Friday, 29 July 2016

What To Watch For...

Here's a link to the latest "Chalk Talk" episode that Dan Plaster and I do weekly on!

In this episode we break down what the Montreal Alouettes may look to do against the new Saskatchewan Roughrider Offensive Line! 

It starts up front!  HEAVY EMPHASIS on communication and assignments!


Chalk Talk Epsiode...Week 6!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

OFFSIDES! The Snoop Dogg Perspective

As we head into Week 6, our OFFSIDES podcast takes a look at this week's CFL schedule with the normal emphasis on coaching qualification but I think that you guys will enjoy the twist that we use as we analyze the upcoming games.

Coach and I are also working to continually improve our game, and in the coming weeks, with a couple of the things we have ordered and planned, we'll be bringing more of a "studio" feel to our OFFSIDES podcast!

From comments like the fact that thin-resumed coaches give GREAT press conferences (because they need the media behind them) to highlighting Snoop Dogg's view on the CFL in an effort to expose the one-sided Offensive rule differential, we really enjoyed dropping this show for you guys today!

Hit the links below to subscribe and download!

OFFSIDES on iTunes


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Picking WEEK 6 in the CFL

Batted an even .500 in Week 5 behind a game-changing injury in Saskatchewan and an unbelievable comeback in Commonwealth Stadium.
Here’s our Pro Perspective take on Week 6 of the CFL schedule, and as always it is presented by our great partner CJ Evans Home Designs…
Winnipeg @ Edmonton
I loved that the Edmonton Eskimo Players all stepped up and tried to take ownership of the debacle against Hamilton.  Huge salute goes out to Mike Reilly for attempting to shoulder most of the responsibility for the loss, but at some point (especially in Week 5’s case) someone in Edmonton has to take a look at the Defensive scheme and say, “We’ve got to do better!”
There’s too much talent on the defending Grey Cup Champion DEFENSIVE roster for the Esks to be playing a game of TD for TD with other CFL teams.  We’ve talked about the Defensive scheme for WEEKS on our OFFSIDES podcast (with former Defensive Coordinator Gary Etcheverry) and the foundations of the Mike Benevides playbook still don’t seem to be changing.
Now I’m not suggesting that Mike Benevides or anyone from the Edmonton Front Office should be listening to the questions that we’re bringing up from an analyst standpoint, but the lack of aggressiveness is becoming an issue that more and more people are noticing.  Including some of my friends that are still blessed to be playing this great game.
Shout out to Jeremiah Masoli for taking EVERYTHING that Edmonton gave the TiCats Offence last week.
Despite everything that I just wrote above, I’m going to stick with Edmonton this week because I believe in a Mike Reilly lead offence.  More importantly, I can’t see how Mike Benevides doesn’t tweak the playbook a little bit in order to attack Matt Nichols who is getting his first start in 2016.
One also has take into account the full scale changes that Coach Richie Hall and his Defensive staff are having to make to their secondary due to injury.  The Bombers have had a full practise week to try and get on the same page but one or two mental errors can kill a team when they’re having to deal with John White, Adarius Bowman, Darrell Walker, and Cory Watson.
 Pick:  The reigning and defending Grey Cup Champions with WANING CONFIDENCE…
BC @ Calgary
This is my personal GAME OF THE WEEK.  With BC climbing to the top of the ladder in many people’s minds this is the perfect opportunity for the Lions to continue to mark their territory at the top, or for the Stamps to jump out and show prognosticators that they can beat a team other than the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
All the makings of an old school physical battle are right in front of us here.  A stout BC Defensive Front 7, and a confident and physical Calgary O that looks to establish the Line of Scrimmage with every rep.
Both squads also feature Special Teams units that can change the course of a game with one kick, and I’m sure nobody on either side has forgotten about the first time that these units went at it during Week 1.
Being a huge fan of Bo Levi-Mitchell it’s always hard to look at the analytics and place a bet against the Stamps, but that’s exactly what we’re going to do today. 
At some point in time, every starting QB has a game that one can look back on and say, “that’s where the lights came on for him.” During Week 4’s victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Jonathon Jennings may have had that enlightening moment.  With momentum slowly gathering against the young signal caller, and a proven vet in Travis Lulay waiting in the wings, Jennings turned everyone’s heads by locking in and flashing the skills and abilities that everyone in the CFL knows he has.  It was quite the moment, and one can expect the Offensive unit in BC to roll into Cow-town with more confidence than ever. 
Having the distinction of being one of the best teams in the league comes at a cost.  Everyone has a little more pep in their step when they begin to prepare for you, and the eyes of the league start zooming in.
