CFL Beat: Your 2018 Season Wrap-Up

The Maestro
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The Maestro

The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn’t in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
The Maestro
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Hard to believe we have another season in the books – this one really seemed to fly by for me! There’s going to be a fair bit of change on the way for the CFL’s 2019 season; with the current CBA set to expire before training camps open in May, the league and the players’ association have some work to do this winter to ensure a new collective agreement is in place by the spring. Also on the horizon is the possibility of expansion… the Halifax ownership group continues to make headway on their work to bring a 10th CFL franchise into the league in the Maritimes.

In league news this week:

  • The Maritime Football Partnership Ltd. announced before the Grey Cup that the name of the prospective CFL franchise will be the Atlantic Schooners; this is a harkening back to the 1980s, when the first potential expansion franchise to Halifax, also named the Atlantic Schooners, faltered and faded away. With the new Schooners having already attracted 5000 season ticket deposits in a very short time frame, this brings the team one step closer towards existing. I remain cautiously optimistic that this is going to get done, but the big remaining question will be about stadium financing, as the group has already stated their apparent need for public financing towards stadium construction.
  • The winners of the 2018 CFL Awards were announced in a gala on Thursday night, after last week’s CFL Beat was published. The winners are bolded, and both nominees are listed for each category:
    • Most Outstanding Player: Bo Levi Mitchell (QB, Calgary), Jeremiah Masoli (QB, Hamilton)
    • Defensive Player: Adam Bighill (LB, Winnipeg), Larry Dean (LB, Hamilton)
    • Canadian: Andrew Harris (RB, Winnipeg), Brad Sinopoli (WR, Ottawa)
    • Offensive Lineman: Stanley Bryant (Winnipeg), Brandon Revenberg (Hamilton)
    • Special Teams: Ty Long (K/P, BC), Lewis Ward (K, Ottawa)
    • Rookie: Jordan Williams-Lambert (WR, Saskatchewan), Lewis Ward (K, Ottawa)
    • Coach of the Year: Chris Jones (Saskatchewan), Rick Campbell (Ottawa)
  • Sooner, rather than later, both the CFL and its players association will have to sit down to begin negotiating a new CBA. The current one expires May 15th, 2019, and thus time is precious as the months tick down towards that date. Among the most pressing issues for the new agreement will be pushing not only for continued increases in the league salary cap, but predominantly for an increase in the minimum salary offered in the CFL (currently $54,000 CAD); improved player health and safety measures, including extended injury insurance coverage both during and after a players’ career; new roster designations, including possible expansion of roster sizes and perhaps designating an additional roster slot on every team for a Canadian quarterback, of which there are very few currently today in the league. With the launch of the Alliance of American Football this winter, the ability for the CFL to continue to recruit a solid baseline of talent north of the border is going to be essential for maintaining long-term success for the entire league, and hopefully both the CFL and the CFLPA will be prudent enough to recognize this need moving forward. At any rate, players are already a bit miffed due to a league directive passed earlier that dictates that teams should hold off on paying off-season bonus money this year until a new CBA is in place; these off-season bonuses are often an essential part of what keeps players committed to the CFL and their respective franchises, and this directive, which may or may not technically skirt current CBA mandates – it’s unclear to me at this point – is not getting negotiations started off on the right foot.

106th GREY CUP RECAP

Ottawa 16 vs. Calgary 27

First Quarter

Calgary won the toss, and elected to defer to the second half; Ottawa started with the ball. Offensive momentum was initially slow, with the first four possessions for the game going punt-interception-punt-punt. Both QBs had some iffy throws early, with Bo Levi Mitchell getting intercepted by Jonathan Rose, and Trevor Harris getting picked off by Ciante Evans. The Stamps put the first points of the game on the board thanks to prime field position after Ottawa’s turnover, with Don Jackson taking a screen pass 21 yards for a major, with the extra point making it an early 7-0 lead for the Stampeders. On Ottawa’s next drive, Calgary kept them in field goal range, but the normally reliable Lewis Ward missed a 48-yard attempt wide left, which left the REDBLACKS with nothing after 15 minutes of play.

