After every game the players and coaches sit down and take a look at the video and evaluate the players, game plan, and execution. As analysts we do the same thing, so here are some observations from week one.
First there were two major upsets. I should say, major upsets in the eyes of the fans and prognosticators.
It is safe to say that the two winning teams involved were confident they were better than people said leading up to the first week of the regular season.
The biggest of the two upsets was when the Bombers handed it to Ricky Ray and the Toronto Argonauts. The game kicked off Thursday a couple of days after TSN's top fifty players were announced, where Ray was named the best player in the CFL.
However, Ray was not the best quarterback on Thursday night, Drew Willy, who was starting just his 5th game in the CFL, outplayed the Argo quarterback.
Willy finished the night throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception, better numbers than any of the week one starters. Bo Levi Mitchell threw for five more yards in Calgary's game versus Montreal but finished with half the touchdown passes. Willy was the best of the young guns in week one, so much so fans in Winnipeg were calling it Willypeg.
The second upset was when Edmonton went into BC Place and beat the Lions by seven points. Odds makers heading into the season had the Lions as the early favorites to win the Grey Cup, those odds may change after week one. Almost ever expert across the country was predicting that the West would be a three horse race between BC, Calgary and Saskatchewan, and that still may be the case. However, week one proved that the Bombers and Esks may have something to say about that and may just join that race.
It looks like perennial all-star, Korey Banks days in Winnipeg are over. Sources said that Banks may have been sore from camp but wasn't hurt enough to keep him out of the line up. Therefore, the fact he didn't play was a coaches decision and because of that Banks has asked to be released. Ottawa may be a good fit for the veteran, and if he did end up in the Nations capitol it would mean he would be returning to where his career began back in 2004. He played two years in Ottawa and in 2005 recorded ten interceptions. Banks played linebacker his last five years in BC and during that time registered that same total of INTs. If Ottawa did want to kick the tires on Banks, Rick Campbell may want to look at him as a defensive back, possibly free safety.
The new rule change where by defensive pass interference is now reviewable, was tested in week one, when Bomber head coach Michael O'Shea challenged a missed call in the game versus the Argos. Despite the fact that there are still a couple of coaches that are not completely convinced the change is a good idea, the challenge process was successful. There was no flag on the play and O'Shea challenged and won. It was a missed call that was corrected and a game changer, when the ball was placed on the one yard line and the Bombers scored on the next play. In the end the right call was made, and if hypothetically that was inside of a minute in the Grey Cup and the Bombers were down by four, a championship game would not be tainted by a controversial call. Case in point Montreal versus Hamilton in last years eastern semi final. Those coaches that are still not convinced have yet to give a solid argument as to why they don't like it. The current objections still include, it will slow the pace of the game, or "It just doesn't seem right." In Winnipeg the challenge wasn't longer than the average challenge and, with all due respect, because, "it doesn't seem right," really isn't an argument against this rule change.
In Saskatchewan, the defending champions seem to have found a replacement for last years Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets. It looks like Anthony Allen, who racked up 158 yards on 27 carries versus the Ti-Cats has won the audition to replace Sheets. The Riders are proving the old adage in football, that says games are won and lost in the trenches. It doesn't seem to matter who carries the ball behind that offensive line in Saskatchewan, and on the other side of the ball the defensive front dominated generating 10 sacks. Yes that is not a miss print, the Rider front seven got to Zach Collaros ten times.
And finally, the hit by Montreal's Kyries Hebert on Jon Cornish will certainly draw supplementary discipline from the league. Hebert is a hard hitting player, but does not have a history of crossing the line and playing dirty, so expect the linebacker/safety to be fined and not suspended. It won't be a complete shock however, if Hebert is suspended for one game, in that he clearly made a choice to hit Cornish high. The game is fast and both players were going full speed but when looking at the reply Hebert could have simply tackled Cornish so, therefore, it appears he made the choice to go high. Again he isn't a player with a track record of cheap shots so a fine from the league as a warning seems the right course of action. Most importantly, Jon Cornish, one of the games biggest stars appears to be ok.
Ottawa will play it's season opener in week two when they travel to Winnipeg. Drew Willy and the red hot Bombers will be a challenge, but wouldn't it be an interesting start to the season if Henry Burris led the Red Blacks to a win in their first game making Ottawa the first team from the east to win a game.
Week two kicks off Thursday night.