Pat Steinberg is the co-host of the drive home program on Sportsnet Radio FAN 960 in Calgary. He also reports on the CFL and the Stampeders and hosts pre and post-game programs for the team. He looks forward to traveling to the Grey Cup every year. Follow Pat on Twitter @Fan960Steinberg.
Week 15 of the CFL season saw the end of any playoff hope for the Toronto Argonauts, while hopes for the Roughriders are on their last legs, relying on slim crossover chances to keep them going.
The East Division gave us another statement game in Swaggerville and an unforgettable moment for a decade-defining quarterback.
The West Division saw one team drop from first to third in the matter of one week. With four weeks to go, just kick your feet up and enjoy the action.
Not to say we won’t discuss the Argos on the MMQB (or TMQB) anymore this season, but this will likely be the last time they get any significant play with their season ending on Monday afternoon.
Toronto played a scrappy game against Montreal, but in the end they were no match for the defending Grey Cup champs, finally giving way in the third quarter for a crucial Als win.
The question now becomes: what next in Toronto?
This team is very much in need of an offensive identity, something they lacked all season long. As much as we like to highlight a wide array of positions on the MMQB, there’s no way you can’t talk quarterback when it comes to Toronto’s immediate future.
There are some talented playmakers in the Argos attack, but they need an effective pivot to get the ball to names like Owens and Rideau and to open things up for the dangerous Cory Boyd.
Is that quarterback Steven Jyles? I’m not ready to answer no to that question, because I see a lot of physical tools that could make him into a consistent threat. But for Jim Barker and the Argos, the decision has to be made quickly, and in this case, the sooner the better.
If Jyles is your guy, how you manage him in the final four games is very important. If he’s not or the team is unsure, they have to make sure the quarterbacking situation is a whole lot more stable heading into next season. Rolling with three inexperienced CFL pivots is not the way to do it.
As for the Riders, it’s all but done, although they haven’t said goodbye just yet. With the team being outscored 99-9 in their last three outings, even the most dedicated of green supporter would have to admit things did not pan out favourably.
That said I know a lot of the guys on that team have pride, and with games against BC and Calgary in their next two, I don’t expect them to roll over.
We’ll save the Saskatchewan goodbyes until things are official, because I’m very intrigued to see how much fight that group shows in the face of certain elimination.
What a moment
When I saw ESPN’s Chris Berman do a tribute to Anthony Calvillo earlier in the week, all I could do was nod my head and say “darn right”.
We all knew Calvillo was going to become pro football’s all-time leading passer, but could it have been done in any better fashion than a typical pinpoint bomb to a talented receiver for a touchdown? I think not.
Seeing Berman along with Dan Marino, Warren Moon, and Damon Allen give video congratulations was awesome, and certainly deserving.
Calvillo has spent his pro career in the Canadian Football League, but football is football, and having his name in the same class as Moon or Marino doesn’t bother me at all.
Calvillo has displayed a mastery of the Canadian game that few quarterbacks have ever shown before, and his longevity cannot be viewed as a crutch, but only to underline his brilliance at the position.
While watching the ceremony, I couldn’t help but think of how two unbelievable football moments have happened while wearing Alouettes colors in recent years. Calvillo’s performance transcends leagues, very much the same way Mike Pringle’s 1998 season crossed borders as a resounding performance for the sport, period.
Pringle’s incredible 2,065 yards season and Calvillo’s staggering career mark both happened while a passionate group of smart football fans watched on. Pretty cool if you ask me.
Better call Paul
After the season finale of Breaking Bad, I couldn’t help but throw in a reference when I could, referring to Lions kicker Paul McCallum.
BC has turned the corner in dramatic and scary fashion which can be attributed to so many different factors. However, McCallum’s CFL record of 30 consecutive field goals set against the Stampeders on Saturday night underlined just how consistent he’s been.
While the Lions floundered to start the season for a variety of different reasons, one area that did not was their placekicking game. McCallum kept BC afloat in games where they had trouble moving the ball near the red line with pinpoint accuracy and an even-keel approach to the game.
It’s something that we should get used to from a guy who’s had to deal with the fallout of missing a crucial field goal in Rider green during a playoff game.
That steely, calm approach was on full display against the Stamps. After his streak was snapped with a missed field goal in the fourth quarter, Larry Taylor decided to take matters into his own end with a thrilling 122 yard return to pay dirt and resulting in a late one point lead.
As BC moved the ball within his range for a game winning try, was there really any worry about him being rattled about what happened his last time out? There sure wasn’t for me.
He nailed a 53 yard strike as the clock hit double zeros and sent the Lions into first place in the CFL’s West Division, and put an exclamation mark on what should be a shoo-in performance for the league’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player at the end of the year.
McCallum is having one of the best years I can remember at the position, and deserves kudos for it.
Friday’s game between Winnipeg and Hamilton to open the week showed us two East Division teams playing on very different planes right now.
While the Tiger Cats continue flirting with the .500 mark, they show us glimpses of great mixed in with plenty of frustration. However, Friday’s 33-17 loss was simply a matter of the 9-5 Bombers playing at a higher level than their opponents.
I was impressed by Buck Pierce in Winnipeg’s win after he sat out one week prior with sore ribs, a good call in my eyes from head coach Paul LaPolice. We know Swaggerville is headed to the postseason, so why risk any undue harm to your quarterback in a game he didn’t NEED to start.
With much less risk for injury this week, Pierce came in and threw a controlled, effective game, moving the ball down the field and letting his offence do the job once inside the redzone.
But, as we’ve said many times before, how about that D?
Odell Willis gets a great deal of credit, and deservedly so, for his job off the edge, but there’s also some very significant things happening on his other flank. The job Kenny Mainor has done this season off the edge hasn’t gotten quite as much hype, because he goes about his business in a very quiet, workmanlike manner, but this guy is a difference maker.
I believe the Troy product is one of the most complete ends in the CFL, because he affects the play in all situations.
Mainor can get plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as proven by his seven sacks. However, his speed and burst make him a boon to Winnipeg’s run defence, and it’s something he doesn’t get enough credit for.
Because he’s such an adept tackler, you don’t see a ton of teams running to his side of the field. It’s the same way you don’t see a ton of screens thrown his way, because he blows them up so effectively, it’s not always the smartest plan of attack. His tackle numbers (just the one) against Hamilton don’t tell the story of how important he was to the win.
I know many thought the Bombers defensive line might take a hit with the departure of 2010 sack leader Phillip Hunt, but the emergence of Mainor has made that loss a whole lot easier to swallow.
Combining Doug Brown’s interior presence with the disruption caused routinely on the outside, and you’ve got an extremely scary front to worry about when all things are clicking.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|