Monday, 23 February 2015

Monday Mailbag, Vol. 2

No need for a long intro, let’s get to the questions.

What are your thoughts on the Ti-Cats forum? It used to be better, but there are a few users that rip on everyone, so they leave.

I used to be a frequent contributor to the forum, but my visits there have been few and far between for at least a couple of years. I found it to be too combative and rude. Differing opinions were not welcome and things took a turn for the nasty. I am not innocent by any means; I was known to be a bit of a jerk when posting. But I tried my best to be respectful of others, but sometimes it can be tough.

So instead of interacting via the Ti-Cats or CFL forum, I use Twitter. Many of the CFL discussions are great. Yes, things can get a bit testy from time to time, but I find it much more cordial than the forum. I chalk that up to less anonymity on Twitter. Sure, we can hide behind screennames, but I find that more people use their real name and photo, which gives a more personalized touch and makes it harder to just troll someone or act like a jackass.

Twitter is also where I met my two fantastic blog contributors, Mark and Eric, as well as where I had the pleasure of meeting my podcast partner, Mike. So if anyone is looking for a way out of the forum and into more civilized discussions, hit up Twitter. You won’t regret it.

Do you think the average Ontario fan would watch more games if they were free online (without TSN GO)?

Online streaming is the way of the future, and one might even say it is the present. The CFL finding a way to offer high quality streams online, either through TSN’s website or via other means like YouTube, would be massive. I am sure that the television contract the league signed with TSN gives them exclusive rights to air games, so finding a digital platform while that contract still exists would be tough.

As far as whether it would increase interest in Ontario, I don’t know. There will always be those that look down on the CFL – and those people don’t just reside in Ontario – and no matter what the CFL does, and that won’t change.

Another thing to factor in is time zones. I run a blog dedicated to the CFL, so to call me a hardcore fan is probably not an understatement, but unless the Ti-Cats are playing, I am not too keen on staying up until a west coast game finishes around 1 a.m. Would online streaming of games change that? I don’t think so.

If the goal is to make the CFL a leader in online streaming, then that’s great. If it is to get more Ontarians to watch games, I don’t think it will make much of a difference. recently ran a poll that asked which East team had the best receiving corps. The runaway winner was the Ottawa RedBlacks. Thoughts?

My initial thought is that it’s wrong. The RedBlacks, while having a much improved receiving corps, is long on potential and short on actual results. Mo Price has all the tools to be a No. 1 receiver, but injuries have held him back. Greg Ellingson had a wonderful start to his CFL career, but then injuries slowed him down and allowed others, like Luke Tasker, to take his spot. Ernest Jackson has, if we are being honest, one great month at the right time, but who knows if he will build off that. And while everyone loves Brad Sinopoli, who is to say he will ever be anything more than what he already is. The RedBlacks already have a decent, though unspectacular national receiver in Matt Carter; is Sinopoli really that much of an upgrade over him?

So no, Ottawa definitely does not have the best group of receivers in the East. So you probably want to know who I think does. I think it comes down to two teams, Hamilton and Montreal, and I am going to say the Als.

While I like Hamilton’s group, I like Montreal’s just a little bit more. Hamilton does not possess a one-two punch like Montreal does with S.J. Green and the recently acquired Fred Stamps. Green is a bona fide No. 1 receiver and it can be argued that he is the best receiver in the game. Would someone say the same of Luke Tasker, who is essentially Hamilton’s top pass catcher? Probably not.

Hamilton does have the best national receiver, Andy Fantuz, and while Montreal’s duo of Sam Giguère and Éric Deslauriers isn’t as good combined as Fantuz is singularly, they do provide better depth than what Hamilton has behind Fantuz.

So while I know I will probably take some crap for not picking Hamilton, I think it is pretty clear that Montreal’s group is, at least on paper, the best in the East.

Who are your picks for 2015 East and West MOPs?

Wow! It’s only February and people are already asking for predictions. Well, no time like the present to make a fool of one’s self. In the West, give me Bo Levi Mitchell and in the East, give me Ricky Ray.

Mitchell will have some stiff competition from within (teammate Jon Cornish) and from the outside (Mike Reilly). But I think that Mitchell is ready to ascend up the quarterback ladder and be placed amongst the very best in the game. Last year’s division finals featured a combined one playoff game started by the four starting quarterbacks (Mitchell, Reilly, Montreal’s Jonathan Crompton and Hamilton’s Zach Collaros), so the future is now for the young guns at the game’s most pivotal position. With that, Mitchell will continue to grow and add to his trophy case that already features a Grey Cup ring and Grey Cup MVP award.

In the East, until someone can knock him off his perch, Ricky Ray is the odds-on favourite to take home the MOP nom for the third consecutive year. Ray was far from stellar in either of the last two seasons (an injury-shortened 2013 and a decent, though unspectacular 2014), but had the benefit both years of their really being not much competition for the nomination. I can see the case being similar for this year. Collaros could be in the mix if he plays 15-18 games in 2015, but I don’t really see anyone from Ottawa or Montreal challenging Ray. So picking now, I’ll give the East to Ray.

Would it be beneficial to have a player onside (besides the punter) for all punts?

This is a tough one to answer. The benefits of doing so are tremendous if executed properly (as seen in Hamilton’s season-finale win over Montreal last year), but doing it every time you punt might be overkill.

Much like halfback options or wide receiver passes, I think plays like these need to be used as conservatively as possible. When the winds are swirling and gusting, I say go for it, but on a calm July day, maybe it is best to keep this one holstered for another time.

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