I’m buying what BC looks like they’re selling.
Pick: The British Columbia Lions
Toronto @ Ottawa
I’m not sure if Ottawa taking Henry Burris off the 6-game to make the start here is a good thing or a bad thing.  It’s part of many internal debates that I’m going through when it comes to Week 6 in the CFL schedule.  At any rate having the former MOP and sure-fire Hall of Famer back at the helm is a positive for the RedBlacks for as long as he is there.
When we take a look at the Argos, even though the they’re dealing with the loss of another Hall of Famer in Ricky Ray, I believe their backup QB Kilgore is quite capable.
This is a huge game that has early implications within the Division because the top tier teams here are play a lot of Western opponents over the next few weeks.
A win here for either team is big.
As much as I am suspicious about the timing of Burris’ return, I’m still willing to show some amount of faith.  Ottawa got a huge boost from its interior Dlinemen despite losing in Saskatchewan and they’ll need the same sort of performance in order to rattle Logan Kilgore and an Offence that may look to take some pressure off the young pivot by running the rock a little bit more than they have so far.
Pick: Ottawa to benefit from playing in front of the Nations Capital.
Saskatchewan @ Montreal
In one of our first Monday Mailbag columns of the 2016 season we took an in-depth look at the Saskatchewan Roughriders journey ahead.  As we do every year, I compartmentalized the season into 1/3’s in order to project the stages of development that the team needed to go through and the win/loss record that may coincide with those developmental stages.
During that particular column, I made light of the fact that if the Riders came out of the 1st 1/3 of the year with a 2-4 record that shouldn’t panic anyone in Ridernation considering the mental learning curve that the team was going to have to navigate.
If we break down that original 2-4 projection; I saw the BC game (at home) as the Green and White’s first real opportunity to win, and this Week 6 Montreal game as a CONFIDENT “W” despite Montreal being tough as nails at home. 
Right now, the Saskatchewan Roughriders sit 1-3 so and if our early analysis was correct, a win against a Montreal team COMING OFF AN INCREDIBLY SHORT WEEK, would have the team heading into Week 7 against Calgary with a chance to finish the 1st phase of the season at 3-3.  By all accounts, that would be a great record for this crew and supply some solid confidence moving into the 2nd set of 6 games.
To be completely honest with you guys, I have a fair amount of anxiety about this upcoming game and none of my concerns have anything to do with the QB spot.  We’ll avoid getting into great detail to respect the squad but the Offensive Line (which has struggled against certain stunts and twists while playing with their 2nd unit guys) may be even thinner on Friday which does not bode well for the protection of Mitchell Gale considering what Noel Thorpe and his Alouettes D may look to do.
Most CFL fans would look at all the problems that Montreal is having right now, like Offensive and Kicking Game production, and say that the ALS are a sitting duck.  Unfortunately, I don’t see things the same way, and I hope I’m wrong. 
Despite many self-imposed obstacles, the Angry Birds will still be heading into Friday’s game with their Week 1 starting QB, and as far as the kicking game goes, every kicker in this league is one long FG away from getting all of their confidence back.  We may only be talking about 3pters here, but when you’re a team that needs a spark, all points are GREAT momentum catalysts when they’re coupled with one or two quick defensive 2-and-outs.
Injuries are a part of the game that every team in the CFL ends up having to deal with to a certain extent.  My confidence level, as it pertains to this game, would be much higher if the Saskatchewan Roughrider ailments were more spread out across the board. 
In this case, all of the major health concerns for the Green and White are upfront within the same position group.  That is a significant blow to a team that needs to protect a talented 2nd string QB in order for him to continue to build his confidence.
I’m going to take the Alouettes here because it underscores how important an Offensive Line is to the overall results of a game.  In order to pull this game out, Saskatchewan is going to need some help from their Special Teams units, and play their best Defensive game of the year.
Pick:  Montreal with incredible reluctance.  IT STARTS UPFRONT.  On the brighter side, this is an INCREDIBLE opportunity for some of the younger OL talent that this organization has on its roster.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Pro Perspective Itinerary for Week 6 in the CFL

Got a hell of a Business Schedule this week so we're going to have to change around a couple of things in terms of our Football Conversation.

Our Week 6 Pick-Em will drop tomorrow (vs. today) and we'll also get out next OFFSIDES podcast to you guys on Thursday morning before the Eskimos and Blue Bombers kick off! 

Keep an eye out for all the usual links to the other work that I'm fortunate enough to be involved in over the next couple of days as well.