Second Quarter

After being down early, the REDBLACKS needed to work to bring back some momentum and make it a game. Calgary added another touchdown from a catch by Lemar Durant to make it 14-0, and Ottawa had their work cut out for them. They got some much-needed points on the board courtesy of a successful Lewis Ward boot from 30 yards, followed later by a 55-yard touchdown catch-and-run from little-used receiver Julian Feoli-Gudino. With the score 14-11 with little time left, it looked like it was going to be a close game for the second half… and then Terry Williams ripped a 97-yard touchdown run on a punt return, a Grey Cup record, with just one second left on the clock, which really took the wind out of Ottawa’s sails. That three-point deficit was as close as the REDBLACKS would manage to get all game.

Halftime

Alessia Cara can really sing! I never have the radio on in my car – it’s basically always plugged into my iPod instead – so I’m really behind the times with my knowledge of pop music today. That said, a talented 22-year-old Grammy award winner from Brampton, Ontario, is a wise choice for catering to a wide crowd. A strong voice and tasteful arrangements – and she wasn’t lip-synching either, even in the cold weather. Points for that. Also the drum line was neat, and the backup skate-dancers were also super impressive. No complaints about this show for sure.

Third Quarter

After forcing a punt on Calgary’s first possession of the second half, Ottawa chipped away further at the lead with another field goal from 41 yards out. The Stampeders would answer with one of their own on the next possession, restoring the lead to 10 points. The Stamps defence locked down Ottawa’s receiving corps over the final 30 minutes of the game, working hard to prevent much of anything happening through the air. The REDBLACKS couldn’t get much of anything going after the field goal, and with time ticking down, they needed an opportunity to make a big play…

Fourth Quarter

After forcing a Calgary punt early in the final frame, star returner Diontae Spencer attempted to turn the corner and hit the open lane… and promptly fumbled, partially in part due to the tremendously slippery turf that played havoc all game long. Calgary would add a field goal to make it 27-14, and in the end, it would be all the points the Stamps would need to clinch the victory in this one. Greg Ellingson appeared to haul in a deep bomb, but video replay showed he didn’t survive the ground on the catch attempt. The very next play, Jamar Wall hit Brad Sinopoli hard on fourth down to prevent a completion, forcing a turnover on downs. Later, inside the three-minute warning, Trevor Harris would toss interceptions, back-breaking floaters, in consecutive drives, clinching the game for the Stamps despite the REDBLACKS’ defence managing to force a safety late. A heartbreaking end to the game for Ottawa, and it went to show why the Calgary Stampeders were the best team in the CFL this year.

Aftermath

With the victory, Calgary avoids becoming a Canadian version of the Marv Levy-era Bills, and redeems themselves for their previous Grey Cup mishaps, particularly the 2016 defeat to these same REDBLACKS. The Stampeders were the better team wire-to-wire in this one; they stepped up as a team, and everyone contributed in equal amounts. Bo Levi Mitchell was named Grey Cup MVP, while receiver Lemar Durant was named most Most Valuable Canadian. It’s hard to say if this will be the last hurrah for this current core group in Calgary, but if it is, then it was a very impressive way to cap things off.

Obviously, as a REDBLACKS fan, I’m of course disappointed by the end result of this game, but all the same, it’s also hard to be as upset when you acknowledge that your team was bested by a clearly superior squad. Full credit to the Stampeders; they’ve had the REDBLACKS’ number all year long, and they’ve consistently found ways to win – not only against Ottawa, but against literally every other team in the league. It certainly feels like a changing of the guard is in the air – I don’t know if this Stamps team will look similar next season, but there’s certainly a desire in Ottawa to keep the band together for at least one more kick at the can. Guess we’ll have to wait and see!

SEASON RECAP & STATS

East Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Points For Points Against
y-Ottawa 18 11 7 464 420
x-Hamilton 18 8 10 513 456
e-Montreal 18 5 13 345 512
e-Toronto 18 4 14 369 560

West Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Points For Points Against
y-Calgary 18 13 5 522 363
x-Saskatchewan 18 12 6 450 444
x-Winnipeg 18 10 8 550 419
c-BC 18 9 9 423 473
e-Edmonton 18 9 9 482 471

x – Clinched Playoff Berth
y – Clinched Division
c – Clinched Crossover Playoff Berth
e – Eliminated from playoff contention

All stats indicated in italics denote the season leader in that category.

