The 11th week of the Canadian Football League season was bookended by crazy finishes favoring the road team in both Edmonton and Winnipeg. The meat of the sandwich, however, had a pair of home teams each putting up more than 40 points en route to blowout wins. With an ultra-tight West Division juxtaposing an ever separating East Division, the crossover comes more and more into play each passing week.
|Kan't Stop Kackert|
CFL.ca's Monday Morning Quarterback Pat Steinberg says the emergence of Chad Kackert has taken a load off of Argos QB Ricky Ray's shoulders.
» Watch: Kackert runs wild vs. 'Cats
I’m very curious as to how Edmonton is going to manage its quarterback situation. The Eskimos have seen two straight really solid games from Kerry Joseph in relief of the injured Steven Jyles, but there’s a good chance the latter will be good to go against Hamilton this weekend. Typical football thinking says you can’t lose your job due to injury, but should that line of thinking rule your decision making at all costs?
Joseph has thrown three touchdowns to go along with just one interception since taking over the reins of the Edmonton offence. He’s made smart decisions and has been very conservative with the ball, electing to overthrow receivers instead of forcing a bad pass on plenty of occasions. Joseph has always had his limitations, and at 38 years of age, those limitations have become more numerous. However, he’s also managed his unit very well and shown a veteran savvy that is needed for an Eskimos team still finding their way.
The big question now is: who starts Saturday? For me, I’d go with Joseph for a third-straight week. I know the team has a longer term plan for Jyles, but they’re also locking a tight battle with Saskatchewan and Calgary for second in the division.
From what I’ve seen the last two games, even without a win, I believe Joseph gives the Eskimos a better chance to win. Until that is no longer the case, I don’t see any reason to change, injury or not.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about BC’s 43-10 win over Montreal on Saturday, because it was very, very decisive. The Lions looked like the class of the Canadian Football League and didn’t relinquish control of that game after a very eventful opening quarter. Even with Geroy Simon the sidelines, it was the best offensive effort we’ve seen this season from BC.
In his second full season as starter, quarterback Travis Lulay is still finding his way, but make no mistake about it: he is an elite CFL pivot. Lulay hasn’t struggled in my eyes, but his production has been lower than what it was last year. That’s understandable, though. The rest of the league has adjusted to what Lulay is all about, and he is adjusting to that at the same time. With an entire season and playoff run to study, deciphering trends becomes a little bit more doable.
Lulay is a versatile quarterback, and what we’ve seen this season is nothing more than part of his growth. His game against Montreal (four touchdowns), however, shows you what he’s still capable of.
The week started on Friday night with the Labour Day Classic rematch between the Stampeders and Eskimos, with the venue shifting to Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. Calgary fans held their collective breaths, as Esks kicker Grant Shaw pinned his potential game winning field goal right off the goal post, a feat that would rarely happen if actually attempted.
The miss sealed a 20-18 win for Calgary and it also marked Shaw’s second miss on a potential game winner in as many games against his team’s provincial rivals.
From a Stampeders perspective, they won the line of scrimmage battle once again, especially on the defensive side. We raved about Corey Mace and Demonte Bolden in the interior of the defensive line following Week 10, and for good reason.
They helped bottle up the Edmonton run game time and time again and made life difficult on numerous occasions for quarterback Kerry Joseph. Overall, Calgary’s defensive front was just as good this time around, and possibly even a little bit better.
The tackling display the Stampeders put on was extremely impressive, as they limited four Eskimo running backs to 48 yards combined. It was such a solid performance that I really think it altered the strategy of Edmonton slightly, as they just couldn’t escape tackles or find ways to earn positive yardage altogether.
I thought the Esks might try using Cory Boyd a little more than they did, as he was the only fresh back having not played at McMahon on Monday afternoon. He only touched the ball twice, but in the long run, the run game was just no match for the Calgary front.
The Calgary running game doesn’t need a whole lot of ink here, because, well, what can we say here that hasn’t already been said about Jon Cornish of late? The guy has been out of his mind the past few weeks, adding another 185 yards to his league leading 827. He and his line have been totally in sync since they shuffled things up front prior to Week 7.
The team moved J’Micheal Deane to right tackle and inserted Spencer Wilson at left guard; the move has since worked like a charm.
During a five-game stretch, Cornish has racked up 628 yards and has averaged 7.7 yards per carry. Yep, that’s a little different than 199 rushing yards over the five games to start the season. His symbiotic relationship with his offensive line is the biggest reason for the Canadian tailback’s recent success.
Sunday afternoon’s finish to Saskatchewan’s 25-24 win in Winnipeg was even crazier than what we saw in Edmonton to start the week. I’m not going to say anything new about Tim Burke’s decision to favor a Mike Renaud punt over a makeable Justin Palardy field goal.
I didn’t believe it was the right call at the time and the way it played out was exactly why most were against the decision to punt. Burke is in a tough spot to begin with, but he did see his players come out and word hard for him after an embarrassing loss on the road one week prior. As a coach in an unenviable spot, making things worse on yourself is something you cannot afford.
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.