce struggling to adjust to a post-football career. She indicated he has had problems keeping up with child support payments and Depression. These are worrisome issues but not unique to somebody with concussions. We need to know more about CTE and find out if in fact it is unique to football players and not everyday Joe’s before we start forking over a fortune to every ex-football player who's depressed.

And based on Arland’s behavior when he played, I wouldn’t put it past him to use this concussion crisis to his advantage for a big payday. I’m just sayin.

4 – JETS DREAM SEASON CFL’S WORST NIGHTMARE?: CFL Week was a slam dunk in Regina last year and I assumed this year in Winnipeg would be no different. However, this might be the greatest NHL team The Peg has ever seen. They are starved for a deep playoff run in Winnipeg and it threatens to overshadow the CFL offseason caravan this weekend. If that happens, it’ll be curious to see if the league makes it to a 3rd CFL Week in 2019.

5 – SASKATOON BLADES OWNERSHIP SHOULD LOOK IN THE MIRROR: Shook my head Sunday when I read on this blog about the Blades firing of head coach Dean Brockman. I’ve known Dean off and on for 15 years going back to his glory days running the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos and have always found his competence and dedication second to none. They needed a scapegoat and the head coach is always an easy target. Funny how teams trade away their star players for draft picks and prospects and then are surprised when their season goes off a cliff.

I confess to knowing very little about the Blades or their happenings behind the scenes but just about everyone I’ve talked to including one anonymous source close to the team is pointing the finger at upper management. The General Manager is the owner’s son and lacks the resume most successful GM’s boast. The family business model has worked out okay for the Pittsburgh Steelers but failed miserably for the Regina Pats with Brent Parker, the Cincinnati Bengals with Mike Brown and just about any other organization who’ve tried it.

6 – CANADA SHOULD AVOID FIFA WORLD CUP BID: Legendary columnist Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette just put out a scathing critique of that city’s involvement in the North American bid for the World Cup of soccer in 2026. Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton are still going great guns with their efforts to host games after B.C. Premier John Horgan pulled Vancouver out saying “FIFA will want nothing less than a blank cheque”. I don’t always agree with B.C.’s government but we are on lock-step with this one.

FIFA’s demands include making Canada a tax-free zone for pretty well the duration of any profits made from the events along with hundreds of millions in straight-up cash. All Canadian cities—not just Montreal—should say no to this ridiculous idea of feeding the most corrupt sporting enterprise in the world. Montreal’s baseball community is pushing its bring-back-the-Expos campaign, only to be ignored by its mayor who seems fine with this horrible idea as well as wasting another quarter-billion dollars on a roof for the useless dump that is Olympic Stadium. What a disgrace!

7 – SASKATOON SHOULD BID ON VANIER CUP: This is one bid that actually would give a town some bang for its buck. I was there in 2006 and had an amazing time. I’ve covered a Super Bowl week, national Junior “A” Hockey Championship and a Stanley Cup final. I would put that experience up there with them all. There's no overlap with the Rush lacrosse regular season either. Saskatoon is an underserved sports market and deserves this again.

8 – BLUE JAYS RADIO SHOULD HIRE ELLIOTT PRICE: The Jays radio broadcast crew is still in flux just 2 weeks before the season starts. Jerry Howarth retired in February after 36 years of full-time duty with the team and Joe Siddall has moved over to the TV side to replace the manalyst Gregg Zaun sitting beside Jaime Campbell.

The radio broadcasts in spring training have featured a rotating crew auditioning for the full-time gig including Mike Wilner and other men who spent last year in the minors with the Buffalo Bisons and Vancouver Canadians. I would like to see them involve long-time Montreal Expo broadcaster Elliott Price. He knows baseball history inside and out and calls a great game. Jays fans would be lucky to have him.

And by the way, Zaun has apologized for his inappropriate behavior. He can sit out this season and if Rogers can’t give him a second chance next year, someone else should. Potty talk around the office shouldn’t be an automatic life sentence for anyone.

9 – STEPHEN BRUNT IS BOB COSTAS NORTH: So great to hear Stephen Brunt talking CFL again now that the Rogers unofficial boycott of the Argos appears to be over. I’m one of the many TV viewers who misses the stirring commentary of Bob Costas on NBC’s Sunday Night Football and I think Brunt’s level-headed down-to-earth approach will be a nice replacement.