BC Lions

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 8-10

Season Record: 9-9 (T-5th of 9, 4th in West; crossed over in playoffs, lost in East semifinal to HAM)

Home Record: 7-2 (T-1st)

Away Record: 2-7 (T-7th)

Divisional Record: 4-6 (T-6th)

Total Points For: 423 (7th)

Total Points Against: 473 (7th)

Total Passing Yards:  4282 (7th)

Total Passing TDs:  22 (6th)

Total Rushing Yards:  1699 (8th)

Total Rushing TDs:  14 (T-4th)

Total Turnovers: 54 (8th)

Leading Passer: T. Lulay (12 GP, 2494 yards, 187-311 pass attempts, 60.1% completion rate, 13 TD, 11 INT, 84.8 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher: J. Johnson (12 GP, 633 yards, 120 carries, 5.3 yards per carry, 5 TD)

Leading Receiver: B. Burnham (18 GP, 1029 yards, 67 catches, 9 TD)

Leading Kick returner: C. Rainey (14 GP, 1438 yards, 56 returns, 25.7 yards per return, 1 TD)

Leading Punt returner: C. Rainey (14 GP, 674 yards, 64 returns, 10.5 yards per return, 1 TD)

Leading Tackler: T.J. Lee (18 GP, 83)

Leading Pass interceptor: A. Orange/W.Rose (5) 

Leading Sacker: O. Willis (18 GP, 11)

Leading Field goal kicker: T. Long (17 GP, 43/49, 87.8%, longest 52 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • With Wally Buono retiring, who’s going to be the next head coach of the BC Lions? Whoever it is, they’re going to have some mighty big shoes to fill.
  • What will become of the quarterback situation for 2019? Both Travis Lulay and Jonathon Jennings are on expiring deals this year, and with negotiations for a new CBA yet to happen, it’s unclear how it’ll affect the salary cap situation moving forward.

Calgary Stampeders

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 11-7

Season Record: 13-5 (1st of 9, 1st in West; won Grey Cup vs. OTT)

Home Record: 7-2 (T-1st)

Away Record: 6-3 (T-1st)

Divisional Record: 7-3 (2nd)

Total Points For: 522 (2nd)

Total Points Against: 363 (1st)

Total Passing Yards: 5304 (4th)

Total Passing TDs: 36 (1st)

Total Rushing Yards: 1790 (6th)

Total Rushing TDs: 14 (T-5rd)

Total Turnovers: 48 (5th)

Leading Passer: B. Mitchell (18 GP, 5124 yards, 356-585 pass attempts, 60.9% completion rate, 35 TD, 14 INT, 99.3 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher:  D. Jackson (13 GP, 924 yards, 160 carries, 5.8 yards per carry, 3 TD)

Leading Receiver:  K. Jorden (10 GP, 944 yards, 55 catches, 17.2 yards per catch, 6 TD)

Leading Kick returner:  T. Williams (13 GP, 550 yards, 26 returns, 21.2 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Punt returner:  T. Williams (13 GP, 710 yards, 54 returns, 13.1 yards per return, 3 TD)

Leading Tackler:  A. Singleton (18 GP, 129)

Leading Pass Interceptor:  E. Davis (18 GP, 4)

Leading Sacker:  M. Johnson (17 GP, 15)

Leading Field goal kicker: R. Paredes (16 GP, 41/45, 91.1%, longest 52 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • With Bo Levi Mitchell having one of the best seasons of his career, and with a Grey Cup win and MOP award in his back pocket, might this be the chance he finally looks for an NFL opportunity? At age 28, this would likely be a now-or-never moment for him; if he does go, what will it do for the rest of the franchise?
  • Defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks is one of the hottest coaching prospects in the CFL, having had the league’s most dominant defence for two full seasons now. He was deep in the running for the Alouettes’ job last year before pulling himself out of the running and electing to stay with the Stamps… but he probably won’t stay a DC forever. Will this be the season he gets poached to run his own team?

Edmonton Eskimos

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 12-6

Season Record: 9-9 (T-5th of 9; 5th in West; missed playoffs)

Home Record: 7-2  (T-1st)

Away Record: 2-7 (T-7th)

Divisional Record: 5-5 (T-3rd)

Total Points For: 482 (4th)

Total Points Against: 471 (6th)

Total Passing Yards: 5606 (1st)

Total Passing TDs: 30 (T-2nd)

Total Rushing Yards: 1865 (4th)

Total Rushing TDs: 21 (2nd)

Total Turnovers: 51 (7th)

