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Sunday, November 20, 2016

ETCH'S & O'S: CFL DIV FINALS ANALYSIS

Pro football consultant Gary Etcheverry is back to provide postgame analysis of Sunday's CFL Division Finals.  Enjoy!

EAST FINAL
OTTAWA 35 EDMONTON 23

Run. The. Ball.

I've seen this happen so many times, especially with someone like Edmonton Head Coach Jason Maas.

When you come into a game generally not wanting to run the football, it's almost maniacal that when your running back has success (like 160 yards in last week's Eastern Semifinal), you almost hope he didn't because there's pressure on you to keep doing it.

But when you've got a talent like John White, you should be giving him the ball 10-15 times per half.  In Sunday's Eastern Final, White totalled only 12 carries for 66 yards for the entire game.

The narrative is "the game got away from us so we couldn't run the ball" but when you factor in the snowy conditions in Ottawa, Eskimo QB Mike Reily did everything he could for that team but it just wasn't enough.

It's a shame it ended up this way.

Even from Ottawa's offensive standpoint, a lot of Henry Burris's passes were traveling 30, 40, 50 yards from the hand of the quarterback.  That's "Flip A Coin Football" in conditions like that and half the time you're looking for an official to bail you out of a poorly thought-out play.

In conditions like what hammered Ottawa on Sunday, if you're like Jason Maas and you believe you win your football games fundamentally by Passing Game design, that's fine because a lot of coaches do.  But now in the snow, it was damn near as bad as it could be.

You've got to rely on your running game in games like this.  It helps your defense, it helps your quarterback, it helps your play-action game, it helps everything.  It helps your drop back passing game too!

Edmonton came back in this game thanks to a couple of Ottawa turnovers but the final score flattered the Eskimos.  Ottawa won the game going away,

The RedBlacks ran the ball very effectively and Henry Burris proved his worth and his value again.  He's defying Father Time.  I'm not sure that he's Benjamin Button (getting younger with age), but he's just unbelievable.

TSN did a pregame piece on Burris on how he uses commentary - sometimes even from TSN announcers - as motivation.  That's exactly what Tom Brady does for the New England Patriots.

Henry's always focusing on the fact that he was overlooked and under-valued.  There's all this narrative of Good Hank and Bad Hank but it's just not supported by fact.

Ottawa did a great job Sunday in all facets, especially Tristan Jackson's great return when Edmonton was trying an onside punt.  The punt wasn't placed well and Jackson turned it into a touchdown.

In every phase Ottawa won this game and like I said, the final score flattered Edmonton.

WEST FINAL
CALGARY 42 B.C. 15

If you're a coach and you believe in the value of coaching, clearly the foundation of the entire staff which John Hufnagel built going back to 2008 is what the entire Stampeders organization rests on.

B.C.'s Wally Buono built a really solid foundation when he transferred to the Lions over a decade ago but when he returned to the sidelines this year to replace Jeff Tedford, he just took some things for granted.

Wally thought that he alone could make up for what I thought were three really weak hires at the coordinator positions.  They are three guys who have a lot of coaching ahead of them but at this stage of the game, they were just over-matched against Calgary.

The Stampeders are the only team since 2008 that, each season, is a legitimate contender to win a championship.

I just think that Wally took some things for granted and probably focused too much on his own personal accomplishments as a Head Coach & GM for a very long time.  He's the winningest coach in the history of the league yet he came into this season taking coaching for granted.  They relied on talent and they've got a great pair of linebackers in Elimimian and Bighill, but their defense played horribly on Sunday.  A lot of that had to do with the fact their offense couldn't hold onto the football.

Calgary's offense started hot, moving right down the field on their opening drive and going up 8-0.  That was representative of the entire game, start to finish.

B.C.'s playcaller is Khari Jones, one of the toughest competitors at QB I've seen in the CFL.  As far as tough QB's go, on par with Mike Riley, maybe more so! And even-though Wally seems to have the Lions running more as the season has unfolded, Jones would rather pass. That's natural for most offensive coaches at or near the outset of their coaching careers. Quarterback-centric.

But the competing view is that "Football is the ultimate team game." A perfect example of this is Jim Harbaugh.  He's a quarterback who played the position at a much higher level than any of the current play callers (in the CFL, for sure).  But he sees the game through the eyes of an offensive lineman or linebacker.

Quarterback-centric, or the latter, "Football is the ultimate team game." How do you characterize the way Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Bill Parcells --  Chris Jones, for that matter -- look at and teach and coach the game?  Clearly: "Football is the ultimate team game!"

Wally really missed the boat I think.  He had significant coaching influences when he began his coaching career in Montreal, some really outstanding, committed-to-the industry coaches and for him to turn around upon his return to the field as coach this year, I feel he really almost spat in the face of coaching by the three hires that he made.

As far as pulling Jonathan Jennings in this game goes, I think it's "reaching".  Great coaches do that at times but I think you're just hoping for a spark.  You're looking for something that just wasn't going to be there.

Regarding Bo-Levi Mitchell, in the classic way, he's the best quarterback in this league and he has been for the past three seasons.  He makes all the throws, he has the height, weight, speed and played big-time high school football in Texas/

He's been the benefactor of some outstanding coaching by Beau Baldwin at Eastern Washington University and of the foundation that John Hufnagel has built in Calgary.

Bo-Levi must have a very good working relationship with Dave Dickenson because they produce some really good stuff.  They took a significant step backward in Hufnagel's "Lame Duck" year in 2015 and there were reasons for that, but this year they won 15 games and could've easily won 16.

They're a well-oiled machine and it disrupts the narrative of "too much time off" with a Round 1 bye.  I'd be surprised if you don't get a really similar peformance in the 2016 Grey Cup in Toronto.

104TH GREY CUP LOOK-AHEAD - CALGARY VS OTTAWA

I came into the season being very wrong by anticipating Calgary would have more struggles defensively under a first year coordinator in Devone Claybrooks.  I think good things about their special teams and offense but I thought they'd go through hard times transitioning over from Rich Stubler but they did anything but.

They were consistent from start-to-finish all season, and were outstanding on Sunday.

If you play this brand of Complimentary Football in this league, it doesn't seem to exist with any longevity but this was a complimentary game played by Calgary.

With Henry Burris leading Ottawa, they are certainly capable of winning the Grey Cup.  With Head Coach Rick Campbell, right now you've got to say he's at the top of the heap.  He's traditionally prepared, has been doing it for a long time, his father was a coach in Canada and the U.S. and Rick was exposed to that, so I think he's well-prepared and even-keeled.  You have to be to stick around in this game.

Campbell's building something in Ottawa along with GM Marcel Desjardins that's very nice.  They started off with two wins in their inaugural season of 2014 and have been to each of the last two Grey Cups.

But let's pump the brakes a bit.  They were an 8-9-1 team in the regular season and they were playing an Edmonton team that was on the road in the crossover format.

Ottawa's a solid team, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's a two touchdown win by Calgary at BMO Field.

I would anticipate the Stampeders being 10-14 point favourites in this one.

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THAT'S ALL!  I'll SEE YA WHEN I SEE YA
COACH ETCH

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the Roughriders ask nicely, the REDBLACKS will send/sell/trade Trevor Harris to Saskatchewan.

John Knight said...

No they won't

Chris said...

Better chance that they get Henry Burris