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  • Reeve Batstone

Around the League

On a bye week the Argos had the chance to heal and watch the eight other teams go at it.

The Edmonton vs Saskatchewan matchup featured bad teams playing bad football, highlighted by a close finish. The most notable thing about the Elks was the improved play of their offensive line, which did not allow a sack and opened some decent holes in the running game. The most disappointing thing for Edmonton was the uninspiring play-calling and poor coaching. Not only did they give up the winning point, but their head coach took a penalty for interfering with an official on the sideline. To his credit, Chris Jones took responsibility for the ill-advised winning rouge, conceded by the speedy CJ Sims. The Elks could easily have won both games against Saskatchewan this year but are finding new ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

This brings me to Trevor Harris and the Riders. They weren't much better, in fact their o-line was worse, allowing four sacks. They are beginning to look like they did last season when they gave up a record 77 sacks. Seventy of those were sacks of Cody Fajardo. Trevor Harris is beginning to remind me of Bo Levi Mitchell over the last three seasons - inconsistent. I will be curious to see how Saskatchewan does v BC or Toronto.

Winnipeg v Calgary turned into a beat-down after Calgary abandoned an otherwise successful running game after halftime. From there, the Bombers did what they do and ground down the Stampeders with their own running game. Their offensive line looked to be back to its dominant form after being embarrassed by Mathieu Betts and the BC Lions. The Bombers don't make a habit of beating themselves. Calgary used to play that way but not so far this season.

Hamilton and Ottawa looked like two teams trying to find themselves. Hamilton is trying to recapture its former glory and Ottawa is trying to find a competent quarterback. Sadly, it was not to be for Jeremiah Masoli, as he appeared to be seriously injured and had to leave the game. His rookie replacement Crum played surprisingly well, with his feet, but turned the ball over too many times, gifting the Tiger-Cats their first win of the season. Simoni Lawrence played his best game in a long time, as did Chris Edwards to help Hamilton seal the deal.

Having said that, the Redblacks are a good team due for some good luck. What is MBT doing now that the USFL season is over? There are two or three teams who I expect would love to have him under centre. He could make two of them legitimate contenders for a playoff spot, if not more. MBT in Ottawa would be a nightmare scenario for the Argonauts. Ottawa is much better than the Ti-cats on the line of scrimmage.

Finally, we come to the marquee matchup of the week, on the left coast, BC vs Montreal. This was a bizarre but entertaining game. Vernon Adams tossed a pick-six on his second pass of the game, but it was called back due to a very dubious pass interference call. Inexplicably, Alouettes head coach Jason Maas did not challenge this massive play. Neither QB threw an INT the rest of the way. Vernon Adams had a terrific bounce-back game completing 80% of his passes and putting up a sparkling 131 passing efficiency rating. At the other end, Cody Fajardo was sacked 7 times. Fajardo has already been sacked 22 times in only four games. To put that into perspective, Calgary allowed only 18 sacks all of last season. Fajorado is getting hammered and the Als are on track to allow almost 100 sacks. Is it a coincidence that Jason Maas was his OC last season in Sask? The most amazing thing is that Fajardo is not throwing interceptions, despite the unprecedented pressure. The Alouettes have not adjusted effectively to the poor play of their o-line this season and desperately need to move the pocket around. When Fajardo has had time to throw he has been very effective in completing deep balls. Against the Lions, some of the play calling was incredulous. The team's best receiver, Austin Mack, despite being wide open on the field side was ignored repeatedly in the red zone on the team's last drive which ended in a turnover on downs.

Montreal also turned in one of the worst special teams performances of the season. They had a FG blocked for a TD, and numerous kick returns called back for penalties. Not to mention Chandler Worthy's blooper highlight fumbled punt. The Alouettes were out-coached by a wide margin by the Lions sunday. Montreal will only go as far as Cody Fajardo takes them and unless they find a way to protect him better, his, and their season will not end well.


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