CFL.ca will be previewing the 2021 season, breaking down special teams, defence and offence for all nine teams as they get set to hit the field.
A varied offence is an effective offence.
If every team could line up the exact same way every snap and dominate the game, there would be no need for change. Thank the football Gods that defences adjust and adapt to solve offensive issues forcing aerial attacks and ground games to respond in due course.
This back and forth is the root of competition in professional football, and makes for great theatre for fans with even the lightest knowledge of what they’re watching.
When it comes to teams capable of shape shifting based on down, distance, field position, score, hell, even hash, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats – in the early days of camp and on paper – appear ready to offer up what should be one of the CFL’s most flexible offences.
Having reigning Most Outstanding Player Brandon Banks and recent NFL returnee Bralon Addison in the fold adds flexibility organically with their speed and route running sure to create production anywhere on the field.
Banks led the league in receiving yards (1,550) and hauled in 13 touchdowns in 16 games. His big-play ability is a constant threat whether solo in the boundary or in a bunch formation to the field.
Second year wide receiver Jaelon Acklin was a welcome surprise in 2019, filling the void of Banks move from boundary to wide side when June Jones left and Tommy Condell entered as offensive coordinator on Orlondo Steinauer’s new staff.
DeVier Posey has waited two years and two free agency periods to officially wear the black and gold and is the true wildcard for Condell and Steinauer. If Posey can find his fit quickly and be a meaningful piece of the Ticats passing game Hamilton could go from above average to great quickly.
All of these receiver pieces are supported on the wide side by 11th overall pick from 2019 David Ungerer III, 2018 31st overall pick from UBC Marcus Davis and 27th overall pick from 2020 Tyler Ternowski, a highly productive U SPORTS star at Waterloo. Three years of draft picks invested in completing the receiver lineup where any of the three playing will be asked to contribute on special teams returning and pick up the scraps from Banks, Addison, Posey and Acklin.
The body types and skill sets of this receiving group allows for great offensive flexibility, but how the Ticats offence separates itself more than any other team is in the backfield.
Usually that means just running back and quarterback, but in Hamilton it’s more.
Yes, Don Jackson should lead the team in carries adding his dynamic quick cutting style to the dangerous five wide passing game but the multiplicity comes in flexibility added by Sean Thomas-Erlington who returns after more than two years off following a knee injury in Week 4 of 2019.
Thomas-Erlington has long been one of the Ticats most productive players on a per game basis when healthy, but has suffered a series of setbacks that limited his chance to become a household name across the country. Thomas-Erlington gives Hamilton ratio flexibility that is only multiplied by six-foot-five, 255-pound FB Nicola Kalinic and the addition of 1st overall pick Jake Burt, a hybrid tight end who can run as well as any player his size and has more natural hands than Kalinic on film.
From empty sets, to heavy backfields and everything in between, Orlondo Steinauer’s Ticats have a plethora of ways to score points in 2021. As always the ability of all these names, speed and star power to produce will rely solely on the offensive line to protect the quarterback(s).
Who will be leading this huddle, calling the signals and pulling the CFL’s most varied offence together? That’s up to Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans’ play as they embrace the daily grind of competition in an effort to be handed keys to one of the CFL’s fastest cars.
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