Canadian Football League 2017: Week 1 talking points

Andrew Kitchener Roar Guru

By Andrew Kitchener, Andrew Kitchener is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger


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    The NFL kicked off again this week. Image: Wikicommons

    Summer in Canada is officially in full swing with the opening week of the Canadian Football League. It featured a match-up of last year’s epic Grey Cup game, and plenty of new faces in new places across the northern league.

    Here are my talking points from the first week of play.

    Montreal’s victory came courtesy of the ‘Football Gods’
    This according to Alouettes quarterback Darian Durant who, up until about six months ago, was a member of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, the team on the wrong end of the 17-16 box score on Thursday night, the season’s first game.

    Durant’s post-game interview with TSN basically indicated that he thought he’d been horribly hard done by, and the one-point win by the Alouettes was delivered by the football gods as retribution for Saskatchewan jettisoning him.

    Durant actually looked good in his first regular season outing for the Als. He went 20-31 for 233 yards and threw two touchdowns, linking nicely with former star Ottawa receiver Ernest Jackson. Montreal are a middle-of-the-pack team in the East this year, but if Durant can stay healthy – he hasn’t played a full regular season since 2010, due to various injuries – the Alouettes can certainly make the playoffs.

    Ricky Ray had a mammoth game
    Well, the first Argonauts game for Ricky Ray under coach Marc Trestman was a successful one, with the veteran, who some said was well past his best, turned back the clock Sunday afternoon at BMO Field, throwing for a career best 506 yards as the Argos beat their in-state rivals Hamilton 32-15.

    It was a vintage performance from Ray, who found open receivers again and again. His chemistry with S.J. Green looks sensational (seven catches, 124 yards), and pinpoint throws to DeVier Posey and Jeff Fuller helped those two receivers post 100-yard receiving days, too. Two touchdowns went begging for Ray when his receivers dropped footballs in the end zone, basically unopposed.

    It was an ominous performance from Ray and the reloaded Toronto offence, and all eyes will be on them next week, when the BC Lions come calling. Was it a flash in the pan or the start of something big.

    Video review chaos
    We saw two big examples of the craziness that is the video review process in the Canadian Football League in the first two games of the new season.

    First, on Thursday in Montreal, the Rough Riders receiver Bakari Grant lost control of the football – it was reefed loose by a Montreal defender – crossing the goal-line. The play was called a touchdown on the field, but went to video review. It seemed pretty obvious to me that the play should be reversed. Yet it wasn’t. Saskatchewan was awarded a touchdown. Luckily, the howler didn’t end up costing Montreal a win, but it could well have.

    Then, in Friday’s Grey Cup rematch in Ottawa, Calgary receiver Kamar Jorden made a key fourth quarter reception and fumbled thereafter. The play was challenged by the Redblacks coaching staff. Somehow, the CFL’s control centre determined that the reception was okay, that there was no fumble, the knee being down, allegedly.

    Crucially as a result of the ruling, the Stampeders retained possession. A handful of plays later, they scored a touchdown and the one-point convert tied the game.

    Respected commentator Chris Cuthbert summed up the situation pretty well in a succinct Tweet after the strange ruling where he said, “CFL video review needs to be reviewed.”

    Spot on, Chris. Over to you, CFL.

    A weekend of close finishes
    How’s this for an indication of how evenly-matched the Canadian Football League is? The first three games of the weekend were decided on the last play of the contests: a missed field goal by Saskatchewan in Montreal, a made field goal by Ottawa in double overtime of the Grey Cup rematch and a made field goal by Edmonton after a Hail Mary bomb from Mike Reilly to Travis Zylstra.

    All games were thoroughly entertaining, and a great example of the league’s parity.

    No-one likes ties
    The epic Grey Cup rematch on Friday night in Ottawa, preceded by the unveiling of the Redblacks’ 2016 championship banner, was probably the best game of the weekend, with all sorts of big plays, momentum swings and a touch of controversy, too. It was great theatre – and it deserved an outright winner.

    The CFL overtime rules need to be amended to allow for more than the two possessions each team gets so that we leave with a winner. It’s better for fans, players, coaches and everyone else involved.

    Friday’s game left me a little hollow. Sure, both teams get a point, but one team leaving a winner would’ve been icing on the cake.

    Kickers nightmare
    Thursday’s opener saw Rough Riders kicker Tyler Crapigna miss a fairly rudimentary attempt at a game-winning field goal in Montreal.

    Friday night, Calgary’s normally automatic kicker Rene Paredes pushed a kick wide on an attempt that would’ve secured an overtime win for the Stampeders.

    On Saturday night, following a Travis Lulay touchdown scamper, BC Lions kicker Ty Long missed a one-point convert to give the Lions a one-point lead late in their home opener against Edmonton. Not the finest weekend for kickers across the CFL.

    Sunday wasn’t much better at BMO Field where Argos kicker Lirim Hajrullahu missed three of eight attempts.

    Never count Bo Levi Mitchell out
    Deep in the fourth quarter the rains came to TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, and the Redblacks took a two-touchdown lead. Enter, Bo Levi Mitchell. The reigning Most Outstanding Player showed us why he won that award so unanimously, calmly finding his receiving targets, moving the football, dragging Calgary back into the contest one play at a time.

    It was a clinical effort late from Mitchell and the ultra-dangerous Stampeder offence – admittedly assisted by a video review howler – who have displayed a rare ability to claw back from what might be insurmountable deficits to just about any other team in the league.

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • Roar Pro

      June 27th 2017 @ 8:00pm
      Andrew Macdougall said | June 27th 2017 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

      The command centre reviews were a joke, even as a Stampeders fan, the Redblacks copped the rough end of the stick a couple of times. It didn’t improve across the other games either.

      • Roar Guru

        June 28th 2017 @ 6:40pm
        Andrew Kitchener said | June 28th 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

        Stamps fan here, too, but also a football fan and I don’t like seeing the video review issues crop up like they have this week. A bad look for the CFL.

    • June 28th 2017 @ 5:54pm
      scottd said | June 28th 2017 @ 5:54pm | ! Report

      Well bugger me . I just found out that the ROAR has a CFL section!!! Who knew!

      Go the Lions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Roar Guru

        June 28th 2017 @ 6:39pm
        Andrew Kitchener said | June 28th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

        Glad to be of assistance. I’ll write a weekly wrap-up throughout the season. Lions had an ugly start for a team who everyone thought would be serious challengers. A lot of penalties and a howler of a blown coverage on that big Reilly to Zylstra play.

        Good luck against Toronto this week!

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