Six months to the start of the 2019 season

November 28, 2018 - 8:07am

The  Calgary Stampeders win the Grey Cup and it seems the end of an era.

After losing the last two years in the Grey Cup, if the Stampeders failed to win this year, they would likely would have joined the ranks of the Buffalo Bills or Atlanta Braves as great front-running teams that couldn’t close the deal in the championship.

However now that they have won, it seems a matter of time before the team starts shaking pieces loose and face the prospect that they will not be the same team next year. The Stamps will likely lose quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell to the NFL, assuming he gets a decent offer from a quarterback starved team; defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks is said to be gone to either the NCAA or NFL; and well, maybe Micah Johnson will be getting a look-see from the NFL. You can expect to see linebacker Alex Singleton try his fortune in the NFL next season as well.

Whch means Calgary could be following the footsteps of the Edmonton Eskimos who hosted the Grey Cup but failed to make the playoffs to take part. But after 10 years, it could be argued Calgary needs to reload and with the biggest question at who will be quarterback, it is unlikely you will see a 13-5 record from the Stampeders next year.

The first major changes should be coming at the end of this week, or maybe next week with announcements about new coaches in Toronto and BC. It seems likely Orlando Steinaeuer will be the coach in Toronto or BC, and after serving as the assistant head coach in Hamilton, Steinaeuer seems ready to make the next step and lead a franchise.

Considering his previous ties to Toronto and Toronto’s need for a defensive coach, Steinhaeuer is probably the odds on favorite to take over in Toronto. However the Argos are also going to look at Kent Austin, and considering how he crashed and burned in Hamilton, well, maybe this is an idea that works for a season, two at max.

BC is apparently looking  at Steinhaeuer, and it seems that Jarious Jackson and Mark Washington may have worn out their welcome considering how BC has crashed and burned in the last three games of the season including their playoff blowout loss to Hamilton. One interesting possibility might be Marc Trestman, but considering that he is being paid out and might have other options, well, it will be interesting to see how GM Ed Hervey decides to proceed.

However he proceeds, it seems the CFL is bound and determined to drag everyone into some weird parallel universe where there is no reason to scout for players or give up and coming coaches a chance to test their skills at the professional universe because apparently what the Toronto Argonauts paid Marc Trestman may have been more than what the team brought in at the gate.

The salary and personnel cap on coaches and football administration is apparently a pre-emptive strike against the CFL Players Association using the number of coaches and salaries spent as a justification to get more for the players. The CFL will have to at least increase the base salary of players in order to at least stay in the same conversation as the two new American football leagues starting this year and next.

However, with the added demand for players, why the league would penalize teams that invest in scouting to find players is a move that defies common sense. This was clearly a change brought in to counter the perception the Saskatchewan Roughriders have scouts every 100 miles in the United States and hold free agent camps every weekend from the end of Grey Cup to the start of training camp.

The problem for the CFL is that this is comparing apples and oranges. Coaches do not have a collective bargaining agreement limiting hours of work nor a pension plan. Free agent camps are apparently going to be torched as well, but the CFL is throwing out the prospect of a combine camp in Mexico City to work out potential players from the Mexican league.

The Riders make more money than the rest of the CFL teams combined and so, they are apparently taking one for the team, at least until the folly of this move becomes obvious in the declining quality of players coming to Canada. If other teams would invest in marketing, or maybe even some kind of system of scouting, the CFL would be able to move past an era of scouting where players names were scribbled on the back of napkins while watching an entire afternoon of NCAA football on ESPN.

Add to this the declining profile of the BC Lions, the inanity of  the Toronto Argonauts crowing over uh, what, an increase in attendance that is too small to be measured by conventional means and the stupidity of the Montreal Alouettes placing their faith in Kavis Reed to run their future, and serious questions should be leveled about the credibility of the CFL looking to have all teams operate at a David Braley cut rate car dealership level.

Then again, looking at the list of quarterbacks we get names like Blake Simms, who was with Alabama and when he showed up in Saskatchewan looked like he ate the last Alabama team buffet. When the Riders have their locker room sale in presumably January, I want to get his practice jersey because I always wanted a muumuu.

There are some other quarterbacks Rider fans might recognize like BJ Daniels and apparently Keith Price who are up for auction in this draft. Where the CFL has screwed up is not recognizing that the CFL game requires a definite type of athlete and without free agent camps in the States to identify those players and make it cost effective in knowing who to invite to camp, the CFL is now throwing darts at names and hoping they come up.

It will be interesting as CFL players contracts expire, to see how many decide to check out the new league, especially since their paycheques will be in American dollars. Maybe the CFL is hoping there are enough Mexicans looking to triple their salary that are willing to come up to Canada?

The coaching carousel is just the prelude to the quarterback parade that will open up in February with Mike Reilly probably being the number one target. Reilly could very well return to Edmonton and it is assumed Edmonton retained Jason Maas in the belief that Reilly was comfortable with Maas and would leave if Maas was fired.

BC is right next door to where Reilly grew up and apparently his wife has family there and then Ed Hervey traded for Reilly. BC has apparently kicked Jon Jennings to the curb, or as he likes to put it, Jennings is looking at his free agency options.

If you are ranking prospective spots, Edmonton would likely be first for Reilly, then BC, then Saskatchewan. Calgary will likely hold a place for Bo Levi Mitchell if he goes down to the NFL and comes back so other than that, Reilly could look at Toronto or even Montreal if he has had one concussion too many.

The Riders are in the position of seeing their high priced gamble in Zach Collaros not play in the western semi final because of concussion or neck concerns, while Brandon Bridge who looked pretty good a year ago coming off the bench turned into an absolute dud this season. Bridge probably played himself out of getting Canadian quarterbacks recognized under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and if Bridge returns to the Riders, it would either be as a back up, or a wide receiver.

If Collaros comes back, it will not be for what he made last year, and it would likely be a performance driven contract and with his glass jaw, Collaros may not be better than a back up.

The Riders options in the quarterback derby are not appetizing – Jennings reminds me of Casey Printers who had one great year when no one had film on him and he ran wild and threw well to getting hurt, getting turned into a pocket passer and then got dissed by his GM for not bothering to put the work in to be a quarterback.

Travis Lulay would be a better option, although his injury concerns are more of the knee and shoulder than concussion and there is no indication Lulay would even move on from BC. Trevor Harris had a record Eastern Final performance that seemed to sew up his return to Ottawa next season, but fell flat in the Grey Cup, kind of reinforcing a perception of Harris as not being able to win a big game.

Ironically enough, the Riders might be better off bringing Kevin Glenn back and pairing him with a quarterback whose name is unknown as an apprentice. Glenn probably lacks the physical stamina to last an entire season, and his odd brain freezes would probably dictate rotating another quarterback in for him, but all said, the Rider offense ran better in 2017 than it did in 2018 an Glenn has the natural disposition of a coach that would be invaluable for an essentially rookie receiving corps.

It’s a long way to the start of the new season, with the CFL cancelling the CFL week in Ottawa in case the players decided to boycott it. The CFL is hoping to capitalize on a divided player membership with players attention turning to other leagues and options that did not exist a year ago.

The CFL will also have to deal with the issue of head shots to quarterbacks and other players and why the league refuses to call them, or see them. It will be a long off-season and if the league doesn’t have its act together, it may even get longer if there is a work stoppage.

Other than that, how was your Grey Cup?

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