Schultz: Riders rolling, other teams hard to peg after Week 2

Chris Schultz
7/8/2013 12:43:26 PM
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Well, one thing is for sure. What happens one week in terms of on field success or failure means very little the next week.

With football it truly is not about the best team, it's all about who is the best team that day.         

In Montreal, the Bombers came in and won a game I didn't think they had a chance to win. Especially when you consider all the early turnovers (three in the first quarter alone) and that they were on the road after losing at home in Week 1.

But, Buck Pierce was exceptional in burning the blitz Montreal sent time and time again. Almost every time the Als sent extra people to force a throw as fast as possible, Pierce found a receiver and made a good play out of a possible negative play.

Yes, he took some shots but I don't know if that can be avoided. They key to beating a blitz is waiting until the last moment or else the receiver may not be open or separated from the defensive back. Throw too early it's an incomplete pass, wait too long and it's a quarterback sack. Pierce was magnificent in showing courage to wait for just the right moment.

Defensively, after two weeks Winnipeg leads the CFL with 11 quarterback sacks. All of those have come against Anthony Calvillo, a player who is exceptional at getting rid of the ball before you can get to him.

It was a very good game by Winnipeg on defence, but let me say this: something is wrong in Montreal. I have never seen Anthony Calvillo so frustrated and despondent over the course of a game.

With turnover after turnover Montreal's defence played well enough to keep the Alouettes in the game. But, the timing, efficiency and precision needed to execute on offence was completely absent. At the end of the third quarter, Montreal had just 59 passing yards and four first downs. In all, 15 of their 20 possessions in the game were two-and-outs.

I hesitate to say this as he is no longer with the Als, but, this would not happen if Marc Trestman was running the show. So why is this so difficult?

The easy, but truthful answer is this: offence is the coordination of the offensive line, receivers, running back and quarterback and the Als don't have it. The new playbook has yet to be mastered by the players who run it. The Als can do one of two things going forward: Run a more Calvillo friendly playbook or have patience and take your lumps until the present one is mastered.             

In BC I could see the outcome before it happened. There was no way the BC Lions were not going to respond after being humiliated in Calgary in Week 1. Often it is not who you play, but when you play a team. If team A is playing team B and that team B (BC lions) is at home, coming off a loss , playing their 1000th game in franchise history in their 60th anniversary and you as the visiting team have not won on their home turf since 2002, good luck .

Still, for Toronto that loss in BC will provide many good coaching points to use as improvement opportunities. They can use the "Vancover experience" to their benefit, and they have to as on Thursday night the play the best team in the league in the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Riders are for real. They are very balanced in all three phases with speed on defence, good quarterback play on offence and one of my personal favorite players, Jock Sanders in the return game. I only know two "Jocks" in my life. Both are good at what they do, but the one in Saskatchewan is a joy to watch. The other one I just talk to back and forth.

I am surprised at the Riders' early success. When head coach Cory Chamblin made all those coaching moves in the off-season I could not understand why. Well, it's early but George Cortez and the new assistants have that team humming and for a team that historically struggles in July, they are rolling early this year.

With Hamilton, I'm not sure what to say. It was brutal.

Just like BC and Winnipeg, the Edmonton Eskimos had to win this game and they did. Mike Reilly, let's be honest, still has a way to go. He has to improve.

The Eskimos offensive line, which is massive averaging 6-foot- 8 and over 300 pounds, looked better and helped the team win a game in very difficult weather conditions. For coaches, that type of game can be very frustrating as it is tough to obtain a clear picture of progression or regression because you have to take the weather into consideration. Still, Edmonton won so a bit of pressure is off.

Hamilton lost and the pressure is on them. For the second week in a row, the Ticats did not play well on defence early. Against Toronto, they gave up a six-play, 83 yard drive for a touchdown on the Argos' first possession of the game. Against Edmonton, they allowed a 70-yard run by Hugh Charles for a touchdown on the Eskimos first drive.

He who scores first usually wins and the Ticats have to start scoring first. And last, and in between. Another troubling aspect of Ticat football so far is their zero quarterback sacks. This is a problem because it was a problem last year. Great coverage and a great pass rush go together. One cannot function without the other. The Ticats must either improve or find some defensive ends that can explode from the outside and get to the quarterback before he can get rid of the ball.

So what have we learned after two weeks?  Well, not really a lot except that the Riders are on a roll and everyone else needs to improve in a very specific area. There is truth to the fact that early in the season you are still trying to figure out your team. With only two "practice games" you just don't know what you have because the difficult to describe "chemistry " is still coming together.

By the end of Week 3 you should have a good idea and after Week 4 you know. 

We will all have a good idea one week from Monday.

Kory Sheets (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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