10 – DOCUMENTARY/BOOK OF THE WEEK: Ken Dryden’s “Game Change” studies the life and death of NHL defenceman Steve Montador. Another victim of the concussion crisis, ‘Montie’ as his friends and teammates came to know him fell through the cracks at a time when we were just scratching the surface about the long-term effects from head injuries. I have yet to finish the book but have been glued to the first 3 chapters so far. Dryden explains why he thinks all penalties causing head contact should be an automatic penalty with no exceptions. I plan to finish this heart-breaking read this week and hope Gary Bettman follows through on his promise to Dryden and does the same.

(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)


WINNIPEG -- The Canadian Football League (CFL) and its member clubs pledged to donate more than $3 million to amateur football this season, it was announced today.

“Football makes a world of difference to young people and we are committed to making a positive difference by supporting football,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL.

“The ultimate team sport, which provides a place for kids of all skills, body types and backgrounds, football teaches teamwork, discipline and perseverance. That’s why our teams provide funding, and our players and coaches give generously of their time, to support amateur football for many age groups and in many forms, including tackle, flag and touch football.”

The commitment made today builds on the effort CFL teams and the league office made in 2017 when they invested $3,352,000 in amateur football, according to a survey conducted by the CFL.

Players and coaches made more than 700 appearances at amateur football events, teams made direct donations and celebrated amateur football in their communities, and clinics and tournaments were organized across the country.

Here is just a sampling of a few of the programs and initiatives:

- The Edmonton Eskimos donated their 50/50 draw earnings to support the development of amateur football in Northern Alberta. Recipients included Football Alberta, the Edmonton Wildcats, the Edmonton Huskies, University of Alberta Golden Bears Football and the Edmonton Eskimos Alumni Association’s amateur football initiatives.

- The Saskatchewan Roughriders donated their 50/50 earnings from each game to the University of Regina Rams, University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Regina Thunder, Saskatoon Hilltops, Regina Riot, and the Saskatoon Valkyries as well as Football Saskatchewan. Additionally, the Riders sponsored youth flag football leagues in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw with both financial and in-kind donations. 

- The Ottawa REDBLACKS donated their 50/50 earnings last year to the National Capital Amateur Football Association.

- The Montreal Alouettes donated to bursaries for the Foundation de l’athlete d’excellence du Quebec.

- The Hamilton Tiger-Cats PlayAction program recognized local coaches and organizers and provided local athletes with the opportunity to attend clinics, camps and Tiger-Cat home games. Twenty-five individual Tiger-Cats players participated in the ever-popular High School Mentorship program, leading and mentoring high school football players at practices and games during the fall football season. The Tiger-Cats also launched their first ever Flag Football program for local elementary students at Tim Hortons Field last year once a week for the month of May.

- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers supported both flag football and tackle football at all levels and ran free football programming for thousands of youth, in addition to providing multiple professional development and recognition opportunities for youth football coaches throughout the year.

- The Calgary Stampeders donated their 50/50 funds to local and amateur football groups like the Calgary Colts, Bantams, U of C Dinos and high school football programs, along with flag football programs in Calgary junior high schools. The team also supported student athletes who are members of the University of Calgary Dinos football team through the John Forzani Endowment Fund.

- The Toronto Argonauts hosted a Safe Contact Clinic where 150 amateur football coaches were certified in safe tackling and blocking techniques.

- The BC Lions hosted the annual Orange Helmet Awards dinner in support of amateur football in their province.

The Canadian Football League launched the successful CFL NFL Flag football program which featured tournaments in all nine CFL cities, a national tournament at Grey Cup and a Canadian entry in an international competition at the Pro Bowl in Orlando.

“These programs and results speak to the power of the CFL to have a positive impact on amateur football and the young people who learn such valuable lessons from it,” Ambrosie said.

“Too often, the collective effort of our clubs and the league has been diminished by the fact we have not spoken with one voice. By conducting this survey of our amateur football efforts, we have uncovered the cumulative power of what we do. I have no doubt we will continue to build on this legacy and our sport and the young people it serves will both be better for it.”



Kartusch Semifinal
Martin 6 Campbell 5

Jr Tier 2 City Final Girls
Greenall 51 Balfour 38
Balfour Justine Morsky 10 Greenall Carlie Kaspick 8

Jr Tier 2 City Final Boys
Laval 98 RCS 64
RCS Jerry McLintok 18 Laval Baptiste Labrie-Boulay 25

Monday, March 19, 2018


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed national receiver Brett Blaszko and national kicker Brett Lauther.               

Blaszko (6’4 – 204) was originally selected by the B.C. Lions in the third round (23rd overall) of the 2016 CFL Draft. The 24-year-old Oakville, Ontario native signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in June, 2017 after spending his rookie season on the Lions’ practice roster.

