Ottawa Redblacks stun Calgary Stampeders to win 104th Grey Cup

Few gave the Ottawa Redblacks a chance in the 104th Grey Cup, but after four quarters and overtime, Ottawa defeated the heavily favoured Calgary Stampeders 39-33.

Calgary entered the Grey Cup as 9.5 point favourites. In the regular season they went 15-2-1. A Grey Cup win, would have put Calgary in the conversation as one of the best teams in CFL history. Earlier in the week, they cleaned up at the CFL awards ceremony. In the two previous matchups with Ottawa, one ended in a 26-26 draw, the other a convincing Calgary win. But in neither game, did former Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris play.

Burris played one of the greatest games in his 20-year professional career to led Ottawa to its first Grey Cup since 1976. In what very well might be his final CFL game, the 41-year old Burris threw for 461 yards, 3 touchdowns and ran for a touchdown.

The 104th Grey Cup will go down as an instant classic and one of the biggest upsets in CFL history. Ottawa jumped out to a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter. But in the second half, Calgary slowly chipped away tying the game and forcing overtime.

Ottawa finished the regular season 8-9-1, winning the East Final against the Edmonton Eskimos in a 103rd Grey Cup rematch. But they followed the blueprint they used in their two previous matchups with Calgary to victory. For the third time this season, Ottawa held the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian, Calgary’s Jerome Messam to under 40 yards rushing.

But the difference between the first two matchups and the Grey Cup, Ottawa forced Calgary quarterback and Most Outstanding Player Bo-Levi Mitchell to uncharacteristically turn the football over. Mitchell threw three interceptions, gave Ottawa’s offense the chance to win advantage in time of possession and total yards battle.

After going down 27-10, Mitchell lead back to back touchdown drives to cut the score to 27-23, after kicker Rene Paredes missed a point after with 13:35 to play. With six minutes left, Burris scored a touchdown, but kicker Ray Early missed the point after. Six minutes left and Ottawa lead 33-23.

In the CFL, three minutes can feel like an eternity, and for Ottawa it certainly did. With 1:38, Most Outstanding Rookie DaVaris Daniels ran for a 19 yard touchdown. Down three Calgary got the ball back and drove down inside the Ottawa five yard line. A touchdown would win the Grey Cup for Calgary, a field goal would force overtime.

From the two yard line, CFL Coach of the year Dave Dickenson elected to use Canadian quarterback Andrew Buckley on a quarterback rollout to score the winning touchdown. Ottawa stuffed the play and forced Calgary to hit the game tying field goal.

The decision to go with Buckley will be compared to Super Bowl 49, when the Seattle Seahawks elected to pass the football from the two yard line instead of handing the football to bruising running back Marshawn Lynch.

In the Calgary backfield, is most outstanding Canadian, and league leading rusher Jerome Messam. At 6’3” and 263lbs, Messam is a difficult man to stop from getting two yards. The decision to not give Messam a chance to win the game, will be discussed for years to come.

In overtime, Burris led his final touchdown drive, connecting with Ernest Jackson for the go-ahead touchdown. A failed two point convert gave Calgary a chance to win with a touchdown and convert. Calgary went for the tying touchdown on the first play, but could not complete the pass. Second down, Calgary went short, but again, incomplete. Third down, Mitchell’s pass fell incomplete. Despite, early contact from the Ottawa defender, the flags remained in the officials’ pockets. Ottawa had won the Grey Cup.

 

It’s time for the Rams to clean house

It’s time for the Los Angeles Rams to fire Head Coach Jeff Fisher. It’s time for the Rams to fire Fisher and General Manager Les Snead. It has been time for the Rams to fire Fisher and Snead since the conclusion of 2014 season.

In 2012, the Rams then based in St. Louis hired long-time Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher to take over the 2-14 Rams. In addition to Fisher, the team hired Les Snead away from the Atlanta Falcons to be their general manager.

In four and a half seasons the Rams are 30-41-1 under Fisher and Snead. But the team’s results have plateaued after the duo improved from 2-14 to 7-8-1 in their first season in charge of the Rams. After the Rams record regressed to 6-10 in 2014, the Rams should have fired both of Fisher and Snead.

In 22 seasons as an NFL head coach Fisher has earned the reputation as a coach who will finish the season with a 7-9 or 8-8 record. In 22 seasons, Fisher is 172-161-1, and has finished above five hundred in just six seasons. In ten seasons Fisher has won seven or eight games. Fisher is not the coach who can elevate his teams, and that is exactly why he needs to go. You cannot expect to do better than 8-8 with Fisher as your coach.

Entering their fifth season together and final year of their contracts, the duo went all in and made a last ditch attempt to save their jobs. The Rams traded up to select California QB Jared Goff first overall. In exchange for the first pick, a fourth and sixth round pick, the Rams gave up the 15th pick, two seconds, a third round pick in 2016, and a first and third round pick in 2017.

