Berg vs. Ferg is back for 2019 as columnists Pat Steinberg and Marshall Ferguson debate over some of the league’s most contentious storylines. This week’s question: What’s the biggest overreaction from the first week of the season?
It was a wild Week 1 in the CFL, then again the return of football is always one of the most exciting times of the CFL season.
In our heads we fully understand the importance of sample size. One week does not make a season, and when it’s all said and done the results we’ve just witnessed won’t bear any more weight than Weeks 2 through 21.
Yet after a long winter and an exciting off-season of marquee players moving across the league, it’s normal to hang on every last play and analyze what this could mean for the coming months.
You need not worry: the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are still one of the CFL’s most potent offences. The Ticats looked pedestrian at times in their 23-17 Week 1 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but that’s not a sign of things to come. We’re still talking about one of the league’s deepest groups of playmakers, which has Hamilton poised to be difficult to defend once again.
Don’t overreact too much to last week’s season opener for the Tiger-Cats. Let’s not forget they were going up against an elite Riders defence that came to play. That group has the ability to slow down any offence and that’s exactly what Saskatchewan’s defensive unit did against Hamilton. It was a strange game, too; after Zach Collaros went down for the Roughriders, the whole game seemed to turn into a hard fought battle in the trenches. Those aren’t the games conducive to big offensive numbers.
So why should you still believe the Ticats will remain one of the CFL’s most explosive attacks? First off, Brandon Banks showed he’s no worse for wear after an injury ended his season prematurely in 2018. Banks got behind Saskatchewan’s secondary in the second quarter for a 41-yard touchdown catch, showing us his breakaway speed isn’t going anywhere.
Even more encouraging was the fact new offensive coordinator Tommy Condell was ready and willing to use Banks as a key piece of the offence. It was June Jones who finally plugged Banks in as a receiver after he was relegated to mostly return work prior; Condell looks like he’s ready to keep that trend going.
Finally, let’s not forget Jeremiah Masoli was the East Division’s Most Outstanding Player in 2018. Sure, he wasn’t a Fantasy player’s dream in Week 1, but he remains one of the CFL’s top quarterbacks. With Masoli and Banks surrounded by the likes of Luke Tasker, Bralon Addison, and Sean Thomas-Erlington, this Tiger-Cats’ attack is ready to be just as explosive as they were one season ago.
They beat Calgary in Calgary. The first road team to beat the Stampeders before Labour Day since Aug. 1, 2014.
Armed with only knowledge of the final score and not having glanced past the box score yet, you’d think the victory was a triumph that screamed sustainable success, but I’m not so sure.
Coaches always talk about the process being more important than the result – usually until the result goes their way – and for my money the REDBLACKS’ process was a bit faulty in their first game of the season.
I’m not here to detract from the quality of their win, but just like many other events in Week 1 of the season I think it was misleading.
The defence is for real. Noel Thorpe appears ready to send the house on a moment’s notice, but it’s the offence that has me pressing pause on Ottawa overreaction.
Dominique Davis is an incredibly talented quarterback who has a tendency to put the ball in even more incredibly dangerous locations. He threw four interceptions and got away with a handful more while showing all the rust expected of a backup forced into a starter’s role to start the season on relatively short notice.
I thought Winston October called a great game for the most part, surrounding Davis with delay routes off play action, quick slants and high percentage throws in order to get Davis in a rhythm.
The problem came when Davis felt pressure. He has a never say die attitude, which is great.
Until it’s not. Davis could take a page from former Ottawa passer Trevor Harris in understanding the value of wasting a down to live for the next opportunity and will have to avoid the big mistake against Saskatchewan’s fearsome front Thursday in the home opener, where you know fans will be judging his every move.
Add in Mossis Madu playing out of his mind with a higher than expected workload and I have to wonder if Ottawa’s Week 1 offensive output is sustainable, or a flash in the pan that could be a footnote on what many – including myself – expected to be an up and down 2019.
The REDBLACKS found a way in Calgary, but let’s not jump to assumptions just yet; they’re still a team in transition looking for answers and a level of consistency that can solidify a playoff berth. Without that, Week 1 will turn out to be an anomaly.
DON’T SIT ON THE FENCE!
While both sides are pretty convincing, someone’s got to take it. Whose argument convinced you the most?
You can vote for this week’s winner both on CFL.ca and Twitter. Meanwhile, continue the conversation by tweeting @Fan960Steinberg and @TSN_Marsh.
The winner will be revealed in the following week’s Berg vs. Ferg.