Realty One

Saturday, November 12, 2016


Pro football consultant Gary Etcheverry returns to to provide analysis on the 2016 CFL Playoffs.

Etcheverry is currently employed as a defensive consultant with the Saskatchewan Roughriders but has offered his take on this weekend's CFL divisional semifinal match-ups:

Eastern Semifinal

For Edmonton, it's two words.  "Mike Reilly".

Mike Reilly's going to be the difference in what happens.

What's amusing about Edmonton this year - and the "Mic'd Up" controversy with Jason Maas - was that they claim they run a NASCAR or "Chip Kelly" approach to their offense but the reality is most O-linemen don't want to run it.  

What instead has happened is they're running a No Huddle.  All you have to do is look at the playclock on the TSN broadcast and see that Edmonton is snapping the ball with 2, 3, or 4 seconds remaining on the 20-second playclock.

If you watch play-to-play, Reilly is basically going to his O-linemen and saying, "Don't worry, I'm going to take care of you.  We're just not huddling".  That's fundamentally what they're doing.

So it's not at all what Toronto does where Jason Maas learned a lot from Scott Milanovich's interpretation of Marc Trestman's offense.  In 2014 in Toronto's first game of the season at Winnipeg, they went with the whole shooting match, big signs on the sidelines, big pictures and Hurry-Up with Ricky Ray.  They tried it, and that was the first and last time they ever tried it.  Jason Maas was a part of that offense.

They're really not running NASCAR.  It sounds good and the media and fans don't know the difference unless it's detailed for them like I just tried to do.

I just think Mike Reilly is such a dominant force, he is the best QB in the CFL, and has been for the last couple of seasons.  They're the defending Grey Cup champions and although they're not playing Grey Cup football, the way they've played recently, I expect them to beat Hamilton.


I believe that they did not transition well from former Offensive Coordinator Tommy Condell to their current O.C. Stefan Ptaszek, who played for me in Toronto in 2002.  He's a good coach and he had a significant degree of success in the CIS but there's a big difference between the CIS and the CFL.

Kent Austin - in 2007 in Saskatchewan - had Ken Miller as his Offensive Coordinator.  They'd first collaborated as early as 2004 in Toronto as two assistant coaches.  Kent was O.C. but Ken Miller gave tremendous value to that relationship and they ultimately won a Grey Cup with the Argos that year.

Then when Kent came in 2007, fortunately for Kent, he hired Ken as his O.C. and with Kerry Joseph as their QB, they had an outstanding run and won the Grey Cup here in Regina.

Then Kent went to Ole Miss, his alma mater, and got exposed to big-time competitive football.

The collaboration between Kent and Ptaszek has really not been nearly as successful as the collorabation for the first three seasons with Condell.

I think their defense has been fairly inconsistent, even from the beginning.  I know the narrative was that their defense was strong and powerful but George Cortez put six touchdowns on them in the 2013 Grey Cup game.  Really they've not been as strong since.

There was aspects of what they did 2015 that were pretty good but they've come back down to normal.

There's been inconsistency at the QB position in Hamilton due to injury, and that's really proven to be difficult for them.

WINNIPEG AT BC, Sunday, 3:30 pm TSN

I would favour the coordinators in Winnipeg over the coordinators in BC.

Minimally, those that don't have coordinator titles, BC as two excellent assistants in Dan Dorazio (Offensive Line) and Robin Ross (Defensive Line).  How much they listen to Ross, I don't know, but he was the Head Coach at Western Washington and I went to visit him, and learn from him, in the early 90's when he was the D.C. at Iowa State.  He was with the NFL's Raiders for a time too.  I would hope, for his sanity, that they're listening to him significantly.

The key coordinator positions, all three, I give the edge to Winnipeg, particularly on defense.  I have the utmost respect for Richie Hall and I don't think there's better people than him that I've ever met in my lifetime.  Paul Lapolice is strong - I wouldn't put him in the same category as Richie - but I think he's strong.