Leading Passer: M. Reilly (18 GP, 5562 yards, 418-621 pass attempts, 67.3% completion rate, 30 TD, 18 INT, 99.5 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher: C.J. Gable (16 GP, 1063 yards, 196 carries, 5.4 yards per carry, 7 TD)

Leading Receiver: D. Williams (18 GP, 1579 yards, 88 catches, 17.9 yards per catch, 11 TD)

Leading Kick returner: J. Robinson (9 GP, 539 yards, 28 returns, 19.3 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Punt returner: J. Robinson (9 GP, 209 yards, 26 returns, 8 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Tackler: J.C. Sherritt (18 GP, 100)

Leading Pass Interceptor: A. Grymes (17 GP, 3)

Leading Sacker: K. Boateng (16 GP, 9)

Leading Field goal kicker: S. Whyte (16 GP, 36/40, 90.0%, longest 52 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • Can Edmonton afford to keep Mike Reilly around for another contract? He’s the only player in the CFL making over half a million dollars this year, and while his performance unquestionably merits him his salary, it just depends on whether the team feels it is competitive enough to keep him as their franchise pivot… or if another team comes along with a more enticing offer. One would think the Eskimos would find a way to match any deal given elsewhere… but the expiring CBA is probably going to throw a wrinkle into negotiations.
  • The Eskimos had a rough second half of the season, which ultimately cost them a playoff spot – a very disappointing result, especially considering they were one of the favourites to make it to the Grey Cup at the beginning of the season. The defence wasn’t atrocious, but it also wasn’t good enough to get the job done in the end. What’s going to happen to the defensive side of the roster next season?
  • If Edmonton gets out to another slow start and is looking out of it, will HC Jason Maas get the axe? Maas came in with high expectations to build on what his predecessor Chris Jones constructed for him – and so far, he hasn’t come close to meeting it just yet.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 11-7

Season Record: 12-6 (2nd of 9, 2nd in West, lost in West semifinal to WPG)

Home Record: 6-3 (T-2nd)

Away Record: 6-3 (T-1st)

Divisional Record: 4-6 (7th)

Total Points For: 450 (6th)

Total Points Against: 444 (4th)

Total Passing Yards: 3971 (8th)

Total Passing TDs: 11 (9th)

Total Rushing Yards: 2014 (2nd)

Total Rushing TDs: 14 (T-5th)

Total Turnovers: 44 (4th)

Leading Passer: Z. Collaros (14 GP, 2999 yards, 234-382 pass attempts, 61.3% completion rate, 9 TD, 13 INT, 79.5 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher: T. Mason (18 GP, 809 yards, 160 carries, 5.1 yards per carry, 3 TD)

Leading Receiver: S. Evans (17 GP, 785 yards, 50 catches, 15.7 yards per catch, 0 TD)

Leading Kick returner: C. Jones (10 GP, 759 yards, 32 returns, 0 TD)

Leading Punt returner: C. Jones (10 GP, 645 yards, 46 returns, 13.2 yards per return, 1 TD)

Leading Tackler: S. Eguavoen (18 GP, 91)

Leading Pass Interceptor: L. Purifoy (17 GP, 4)

Leading Sacker: C. Hughes (17 GP, 15)

Leading Field goal kicker: B. Lauther (17 GP, 54/60, 90.0%, longest 50 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • What’s the Riders’ plan moving forward at quarterback? Will Chris Jones have enough confidence in Zach Collaros, who really hasn’t been the player he was since his 2015 ACL tear, to lead the offence again next year? Saskatchewan had the second-fewest pass yards in the league this year, and with Collaros throwing more interceptions than touchdowns, there’s something that needs to be done. Don’t know whether it’s a roster issue or a playcalling issue, but they can’t allow the defence to carry this team as much as they did this season if they want to go on a playoff run next season.
  • With Chris Jones known for wheeling and dealing with his roster, what is the likelihood of Saskatchewan making a large splash in free agency again this year? The salary cap may prove to be an issue, though this hasn’t technically stopped them in the past… as referenced by the numerous fines levied on them for illegal recruiting and practising tactics.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 13-5

Season Record: 10-8 (4th of 9; 3rd in West; lost in West Final to CGY)

Home Record: 6-3 (T-2nd)

Away Record: 4-5 (T-4th)

Divisional Record: 4-6 (T-7th)

Total Points For: 550 (1st)

Total Points Against: 419 (2nd)

Total Passing Yards: 4409 (8th)

