Hello, McMahon Stadium Rabbit. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve got great speed. And a hell of an inside step to get the defender’s hips flipped the wrong way before you slide it out and down the rail. Bravo.
Except for one thing. There was no defender on you and you weren’t even a target on that play. Your job was to block. B-L-O-C-K. If you’re gonna get out front like that and not even look to get a hat on a guy for a ball carrier, you’ve got no place on any team of mine. That ain’t a missed assignment, that’s just plain old disinterest. You’re cut.
Here are the Week 21 takeaways.
NATHAN ROURKE’S FOOT IS FINE
Full disclosure, I have not examined Nathan Rourke’s foot. Fuller disclosure, I’m not a doctor so if I had, that would have been weird. Still, I feel comfortable in concluding the young quarterback’s surgically-repaired foot came out a-okay after Friday’s game in Winnipeg.
I’m going by Rourke’s jolly mood during his in-game interview with TSN. He was upbeat and chipper after having worked his first game action since August 19. And he did it while facing the crush of one of the most bruising and impolite (looking at you, Jake Thomas. BONUS, INSIDE THE BRACKETS TAKEAWAY: Jake Thomas is playoff ready) pass rushes in the CFL.
Rust shaken and hits taken, Rourke had a high old time in talking with Farhan Lalji and that show of ebullience said all we needed to know about how that foot of his held up.
But if the Lions want to send me a scan sometime this week, sure I can have a look at it for them.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ACRIMONY
Drama. We so often get it when a player’s days are done with one team, especially if it is the team that decides they are moving on. Then we hear about disrespect, having a chip on one’s shoulder, payback and circling of dates when the schedule comes out.
Sometimes, though, a parting comes with mutual respect and it can pump up your heart just a little.
Dave Dickenson’s decision to send in Bo Levi Mitchell near the end of Calgary’s home win over Saskatchewan was one of those heart pumpers.
“He made it clear he didn’t need that moment,” said Dickenson about Mitchell’s curtain call in front of a grateful home crowd. “But he earned it and deserved (it).”
“It was awesome to be able to have that moment with the fans and my teammates,” said Mitchell. “I’ve loved every second I’ve been here. Hopefully we can bring a Grey Cup back to the city before I leave.”
The Stamps paid Mitchell the respect he’s earned and he, in turn, showed it right back, choosing not to call an audible on the run plays that had been called from the sideline. “I knew we were close to 300 yards rushing and I wanted to make sure we got it,” he said about resisting the urge to finish with a touchdown pass.
The takeaway? Boy, oh boy, mop up time in a ‘meaningless’ game sure can be meaningful.
THEY ARE SUCH TEASES
We want it, Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Give it to us. Just give it.
You trotted out big Willie Jefferson as a wide receiver on goal line offence a couple of times on Friday but he was nothing more than a decoy. Okay, that was fun but the real goal on those plays was to get veteran Mike Miller a major. Fair enough. But that’s done, now, so let’s move the plan one step forward.
Now you’ve got me fixated on Willie the Wideout. Now I want an actual route from him, and I want him targeted. Start with a quick inside release if you must, as there is great logic in that. Imagine being a defender trying to get around or over Willie Jefferson to make a play on the ball in that situation.
Eventually, though, we need to see a back corner fade, just to see what happens. Imagine that play unfolding. Glorious.
After the quick-hitter and the fade, I’m then gonna want to see Willie come open on a crossing pattern when you’re at midfield. Following that, some kind of double move that gets him open at the stick for a second-down conversion. And then? Yeah, you know what I want. A Willie Jefferson bomb shot down the stripe. Just remind him that he is NOT IN A KNOCKDOWN SITUATION. Old habits and all that.
You don’t have to do all that in one half, spread it out over the whole Western Final if you like. I’m not greedy.
BONUS TAKEAWAY: Not all touchdowns in ‘meaningless’ games are created equal. Miller’s one-yard major – just the second of his career – was one of those more equal touchdowns. “You can feel that on the bench,” said Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea afterward, “when a guy who doesn’t get his number called very often gets his number called. It means something different to the bench.”
I HAD BEEN PERPLEXED BY THIS ALREADY. NOW MAYBE EVEN MORE SO, IN LIGHT OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
For weeks now, whenever I checked the daily injury reports and came across that of the Toronto Argonauts, I’d been reading that receiver Juwan Brescacin’s participation in practice had been listed as “full.” But he was not being inserted into the line-up despite that. This puzzled me.
Brescacin’s time in Toronto over the last two seasons has been peppered with injuries – indeed his final season in Calgary was that way as well – but the 29-year-old, it seems, has been fit and ready to play for a while, listed as a “healthy scratch” on those injury reports.
His performance in Saturday’s loss to the Alouettes was very good, reminiscent of what he was all about when we were all saying “that Brescacin signing is a good get for the Argos.” A toe-tap touchdown catch was the big highlight, with Brescacin reeling in five passes for 48 yards, including a couple of second down conversions.
A show like that might have one assuming he’s earned a place on the roster for the Eastern Final but we’ll have to wait and see if that “healthy scratch” pops up again.
Let’s take a few quick knees here to run out the clock on the regular season takeaways.
A number of lesser-known players popped up as guys to keep an eye on; Montreal receiver Cole Spieker, Toronto returner Jeremiah Haydel, Winnipeg receiver Dalton Schoen (just threw that in as a tendency breaker, and to see if you were paying attention), and Ottawa quarterback Tyrie Adams to name a few.
Some other familiar names, like Brescacin, dropped in to remind us that they’ve still got skills; Montreal’s Chris Ackie and quarterback Dominique Davis (I’m thinking a fake sneak and a pass on second and short is coming) among them.
We knew Calgary quarterback Tommy Stevens had great power in that large frame of his, making him ideal as a short yardage battering ram. But breakaway speed? Guy pulled away from Darnell Sankey, Larry Dean and Jordan Beaulieu on his 85-yard touchdown run. He’s six-foot-five, 245 pounds for crying out loud. A snowplow with a Ferrari engine and performance rims.
Impressed by Brady Oliveira’s efficiency. Need 19 yards on likely his last rush of the regular season to get to 1,000? He gets 20. An extra yard, just in case. Like a running back’s ‘baker’s dozen.’
How about Cody Grace, shooting in like a rocket and recovering his own punt like that. And dislocating a digit in the bargain? How many people on the sideline just laughed and turned away when he asked them to “pull my finger” in order to snap it back into place? Punters are soft? Cody Grace has more toughness in his pinkie finger than you do in your entire body, mate.
Please tell me Montreal quarterback Trevor Harris was mic’d up when he was spotted singing along to ‘Sweet Caroline.’
Nice to see Paul LaPolice on the TSN panel. Noting that ‘everyone’s the same on second down’ and that first down is where you see most offences breaking out the more creative, unconventional plays was value-add insight that we can keep an eye on through the playoffs.
Reggie Begelton over the middle at the goal line is about as sure a thing as there is in the CFL these days.
AND FINALLY… Oh, I’d like a Willie Jefferson option pass as well, please.