CFL Roundup – July 30

Quick comments on CFL related news from the past week.

Tackle Him, But Don’t Hit Him

A case of the squeaky wheel occurred this past week after the Toronto Argonauts asked for helmet-to-helmet hits on their quarterbacks be reviewed from July 22nd’s game. The league announced late Wednesday a one-game suspension for Terrell Jurineack for his hit on Eric Crouch and an undisclosed fine (revealed as $1,000 by Saskatchewan media) for Scott Schultz’s more (in)famous hit on Spergon Wynn.

There was understandably disbelief in the ‘Rider camp and both decisions were appealed, allowing Jurineack to play this past weekend pending the appeal process. There seemed to be disbelief across the league, perhaps even in Toronto, where a tap by Jurineack resulted in a suspension whereas Schultz’s helmet-popper resulted in a fine. The decisions are hard to understand. There was slight helmet-to-helmet contact before Jurineack pushed Crouch on his back after Crouch pitched the ball on an option play, but nothing that does not occur multiple times in games. The CFL placed the suspension under the helmet-to-helmet contact rules, but placed the reasoning as the “hit was unnecessary”. Unfortunately in football there are trade-offs, and on the option play, the quarterback can expect to be hit if he holds on to the ball long enough. In this case, Jurineack was well within the 2-step rule.

Schultz on the other hand was vocal about conducting himself in the same way in the future, insisting he did nothing wrong. It is hard to dispute that. The play was the result of QB Wynn turning away from an oncoming defensive player only to meet Schultz’s facemask directly to his facemask, causing the helmet to come off before he went down and his head hit the turf. I have not been able to see if Wynn had his helmet buckled properly before the hit, but that should be considered. In addition, defensive linemen have a tendency to run upright, and to lean slightly forward. A confluence of events, which caused the contact within a split second at the right time and place, can hardly be put on the shoulders of a charging defensive lineman. If the CFL expects defenders to always position themselves to tackle below the shoulders they can expect much poorer play and increased spinal cord injuries from defenders running around with their head down.

Be A Broadcaster, No Knowledge Necessary

I generally do not get nitpicky on broadcaster mistakes, but some blatant errors I just think, “They should know that”. A couple occurred on local broadcasts this weekend.

First, after Saturday’s Calgary-Saskatchewan CFL game, the local Global sports person started the highlight package by stating Henry Burris had not lost against Saskatchewan since being traded to Calgary. Of course, the problem with that is Burris was not traded, but signed with Calgary as a free agent. That is something any football fan in Saskatchewan should know, let alone a broadcaster. It is not as if it happened that long ago.

Second, during the last 3 minutes of the game, the Roughrider broadcast team totally mucked a call. On a third and 18 from their own 35-yard line, Calgary QB Henry Burris took a time count penalty when the crowd noise caused them havoc at the line of scrimmage. Rod Pederson and Carm Carteri got excited and claimed the Stampeders should lose a down since it occurred within the 3-minute warning and it would be ‘Rider ball. When the ‘Riders declined the penalty and the official announced the clock would start immediately, not on the snap of the ball, they reasoned the ‘Riders declined to keep the clock moving. That does not make a lot of sense, does it? If it really would have been ‘Rider ball, would not they have taken it even with a stopped clock and ran out the time on the Calgary 35? The fact is that loss-of-down is only applied on 1st and 2nd downs within the 3-minute warning. On 3rd down it is loss of 10-yards, down repeated. In short, you cannot lose possession on a time count penalty. See Section 2, Article 4 of the CFL Rulebook. I think broadcasters should know the rulebook enough to know that. We do not need people in these positions propagating misinformation about the CFL rules, there is enough out there already.

TSN The Reporters Says the CFL Sucks This Year

The Sunday, July 30th edition of TSN‘s The Reporters included a segment on the CFL. Unfortunately, their podcast does not include the whole show so I cannot link to it (who does a podcast but does not include the whole show?). A major point of the discussion was that the level of play in the CFL is very poor this year. Montreal, 6-0, was deemed playing poorly. Toronto, Hamilton and Edmonton were also labelled as performing poorly. The shock was that the panel expected a much more competitive league after the dispersal of the Ottawa franchise players.

Steve Simmons, master of the exaggeration, stated that in Toronto, Williams got hurt, the QB got hurt, everybody got hurt. Huh? Last time I checked Toronto was fielding a full team. It seemed very short sighted of them to be only looking at the last week of play, definitely not the best show of offensive fireworks, rather than the whole season. For competitiveness, the proof is in the records. Instead of it taking 11 weeks for a team to lose and another to win, all teams are in their races this year. Dave Hodge did give passing mention to Milt Stegall’s unbelievable touchdown in Week 6, and said he did watch the Montreal-Edmonton game Friday night just to see how Edmonton would play. The biggest impression I got from these four is that none of them have any deep following for the CFL, but has sports reporters they get to share their opinion with everyone.

Understanding the lower scoring in some games this year takes a deep understanding the CFL that these people do not have. Expecting Ricky Ray to light up the scoreboard, every game, no matter the team around him, is misguided. Ray is a possession type passer, he kills teams with a high completion ration, marching up and down the field and using the clock. That has also become the style of Dave Dickenson this year and what Damon Allen and Anthony Calvillo have been doing for a long time. It so happens that defences are very tuned to play against these types of QB‘s, who have dominated the league for a few years. When these QB‘s are struggling, they rely on their defences to keep games close so they can win games with under 20 points and less than 200 yards passing. This year Winnipeg and Saskatchewan have joined Calgary has teams that play it wide open in a run-and-gun style. With their success, this may mean other teams adopt this style, but not likely, until their current QB‘s retire. Eventually the CFL may return to a more open offensive style but it is not likely to return to the days of the early 90’s when scoring hit its peak because of the influence that came from when the CFL briefly expanded into the US.

Do we really need this kind of analysis of the CFL? I would think making mountains out of molehills for the sake of some copy to complain about would be past the level of TSN, but apparently when it comes to the CFL, they talk about what they know, which isn’t very much.

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OC Jottings

No jottings in the last 7 days. Here is a random jotting.

  • November 30, 2006
    Ritchie to Groom Austin? → Is this not the situation the Saskatchewan Roughriders just got out of, where successors are decided before they even play one game? #
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