Total Passing TDs: 30 (T-2nd)

Total Rushing Yards: 2429 (1st)

Total Rushing TDs: 23 (1st)

Total Turnovers: 41 (1st)

Leading Passer: M. Nichols (14 GP, 3146 yards, 254-392 pass attempts, 64.8% completion rate, 18 TD, 13 INT, 91.0 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher: A. Harris (18 GP, 1390 yards, 239 carries, 5.8 yards per carry, 8 TD)

Leading Receiver: D. Adams (17 GP, 1028 yards, 61 catches, 10 TD)

Leading Kick returner: N. Demski (14 GP, 276 yards, 14 returns, 19.7 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Punt returner: K. Fogg (16 GP, 730 yards, 80 returns, 9.1 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Tackler: A. Bighill (1 GP, 106)

Leading Pass Interceptor: K. Fogg (16 GP, 4)

Leading Sacker: C. Roh (17 GP, 8)

Leading Field goal kicker: J. Medlock (16 GP, 42/47, 89.4%, longest 50 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • There’s potential for a ton of roster turnover for this team, most notably on defence; the largest question will be about star LB Adam Bighill, and whether or not he’ll be on the team for next season. It’s not just a question of money – he was certainly paid well last season, and Winnipeg will probably have enough cap flexibility to fit him in again if they want to – but also if he shows a willingness to re-sign. BC will probably be gunning hard to re-sign him, and considering his long tenure there, it remains a possibility. The loss of Bighill may technically be just one player, but he really anchored this defence – and CFL awards voters noticed this. However, with eight of twelve starters potentially hitting free agency, things may end up looking really different next year.
  • Will OC Paul LaPolice receive another head coaching opportunity? He built the league’s top offence this year, even without QB Matt Nichols for the first three games of the season, and he took the Blue Bombers to the 2011 Grey Cup game.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 9-9

Season Record: 8-10 (7th of 9, 2nd in East; lost in East Final to OTT)

Home Record: 4-5 (T-6th)

Away Record: 4-5 (T-4th)

Divisional Record: 4-4 (T-4th)

Total Points For: 513 (3rd)

Total Points Against: 456 (5th)

Total Passing Yards: 5592 (2nd)

Total Passing TDs: 30 (T-2nd)

Total Rushing Yards: 1991 (3rd)

Total Rushing TDs: 16 (4th)

Total Turnovers: 50 (6th)

Leading Passer: J. Masoli (17 GP, 5209 yards, 378-572 pass attempts, 66.1% completion rate, 28 TD, 18 INT, 98.3 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher: A. Green (8 GP, 604 yards, 114 carries, 6.3 yards per carry, 5 TD)

Leading Receiver: B. Banks (14 GP, 1423 yards, 94 catches, 15.1 yards per catch, 11 TD)

Leading Kick returner: F. Williams (14 GP, 407 yards, 18 returns, 22.6 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Punt returner: F. Williams (14 GP, 383 yards, 40 returns, 9.6 yards per return, 1 TD)

Leading Tackler: L. Dean (18 GP, 106)

Leading Pass Interceptor: C. Brooks (18 GP, 4)

Leading Sacker: T. Laurent (16 GP, 8)

Leading Field goal kicker: L. Hajrullahu (18 GP, 46/54, 85.6%, longest 53 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • Jeremiah Masoli got an MOP nod this season, but against the league’s top three teams in Calgary, Saskatchewan and Ottawa, his team went winless, and his play faltered. Will Masoli have what it takes to truly cement his place in the top tier of quarterbacks next year? He did sign a contract extension – but with it being solely a one-year deal, this may well be a “prove it” season for the Ti-Cats’ number one pivot.
  • What’s going to be the way forward for Hamilton to return to a division title? After missing the playoffs last season and with a sub-.500 record in a weak division this year, this team has flaws; it also has some bright spots, but what is going to be addressed first in order to stabilize things? There’s much that needs to be done by GM Eric Tillman, but will he place his defence or offence first? I legitimately don’t know where to start with this team. They remain mostly an enigma to me.

