Canadian Football League 2017: Week 2 talking points

Andrew Kitchener Roar Guru

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    Canada Day weekend has come and gone, and with the Maple Leaf Nation celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, the national holiday had extra importance this year.

    And the players of the Canadian Football League definitely stepped up and entertained. Here are my talking points from a busy Week Two.

    The CFL’s new commissioner is a good choice.

    Word leaked out on Wednesday that former University of Manitoba lineman Randy Ambrosie would be named the fourteenth commissioner of the Canadian Football League replacing Jeffrey Orridge who stepped down earlier this year.

    Following his nine-year career that included stops in Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton, where he won a Grey Cup, Ambrosie has gone on to have a prominent business career. A successful guy all around.

    Hard to find a person who isn’t happy about this. There are three good reasons why Ambrosie is a solid pick:

    a. He’s Canadian, unlike his predecessor.
    b. He’s played in the Canadian Football League and understands it.
    c. His post-football career – particularly as president of 3Macs, an investment firm that dealt with assets to the tune of $6 billion dollars – has prepared him well for his time in charge of the CFL.

    The rematch of the Grey Cup rematch was superb.

    Canadian Football might not get any better in 2017 than what we saw on Thursday night at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, where the hometown Stampeders outlasted defending Grey Cup champions Ottawa in a wild, pulsating and totally enthralling 43-39 win.

    This game had everything: two great quarterbacks running brilliant offences, a 60-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown courtesy of a Canadian, huge defensive plays, some wonderful special teams moments, and it has really fanned the flames of a rivalry that has featured some absolutely epic games of late.

    Edmonton remain undefeated – but lose another key player.

    Last week, the Eskimos lost star linebacker J.C. Sherritt to a torn ACL to sour their first-up win over the BC Lions in Vancouver. A week later, and it appears that the Esks have lost another star to a suspected ACL injury. This time, it’s running back John White, who exited the Friday night game against Montreal after a mammoth week one performance: 104 yards and a touchdown.

    All eyes will be on Edmonton this week to learn the fate of White, who some fear could be done for the season, undoubtedly a big blow for Mike Reilly’s offence.

    Weston Dressler had a big game.

    Must be nice to have Matt Nichols laying the ball in for you, but receivers still have to work, and the North Dakota native did, hauling in six receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns against Saskatchewan on Saturday night. His two scores (the first on a long gain of 87 yards) came within twenty-five seconds of each other, thanks to a Rough Rider fumble.

    Diontae Evans had a mammoth game.

    How’s this for a night out? The Ottawa Redblacks receiver had three catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns on offence, and 244 return yards on special teams, including an absolutely scintillating 96-yard punt return. You could easily make the argument that Evans kept Ottawa in the football game.

    The BC Lions defence was great.

    Not only did Ronnie Yell – if his nickname isn’t ‘Rebel’, I’m going to be real disappointed – notch two big defensive plays (an interception and a fumble recovery) that led to ten BC points, the Lions defence kept Argos receiver S.J. Green to just two catches for 33 yards after destroying the Hamilton secondary last week.

    BC defensive coordinator Mark Washington did a good job, and Argos quarterback Ricky Ray (30-45 for 327 yards, and a touchdown and interception) said as much post-game.

    New Mosaic Stadium is beautiful.

    Canada Day saw the Saskatchewan Rough Riders christen their new Mosaic Stadium in an epic showdown against Winnipeg that needed overtime before the Blue Bombers could spoil the party. Man, the new palace is astoundingly beautiful, chock-full of all the modern facilities you expect from a just-built stadium, and, crucially, built to protect fans from the weather, and with a curved roof that prevents snow building up – a must for the long and brutal Regina winters. Aside from anything else, it just looks beautiful and should be on every CFL fan’s Bucket List.

    Attendance in Toronto was woeful, again.

    We expected a drop in crowd numbers at BMO Field this week, after a sizeable contingent of Hamilton fans converged on Toronto to see their team lose to the Argos last Sunday. 11, 219 was the posted attendance, and if that isn’t ringing alarm bells with the League’s head office, it certainly should be.

    Toronto is a key CFL market, but for whatever reason, the team – who will probably be competitive in a weakened East this year – just isn’t getting the support that the Leafs, Blue Jays and even the MLS soccer franchise are getting. The Argos ownership needs to find out why, and quickly before they become truly and irretrievably irrelevant.

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