After three weeks of football you are at the point as a team where you understand what you do well and what you need to improve upon as fast as possible.
And that's never so clear right now than in Montreal. On special teams, not bad, defence pretty good, but this year's Alouettes have major problems moving the ball when they have the ball.
Now I will be the first one to say that the quality of the players is why teams win or lose. But good coaching by design and teaching can make a big difference. How else do you explain the fact that it is almost the identical personnel from last year to this year yet last year's offence was amazingly productive and this year's is amazingly inefficient?
The opening drive for Montreal went for 11 plays, 81 yards, six-and-a-half minutes off the clock and a touchdown. But that was it. For after that blur of success the two-and-out plays became the consistency.
So what has to happen? Kinda simple. Either the Als players have to adapt and master the offence run in Montreal or the Als offensive staff has to adapt to the players on offence and run what has worked for the players in the past. In college football it is a one-way street. The coach and coaches have a system in all three levels of football that they believe works because of previous success and the players run that system. Pro football is a bit different. There is more give and take, more communication to create success based on a coaching philosophy and the players' ideas.
Now I am not saying to run the Marc Trestman offence in full right now for the rest of the season. But I am saying what you have now is not working so it is time to incorporate some of it based on your Hall of Fame quarterback's success experiences.
With Calgary, two aspects of football became conversation points. First, how about Brad Sinopoli. A three-year quarterback becomes a productive receiver. These things don't happen very often and it's significant as Sinopoli was looking at an experience of football at quarterback, now he has a chance for a career as a wide receiver. The second is Kevin Glenn or Drew Tate? Three injuries in a season plus two games has to be a concern for Tate. And it's an opportunity for Glenn. It may be time for Glenn to take over the show. It will be time if Tate comes back and plays again yet can't finish a game he begins as a quarterback.
Montreal has problems, Calgary has solved a few, Saskatchewan has none. I thought, okay, home opener in Edmonton a definite win as the Eskimos had made so many changes. Then Week 2 back home, Taylor Field, all that energy, definite win even though Calgary had played so well before. Then Week 3, on the road, Dome in Toronto, Argos coming off loss: no way.
Boy was I wrong.
Between Durant, Sheets, Dressler and others the Riders took the game over in the last three quarters. No doubt the Jamie Robinson interception for a touchdown that became a pass interference penalty changed the game, but so did Kory Sheets and his 178 yards rushing. The Riders have the Ticats home and away and football logic says they may be 5-0 going into their sixth game at Calgary with the Bye week before.
Is Toronto a good 1-2 team or a team with a long way to go? I lean toward the latter, a team with a lot to improve upon. Two rookie players side-by-side on defence in Robinson at corner back and Jackson at defensive back have to improve fast for Toronto to activate the dominance they had last year. Two rookies side-by-side is a big risk that did not work out last Thursday night.
With Winnipeg at Hamilton in Guelph, for Hamilton to win with two games against Saskatchewan on the horizon was immense. Could you imagine going to Regina at 0-3 as compared to 1-2? Better pass rush and better running game with Chevon Walker. He's not just fast but can make people miss in tight areas. Walker can only get better and should remain the starter. Yet, a week ago it was Hugh Charles with a long touchdown run and last Saturday it was Chad Simpson with the same against the Tiger-Cats. And pass protection must improve as Winnipeg has seven more quarterback sacks. With 24 of 42 players either in their first of second year of CFL football, here in 2013 the Ticats are going through a gigantic learning process. How fast the new players learn and adapt will determine a good or difficult season.
Now Winnipeg, well I thought it was more of Montreal's inability than Winnipeg's ability on defence that led to last week's win. Kind of proven true this week. Still here is the list of special team mistakes for the Bombers in Week 3.
1. Mishandled snap on extra point.
2. Two kick-offs out of bounds that gave Hamilton the ball on the 45.
3. No yards penalty
4. A single on a misplayed Ticat kick-off.
5. Too many men on an extra point (declined).
6. Fake punt that lead to Ticats interception.
That for the Bombers has to change and will by Friday night vs. Toronto and knowing Craig Dickenson as special teams coach, it will.
Final game to be honest with you was a tough game to watch. Monsoon #2 for Edmonton which means not the best opportunity for quarterback Mike Reilly to excel and improve. B.C. slowly but surely took the game over the longer the game went on and will play Edmonton next week but this one will be in the dome in Vancouver so no rain anticipated. Edmonton missed Marcus Howard and Fred Stamps as both did not play but the issue is Edmonton scored only three points. Was it a good BC defence or poor Eskimo offence? Probably a bit of both. Another issue is the second blocked punt in two games allowed by Edmonton. As GM Ed Hervey said earlier in the week, "we are rebuilding."
After three weeks of football teams now have three weeks of game film on all players. Now going into the fourth week, the question is: do we have the right players?
And next week, that will be the question I try to answer.