After eight games, Goff has yet to take a snap for the Rams. A large reason why Goff has not seen any playing time is due to the stubborn nature of Fisher. Fisher’s refusal to play Goff draws back to Fisher’s clash with former third overall pick quarterback Vince Young. Young won offensive rookie of the year. But constant clashes with Fisher cost both the coach and quarterback their jobs with the Titans.

In Tennessee, Fisher elected to start journeyman veteran Kerry Collins over Young. Collins was the prototypical big armed quarterback drafted fifth overall. But Collins failed to live up to his draft hype, playing most of his career as an average quarterback who barely threw more touchdowns than interceptions.

Fisher and the Rams refusal to remove Case Keenum from the starting lineup is inexcusable. Keenum is a below average quarterback. He has been for his entire four year career. In 23 career starts Keenum owns a 58.5 completion percentage, 6.8 yards per attempt and a 24 touchdown, 20 interception ratio.  The numbers are shockingly similar to Collins. Collins completed 55.7 percent of his passes, averaging 6.5 yards per attempt with 208 touchdowns and 196 interceptions. With Keenum as the starter, the Rams can expect another losing season.

Fisher’s refusal to bench Keenum, leads to obvious question of why. There are two conclusions that can be drawn from not playing Goff. One, Goff is not ready to play and represents a significant downgrade from the below average Case Keenum. The second conclusion is that Fisher believes his best chance of winning and saving his job is with Keenum. Either way, the Los Angeles fans have begun chanting for Goff at home games. For Fisher and the Rams, those chants will continue to grow louder. So loud, that Fisher will no longer be able to deny hearing them.

If the Rams believe Goff is a significant downgrade from Keenum, it draws into question the scouting department led by Snead. Since Snead took over in 2012, the Rams have made seven picks in the first round, five in the second and six in the third round. In addition the duo inherited a former first overall pick in quarterback Sam Bradford. Despite trading back to acquire extra draft capital, the Rams have failed to coach and develop the talent they have selected.

In five drafts under Snead, the team has made 18 picks in the first three rounds. 14 of the 18 players drafted remain on the active roster. Two of the 18 are on the inactive roster (former third round picks Tre Mason failure to report and Stedman Bailey gunshot wound) and have not played for the Rams in over a year. Former second round pick Isaiah Pead went bust and is now in Miami. While boom or bust cornerback Janorius Jenkins signed a big with the New York Giants in the off-season.

With the 18 picks, the Rams have drafted only one superstar in defensive tackle Aaron Donald. It’s not a matter of if Donald wins a defensive player of the year, it’s when. Donald is a disruptive force, who pressures opposing quarterbacks and stuffs the run game. The drop off from reigning defensive player of the year JJ Watt is minimal.

After making the highly praised decision to trade down with the Washington Redskins in 2012 so they could select Robert Griffin III, the Rams traded down again with the Cowboys. The two trades gave the Rams extra draft capital. But the Rams failed to generate a great return on their extra draft picks.  The Rams selected a decent starting defensive tackle in Michael Brockers 14th overall. But more was expected from Brockers, who the Rams are now paying $11 million a year.

With the 8th pick they selected 5’9” gadget wide receiver and return man Tavon Austin. Austin has shown explosive flashes of ability, but Fisher and the offensive coordinators that he has hired have failed to find ways to get the football to. The pick still looks questionable today. But when you consider the Rams traded up to get Austin and just gave him a $40 million, four year extension, it’s beginning to look worse.

The Rams selected two players from Georgia with success. Alec Olgetree is more of the better young starting linebacker. Running back Todd Gurley appeared to be a superstar in the making after his first season. But this year he is averaging 1.7 yards less per carry. After 21 games it’s too early to determine which season’s is a better indicator of Gurley’s abilities. Gurley’s first season was marked by an amazing start. But he cooled off by the end of the season. The truth about Gurley is likely somewhere in the middle.

When the  Rams selected Greg Robinson second overall, they expected him to be the second coming of Hall of Fame left tackle Orlando Pace. The Rams selected Pace first overall in 1997. Pace was a dominant pass and run blocked, and fans expected the same from Robinson who dominated in college at Auburn. So far, Robinson has been a complete bust. Robinson has failed to be the dominant run blocker he was in college. But more concerning is how terrible Robinson has been in pass protection.

Outside of the first round, Trumaine Johnson is a good starting corner who was worth of the Rams’ franchise tag. Safety TJ McDonald is an above average starter. Lamarcus Joyner is a nice player, but is not without his flaws in the secondary. Outside of the first three rounds the Rams best pick is kicker Greg Zuerlein. Rob Havenstein is the Rams best lineman, and looks like the only long-term starter on the offensive line. But it’s not like he has a lot of competition for that honour. Outside of those five players, the Rams success outside of the first round is pathetic.