Blaszko dressed for two games as a backup receiver with the Riders last season.

Lauther (6’1 – 195) returns to the Riders after spending two weeks on the practice roster in 2017.

The 27-year-old Saint Mary’s product was originally selected by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 7th round (53rd overall) of the 2013 CFL Draft. After spending two seasons with the Ti-Cats Lauther had practice rosters stints with the Riders and Toronto Argonauts in 2015 before returning to the Riders last season. He also spent time on the Edmonton Eskimos’ practice roster in 2017.


By: Staff

That sound you hear off in the distance is the heartbeat of 2018 training camps across the CFL. In just nine weeks, your favourite teams across Canada will report and begin the long trek towards the Grey Cup in Edmonton.

With free agency done and the National Combine this week in Winnipeg, various media outlets across the CFL are putting out their Power Rankings. As rosters and coaching staffs are being built and rebuilt, this looks like it may finally be the full parity the CFL front office is looking for.

Saying that, here is the Out of the Tunnel Top 9 from the bottom up.


9: Montreal – Not much question here. It’s a new staff led by Mike Sherman and there are still a lot of things to be worked out before the Alouettes can crawl back into the playoffs in the East Division. It all starts at quarterback, with the battle more than likely being between CFL veteran, Drew Willy and former NFL pivot, Josh Freeman.

8: B.C. – They did some good things in free agency trying to rebuild their offensive and defensive lines. Jonathan Jennings will be the starter heading into training camp, but he took a step back in 2017. With the impending retirement of Mr. B.C. Lion Wally Buono, that is the kind of off-field distraction that can only hurt.

7: Hamilton – Which Ticats team will show up in 2018? The one that started the season 0-8 or the one that made a late season surge at 6-4? Jeremiah Massoli took over from Zach Collaros and almost led Hamilton on a miraculous run to the playoffs and he will be the starter as training camps begin in May. A lot of changes to their coaching staff as well.

6: Toronto – The Argos caught fire at the right time to win the 2017 Grey Cup in Ottawa. Toronto will have the top one-two punch at quarterback with Ricky Ray and James Franklin. A solid offence with a lot of questions on defence. The question remains: can there be sustained success in Toronto?

5: Edmonton – A solid team with one of the top quarterbacks in the CFL, Mike Reilly. They overcame an array of injuries in 2017 to make it to the West Division final. There is some notable turnover with some well-known vets out the door to make way for some youth.

4: Saskatchewan – Great talent across the board with a solid and consistent coaching staff. Zach Collaros is the newly minted starter with the Green & White, but which Collaros will you get? The 25 touchdown, eight interception standout from 2015, or the one who went winless to begin the season in 2017? Canadian depth is a big question mark in Rider Nation.

3: Ottawa – The Redblacks overcame what may have been the worst schedule in recent CFL history. Ottawa was pretty beat-up when they hosted Saskatchewan in the East semi-finals. The Redblacks have one of the best Canadian rosters and a solid coaching staff made better with the addition of Noel Thorpe as defensive co-ordinator. They are easily the top team in the East.

2: Winnipeg – The Bombers are building for right now. It is a veteran laced roster that wants to build on the heartbreaking loss to Edmonton in last season’s West semi-final. If Matt Nichols can stay healthy, they will go far.

1: Calgary – The Stampeders are smarting from another Grey Cup loss in 2017. General manager John Hufnagel was incredibly shrewd this off-season releasing many high-priced, 30+ year-old players. This is part of the turnover that great teams do, they let expensive players go on the down-side of their career and bring in younger talent.  Football is an under-30 league. Calgary also has the best quarterback in the CFL.


The CFL combine is this Saturday and Sunday in Winnipeg. Most of the top eligible players for the upcoming 2018 CFL Draft will attend and strut their stuff in front of every front office member across the league.

Most of you watched the NFL Combine, but don’t expect those kinds of numbers. Sure, there have some great performances like Tevaughn Campbells 4.36 40-time and Byron Archambault’s 41-reps in the bench press (both were in 2014). The thing is, most of those players competing in the NFL combine have either finished or left school and were training full-time for the combine.

The potential CFL draftees are still in school and can only get in as much gym and track time as they fit into their schedules.

In the CFL, the Combine itself won’t make or break a player, but a big combine number must match the tape and what they do in the drills. Unlike the NFL combine, players will pad-up and do one-on-ones, much like what the Senior Bowl does for NFL scouts.

