- FREE AGENCY
Hello, Boris Bede. Did I, in fact, see you tickle the chin of Ottawa’s Jean-Philippe Bolduc during Friday night’s game? Either your attempts to infuriate the opposition need a little fine tuning or Laval alumni have the weirdest secret handshake ever.
Here are this week’s takeaways.
THE LEGEND OF CODY FAJARDO GROWS
Saskatchewan general manager Jeremy O’Day must’ve cracked a satisfied smile at the conclusion of the Roughriders’ 24-19 win over Hamilton. His trading of veteran quarterback Zach Collaros, last week, left the team utterly, entirely, in the hands of Cody Fajardo.
How would the now undisputed QB1 for the Saskatchewan Roughriders respond? By feeling more pressure? Succumbing to the extra weight?
Hardly. Instead, Fajardo reacted like the kid whose parent just let go of the two-wheeler he was trying to master and then beaming gleefully as he rode down the driveway. Freedom!
In marshalling the ‘Riders to a late touchdown drive, finishing it with a determined sprint and and then dive for the end zone marker, Fajardo took that two-wheeler right around the block and even popped a wheelie as he came up the street upon his return (hat tip to Kyran Moore, whose 38-yard punt return set up excellent field position from which to launch the bike).
Fajardo’s scamper to the end zone was a thing of beautiful determination. That he did it with a bum ankle that had been injured earlier in the game just adds to the grit of the story.
Give that man some streamers for his handlebars and a hockey card to put in his spokes.
CLIMATE CHANGE CAN BE REVERSED
How do I know that?
Because I saw the 0-6 Toronto Argonauts defeat the 5-1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers by a score of 28-27. AFTER they trailed 20-nothing as halftime approached.
So keep working at it, people.
BONUS TAKEAWAY: That ugly duckling point can grow into a beautiful swan. Midway through the fourth quarter, Argos’ punter Zack Medeiros booted a 46-yarder that he and the team would have preferred was a 44-yarder. Trailing 27-20, Toronto wanted a punt and pin on the play and Medeiros nearly got it. However, instead of going out at the one, the kick was taken out of bounds a yard deep in the end zone to make the score 27-21. Tyler Crapigna’s convert with ten seconds remaining goes down as the winning point in the Argos’ victory but without the point Toronto got – but didn’t really want – he’d have been kicking for overtime, not the win.
MCLEOD BETHEL-THOMPSON: “DON’T MAKE ME ANGRY”
In the week leading up to what seemed almost certain to be another humiliating loss for the Toronto Argonauts, quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson had heard enough.
Enough of the doubt, enough of the criticism, enough of the scorn being heaped on him.
“No one in the world will be harder on myself than me,” he told TSN’s Matthew Scianitti the day before Toronto’s game against Winnipeg, “no matter what’s said out there, no matter how ridiculous and absurd the things that are said about me, if you watch football.”
“Clearly I can do it so anybody that says I can’t is ignorant.”
Against Edmonton a week before, Bethel-Thompson had been more Bruce Banner than Incredible Hulk but in the Winnipeg game, fired up by talk that clearly upset him, he entered the Marvel Universe with aplomb, throwing for three touchdowns and 343 yards, standing defiantly in the pocket against the vaunted Blue Bombers’ pass rush and adding 44 scrambling yards when he saw openings.
And just like that, assurances that Zach Collaros would be taking over after the Argos enjoy a bye week, went “poof.”
At least for now.
If the Argos learned anything about MBT during Week 8 it’s that they should do whatever they can to make him angry. Because they would, in fact, like him when he’s angry.
YOU CAN HAVE ALL THREE PHASES GOING EVEN IF YOU HAVE ONLY TWO PHASES GOING
Ottawa’s offence was mostly high and dry in their 30-27 overtime win, but special teams did their job for them, scoring 22 of the REDBLACKS’ 30 points. And the defence gave them the ball at the Montreal 6-yard line on their only touchdown “drive” of the night.
Such was the dearth of offensive star power that the team’s Twitter account gave two options for “Offensive Player of the Game” for fans to vote on and those two players were kicker Lewis Ward and returner DeVonte Dedmon.
And there was plenty of relieved humour going around on the part of the REDBLACKS and their fans; lots of “start the bus and let’s get out of here quick” jokes.
A win is a win is a win, especially for a team that had lost four straight and was looking for anything to turn their fortunes around. Gotta steal a weird one? No problem, that suits just fine.
High marks for the injury-weakened Ottawa defence and to the Dedmon-led specials crew for the steal. Credit them for magically creating some chicken salad.
On some nights, one plus one equals three.
CORDARRO IS THE LAW IN THESE PARTS, PARDNER
The Stampeders lost a couple of big, big defenders during free agency, when quarterback crusher Ja’Gared Davis signed in Hamilton and human aftershock generator Micah Johnson went to Saskatchewan.
Who could possibly take up the slack in 2019?
Enter Cordarro Law, the 30-year-old vet who has always been a fearsome force for the Stampeders but who might actually be playing the best football of his career right now.
As the Stamps’ front four ratcheted up the pressure on Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris on Saturday, it was Law who led the way, in a bull-rushing, spinning, no-denial way, either blowing up the timing of plays himself, or causing so much concern that others around him could do it.
Law had a couple of tackles, a sack and a forced fumble but those stats seem to tell just part of the story, as he could be seen doing some defensive coordinating and coaching on the fly at times, too.
BONUS TAKEAWAY: Savvy vet can’t do it all alone. A sheriff needs good deputies. Law’s line mates were all pretty damn good against Edmonton. Tip of the Stetson to Chris Casher, Derek Wiggan, Jabar Westerman and Patrick Choudja. And to Mike Rose, who also raced downfield to add two tackles on specials when he wasn’t helping collapse the pocket.
AND FINALLY… You didn’t really think the Calgary Stampeders were going to go away quietly did you? Did you?