When you consider all the extra picks the Rams have had, it’s even more pathetic. If you want to build a successful team, you need to find players later in the draft. The draft will ultimately be the downfall of Snead. The lack of the Rams success in the draft raises more questions about Goff’s potential as a pro. If the Rams are this terrible at identifying talent, and cannot develop, coach and get the most out of players under Fisher, what hope does Goff have?

The road to the Grey Cup goes through Calgary

The road to the Grey Cup goes through Calgary. If you want to win this year’s CFL championship game, you must do what only two teams were able to do in 18 games, beat the Stampeders.

Calgary’s season is simply incredible. The team went 15-2-1, including a 16 game unbeaten streak. The lone losses for Calgary came in the team’s first and last games of the season. Calgary lost to British Columbia by just two points in the first week of the season. In the team’s regular season finale, Calgary elected to rest key starters rather than chase the record books. A win would have given them the best record in CFL history. Instead, Calgary lost by nine points to Montreal. Since the opening weekend, Calgary has seemed unbeatable. It is very difficult to pinpoint any weakness that the Stampeders have.

Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, will likely win the league’s Most Outstanding Player in a landslide. The offensive line is the best in the league. Derek Dennis will likely be named the league’s Most Outstanding Lineman. The line was able to keep Mitchell upright, surrendering just 20 sacks and open up massive holes for Canadian running back Jerome Messam. Messam could very well walk away as the league’s most outstanding Canadian, after he led the league in rushing and totaling over 1600 yards and 12 touchdowns. Defensively, the Stampeders have no obvious weakness. A strong defensive line, led by CFL sack leader Charleston Hughes. It’s just hard to move the football against the Calgary defense.

Even more incredible is that Calgary is winning with first year Head Coach Dave Dickenson. John Hufnagel was one of the best head coaches in the CFL, but the transition to offensive co-ordinator Dickenson as the new Head Coach has been flawless.

The only adversity Calgary has faced this season was the murder of rookie defensive back Mylan Hicks outside of a Calgary nightclub after a game. Despite the tragedy, the Stampeders continue to win, and win with relative ease. With a week 20 bye, and bye week in the first round of the playoffs, Calgary will have three weeks off before playing again. The Edmonton Eskimos were in the same situation last season, and went on to win the Grey Cup.

If Edmonton wants to win again this season, they will have to go on the road and win three games. With Edmonton crossing-over into the east, they will have to go through Hamilton and then Ottawa before a potential match up with Calgary in the Grey Cup. While Edmonton has a dynamic offense, with quarterback Mike Reilly, receivers Adarius Bowman and Derel Walker, defensively teams can move the football and put up points. While Alberta football fans are licking its lips, at the chance to determine which team owns the province’s football rivalry, it is no easy tasks for the Eskimos to reach the Grey Cup.

Unfortunately, for Hamilton and Ottawa, facing Edmonton team in the playoffs, makes both team’s road to the Grey Cup challenging. Both Hamilton and Ottawa are deeply flawed incomplete football teams. The strengths of both teams is their offenses. But both have taken drastic hits, as they both lost their top receivers.  Hamilton’s Andy Fantuz and Ottawa’s Chris Williams both tore their ACLs. To make matters worse, neither defense can stop anyone. Both teams routine allow teams to pass for whatever they want. Special teams have gone from strength to weakness. Both kickers have gone from dependable to inconsistent, as both have missed their share of kicks as the season has progressed. If either team is to advance to the Grey Cup, it will be from hot quarterback play and home field advantage. Both starting quarterbacks Zack Collaros and Henry Burris are capable of putting up points to win one game. But the odds either team winning consecutive games is unlikely.

If a team is going to upend Calgary, it will be either Winnipeg or BC. Both are the most complete teams next to Calgary, and just a single win separated the two teams in the standings. The one win separating the two, is BC’s week one victory over Calgary.

Winnipeg started the season slowly, but capitalized on a quarterback change. After a 1-4 start, Head Coach Mike O’Shea replaced turnover prone Drew Willy with veteran game manager Matt Nichols. The Bombers turn their season around, finishing 10-3. If either team is to beat Calgary in the west final, they must get to the quarterback and create turnovers. Disrupt Mitchell and you have a chance to win. Winnipeg led the league in takeaways behind Maurice Leggett’s seven interceptions. Winnipeg’s formula to victory is simple, control time of possession, and win the turnover battle. If they do both, they have a chance of winning.