So, if like many of us, you're planning to tune into’s livestreaming of the combine, here are some things to look for:

The 40 is the showcase event. Yes, a scorching time is awesome and will make for some great headlines, but pay attention to the 10-yard and 20-yard times. A quick explosion is key to success in football. For example, the elite of the elite in the 10-yard will be around 1.6 for running backs, 1.85 for offensive linemen, 1.75 for a middle linebacker, and 1.85 for a defensive tackle.

Bench press is just a great indicator if a player loves the weight room. Top players on the offensive and defensive lines will hit the 25-30 mark, linebackers should hit between 15-20 and receivers around 10-12. Longer arms will have a tougher time with this, so the taller players will struggle.

Vertical and broad jump numbers should match the explosiveness of the 40-time.

3-cone and shuttle run is key to judging athletic ability. If they just look ‘good’ doing the drills and can pull off a solid time while doing so this is beneficial. But if they come across as stiff, that can hamper their stock.

For defensive backs and linebackers watch the 10-yard backpedal then 10-yard sprint. If they can get in and out of a back pedal with ease, they will do the same on-field.

The two most important things we will not see are the interviews these athletes will have with all nine CFL clubs and the Wonderlic test (or whatever the CFL names their exam). The interview is key to see if a certain player will fit that organization's plans and the exam is to see if a player's intelligence (or lack thereof) will impact his play on the field.

Much has been made by the CFL with eight “NCAA” trained players making an appearance at the combine. Yes, they play in the NCAA, but at drastically different levels.

There are four FBS (NCAA D-1) players attending: Mark Chapman (Central Michigan), Sean Harrington (Michigan State), Julien Laurent (Georgia State), and Peter Godber (Rice).

Three of the players are from the FCS level of football (NCAA D1-AA): Bo Banner (Central Washington), Norvell McGlaun (Indiana State) and Ryder Stone (Dartmouth) and one player from Division Two football, Christian Strong (Seton Hill).

The three top ranked players will not attend but we will have results from their pro-days.

Connecticut offensive linemen Trey Rutherford will have his pro-day on March 21st and Bowling Green offensive lineman Ryan Hunter's is March 19th.

David Knevel of Nebraska had his pro-day last week and his numbers were less than stellar, but it looks like he is focusing more on how he is preparing to play on the field.

Knevel told Brian Christopherson of Huskers Illustrated, “It's kind of funny. I'm a big guy and I'm learning how to run like a track athlete," he said. "It's a lot of fun, a good experience. Probably won't do it ever again. But I'm ready to get into football training.”

The only numbers that were reported were a 5.3-5.6 in the 40 and 16 reps on the bench press.

So we will have these numbers to compare to the other 50 taking part in the CFL combine.

The CFL Combine is growing in popularity and it whets the appetite of football fans with just a little something that looks like football. It will be interesting to watch.

( Staff)


TORONTO --  The Canadian Football League (CFL) is rolling out a new and improved ball for the upcoming 2018 season.

“We are currently delivering to our teams a ball that is slightly different from the one we’ve used in the past,” said Ryan Janzen, Senior Director of Football Operations for the CFL.

“The new ball is virtually identical, to the eye, to the old one. It has the same laces and markings including our stripes. But it is made of a slightly harder leather. Our partners at Wilson say that allows it to hold its pebbles better.”

The new ball may also be just a tiny fraction larger. It is the same length as the old one. But Wilson provides a range for what constitutes an acceptable circumference upon inflation and that could be up to an eighth of an inch larger for the new ball. 

During 2017, CFL clubs were given the opportunity to test, at mini-camps and in training camp, the Wilson ball used in the NFL. Feedback from quarterbacks indicated they preferred the laces used on CFL balls but the leather of the NFL balls.

CFL General Managers subsequently proposed that the league adopt a new ball that has the laces, stripes and other markings of the old CFL ball but the leather and size of the NFL ball. The Board of Governors recently discussed the change at its winter meetings and the new balls were ordered.

“A new, improved and unique CFL ball has been created. And it is being delivered to our clubs now,” Janzen said.


TORONTO – The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today their coaching staff for the 2018 Canadian Football League season. Tommy Condell has been named offensive coordinator and Mike Archer, previously the linebackers coach, has been named defensive coordinator. The team has also added Anthony Calvillo as quarterbacks coach and Greg Quick as linebackers coach.

