- Free Agency
With files from Steve Daniel, Head Statistician
TORONTO — Looking back on the last several seasons, has there ever been a Week 4 with so much intirgue attached to it?
The week kicks off with a bang in Winnipeg, as the undefeated Blue Bombers host the also-undefeated Eskimos at Investors Group Field on Thursday night.
Less than 24 hours later, history will finally play out in our Nation’s Capital, as the REDBLACKS open their doors for the very first time to take on the visiting Argonauts at TD Place.
That same night, Jeremiah Masoli leads the Tiger-Cats into Calgary, where Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders are waiting to cap off another Friday night double header.
Finally, the weekend comes to a close on Saturday night, as the Lions return home to take on the Alouettes.
Equipped with the most up-to-date storylines, roster moves, stats, milestones and trends, enjoy this week’s CFL.ca Game Notes.
By the Numbers:
History Calls: This week’s Game Notes theme is historical games and this one is about the rivalry that has seen the most meetings in the history of Canadian football. No two cities have played more times against one another than Ottawa and Toronto. They have played 241 previous regular season games dating back to the 1907 formation of today’s CFL East Division as the IRFU or Big Four. To that can be added another 25 playoff meetings between 1936 and 1994 for 266 games in total.
The First Game: While having met in amateur Ontario Rugby Union games prior to the founding of the Big Four in 1907, their very first meeting in what is today’s East Division came on October 12, 1907 – 107 years ago. In that game, the Argos set a record that would stand for 31 years and that has been surpassed only three times in 107 years. They scored an incredible 28 points in the 3rd quarter, winning eventually by 29-17. The total is notable for the fact that the average total points for games from 1907 to 1915 (when play was halted to support WW I efforts) was only 25 total points per game, less than the Argos’ count in that 15:00 of play.
The first player to ever score a point in a Toronto vs Ottawa game was came off a 1st Quarter single by Toronto’s Pete Flett. Ottawa’s quarterback Martin Kilt scored the first-ever touchdown in the October 1907 contest to give Ottawa a brief 6-1 lead before Toronto’s 28-point onslaught. All-time, Toronto holds a 4,845 to 4,639 scoring margin in 266 games.
The Last Game: The Ottawa Renegades defeated Toronto 27-17 on November 5, 2005 in the most recent game played between these two long-standing rival cities.
Another historical game to take a look at is Edmonton at Winnipeg, who will meet to settle an early season first place in the West battle. It has been a very long time since BOTH clubs were unbeaten early in a season and met head-to-head. This has occurred just once before in Canadian Football history before this week.
August 24, 1961, Winnipeg Stadium: – On August 24, 1961, Edmonton was 3-0 and traveled to Winnipeg to meet the 4-0 Blue Bombers. Starting quarterbacks for the game were Jackie Parker and Hal Ledyard subbing for Kenny Ploen. The game featured 10 future Hall of Fame players plus both head coaches, the very young Bud Grant (34) for Winnipeg; and Eagle Keys (38) for Edmonton. The game was a compelling one with Edmonton trailing 20-18 heading into the 4th quarter. Edmonton rallied behind Parker’s 17 points in the game, won the fourth quarter 17-0, and the game 35-20.
Western Co-Powers: This 1961 meeting came at the height of Edmonton and Winnipeg’s co-domination of the West from 1952 to 1960. In those NINE Western Finals, Edmonton and Winnipeg met EIGHT times, each winning four times. The August 24, 1961 game featured the defending western finalist Edmonton visiting eventual the 1961 Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers.
Drew Willy at 3-0: Winnipeg’s Drew Willy has already established or tied career highs for yards (871), TD passes (5), starts (3) and attempts (98) after just three games. He is the first Bomber QB to start a season at 3-0 since 2003 when Khari Jones began the year 4-0 before losing in Game #5. In the Post WW II era, only Willy (2014) and Jones (2003), along with Tom Clements (1987), Ken Ploen (1960 & 1965), and Jack Jacobs (1954) have started and won the first three games of a season.