BC is led by young quarterback Jonathan Jennings and coaching legend Wally Buono. The Lions defense is filled with play makers with the ability to get to the quarterback and take the football away. Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill are two of the league’s best linebackers. Chris Rainey is the league’s top returner. If the Lions have one weakness, it is their kicking game. Richie Leone is one of the best punters in the league, but he leaves a lot to be desired as a field goal kicker. With home field advantage, the Lions have to be favoured to get to Calgary for the West Final.

If no team can get hot at the right time, generate a pass rush and score points, Calgary will be celebrating a Grey Cup victory for the second time in three years. Additionally, a Grey Cup win would put this year’s Stampeders’ team in the conversation as one of the greatest teams of all time.

Uber Adventures 5: Halloween

It was Halloween weekend and that meant big time earnings for me driving all those drunken university students around the city for Uber.

I made $40 an hour driving groups of costumed people from house party to house party. I have never seen the surge level hit as high as it did on Saturday night. I can only check surge levels when I do not have to pick someone up. But when I did get a chance to check it, I saw the surge reach 4.8.

I picked up a group of two girls and two guys driving them to a party. I don’t remember what three of the people’s costumes were. But I do remember what the one girl was wearing. She was dressed as a vampire. But unfortunately, her fake teeth made it difficult to talk. Every time she attempted to speak, she had a lisp.

About an hour later, I picked up a group of three incredibly drunk, incredibly rude guys. I remember the one guy’s name was Emmett, because he made a point to shake my hand and introducing himself upon entering and exiting my car. He also happened to be 6’6” and by around ten, speaking and walking had become incredibly difficult for him. He also forgot to take his big bottle of booze and chase with him. Unfortunately, he left his bottle of booze open on the floor of my front seat and it spilled. I feel sorry for anyone who had to interact with him. He was already well past done, and it wasn’t even 10pm. The people I picked up following the drop off threw Emmett’s bottle of booze out the window, as we pulled away.

I picked up a pair of sister and took them to a party in the south end. I never really get a look at who gets into my car and what they are wearing. But they asked me to guess what they were wearing. I had no idea what they were wearing. I guess correct that the one had potatoes, on their head as part of the costume. I said I had no idea what they were supposed to be. She said that her sister and she were Mr. and Mrs. Potato-head. She made a comment about how funny it was. She then proceeded to say I wasn’t cleaver for not getting the costume. I responded by saying, it can’t be that fun if you have to explain it to everyone.

Early in the night I was constantly asked if it was a busy night. Truth is, it was not very busy until about 10:30om until 3:10am. I picked up my next foursome of people, three guys and one girl. They began discussing the comeback of the choker in women’s fashion. The one guy had made a comment that wearing a black choker, “means you have a black belt in giving head.” This angered the girl in the car, especially when he followed up by telling his girlfriend this. When his girlfriend responded that she didn’t wear a choker, he responded by saying exactly. The implication of his statement being that his girlfriend does not do oral, or is poor at the art of oral. The lone girl in the car snapped saying that there is no such thing as a girl giving a bad blowjob. That shut the car up pretty quickly.

I picked up a disturbing trio of guys. I should I have known it was going to be a bad ride, when they entered the pickup address wrong. These three wanted to go less than two blocks. But in that time, they proceed to let out a few nasty farts, and talk about drugs. Judging by their poor body odor, it would not surprise me if there talk on the phone with someone about doing heroin is really what they went to the house party to do. Thankfully that was a short ride.

I encountered my first nightmare of my Uber adventures. I went to a pick up location. I rolled down my window to see if the people at the curb were my pickup. Unfortunately, I turned off my car which unfortunately unlocked my car. I had my doubts that the people at the curb were the right people. They got in. I started driving and took the first few to their location. But that’s when it went wrong. As the people got out, a fight broke out. One person stayed in the car wanted to go to another location. But he wanted money from the others to pay for the ride. They argued and got nowhere. I realized I had the wrong people when the person still in the car didn’t really know how Uber worked. As they were arguing, my ride was cancelled. At that point, I was confirmed in my suspicion that I had the wrong people. I kicked out the last guy, and went back to the original location where I had been requested to get the right people. Thankfully, they were not too upset, when I told the one girl that the wrong people had gotten in their Uber. They were just thankfully to have a warm ride home.

Having rides cancelled mid ride was an earlier occurrence in the night. Thankfully these drunk and high idiots were loud talking about it. They thought they could get away with me picking them up and driving them to their location. But no, if you cancel the ride just because you think you can cheat the fare, you are wrong. The Uber app allows me to get an adjusted fare.

Thankfully the rest of my night was rather quiet. For the most part, most of the riders were respectful talkative guys and girls. There were also a few very good looking girls, which is never a bad thing.

Weekly Earnings: $379.80 in 9 hours 31 minutes

Lifetime Earnings: $1,699.44 in 64 hours 22 minutes