Toronto Argonauts 2018 Coaching Staff:

Head Coach - Marc Trestman
Offensive Coordinator, Receivers - Tommy Condell*
Defensive Coordinator - Mike Archer*
Special Teams Coordinator - Kevin Eiben
Quarterbacks - Anthony Calvillo**
Running Backs -Josh Moore
Offensive Line - Jonathan Himebauch
Offensive Quality Control - Justin Poindexter
Defensive Backs - Tyron Brackenridge*
Linebackers - Greg Quick**
Defensive Line - Kerry Locklin
Defensive Quality Control - Gavin Lake
Special Teams Asst. - Wendell Avery
Strength & Conditioning - J. Aggabao

*Change in title from 2017 | **New additions to the staff

Chamblin leaving Argos
Calvillo spent the last three seasons as part of the Montreal Alouettes coaching staff, fulfilling a number of roles on the offensive side of the ball, including offensive coordinator, receivers coach, and quarterbacks coach. He most recently was Montreal’s quarterbacks coach in 2017. As a player, Calvillo dressed for 329 games across 19 CFL seasons with the Las Vegas Posse, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Montreal Alouettes. He won three Grey Cups in Montreal, two of which came back-to-back alongside Argos head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Jim Popp in 2009 and 2010. Calvillo earned CFL All-Star honours five times with Montreal and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player on three occasions (2003, 2008, 2009). The league’s all-time leader in almost every major passing category, including passing yards (79,816), passing touchdowns (455), and completions (5,892), became professional football’s all-time leading passer in 2011.

Quick returns to Toronto after previously serving as the team’s linebackers coach in 2010 and 2011. Since his first stint with the team, he has coached linebackers with the Alouettes (2014, 2016-17) and served as the defensive coordinator for Corey Chamblin with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Quick brings 37 years of coaching experience to the Argos staff. Most notably, he operated as the head coach at the University of Chicago (1989-93), St. Norbert College (1994-98), and Concord University (2003-08). In six seasons in the CFL, Quick has coached two CFL All-Stars and five divisional All-Stars. During both stints with the Alouettes, he worked alongside Argos GM Jim Popp.

Marcus Brady, the Argos offensive coordinator for the last five seasons, was hired as the assistant quarterbacks coach with the Indianapolis Colts in February. Corey Chamblin has taken a leave of absence from the team.

(Argos PR)

Sunday, March 18, 2018


By: Luc Mullinder
620 CKRM Football Analyst

If you tuned into The Sportscage’s Football Friday show with Rod Pedersen on 620 CKRM, we unveiled my CFL Power Rankings, as it stands, prior to CFL Week in Winnipeg.  If you missed it, we’ll review it here for conversation's sake.

In order to come up with a 1 through 9 ranking, I figured that we’d have to look at things from a holistic point of view so to do that, we should first rank Coaching Staffs, Offensive and Defensive units (including Coordinator scheme) and Special Teams consideration.

What is very evident about this upcoming season is that this may very well be the most competitive year in the CFL in a very long LOOOONG time, and fans shouldn’t be discouraged by where a team lands in a ranking because it’s very close all the way through.

Always remember folks, NO CHAMPIONSHIPS WILL BE EVER WON ON PAPER.  Let’s take a look...

Coaching Staffs

1. Toronto Argonauts

Rumour has it that Corey Chamblin will not be on the staff in 2018, and that is a HUGE hit, but if that same rumour is true the Argos will elevate Mike Archer, who has quite an impressive resume, to the vacated spot.  I was thinking of dropping them from the #1 spot based on this but the leadership of Marc Trestman cannot EVER be discounted, and I think the experienced Archer will have all the support and resources to succeed.  Tommy Condell at OC means the Argos won’t miss a beat offensively, he’s one of the better coaches in the CFL.  The Defending Champs sit pretty here at the one spot.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders

No Green Goggles here; the year 1 to year 2 improvement under the Chris Jones regime is everything that one would want in a team that had to break themselves down before building back up.  Jarious Jackson getting that OC spot in BC was a hit, but the Riders recovered nicely by filling the QB coach with former NFL QB Steve Walsh who’s had an interesting coaching journey since hanging up his cleats.  The Riders upgraded their receivers coach position by filling Markus Howell’s vacated spot with Travis Moore.  All T Mo has done is produce hard working 1000 yd receivers since moving into the coaching ranks.  At the end of the day, everything runs through Jones, but this close knit crew has a huge opportunity in front of them in 2018.

3. Hamilton TiCats

I’m not sure that any team wanted to play Hamilton in the back half of the 2017 season, and all the credit needs to be given to June Jones and his ability to get the most out of his players AND coaches.  TiCat nation’s probably really excited about 2018, and they should be.  Don’t be surprised if Hamilton takes the battle for the Eastern Division down to the wire this year.  One of the biggest moves in the off season was made by Hamilton when they convinced OrlondoSteinauer to come back from killing it as DC at Fresno State University.  Adding him to a staff that features Jerry Glanville was a huge boost.

