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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

THROWIN' ELBOWS WITH BRENDAN MCGUIRE

1. JONATHAN JENNINGS IS CASEY PRINTERS: The Jonathon Jennings-to-Saskatchewan talk has made me uneasy from the get-go. And the more I think about it, the more convinced I am he is another Casey Printers waiting to happen.

Think about it.

Both burst onto the scene with an MOP-like year, earning NFL interest. Both fell flat on their face after an offseason of hearing their own hype.

Both made the B.C. Lions front office mad over their poor attitude/work ethic. Both had agents who ran their mouths with little regard for their own players employability.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats got burned bigtime for taking a chance on Casey Printers. The Riders should learn from that and not do the same with Jonathon Jennings.

And besides, as legendary CFL scribe Lowell Ulrich of 3DownNation pointed out on the Cage last week, ‘Jennings didn’t mesh with Jarious Jackson last season, who is a product of the Chris Jones-Stephen McAdoo system’.

So why on earth would any of us think he would be for a fit for Saskatchewan?

2. HOPSON RIGHT ABOUT COACHES SALARIES: Jim has always owned his responsibility in driving coach costs up as he presided over the most successful decade in franchise history, in his time as Roughriders CEO.

In his memoirs, RUNNING THE RIDERS, Jim admits to starting the trend of expanding coach staff sizes and overpaying for football operations staff. It worked great for a Rider nation sick of playing the poor country cousins but also created an unsustainable model for the rest of the league.

Now the players will get a raise in the new CBA and they bloody-well deserve it. 

3. JEFFERSON IS ROUGHRIDERS REAL QB: Pretty clear that we’ve hit a down-cycle in quarterbacks, at least in Canada, if not in football all around.

Very reminiscent of the 2000 season when the Baltimore Ravens won a super bowl with Trent Dilfer as their quarterback, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who did the same with Brad Johnson two years later. That was all sandwiched around Marcus Crandell’s unlikely 2001 Grey Cup MVP triumph.

That was our last real DOWN CYCLE and teams didn’t absolutely need to have a great signal caller to win it all. The Ravens had their real leader in Ray Lewis, the Bucs had Warren Sapp among others and the Stamps still had a great defense, led by legendary warrior, Alondra Johnson.

My point: Willie Jefferson is good enough to fill that void for the Roughriders in 2019.

Searching for an affordable ‘game manager’ who doesn’t turn the ball over would go against conventional 3-down wisdom but might not be such a bad option for the Riders. Kevin Glenn could be just that guy.

4. MANZIEL STOCK ON THE RISE: Johnny showed some real flashes at the end of 2018 and without even playing a down this winter, his value is already on the rise. He’s already a more exciting option than anyone else the Roughriders, Lions, Argos, or Alouettes have and if both Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly get NFL contracts, you can add the Stampeders and Eskimos onto that list as well.

If I needed a quarterback, like the Riders and half the CFL does right now, I would have no problem taking my chances with Johnny Football.

5. BO SHOULD BE A LOCK, REILLY PLENTY GOOD ENOUGH FOR NFL: You’ll never convince me that either Bo Levi Mitchell or Mike Reilly are inferior to anyone the Jaguars, Broncos, Cardinals, Redskins or Bills have playing quarterback right now.

Bo should be a shoo-in, given his credentials and the fact his best years should still be in front of him since he’s the same age Jeff Garcia was when Jeff left Calgary for the 49ers and only a year older than Warren Moon was when he bolted Edmonton for the Houston Oilers.

Reilly will have a tougher time getting signed, but is still younger than Doug Flutie was when he joined the Buffalo Bills and is the perfect conventional pocket passer the NFL loves.

Jags Offensive Coordinator Scott Milanovich will be in Reilly’s corner, I’m sure. I doubt Scott has much say in what Jacksonville does but their head coach, Doug Marrone, has won an awful lot of games in the NFL with both the Jaguars and Buffalo Bills with some pretty lackluster quarterbacks.

Reilly might be the best quarterback Marrone has ever had the chance to sign.

