Of all the stories ending Week 14, what the Toronto Argonauts have accomplished is the best. To win four road games all in dramatic second-half efforts says a lot about the players and the organization.
To study quarterback Zack Collaros is interesting. He really does not have dominant physical skills but an internal level of self-confidence that is evident and responds to pressure as well as any 10-year established quarterback. In the last four games, Collaros is 33-38 (86 per cent) with four touchdowns, a quarterback rating of 142.5 with four straight game-winning drives. He has gone from an unknown to a respected performer and serious consideration for employment in Ottawa next season.
Football players are always judged by performance with tangible qualities and intangibles; those you can see and are visual and those that are more the make-up of the person that you only notice when the pressure is on. Collaros has some very good intangible qualities as a football player. Yes, the Argos still have issues with first-half execution, but four wins without Chad Owens is an excellent accomplishment.
Are they peaking too soon? No, they have many ways to improve and with that coaching staff, they will.
Of all the stories ending Week 14, the most painful to watch was the absence of energy and detail with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. I don't mean this in a derogatory way although I know it will be perceived as so but when your first pass is an interception to begin a game and your first pass in the second half is also an interception, that's comical. In my present occupation, I sometimes get the impression that people perhaps think we enjoy watching the self-destructive train wreck that the Bombers are. We don't. In our perfect world, all eight teams play excellent football all the time and every game is won in overtime by the home team. Not going to happen. Watching the Bombers struggle is also watching revenue lost in an exceptional stadium and the significance of that is genuine.
I could go through all the positions of need and evaluate but that would be repetitive. Basically, you start from the ground up and make a plan that you put your heart and soul into. That is happening now with five games to go and, as silly as it sounds, is an excellent opportunity to establish a new beginning. For the players on the present roster, don't lose your intensity or commitment. Everyone is watching all the time.
In Hamilton, the next two games are make-or-break for the season as they are home-and-away against the Argonauts. If they were to win both, everything in terms of confidence would change. There will be a lot of discussion about Henry Burris and his three interceptions but after looking at the video in detail, one was his fault, one was not and one the receiver could have made a better play on the ball.
With the Alouettes, they broke the cycle of losing, but for the Riders, the cycle moved through game #4 and is now getting serious as September moves into October.
As for the Eskimos, they do not respond well to adversity or prosperity. They should have beaten Toronto and quarterback Mike Reilly should have been taken off the field immediately. Toronto's Clevon Laing will be fined for the helmet-to-helmet hit but what good does that do now? That damage is done.
Thomas DeMarco looked good in B.C. and John Hufnagel of the Stampeders has the inside track for CFL Coach of the Year.
Two critical questions this week: Can Hamilton get back to 7-7 with a win in Toronto? A 10-win season is respectable and still a possibility. And can the Riders beat the Lions in B.C? They are only one game behind with five to go and need a home playoff game to make a home Grey Cup game a possibility.