4. Ottawa RedBlacks

To be honest, this staff is in a virtual tie with the TiCats, and is pretty dang close to the Riders one as well.  The addition of Noel Thorpe puts Ottawa in the upper echelon of this league when you consider Jamie Elizondo, and Bobby Dyce running the Offense and Special Teams units respectively.  The nations capital is in such good shape in their football ops department.

5. Calgary Stampeders

Stamps fans shouldn’t be mad at this at all.  It’s just not Dave Dickenson’s time to ascend this list when you look that the HEAD COACHES in front of him.  He’ll get there though.  As long as Hufnagel’s in this organization, they’ll be alright.  After that, Devon Claybrooks might have been one of the brightest spots of 2017.  Claybrooks flat out put it on opposing teams, and considering that it was his first year at the helm of the Stamps D, folks should be saluting the results.  Mark Killam is one of the most underrated coaches in the CFL in my opinion.

6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Again, not a bad spot to be in when you consider the HC’s in front of Mike O’shea and his crew.  It was a disappointing finish in Manitoba last year, and there doesn’t seem like much room for excuses heading into 2018.  Paul LaPolice will be expected to continue to find ways to get the ball into the end zone with a talented roster, and Richie Hall will probably have all eyes on his defensive scheme very early on.

7. Edmonton Eskimos

I feel bad for having Jason Maas’s crew down here because they did a fantastic job of navigating the Eskimos through an unbelievable string of bad luck in 2017.  Getting the Esks to the Western Final last year was nothing short of awesome considering the injuries they were hit with.  Unfortunately, Maas’s passion for the game seemed to take control of him at points in the year, and Mike Benevides’ defensive scheme left was one of the more predictable and basic game plans out there.  Plenty of improvement to be made here, but the Esks do not lack talent, and they’re in a good spot this year.

8. BC Lions

YES...I AM WELL AWARE THAT WALLY BUONO IS THE WINNINGEST COACH IN THE CFL...the reason the Lions are in at 8 is not on Wally.  The Lions have a first time coordinator in Jarious Jackson running their offensive attack, and Mark Washington hasn’t had much luck with his strategic offering.  Jeff Reinebold being brought over to run the Special Teams Unit is a move that should have been talked about a lot more.  He’ll have the return and coverage games roaring in British Columbia.

9. Montreal Alouettes

I’m a big fan of Mike Sherman being in the CFL but he’s got his work cut out for him.  His staff features Khari Jones who was let go in BC, a rookie DC in Kahlil Carter, and a Special Teams Coordinator in Mickey Donovan who comes from Usport and seems to have been a “Presidents Hire.”  It’s an uphill battle in La Belle Province.

Offensive Rankings (Players and Coordinator Scheme)

1. Edmonton Eskimos

It’s going to be very interesting to see how the absence of Carson Walsh affect this unit, but Jason Maas the OC, separates himself from Jason Maas the HC here.  The Esks finished in the top 3 in nearly every offensive catagory last year and despite some losses, there’s quite a bit of talent on this roster.  Oh yeah...they’ve also got the best player in the CFL running their O in Mike Reilly.  Keep an eye on the vacancy left by D’Anthony Batiste, but be confident that Coach Mike Gibson can get the best out of this unit at the end of the day.

2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Bold Prediction:  Matt Nichols makes a run at the Most Outstanding Player Award in 2018.
Adding NicDemski and Adarius Bowman to a crew that features one of the best all-around weapons in the CFL (Andrew Harris) and budding superstar Darvin Adams is trouble.  Throw in Weston Dressler and solid Oline work, it looks like Paul LaPolice has everything he needs to have this unit at the top of the league.

3. Saskatchewan Roughriders

The receiving corps in Saskatchewan is a beast, and with the addition of Zach Collaros, this crew may be in for some big things if the Oline holds up and Collaros gets back to where everyone knows he can be.  Watch for Caleb Holley this year folks.  88’s on the verge of a breakout.  The run game is solid with Cameron Marshall and Jerome Messam toting the rock, and it will need to be.  This is an Offense that needs success on the ground in order to flourish.

4. Toronto Argonauts

The Argos have their future franchise QB in James Franklin, and a first ballot Hall of Fame QB taking the lead, in Ricky Ray.  Marc Trestman and Tommy Condell have so many resources to work with, including James Wilder who they’ve committed to for the next couple of years.  TROUBLE.