6. BLACK HEAD COACHES: CFL went from zero black head coaches to 3 within one week. Lions GM Ed Hervey says we don’t need no Rooney-rule quota like they have in the NFL to interview visible minorities for head coaching jobs. I’m glad to hear him say that but if Ed or anyone else thinks we’ve come far enough with this than they should think again.

Black players account for a vast majority of the on-field talent in both leagues, and yet make up well under half of the lucrative General Manager and head coaching positions.

It’s probably getting better but don’t kid yourself.It’s still an old boys club. 

7. MONTREAL EXPOS RETURN COULD HELP CFL: The Tampa Bay Rays latest failure to build a stadium has speculation running rampant about a relocation to Montreal as early as 2020. The Alouettes would fear such a move as it would surely eat up a massive chunk of the Montreal sporting entertainment spotlight.

I have a different take.

Expo games on TSN and its French affiliate, RDS, would be used to cross promote the CFL broadcasts on those networks and in turn, the Alouette games.

I might be a little biased, given my photo above and noted obsession with the history of les Expos, but I think their return would actually steer more eyeballs, and not less, to the Canadian Football League.

8. DOUG FLUTIE VIDEO GAME: The geniuses who crapped all over Jeffrey Orridge and pushed him out of the Commissioner’s chair also didn’t like his idea of launching the first quality CFL video game. Apparently, the owners didn’t want to attach their name to something less than Madden quality but also didn’t want to invest any money in getting it that far either.

What a joke.

So instead, the producer (Canuck Play Inc.) has landed Doug Flutie as its brand ambassador and partner. They’re doing it with or without the CFL’s co-operation.

I’m not a gamer but plan to check it out and suggest you might want to as well.

9. MOOSE JAW WARRIORS SYMBOL OF EVERYTHING RIGHT: I was fortunate to do the Pats-Warriors TV broadcast with Darren Dupont in Moose Jaw Saturday night and was just so impressed with the great story that is this year’s Warriors. They were expected by many to suck wind all season like the Pats and Swift Current Broncos have.

Instead, they’re right in the thick of the WHL playoff chase and might be one of the prettiest passing teams I’ve seen in years. Tristan Langan is about as good of a 20-year-old story as I have ever seen.

The up-and-down cycle of junior teams has gotten old for me. Nice to see the Warriors not throwing in the towel on a season in which it would have been easy for them to do just that.

10. THE DONALD: Like Rob Ford as mayor of Toronto, Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office gave us all some real comic relief in the early days but I’m over it. Wake me up when this over.

(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)

9 comments:

Jared Francais said...

The argument that you don't need a great QB to win, a game manager can do it.... well that just doesn't show to be true. Look at the last 10 grey cup champions:

Bo Levi Mitchell (game MVP)
Ricky Ray
Henry Burris (game MVP)
Mike Reilly (game MVP)
Bo Levi Mitchell (game MVP)
Darian Durant
Ricky Ray
Travis Lulay (game MVP)
Anthony Calvillo
Anthony Calvillo

Pretty easy to see you need more than a game manager to win the big game. A stout defense can win you many games, but at some point, you are going to need an elite QB to win you some games.

Yes, Dilfer won a championship. That was 4 down football where you have extra down to work with in a ball control offense. That makes a difference. That was also an anomaly, there aren't many examples of success with that formula.

We will need a top tier QB to take this team to the next level, we need someone that can win us games, not just keep us from loosing when the defense does it's thing. That is the only way to sustained success and winning a championship.

Unknown said...

In support of Jared, that does not hold up in the NFL either, Dilfer was an outlier...
Nick Foles (Tom Brady)
Tom Brady (Matt Ryan)
Peyton Manning (Cam Newton)
Tom Brady (Russell Wilson)
Russell Wilson (Peyton Manning)
Joe Flacco (Colin Kapernick)
Eli Manning (Tom Brady)
Aaron Rogers (Ben Rothlesberger)
Drew Brees (Peyton Manning)
Ben Rothlesberger (Kurt Warner)
Not many game mangers in this list.

Smitty

John Knight said...

Give Moose Jaw credit but also look at Branden. They are close EVERY year seems like forever

Scott Thompson said...

