One of the most common pitfalls working in sports media is the battle between making a strong statement that doesn't sound clownish and hyperbolic versus a rational statement that comes off as obvious. I'll give you an example:
"John Chick is currently the best player in the Canadian Football League."
Now there are a couple red flags with this stance. First, I used Canadian Football League when CFL would have sufficed. But as I have spoken about before, this is a common trick used by talking heads to inflate the importance of their words.
The real issue is there are a couple other players that could fall into this category. Right now the province of British Columbia is screaming for either Solomon Elimimian or Andrew Harris. Both have strong cases.
Now on the flip side is a very rational statement:
"John Chick is one of the best players in the CFL."
I like to file this sort of statement into the "no-s**t" file of empty calorie broadcasting. Of course he is. This is a safe, rational assessment of Chick and of course it is also wildly boring.
However, in the pursuit of not being boring, of coming up with controversial takes in the pursuit of a greater number of page views, sports writers will lose both perspective and integrity. As always the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
I'm not sure if John Chick is the best player in the league but he sure as hell feels like it right now. He is my vote as the most dominant player at this point of the 2014 season.
He has been abusing both right and left tackles all season and is far and away the most dangerous pass rusher in the league. I went on to his website, johnchick97.com, and discovered an online form you can fill out if you are interested in having Chick appear at your next event.
As an Argonauts fan I'm looking into hiring him away from the Roughriders for the two dates against Toronto in 2015. At the very least I will raise a collection to pay him to stick to the sidelines during the duration of both games.
Before we get to his part in dismantling the league's highest scoring offence, let's take a quick look at what John has meant big picture for the Roughriders.
In the four seasons with Chick on the roster, Saskatchewan has registered double digit wins in every season, has been to three Grey Cups, winning two of them. During his three-year sojourn into the NFL the team is eight games under .500 with a 2-2 record in the playoffs.
Of course John is only one piece of the puzzle but considering his contributions in the regular season and post season (10 tackles and three sacks in three Grey Cup games) he is a large piece.
On Thursday John was credited with five tackles, the first four tackles were all for losses. Let's go back and revisit those plays, Gamelog Style, to get a better idea about the crazy high level that Chick is playing at.
12:08 Sack at 55 for a loss of 7 yards by John Chick.
Description: Holy lord did Drew Willy not have a chance! In under two seconds Chick easily blew past right tackle Cordaro Howard and put Willy on the ground faster than you can say Brackenridge. The impact of this sack was felt on the next play when Willy was intercepted trying to pick up the 17 yards needed for the first down
02:01 Sack at Ssk34 for a loss of 8 yards by John Chick.
Description: And just like that Chick has matched his sack totals from 2013. This time Chick shuffles across the line bursting through the middle to take down Willy. Unlike his other big plays which relied primarily on his athleticism, this time patience and his ability to read the Blue Bombers offensive line and wait for the right moment is what leads to sack number two.
14:15 Nic Grigsby rush for a loss of 3 yards to the 55. Tackled by John Chick.
Description: This was a simple play for Chick to make. He read run (heck the entire team had this play figured out), slipped through the line to make an easy tackle. Little note to all other offensive coordinators, if you plan on running the ball against Saskatchewan you may want to consider having a man block Chick.
13:28 Sack at Ssk47 for a loss of 7 yards by John Chick.
Description: Not wanting to let Cordaro Howard be the only one feeling shame, Chick decided to abuse 3-Time Eastern All Star left tackle Glenn January. Chick sways January away on his way to the sack hat trick for the evening. This sack was the perfect combination of speed and strength.
Those four plays show the complete arsenal of a complete defensive end. He’s the first defensive player that opposing offensive coordinators have to account for and has been on a complete tear since the beginning of the season.
Chick's play and impact on the Roughriders again highlights the uneasy relationship we have with our favourite players when they are trying to make it on an NFL roster.
Technically we should be rooting for them to succeed but selfishly we want the player back with our favourite CFL team. How do you balance those two emotions? I have no idea. I mean I'm not evil, I want every player to live out all of his dreams but if that dream could include some hamstring issues which leads him to be cut from an NFL team and is soon back dominating north of the border ... all right I'll stop now.
But you know what I'm talking about, even if won't admit it.
The season is not even half way done, we still have three months left of regular season but as of today no single player has dominated at their respective position quite like John Chick has on the defensive line. Now please feel free to use as much hyperbole or logic to debate this opinion.
Matthew Cauz is the Weekend Host for 'GAME DAY' on TSN 1050 Radio. Previously, he was a producer and football analyst for SUN TV where he appeared regularly on the “Casino Rama Grill Room” and he spent seven years working for TSN's “Off The Record”. Follow Matthew on Twitter @mcauz56.
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