You have got to love the CFL. This week, we were entertained by some amazing offensive football and a return game that left us with our mouths open and chins dropped.
Coming into this season, many were convinced that the Montreal Alouettes would have an offence that was going to be tough to stop. After Week 1, we were left shaking our heads as the Calgary Stampeders made them look below average.
Throwing for 174 yards and 11 first downs is not the day at the office that Anthony Calvillo accepts for himself. In post-game interviews, you could tell that Calvillo was disappointed with his performance.
Week 1 is always difficult to prepare for. There is very little game film on your opponent and it is widely known that Calvillo is consistently in the Alouettes facility at 5:30 am during a preparation day breaking down game film and piecing together the offensive game plan.
With only two days to prepare, Calvillo put together an amazing performance against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week. Right from the first snap, he was in complete control of his football decisions and confidently delivered crisp pass after crisp pass.
The first series of the game was indicative of the kind of control that he had over the entire game as he methodically orchestrated a 14-play drive that lasted over eight minutes and went 97 yards for a touchdown. Welcome back, Mr. Calvillo.
He threw on time and in places where only his receivers were able to touch the ball. At the end of the game, he had completed 80 per cent of his passes for 443 yards and three touchdowns. Now that is a day at the office that we have grown to expect from Anthony Calvillo.
Last season, I felt that Brandon Whitaker was the most dynamic player in the CFL. Last week, it simply seemed out of place to see him average less than one yard per carry. Whitaker is one of those special players that fits perfect in the wide-open Canadian game.
Give him space and his athleticism can completely dominate a game. Coming into Week 2, you definitely suspected that Whitaker needed to be more involved in the offensive game plan. By the end of the game, he had racked up 235 yards on offence and scored three touchdowns.
If you are voting between these two players, who gets your nod for offensive player of the week? The fact that Calvillo is not even on the CFL.ca Fan Poll to vote for the most outstanding offensive player of the week is yet another example of how we have grown accustomed to seeing greatness from him.
This guy is crazy fast. What an amazing sight to see him, for the second week in a row, effortlessly kick it into a different gear than everyone else on the field. Watching him turn a screen pass into a 95-yard touchdown was impressive. How can a guy that fast have a nickname "Chevy?"?
Time and again, we have the privilege of seeing talented, athletic players surface in the CFL. I have had plenty of conversations with players over the years who would call the NFL "The No Fun League" because of the restrictive size of the field and because the mechanical nature of the offences leave little room for these athletes to utilize their creativity and quickness.
So who is special teams player of the week? CFL kicking games racked up over 1,500 yards this past week, with 920 of those yards coming from four players. This past week was a highlight reel that saw four returns go for touchdowns.
Crazy! It was like each of the returners was watching the previous game to see what the new benchmark was and then went out and achieved one better. You had better not get up to get yourself another pop during a kicking play because you are bound to miss something spectacular this season:
Then, there was Sunday's game between Edmonton and Saskatchewan. 'Nuff said.
Although injuries are definitely a part of the game, you hate to see them happen because you know how hard these players have worked to get themselves ready for the season. After a hard-fought training camp, each player is excited to take advantage of the opportunity that they have.
To have your expectations shattered with injury is tough to take. I have always said that playing football is great when you are winning and you stay healthy. Playing through the pain of injury and losing is difficult to handle.
This week, we saw a few injuries that could dramatically impact teams. It will be very interesting to see how teams can respond to the challenge and which teams have the depth of talent to continue to have success.
We won't know until Tuesday what the extent is of the shoulder injury of Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate. What concerns me is that it sounds like this is an aggravation of a previous shoulder injury.
Shoulders can be extremely challenging in a contact sport like football. The more times that you injure a shoulder, the more prone you are to aggravating it. Tate is such a talent. Hopefully, the diagnosis is positive and he will be able to get back onto the field quickly.
Thankfully, the Stampeders made the move to bring in Kevin Glenn this off-season. As a veteran quarterback, Glenn will be able to step in and hold the fort until Tate can get himself healthy and back on the field again.
It has been confirmed that Bowman has torn both his MCL and ACL ligaments in his left knee. The Edmonton Eskimos offence needs all the help that they can get and losing a solid receiver like Bowman definitely doesn't help.
It was reported this week that Dwight Anderson will be out for a few weeks with an injury to his index finger. "I went up for a ball and when the ball hit the tip of my finger, it just exploded," Anderson said. A little disturbing.
The B.C. Lions defence is looking a little like a M*A*S*H unit. Ryan Phillips when down with a high ankle sprain, Byron Parker looked like he pulled his hamstring and Anton McKenzie looked like he had a couple rolls of tape holding his body together through the game.
There will inevitably be a time in each game when a head coach is placed in a position where he is faced with a decision that requires risk. Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice was faced with a decision with 5:18 remaining and his team trailing by 11 points. With his team on Montreal's six-yard line, he decided to have his offence go for it on third down.
This was a gutsy call because it would have been easy to simply take the three points and call it a day. If the Bombers went on to win the game, the criticism would not have been honed in on his head. There is no one that understands the pulse of a team more than the head coach.
The decision made revealed a lot more about what LaPolice feels about his team than simply taking a risk in the moment. Tell me what he would have done last season? He would have kicked the field goal and expected his defence to shut the door on Montreal's offence and force it to punt, providing ample time to drive the field for the win with three minutes remaining.
The decision revealed to me that LaPolice was not convinced that his defence could step up and get the job done -- and nor should he be convinced because the Als were having their way with the Bombers all night. The reason why this is 'The Ugly' is because LaPolice was forced into making a decision based on the poor performance of his team.
The first half was painful to watch as Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Henry Burris simply looked completely out of sync behind centre at B.C. Place. Right from the start of the game, you could tell that that night was not going to be easy for him as he missed throws and fumbled with the from centre.
The reason why Burris is listed under 'The Ugly' is not because he had a lousy performance, but rather because he took a tough night and gutted it out. "Smilin' Hank" started extremely shaky, was pulled by head coach George Cortez prior to halftime and then came back in the second half and toughed it out, leading his team to be in a position at the end of the game where they had a legitimate chance to win the game.
Burris finished the night having completed 26 of 39 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns -- statistically, respectable numbers. What was more impressive was to watch him fight through an ugly game and push himself through the discomfort. Some nights are just plain tough and Burris put together a gutsy performance.
Nik Lewis is maxing out the high-tech elasticity of the new and improved CFL jersey's this season. I am not sure how he has squeezed his 5-foot-10, 240-pound frame into it. The crazy thing is he actually plays really well at this weight. For the second week in a row, he used his large frame to his advantage and it resulted in another strong performance (7 catches, 95 yards, 2 TDs).
Wow. Between Steve Jyles and Kerry Joseph, Edmonton managed to accumulate only 106 passing yards against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed looked like he was trying to sooth a migraine.
He repeatedly pulled his sunglasses away from his face and and attempted to soothe his aching head by massaging his temples, hoping the pain would go away and he would soon arrive at his happy place. The beauty of sports is there is always next week. But really, scoring only one point in a CFL game? That is simply ugly.
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