You have a fair point, but Marcus Crandell was not an upper echelon qb, and neither was Kerry Joseph. They were just good enough and they both won Grey Cups. I think the Riders could have gotten it done in 2018 withKevin Glenn.

Unknown said...

Item #10 I am tired of athletes, sports writers musicians etc who use their forum to share their political opinion... it is a quick way for me to stop reading you, following you or buying your products

Socialmisfit said...

For every Doug flutie or Jeff Garcia that went to the nfl from the cfl and have success there is a Ricky Ray, Henry Burris, or a Dave Dickinson who took a shot at the NFL in their prime and never panned out. I am not here to bash the CFL but the NFL game is significantly different then the NFL. I do hope they find success and prove me wrong but I have some reservations about suggesting they can do what qb’s 20ish years ago accomplished.

As for the Donald Trump comment, I suggest you be more concerned about the Canadian PM then taking shots at Trump. Wanna see some comedy just watch some Trudeau fail videos on you tube, or watch him spin his way out of questions from the opposition.



Football Fan said...

@ Socialmisfit
I'm not clear on what you're saying. All three of those players made the NFL. The fact that a 5'10" and not very athletic Dickenson made the NFL tells you how good he was. He played very well down there when he got a chance too, but ultimately they didn't want to take a chance and invest too much in someone of his stature. Nonetheless he was down there for a couple of years. Burris made a team as well, and he played well at times too, but the reason he didn't last is that he was inconsistent, a problem he had here in the CFL for much of his career as well, which lead to his "Hank and Frank" nickname. Ray also made his team, but he was behind a couple of guys the Jets were invested in so he was in the position of having to wait his turn. At the end of one year he'd had enough of that and reportedly asked for his release and gave back some of his signing bonus to come back to the CFL to play. So whether BLM and Reilly find the right situation and get a chance to play like Garcia and Flutie did, or whether other factors shorten their stay there, if they get signed by an NFL team they are almost certainly gone for a year or two at least.

Socialmisfit said...

I used those 3 as an example of elite CFL qb’s in their prime who took a shot at the NFL and yes those 3 did make a roster I believe all 3 were third stringers or in the case of Burris had started a game or two in which he struggled badly. I don’t think Ray or Dickenson even seen a regular season game. My point is this, don’t just assume an elite CFL cause he has had success up here is better then what some teams have on their roster. Would Mike Reilly or Bo Levi Mitchel make NFL teams who have uncertainty at the QB position better? Like I said before I hope I am wrong but I don’t think a guy like Mike Riley can come to Jacksonville and be their saviour.

Football Fan said...

I see what you're saying, but I think at that level it's more about fit and opportunity than raw talent. They absolutely have the talent to be top tier NFL QBs, and the big leg up they have on less experienced NFL backups is their top tier experience. They've led teams to championships in a top tier pro league. They've faced the bullets, taken the hits, thrown the interceptions, but they've persevered and bounced back and led their teams to victory. Both Garcia and Flutie almost immediately become Pro Bowlers when they got their chances because they were already veteran leaders at that point. But there are no guarantees. Even when a good NFL QB goes from one team to another he's often not as successful with his new team. Success at that level comes from the right fit in an offence, from the way the QB and coaches and receivers and OL can work together and gel to become a highly functioning unit. Sometimes the fit is right and sometimes it isn't. Franklin isn't nearly as experienced, and that may have been part of his problem, but look at what happened to him in TO this year. He looked great in Edmonton, but for some reason he struggled in TO. With respect to the three you mentioned I would not have called Burris a true top tier CFL QB when he went to the NFL. He was too inconsistent, and that was his problem in the NFL as well. It was only later in his career that he became more consistent. Same thing with Casey Printers. Dickenson was just to small and not durable enough to last there, and Ray ultimately didn't want to wait. He made the Jets and they liked him, but they were politically invested in a couple of other guys and they were going to get their shot first, but by the end of that year Ray decided that he didn't want to wait. Keep in mind that that he was making more money in the CFL as well, and that's going to be an issue for BLM and Reilly as well. If they get past their first contract in the NFL then they'll be making a LOT more money down there, but for top tier CFL QBs there is no money advantage initially. What they'd make here is even probably a bit more than what they'd make on their rookie NFL contracts.