October 18, 2011

Irving: Parity the name of the game this season

Bob Irving

Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans are grumbling, searching for a reasonable explanation after their team followed up an impressive and dominant 33-17 win in Hamilton with a troubling, sloppy 24-10 loss in Edmonton. 

How could a team look so sharp one week, and then turn in such a ragged, uneven performance the following week?
Welcome to the crazy 2011 CFL season, what some are calling the best parity in the league in many years.
The Bombers ran out to a 7-1 start, then lost back to back to Saskatchewan, went into Montreal and scored a huge victory, lost close games to Toronto and Montreal before bouncing back with that eye-catching victory in Hamilton. All this followed by the disturbing loss in Edmonton.

But the Bombers certainly haven’t been the only team plagued by wild performance swings. It’s been a standard feature all season.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been maddeningly inconsistent. They started 0-2, won three in a row, moved a game above .500 with an impressive 44-21 win over Montreal, then lost 43-13 and 38-23 the next two weeks to Montreal and Edmonton. 

The Ticats scored 55 points in a win over Calgary, followed that up with a 27-12 victory over Toronto, only to lay a big egg in their home loss to Winnipeg. 

A hard fought 27-25 setback in Montreal Sunday has left the Ticats at 7-8 and almost certainly headed on the road for a playoff game. 
How about the issues currently plaguing the Calgary Stampeders. Going into Labour Day weekend they were sitting pretty at 6-2. Since then the Stamps have two wins and five losses. 

In four of those losses, they have surrendered more than 30 points, including 55 to Hamilton. One of the wins was a 40-3 rout of Saskatchewan. Stamps are now 8-7, Henry Burris is in the doghouse, and John Hufnagel is running out of answers.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders looked like their season after starting 1-7. The firings of Greg Marshall and Doug Berry brought some rejuvenation with the Riders winning three in a row. But it was only temporary. 

The Riders have now lost four consecutive games and have been eliminated from the playoffs. Moreover, they haven’t scored a touchdown in four games.

That’s right. A team that features Darian Durant, Wes Cates, Weston Dressler, Andy Fantuz and Chris Getzlaf has gone four games without scoring a touchdown. Ponder that one.
The Edmonton Eskimos started 5-0, only to lose three in a row. They had a big win over Calgary, then lost to the Stamps a week later. They beat Hamilton, lost to Montreal and B.C. before winning their last two against Saskatchewan and Winnipeg. What’s next for the Eskimos? That’s anyone’s guess.

How does a team go 1-6 in its first seven and then win eight in a row? Say hello to the B.C. Lions who have performed this amazing feat. 

Six times in the eight game streak the Lions have given up fewer than 20 points. Wally Buono’s team is easily playing the most consistent football of any of the eight CFL clubs. But it took them nearly two months to find that form.
And only now are the two-time defending Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes starting to rediscover their championship mettle.

The Als opened the year with three wins, then lost two, won two, only to lose another two. It was the kind of erratic play Alouette fans hadn’t seen for years and it left head coach Marc Trestman searching for answers.  

Their win over Hamilton on Sunday was Montreal’s fourth in a row, pushing them back to their customary spot on top of the CFL’s East Division, two points ahead of Winnipeg.  

What to expect when the Alouettes and Bombers play their rubber match on Saturday at Canad-Inns stadium? Don’t have a clue!
Some call it parity, others refer to it as mediocrity. One thing it is for sure is interesting.