And then on Special Teams, Mike O'Shea is solid and has been influenced by good people in the kicking game.  From what I'm told, he has an assistant whose lineage includes a father with a long history in the NFL as a Special Teams coach.  That's a tricky thing coming into the CFL, so your Special Teams coach better know what he's doing or it'll come back to haunt you.

When it comes to Defense and Special Teams, Wally Buono is an established guy on both fronts so he can assist anybody.  Sometimes more than assist - he can be a pain the backside to anyone who's trying to coach those sides of the ball!  Thank God that Wally fundamentally doesn't stick his nose into offense.

The assistant coaches with the titles, I would favour Winnipeg substantially but I would favour the Head Coach with BC most substantially.

When you talk about the quarterbacks, Matt Nichols has surprised virtually everybody.  Now there's a Johnny Come Lately narrative that his mechanics have become truly outstanding which always amuses me because teams who start out with average quarterbacking turn out to have excellent quarterbacking as they move towards the championship game.

That's definitely the case with Nichols and maybe he will continue to pull it off.

But Edmonton traded him because he's not in the same class as Mike Reilly.

The real interesting thing at the QB position is BC's Jonathan Jennings.  He's a star.  This is his first fulltime season as a starter.  Has he made mistakes?  No question he's made them.  But as the season unfolds, he's making fewer and fewer of them.

His confidence level is through the roof.  He's humble and I just think he's outstanding.

He's not the tank that Reilly is.  He's more of an athlete, more of a runner, more of the traditional thing.  However he's not running at the first sign of distress.  He might be the complete package.

Whomever you want to credit for the development of Jennings, Wally Buono has been the consistent producer of quarterbacks.

I laugh at the moniker of "Quarterback Whisperer" associated with Milanovich or with Austin.  If there's been a true Quarterback Whisperer in the last 40 years in this league, it's Wally Buono based on the history of QBs that've come through him.

Oh and by the way, Mike Reilly came through Wally and BC.

But Jennings looks to be the next star.

BC's running the ball more effectively.  I attribute that to Dan Dorazio.

They're the complete package.  They're alternating running backs Jeremiah Johnson and Anthony Allen and making them active one-after-another.

The Lions are doing really good stuff but I don't know if they're good enough to beat Calgary when/if they meet them.

This will be a helluva contest.

It was critical for BC to be at home but Winnipeg has done better on the road.  Who knows if that means anything.

Winnipeg will be confident but I think there's a level of uncertainty with the history of their coaches and some of their players will pick up on that.

The master in this whole equation is Wally Buono.


Riders on the Storm said...

I predict an all west Grey Cup.
Calgary vs Edmonton and I hope it's an upset because I really don't like Little Bo Peep, he's just too damn cocky!!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Etch!

Joel Zand said...

Rod, how about those pats. #1 in Canada.

@mrt_man said...



Anonymous said...

Pretty sure Esks pound Hamilton Sunday, will be tougher in East final at Ottawa though. I would like the black eye on CFL of having Edmonton, one of the most western and northern cities in Canada, represent the Eastern Division though.

Anonymous said...

If the Riders are smart they will make Etch a full time assistant to work with the defence. The secret to the Riders making the playoffs next year is to build a beast of an offensive line. So, the off season shopping list should be 2 stud O lineman, 1 D tackle that can push the pocket as the rat of the defence is pretty solid. Then sign key players like Durant and Knox JR.

John Knight said...

Why would it be a black eye? The league setup is wrong at present and the grey cup should be the two best teams in the CFL and not east vs west

Anonymous said...

As someone going to the Grey Cup from Regina, I would not like to see a Calgary vs Edmonton Cup. Ottawa would be better as it would give me someone to cheer for.

Anonymous said...

BC-Hamilton GC. LOCK IT UP!

John Knight said...

Try win-Edn

John Knight said...

Neither BC or Hamilton will even be in the GC. LOCK IT UP