I thought both the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Eskimos were much improved in Week 6.
First the Ticats - You score 30 points on the road and your offence is improving. It was the highest point total since Week 1 in Toronto when the Ticats scored 34. Running backs C.J. Gable and Chevon Walker were a big part of the offence.
You can tell that both guys have all the ability...they need just need opportunity. Walker was a high school superstar and Gable was a USC freshman sensation, but for whatever the reason ended up making their way up here. Last week's 30-29 win showed their talent and when you include the injured Lindsey Lamar, the Ticats are as deep at running back as the Calgary Stampeders are in quarterbacks.
Now I'm not sure about the package of plays that Kent Austin has for Dan LeFevour. It did work - and LeFevour gained experience, but it took time away from Henry Burris. Where the big picture is concerned, Henry can't play forever. So it's an excellent evaluation - it just feels awkward at the moment.
Bakari Grant is starting to emerge as a solid receiver and Greg Ellingson has certainly been a nice surprise. And when Andy Fantuz gets back, Henry Burris will have some serious targets to work with.
I continue to admire Mike Reilly's work in Edmonton. The physical punishment he absorbed in the first half of the game did not effect the second half of his game. But he's going to have to learn self preservation skills. The two collisions he took running with the ball were shocking and just can't happen again.
But once again, Reilly took his team to a single play victory and the next game for the Eskimos is not until the Aug. 18 in Toronto. It will be interesting to see what changes the that Ed Hervey and Kavis Reed make between now and then.
In the Bombers-Lions game, all the focus was on Justin Goltz at quarterback for Winnipeg. The Bombers organization and fans have been screaming for a quality durable quarterback and there's been no answer for years.
That said, is Justin Goltz the answer? Maybe.
On the plus side, he has his great moments - single, successful plays that make you say an enthusiastic YES! But is he going to improve on his short stint thus far or is this as good as it gets? A play here versus a play there will provide the tell-tale signs. With only two games as a starter under his belt, it's too early to tell. And with the next game being Aug. 16 against Hamilton, there's no rush to evaulate just yet.
On the negitive side, consistent passing is not there yet for Goltz. Too many of his passes were too high, too low or too far to the left and right. Now this is something to improve on, but it sure makes you appreciate the Ricky Rays and Anthony Calvillos of CFL football.
Another concern has to be the high percentage of passes completed on the Bomber defence.
They went into the game with the last three quarterbacks - Burris, Ray and Bo Levi Mitchell - hitting on 88 per cent. And Travis Lulay hit just about the same number. Not all is bad in Winnipeg now with a much better pass rush and Chad Simpson effective at running back. However, in the passing game that's embodies 'our league,' you're destined to struggle until you master the passing offence and pass defence.
For the Lions, something is missing - and it's more abstract than tangible. I thought going into this game (after playing so poorly in the Toronto game) that it would be over at half time. But it wasn't and right now this Lions team is not as good as last year's squad.
One final thought - I will certainly be happy when the bye weeks are over. Players love the break - and I did too - but as a fan, I prefer my four games a week. And I think you do too.