Mike Reilly at 3-0: Edmonton’s Mike Reilly is in his second year as their starting QB and he has now won his last four starts dating back to the final week of 2013. He is 8-15 in 23 career starts and 2-0 with 614 yards, 4 TD passes and just one INT vs Winnipeg. Reilly is the first Edmonton QB to start a year at 3-0 since Ricky Ray in 2011 and just the fourth in the last 20 years (Reilly 2014, Ray 2011, Jason Maas 2002, Kerwin Bell 1995).
– Kevin Glenn: Needs 2 passing yards to reach 40,000 for his career.
– Eric Deslauriers & Andre Durie (IL): Need one game to reach 100 for his career.
– Paul McCallum: Needs 8 points to reach 2,900 for his career and 41 to surpass Paul Osbaldiston (2,932) for #3 all-time.
– Henry Burris: Needs 96 passing yards to reach 52,000 for his career.
– Darian Durant (bye): Needs 87 passing yards to pass Danny Barrett (23,419) and move up to #21 all-time.
– Jon Cornish (5,207): Needs 7 rushing yards to pass both Jackie Parker (5,210) & Cory Philpot (5,213) and reach #34.
– Nik Lewis (10,889): Needs 11 receiving yards to reach 11,000 for his career. He has a reception in 165 straight games.
– Chad Owens (3,954): Needs 46 receiving yards to reach 4,000 for his career.
Turnovers down in 2014: This season, games have averaged just 4.3 turnovers compared to 4.8 last year, a 10% drop.
“Big play” returns: There have been 13 long kick returns in 2014 to date compared to just 64 all last year – a 22% increase. Winning clubs are averaging 3.4 “big plays” per game compared to 2.2 by losing clubs – a narrow margin of one per game.
Third & short gambles: In 2014, teams have gambled in short yardage on third down and made it 17 of 22 times. There have been five turnovers on down already in 2014 in 3rd-and-one situations.
Field goal % made rate 76%: This season kickers have made just 45 of 59 attempts for a 76.3% mark – the lowest since 2007 (73%). Last year, the league’s FG success rate was up at 80.2% and was 80%+ for 2011 through 2013.
Once again, the Calgary Stampeders will be without Jon Cornish, who continues to recover from a head injury sustained in Week 1. In good news for the Stamps, however, it’s looking as though Nik Lewis will make a return to the lineup, after missing Week 3’s outing in Toronto.
The Blue Bombers will see some changes to their receiving corps this week, as Aaron Kelly will be out with a suspected knee injury. As a resuly, veteran receiver Romby Bryant will take his place.
In Edmonton, JC Sherritt wasn’t a major participant at Esks’ practice all week, but he is listed on the team’s depth chart for Thursday night. It will be interesting to see how much of a factor he’ll be in what’s expected to be a battle with the Bombers.
Stay tuned for more roster moves later in the week.
Below is a look at the top five consensus picks by position for Week 4, according to TSN Fantasy Owners.
QB:Bo Levi Mitchell (35.5%), Drew Willy (25.1%), Ricky Ray (15.2%), Mike Reilly (12.2%), Henry Burris (4.1%)
RB:Nic Grigsby (40.6%), Chevon Walker (14.9%), Brandon Whitaker 14.0%), Andrew Harris (12.4%), Anthony Coombs (2.4%)
REC: Adarius Bowman (56.6%), Nick Moore (17.6%), Chad Owens (12.9%), Jeff Fuller (10.5%), Anthony Parker (10.0%)
Flex:Nic Grigsby (12.2%), Adarius Bowman (10.2%), Chevon Walker (10.1%), Andrew Harris (8.8%), Brandon Whitaker (7.9%)
K: Lirim Hajrullahu (39.9%), Grant Shaw (20.9%), Paul McCallum (11.3%), Swayze Waters (9.8%), Rene Paredes (4.7%)