- Free Agency
The New Year will bring us a draft, free agent frenzy, trades, signings, releases and that is all before a football is thrown in main camps at the end of May.
Here in my crystal football I give you 10 bold predictions that could be headline stories that we look back on a year from now and maybe some of them will be featured as the top 10 stories of 2016.
Right off the start, I’m going big. Darian Durant and Ricky Ray will be the East and West Nominees for the Most Outstanding Player of the Year Award. Coming off seasons to forget in 2015 because of injury, the two quarterbacks who topped the QB position just a short two years ago will climb back to the top with (mostly) injury free seasons.
Durant finds his chemistry again with Weston Dressler and the new found talent brought in by Chris Jones and John Murphy in Saskatchewan.
In Toronto, Ray has an exceptional training camp and pre-season to ensure he’s at the top of the depth chart in 2016. All he does is light up the league again with high completion percentage and a record breaking passer rating.
Year of the Double Blue
Off the heels of that prediction comes this one. The Toronto Argonauts make it to the 2016 Grey Cup at their new home of BMO Field. Ray, being the star he is, is complemented by a new attitude on defence by new defensive coordinator Rich Stubler.
In a heated Eastern Final between the Argos and Tiger-Cats, Toronto reigns supreme to tries and repeat what it accomplished just four years earlier: A home Grey Cup Championship in front of the home town crowd.
New QB Star
Here’s one. A Quarterback that hasn’t currently signed with a team stars in 2016.
I can’t even tell you who that is because he hasn’t signed yet. But I see a potential rookie of the year candidate coming from the quarterback position.
Maas Right At Home
Chris Jones, who? Of course, Edmonton will never forget the man who helped the team win its first Grey Cup title in a decade, but Jason Maas will help the Eskimos forget get over the departure of their Championship head coach.
Maas helps lead the Eskimos back to the playoffs and ends up getting the Western nomination for Coach of the Year.
Blockbuster(s) in Saskatchewan
Change is already happening in Saskatchewan but Chris Jones still has major moves to make and in the New Year he starts with at least one big move that leads to a long time member of the team heading out of town via trade.
Could it be two… three…. Nobody should be overly surprised with anything that happens in Saskatchewan for the remainder of this off-season.
The Calgary Stampeders already have a suitable replacement for both John Hufnagel and Jon Cornish with one leaving the sideline and the other announcing his retirement.
The transition, however, won’t be smooth. After eight straight years of above average football, Dave Dickenson learns the hard way that replacing a potential Hall of Fame Head Coach is not easy.
Less than 10 wins are on the horizon in Cowtown.
Winnipeg fans will finally have something to cheer for in November. Yes, this bold predictor is saying the Winnipeg Blue Bombers best a few Western rivals to make the playoffs.
It’s been five long years for the Bombers after their Grey Cup loss in 2011 but with the return of Paul LaPolice to the sideline, the offence hits its stride and has a few all-stars to show for it.
The name is enough to put fear in opposing quarterbacks and running backs in 2016. Coming off an injury that put him out for 2015, Bear Woods comes back to hunt the CFL.
The crystal football is coming up with the Most Outstanding Defensive Player for another stout Montreal defence led by Noel Thorpe, who steadies a rocky ship from this off-season.
Woods has been here before with a breakout 2014 season but does even better with over 100 tackles and 10 sacks in a season to remember for the Als linebacker.
The rumour of Andrew Harris’ departure comes true but the BC Lions come in with another Canadian running back that will make an impact and take a run at Most Outstanding Canadian in 2016.
Shaquille Murray-Lawrence with a bigger role and more touches shows off the talent that the Lions saw when they drafted him in the third round in 2015.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats astound the CFL with a record-setting defence in 2016. The numbers will astound you. Their play will be even more impressive in 2016 than it was in 2015.
Not since the 1989 Edmonton Eskimos, who allowed just 302 points, have you seen such a defence that seemingly can’t be scored against.
One problem… Orlondo Steinauer is a head coach before 2016 ends a year from now.