Toronto Argonauts

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 11-7

Season Record: 4-14 (9th of 9, 4th in East; missed playoffs)

Home Record: 4-5 (T-7th)

Away Record: 0-9 (9th)

Divisional Record: 2-6 (9th)

Total Points For: 369 (8th)

Total Points Against: 560 (9th)

Total Passing Yards: 4534 (5th)

Total Passing TDs: 17 (7th)

Total Rushing Yards: 1703 (7th)

Total Rushing TDs: 18 (3rd)

Total Turnovers: 55 (9th)

Leading Passer: M. Bethel-Thompson (9 GP, 2193 yards, 198-303 pass attempts, 65.3% completion rate, 9 TD, 10 INT, 82.6 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher: J. Wilder, Jr. (13 GP, 691 yards, 147 carries, 4.7 yards per carry, 3 TD)

Leading Receiver: S.J. Green (18 GP, 1095 yards, 83 catches, 13.2 yards per catch, 4 TD)

Leading Kick returner: M. Jackson (11 GP, 747 yards, 37 returns, 20.2 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Punt returner: M. Jackson (11 GP, 464 yards, 38 returns, 7.4 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Tackler: J. Tuggle (17 GP, 67)

Leading Pass Interceptor: 4 players (2)

Leading Sacker: C. Laing (18 GP, 6)

Leading Field goal kicker: Z. Medeiros (8 GP, 15/20, 75%, longest 48 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • With Marc Trestman fired, who takes over as head coach for 2019?
  • Will QB Ricky Ray, who missed almost all of 2018, return for another kick at the can as the Argos’ top quarterback? Or will his age scare off the potential of a contract extension?
  • If the Argos move on to James Franklin on a full-time basis, do they have confidence that he’ll improve after a sub-par 2019 season?
  • With the league’s worst defence in 2018, with 560 points conceded, how can the Argos rebuild their defensive roster to be more competitive? In particular, the secondary needs attention, though pass defence as a whole remains the most pressing issue.

Ottawa REDBLACKS

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 10-8

Season Record: 11-7 (3rd of 9, 1st in East; lost in Grey Cup to CGY)

Home Record: 6-3 (T-4th)

Away Record: 5-4 (3rd)

Divisional Record: 6-2 (1st)

Total Points For: 464 (5th)

Total Points Against: 420(3rd)

Total Passing Yards: 5579 (3rd)

Total Passing TDs: 25 (5th)

Total Rushing Yards: 1692 (9th)

Total Rushing TDs: 13 (9th)

Total Turnovers: 42 (2nd)

Leading Passer: T. Harris (17 GP, 5116 yards, 431-615 pass attempts, 70.1% completion rate, 22 TD, 11 INT, 99.6 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher: W. Powell (16 GP, 1362 yards, 251 carries, 5.4 yards per carry, 6 TD)

Leading Receiver: B. Sinopoli (17 GP, 1376 yards, 116 catches, 11.9 yards per catch, 4 TD) 

Leading Kick returner: D. Spencer (17 GP, 815 yards, 38 returns, 21.4 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Punt returner: D. Spencer (17 GP, 849 yards, 82 returns, 10.4 yards per return, 1 TD)

Leading Tackler: C. Tindal (18 GP, 76)

Leading Pass Interceptor: D. Murray/J. Rose (5)

Leading Sacker: A.C. Leonard (17 GP, 6)

Leading Field goal kicker: L. Ward (18 GP, 51/52, 98.1%, longest 52 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • Can Ottawa manage to extend Trevor Harris? With his deal expiring at the end of this season, both sides have expressed desire to re-unite in 2019, but what kind of cap hit will his new deal carry? He’s currently one of the highest-paid players in the league, making $450,000 CAD in 2018.
  • Will Ottawa be able to retain DC Noel Thorpe? The REDBLACKS’ major coaching hire last season completely re-made the defence in a positive manner this year, vastly improving the unit and bringing lots of energy and aggressiveness. He’s expected to be one of the hot commodities for a head coaching job in this league, possibly in this offseason.

