Montreal 40 – Calgary 34 (OT)
There are significant problems with the CFL this year. Fans are complaining about the declining product quality for some time. It seems more evident this year. Part of the issue we already know. Players switch teams faster than any jersey sales can keep up. Then there are the deeper issues. Officiating and rule changes. Which are fine, if everyone could understand them. In particular, what is the use of the command center in Toronto? Much like the NHL Command Center, the CFL Command Center has similar function but far more authority. They can change calls on the field, call penalties missed on-field, overturn calls, review challenges, and the review every single scoring play. It used to be only a review for a challenge. It’s curious to hear more complaints about officiating despite the extra tools.
Could it be those tools are harming the on-field product when on-field officials stop making split second calls? And how are fans supposed to appreciate the real-time game when a command center, that has virtually no oversight, makes critical game decisions every night?
Last night the Calgary Stampeders lost a heartbreaker in overtime. The fans who stayed in the stadium with 1:40 left were treated with extra football.
Speaking of extra time, this game ran over three and a half hours which is fun if you have nothing better to do, but terrible if you’re looking for accessible entertainment. 3 1/2 hours is way too long for a game. It was actually more with overtime. League officials need to find ways to shorten game time. Having commercials after every single change of possession is killing the game. I know the NFL is no better, but at least South of the border they’ve turned the game into a social event rather than an actual sport.
On the field fireworks started before the opening kickoff. An mid-field fight between the teams will lead to suspensions and fines. That carried over into the game with some early penalty trouble. Calgary managed to nickel-and-dime down the field for most of the first half to finish with 14 points. Montreal for their credit managed to stick around with six of their own. In the second half Montreal D dominated Calgary with a complete shut down. For some reason the play-calling through 3 quarters only gave Arbuckle underneath routes. He found some daylight in the 4th, finding Reggie begelton no less than five times for huge TDs. Four of them counted. The fifth one overturned by that Command Center. A sixth TD not confirmed by the Command Centre that would’ve led to a tie.
Once again, the Stampeders have only themselves to blame. Yes, there were many weird calls. But this team is in trouble. For half a season special teams continue to be the Achilles heel (sorry Romar Morris). Is this now a coaching issue rather than player personnel? Nothing seems to be working to prevent big plays. Each game a huge special teams play conetributes to the loss. Punt returns for TDs (twice last week v Winnipeg), or an on-side kick recovery….. Yes they were better with downfield coverage, but that has more to do with Montreal lacking a competent returner.
The stamps D could have shut down the Alouettes late in the fourth quarter up two scores. Instead they let them march down the field to score a major, and after recovering the onside kick, they let them do it again, albeit penalty aided thanks to some Vernon Adams embellishments.
Should fans be concerned when a league-owned team get helps from the clandestine league command centre? Not to detract anything from Montreal, they are far better team than anybody gives them credit for and will be a playoff performer come November.
Special teams are in trouble, and you can add the defense. Although the secondary has figured things out, game in and game out there’s no answer for pass rushing or run stopping. The Stampeders defensive line is one of the weakest in the league. With all the cap savings from the Bo Mitchell injury, John hufnagel would do well to go find some defensive line help now.
Calgary Stampeders go into their second bye-week of the season and it comes at an opportune time. It gives Mitchell a chance to heal a little bit more, although he’s unlikely to come back soon. It also gives hufnagel a chance to go shopping for some help on the defensive line. This mediocre team is sorrily missing all of their stars because, hey, it’s the Stampeders. An elite franchise that other teams like Montreal rely upon to do the scouting work to fill their roster.
The Labour Day Classic will round out the next two games for the Stamps, and then we’re into early Sept. Lots of adversity to fight through till then.