June 25, 2012

Steinberg’s MMQB: Calvillo comes through yet again

I think there was a slight sigh of relief on last Tuesday afternoon when Anthony Calvillo took to the field with Montreal and delivered a Calvillo-like performance in limited pre-season duty.  

I don’t think there was any real doubt about whether the greatest CFL quarterback of this era could still deliver, but when you’re talking about a soon-to-be 40 year-old’s first action of the season, there is always a little bit of trepidation.

2012 Preview: New-look Argonauts ready to contend for Grey Cup
The new-look Toronto Argonauts have all the pieces needed to contend for a Grey Cup. It’s just a matter of executing.

All I saw from AC was crisp, hard, and accurate passes, even though there was nothing groundbreaking. He threw for 55 yards on 7-for-10 passing, but let’s be honest, it was nothing more than a pre-season warmup for the guy.  

Still, it was good to see Calvillo back on the field and I’m looking forward to watching him throw live and in person Sunday night in Calgary.

As much as Kerry Joseph looked pretty good in Edmonton’s 24-16 loss to BC Thursday night, I believe the Eskimos made the right choice in tipping Steven Jyles as their starting quarterback.  

It’s no knock on Joseph, because the guy has accomplished a ton in his long CFL career.  

But at 38, and with a 29 year old Jyles in the wings, it just makes more sense to go with the younger option to open the season against Toronto.

Don’t get me wrong, Jyles still has a lot to prove that he’s an everyday starting quarterback in this league.  

His accuracy and decision making continue to be questioned, and they should be; they’ve never been strengths of his.  I still would like to see him go through his progressions a little more fluidly before yanking the pull down and trying to stretch a run. That said, I agree with Kavis Reed’s decision.

Better late than never

With all kinds of significant player movement, it’s actually a good thing the Monday Morning Quarterback comes in a little late. A roster decision made by the Montreal Alouettes makes their season opener against Calgary a whole lot more interesting.

The Stampeders were very excited about Ameet Pall when they drafted him in the first round of May’s CFL Canadian Draft.  That’s why it was a little surprising to see them release the Wofford defensive lineman on Saturday evening.  My thought at the time was that there must be a reason for it, as releasing your fifth overall pick wouldn’t make a lot of sense otherwise.  And yet, he’s now a member of the Montreal Alouettes.

Here’s the skinny.  Pall suffered a foot injury during training camp and wasn’t going to be ready to start the regular season.  Just like many CFL teams have done in the past, Calgary was hoping to release Pall from their roster temporarily, take care of his rehab back to full health, and then sign him back to either the regular or practice roster, giving him an opportunity in full health to make the team.

“I discovered (Monday) morning that Ameet left late (Sunday) night to join Montreal,” said Head Coach and General Manager John Hufnagel on Monday. “Our plan was to assess his injury – as you know, he was on crutches – and then to find out how extensive the injury was and then figure out where to put him on the roster, if at all.  I thought we had an agreement with both Ameet and the agent concerning this issue.  He was scheduled for his MRI this morning and at that time, we would know which way to go.”

Understandably, the Stampeders are upset about the issue, as losing a first round pick is a very undesirable outcome.  Personally, though, I do question the thought process a tad.  The team spent a first round pick in the Canadian Draft on Pall, and therefore had a rather high opinion of the player and of the role he could fill in the future.  So why not protect that asset?

Calgary could have placed Pall on the nine game injured list, but I understand why they didn’t.  He had an MRI scheduled for Monday and the deadline for roster moves was early on Saturday morning.  Making the call to deactivate any player for half the season without knowing the full extent of the damage doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  But why not go the route of the one game injured list to buy yourself some time?  It would allow the team to get the results of the MRI and then make the call of what to do going forward.

It’s very easy to make this call from afar, and the Stamps were in the tough situation where they already had a number of other injuries to deal with.  But when it comes down to it, I would think Pall might be a little different than players in similar situations because he was a high first round pick and therefore on the radar of all seven other CFL teams.  Yes, his salary would count against the cap if placed on the one game list, but if there were long term plans for the player, would it not be worth it to make slight concessions?

When it’s all said and done, and I’ve talked to a number of people about the situation, I’ve come to as close to a conclusion as I can.  I do belive the Stampeders made an error and underestimated the interest Pall might get and by placing too much emphasis on a verbal agreement.  Montreal saw an opportunity to bring in a guy born and raised in their city, and Pall got an offer that was likely tough to refuse: more job security than was presently available, and the opportunity to play at home.

Yet, I also can see why the team is a tad jilted.  They thought they had their bases covered in the situation.  I do not believe Calgary simply went about it in a cavalier manor, but I also believe they should have gone about the process to ensure they protected an asset like a recent first round pick.  Now it’s as if they didn’t make their first round pick at all, which is unfortunate, because we all know how important Canadian talent is in this league.

Roster juggling

Is there any surprise that there are reports that Ken-Yon Rambo is visiting team doctors in Toronto today?

After being among the cuts from Stampeders training camp on Saturday, it was almost a guarantee the Argos would show some interest in the Ohio State product. Unlike the decision we talked about above, I didn’t have a problem with Calgary parting ways with Rambo, as there just wasn’t a great fit anymore.

The fit in Toronto is a natural one if Rambo can still perform. He’s familiar with Jim Barker, who was instrumental in getting him in red and white to begin with.

Football can be a cruel business, and while loyalty is a great trait, it can’t always be adhered to. Eventually teams need to move on, whether it’s because of a better option as a replacement, financial reasons, or for simply a new direction.  

Such was the case with Lance Frazier and Saskatchewan.

The 2009 West Division All-Star was among Riders cuts on Saturday, and it was something that didn’t come as a huge surprise. He’d been moved to wide side cornerback during camp and with the team needing to get younger in the secondary, cutting an import 31 year old with a veteran salary was something that made sense.
It was the right move by the Riders, too. They’re in desperate need of getting younger defensively, and when a move can help your ratio and not hurt your team dramatically, the move has to be made. The same was true with Montreal’s decision with Diamond Ferri and Calgary’s Robert McCune.