Montreal Alouettes

The Maestro’s Pre-Season Prediction: 5-13

Season Record: 5-13 (8th of 9, 3rd in East; missed playoffs)

Home Record: 2-7 (9th)

Away Record: 3-6 (6th)

Divisional Record: 4-4 (T-3rd)

Total Points For: 345 (9th)

Total Points Against: 512 (8th)

Total Passing Yards: 3869 (9th)

Total Passing TDs: 14 (8th)

Total Rushing Yards: 1827 (5th)

Total Rushing TDs: 14 (T-5th)

Total Turnovers: 43 (3rd)

Leading Passer: J. Manziel (8 GP, 1290 yards, 106-165 pass attempts, 64.2% completion rate, 5 TD, 7 INT, 80.6 efficiency rating)

Leading Rusher: W. Stanback (16 GP, 539 yards, 81 carries, 6.7 yards per carry, 0 TD)

Leading Receiver: E. Lewis (18 GP, 827 yards, 44 catches, 18.8 yards per catch, 4 TD)

Leading Kick returner: S. Logan (12 GP, 735 yards, 35 returns, 21 yards per return, 0 TD)

Leading Punt returner: S. Logan (12 GP, 576 yards, 63 returns, 9.1 yards per return, 1 TD)

Leading Tackler: H. Muamba, (18 GP, 109)

Leading Pass Interceptor: B. Dozier (17 GP, 5)

Leading Sacker: 4 players (5)

Leading Field goal kicker: B. Bede (17 GP, 34/40, 85%, longest 52 yards)

Major questions for next season:

  • With four quarterbacks under contract for 2019, are the Als – who paid a hefty price to acquire Johnny Manziel mid-season from Hamilton – really, seriously considering another QB battle in training camp coming up? As the common logic dictates, “If you’ve got two quarterbacks, you don’t have any. Unless you’re running the Wildcat – and cut that shit out if you are.” With Manziel under contract until 2020, what would losing his starting job mean, were it actually to transpire?
  • GM Kavis Reed has tried making a lot of moves to improve this team, but considering they haven’t made the playoffs since 2014, it seems like virtually everything he’s done has just exacerbated the problems this team has had both offensively and defensively. How much rope does he have left to turn this team around?

***

Thanks for reading the CFL Beat for the 2018 season! I look forward to returning in June of 2019 with all of the important football news we have to offer north of the 49th parallel. In the meantime, enjoy your December, and keep your eyes peeled for my new off-season series beginning in January! Cheers. 

The Maestro
The Maestro
The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn't in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
https://www.doorfliesopen.com/index.php/author/the-maestro/
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The Maestrolitre_colaWCSBeerguyrobballsofsteelandfury Recent comment authors
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WCS

THAT’S GOOD SEASON-LONG HUSTLE MAESTRO

Beerguyrob

Maestro is the real MVP.

Wakezilla

Anyone else thinking Mike Reilly is going to the LioUns?

ballsofsteelandfury

Isn’t he in the AAF?

Wakezilla

Bo Levi Mitchell is a good player who could do well in the NFL if given the opportunity. The problem is, he’ll likely be referred to as the Canadian and thereby seen as expendable.

I’d take Bo in Miami over Tanny and his wife’s fanny. He could do well in Sacksonville, too. I wish him all the best.

ballsofsteelandfury

I’ve really enjoyed reading these and am way more invested in this league than I ever expected to be.

GO LIOUNS!!

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

Winning Most Ootstanding Player or MOP has to be a very prestigious honor for Bo Levi Mitchell. Although I am surprised given Canadian practices that this wasn’t named MUP.

Fantastic work this season, Maestro.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

HARF HARF HARF GREY CUP

BrettFavresColonoscopy

Speaking of Canadiens, Maestro, please take suspended Leonard Fournette out of your DFO fantasy lineup so maybe you can best Litre to give me a chance to make the playoffs. 🙂

litre_cola

IF HE DIDNT LISTEN THE 1ST TIME QUIT ASKING!!!

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

THIS GUY BFC, I CALL HIM THE HUDSON’S BAY COMPANY BECAUSE HE’S TRYING TO PIT TWO CANADIANS AGAINST EACH OTHER FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

I DON’T GET IT BUT I’M PRETTY SURE I’M MORE LIKE THE FIRST NATIONS CANADIANS IN THAT NO MATTER WHAT I DO I’M PROBABLY FUCKED

Beerguyrob

If you are First Nations, just don’t trust any free HBC blankets is all I’m sayin’.

litre_cola

This is very good FirewatermanBill

Game Time Decision

For the Argos, I’d be surprised if Ray comes back. With that injury and his age, it makes me think that he’s just going to retire.

Don T

Holding onto the offseason bonuses for a new deal is a major dick move, but amounts to a “Hello” in the context of labor negotiations.

Brick Meathook
Brick Meathook

I used to think Bo Levi Mitchell was the most Canadian name ever until I read about him and realized that Bo Levi Mitchell is the most Texan name ever.