5. Calgary

The reason why I’ve got Calgary here at 5 is because for the first time in about 14 years the Stampeders don’t head into camp with a lead POWER BACK.  Don’t kid yourself folks, as impressive as the Stamps attack is, they’re success has ALWAYS been rooted with dependable power guys like Joffrey Reynolds, Jon Cornish, and Jerome Messam.  That may be a concern heading into training camp.  Other than that, however, you have Bo Levi-Mitchell, a plethora of game changing pass catchers, and an always solid Offensive Line.  Yes, the retirement of RT Dan Federkeil raises some questions, but with John Hufnagels ability to find players, one should always be confident in any plan the Stampeders make moving forward.

6. Ottawa

Team’s ranked 6 through 9 all have QB questions in my opinion.  Luckily for Ottawa, the RedBlacks questions aren’t as concerning as the others. One does hear the questions starting to get louder about the ability (and mentality) of Trevor Harris to get his team back to the promised land.  Harris has the players around him to get it done, and OC Jamie Elizondo’s going to get the right calls in so all eyes turn to the Oline and Harris’ ability to maintain consistency throughout 2018.  I can’t wait to see the way Ottawa unrolls Dionte Spencer this year, and William Powell should keep his name in the discussion for one of the best back in the CFL.

7. Hamilton

It pains me to have the Ticats down at the 7 spot.  The main reason here is that I’m not completely sold on Jeremiah Masoli.  When June Jones took over the team, the Ticats O took off, and a large part of the reason why was due to Masoli’s play, however he also missed some crucial throws down the stretch that may have had the Ticats record being even better than what it ended up under Jones.  2018 may be the year that Masoli puts all the doubters like me in check, and I hope does because I’m on record as saying that the Tabbies have a legit shot at winning the East.

8. BC Lions

I’m excited to see how Jarious Jackson attacks defenses this year from a schematic standpoint, but it is his 1st year at the helm so we have to remain reserved.  The BC Lions need Jonathon Jennings to be who everyone think
s he is, but their biggest question is the Oline.  They have to play much better upfront in order to keep pace in a talented West Division

9. Montreal Alouettes

Far too many questions here.  Starting QB being one of them.
Defensive Rankings

1. Calgary Stampeders

The Stamps have a couple impact players in the secondary, but the rest of this unit remains a monster.  DC Devon Claybrooks heads into 2018 being able to lean on one of the best front sevens in the CFL.  Micah Johnson and Alex Singleton will set the pace, and Ja’Gared Davis may just push to lead the CFL in sacks.  2018 might see a changing of the guard in Calgary.  The Defense may be the featured aspect of the Stampeders, and I’m pretty sure they’re quite alright with that.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Green and White brought in Zack Evans and the leadership of Charleston Hughes this off season which adds to unit that is going to be expected to be continue to build on an impressive 2017.  They’ll need to find a boundary corner, and figure out which athlete they want playing middle LB but last season we saw Chris Jones pull back on his aggressive reputation a bit in order to for his scheme to fit the guys he had at his disposal.  This was refreshing to see, and may have been the main reason that the Riders bounced back after a rough start.  Plenty to be excited about with this group.

3. Toronto

If changes to the Defensive Coordinator spot are announced shortly, that won’t take away from the players that the Argos already have in house, but it may make me reconsider this spot.  Does anyone know what’s happening with the Victor Butler situation by the way???  Anyway, as it stands right now, I can’t let rumours affect the rankings.  On paper TODAY, the Argos are a premier Defense in the CFL lead by Marcus Ball and Bear Woods.

4. Hamilton Ticats

This unit doesn’t have the household names that other teams are able to feature but Hamilton has a solid secondary that’s only going to get better with more experience, and a couple studs upfront lead by Larry Dean.  Jerry Glanville is an interesting twist to this story, but again, with OrlondoSteinauer being back in Hamilton tis should be an exciting time for the fans of the Black and Gold.

5. Ottawa RedBlacks

The Defensive interior is going to be a big question in Ottawa comes training camp, but the addition of AC Leonard solidifies their End rotation.  The mitigating factor here is Noel Thorpe who has proven that he can create a Masterchef quality meal with any ingredients.

6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Last season I dubbed their secondary as the “Bermuda Triangle” of the CFL.  The were creating turnovers at an unbelievable clip.  Unfortunately the Bombers D had trouble keeping teams out of the end zone when it mattered.  The departure of Jamal Westerman didn’t help their cause by any means, but they did manage to sign Chandler Fenner who’s a monster.  Defensive Coordinator Richie Hall’s got his work cut out for him this year and seems to be under a considerable amount of pressure.  I’m pulling for him, and this unit because Winnipeg has all the tools to make the next step.

7. Edmonton Eskimos

All eyes on Mike Benevides and his ability to roll out a scheme that challenges the Offensive Coordinators in the CFL and pushes their creativity.  General Manager Brock Sunderland brought in some help upfront in Alex Bazzie, and made sure core guys like Johnny Adams stayed home in Free Agency.  The talent is there in Edmonton.  The scheme has to match it.

8. Montreal Alouettes

Let’s slot the Als in at the 8 spot because they have managed to revamp their secondary through Free Agency, as well as bring in Jamal Westerman to man a Defensive End spot.  Let’s hope that new Defensive Khalil Carter leans on Rich Stubler who is on the Als staff in an advisor/consultant position, because he should be an unbelievable resource for the first year DC.

9. BC Lions

One of the first things that Ed Hervey said when he took the reigns as GM in BC was that they needed to improve upfront on the O and D lines.  He was bang on, and that’s the first place that this unit will need to improve if they want to make an impact in 2018.  Mark Washington, much like Mike Benevides, will need to step up his scheme-game in order to help the Lions during Wally’s farewell tour.
AND FINALLY...The Overall Power Rankings

This is where Special Teams consideration impacted the positioning the most.  The previous 3 rankings above are what I used to compile my overall CFL Power Rankings heading into CFL Week in Winnipeg...

1. Toronto Argonauts

Marc Trestman is the main reason why the Argos are the squad to beat.  They’ve got a potent offense, with a Hall of Fame QB, and a talented Defense.  The Defending Grey Cup Champs are the number one squad until the bullets start to fly for real, and someone says otherwise.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders

The most intriguing thing about this team in 2018 will be how they manage the expectations that are going to be heaped onto them by the rest of the CFL, not just Ridernation.  The majority of the 2017 core is still in house, they’ve got the QB they wanted, and Chris Jones’ staff seem to be primed to make the next step.

3. Calgary Stampeders

The only reason they fall below the Roughriders here is the because of the discussion around the absence of a lead POWER back.  The rest of the tools are here to win the West, and compete in the Grey Cup again.  Unlike the last two years however, things may be a lot closer at the top in 2018.

4. Edmonton Eskimos

It’s hard to imagine the injury bug hitting this team in the face again like it did last year, and one should expect growth from Head Coach Jason Maas.  Any team with Mike Reilly at the helm is a contender, that #Facts.

5. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

General Manager Kyle Walters has continued to make all the right moves in order to give Mike O’Shea and his staff the players needed to get to the Grey Cup.  The Winnipeg media is renowned for being a tough bunch, but it does seem to be entering “now or never” territory for the Bombers.

6. Ottawa RedBlacks

It’s the Special Teams Unit and Coach Bobby Dyce that give the nod in the 6 spot to the Redblacks over the Ticats.  The East is primed to be a dogfight, and Ottawa should be in it as much as anyone.

7. Hamilton Ticats

How is a team that I’m on record as saying that they’ll push to win the East, end up in 7th?  I think that Special Teams is going to be a question, and they don’t feature the roster talent that other teams do.  The coaching staff in Hamilton will be ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

8. BC Lions

Ed Hervey will have this team ready to make a title run.  2018 may not be the year, although anything is possible and there is talent on BCs roster.  They’ve got a lot of work to do in order to get there, but don’t count anyone out in the CFL.

9. Montreal Alouettes

This is the 2nd year in a row that Montreal has swung for the fences in Free Agency, and they caught some big fish.  Will it pay off with a coaching staff that seems to be randomly thrown together?  Mike Sherman seems to have walked into a tough situation.


(Follow Luc on Twitter at @lucmull95)


The Saskatoon Blades have relieved Dean Brockman of his duties as Head Coach effective immediately.

“While this was a difficult decision for us to make, we felt our performance over the last month of the season was very disappointing and the team did not meet the expectations we set out for them,” said Blades General Manager Colin Priestner. “We have been in a playoff position two years in a row coming down the stretch and just haven’t been able to take that next step, which ultimately led us to this decision.”

Brockman has spent the past four seasons with the Blades; the first two as an Assistant Coach and the last two as Head Coach. During his tenure as bench boss, Brockman went 63-68-10-3 over the course of two seasons. 

“We'd like to thank Dean and his family for all their hard work over the last four seasons and wish him nothing but the best in the future,” said Priestner.