Talk soon folks!!!


Monday, 25 July 2016


There was ONE overriding question that was consistent throughout the Twitter Feed and in other areas that we gather our questions from for this MAILBAG column.  So today we'll answer your questions surrounding Mitchell Gale and the Saskatchewan Roughriders as they move forward...

Don't forget, YOU can join our conversation at any time simply by leaving your questions in the comment section below or on Twitter (@lucmull95).  We're also starting to get some questions from the Facebook Groups that I've been placed into so we're not adverse to answering those questions that are coming in off of FB Messenger.

Here's what we've got today!...

Via Facebook Msgr
Q:  What was your overall assessment of Mitchell Gale, and what happens when Durant comes back?
A:  I thought Mitchell Gale played well.  The MOST IMPORTANT factor in his game against Ottawa was that he DIDN’T TURN THE ROCK OVER.  Gale played within the structure of the scheme as well and helped himself by not adjusting his launch point (moving outside of the pocket) when he didn’t have to.  Teams are liable to get more holding calls against them when QBs get happy feet because the Offensive Linemen usually expect the QB to be in one spot.  The penalties come when QBs leave their allotted spot unannounced and Olinemen end up having to make adjustments in their technique because they don’t realize the QB has left.  Mike Abou-Mechrek does a great job illustrating the Oline and QB blocking relationship on 620 CKRM, but essentially an Oline blocks for where the QB is SUPPOSED to be, and not where he ad-libs.  The one thing that I really wished we could have watched is Gale being able to make throws with the Day 1 Offensive Line in front of him.
This team has struggled over the last couple of years with QBs leaving the assumed protection point early and forcing his Offensive Linemen to “chase ghosts.”  Mitchell Gale knew where his pocket was and understood that that was where he was going to have success from.
Now every pro football player will have some plays that he’ll want to take back once they review the tape, but as long as he is learning and applying the coaching points that are being highlighted in the meeting rooms I would expect a continues improvement.
Last week I can be quoted as saying that, “this team is a lot farther along at the #2 QB spot now then they’ve been in awhile INCLUDING when Drew Willy was here.” 
It was good to see a QB stand in the pocket and throw with confidence.  We got a chance to see the live arm that his former teammates were raving about, and I really enjoyed seeing him play with a consistent demeanor.  Gale never seemed to get too excited or to down during the ebbs and flows of the game on Friday and he was cast into some pretty adverse situations through Defensive plays, made by Ottawa, or by the Riders own mistakes.  The 4th year QB maintained a sense of composure while still being able to play with a sense of urgency when it mattered.  In football one wants their team to focus on the controllables during all situations.  Maintaining an even keel throughout the course of the game is something that some VETS still need to work on, and it was nice to see that Mitchell Gale has that characteristic in his tool bag.
As for Durant, he is absolutely the starting QB the minute that he is ready to go.  I get the adoration for Gale at the moment because people haven’t been this optimistic about the backup QB spot in a couple of years but that cannot cause us all to skew the facts.
Darian Durant was playing his best football when he went down in the BC Lions game and its funny how short people’s memories have become since then.  As a matter of fact, Doubles is probably needed now more than ever when we consider the next game on the schedule.  Despite it being a short week for the Alouettes (who play today) the Green and White are walking into one of the best Defences in the league and their strengths are in areas that the Rider Oline has struggled with as of late.
John Bowman leads a defensive front 7 that is a nightmare to handle 1v1 but also employs a significant number of stunts and movement.  Montreal uses its athleticism and multiple looks to supply an insane amount of pressure on the QB, and defensive interior stunts/games have proven difficult for the Roughriders to block up with two rookie guards, and a 1st-time centre. 
With QBs having to make quick decisions in the face of a rapidly collapsing pocket and an opportunistic secondary led by Billy Parker and Chip Cox, the Riders need the poise of their veteran leader throughout the course of the game, especially with Montreal struggling in the other two phases of Football.  The longer that the Alouettes are allowed to hang around, the harder it becomes for the Riders to pull off a victory in a building that hasn’t been kind to them over the course of history.
Mitchell Gale is a huge asset and looks like a QB that this team can build with in the future, but we cannot discount the depth and experience of the leadership in the locker room, and on the field, that #4 provides. 
One day this may be Mitchell Gale’s team.  Right now the Saskatchewan Roughriders need to WIN games and Doubles give them the best chance to do just that.  It’s important to the continued growth of the franchise, and it also provides the potential stability needed in order to hand the reigns over to a full time successor.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

OFFSIDES...See Ya Week 5!

With Toronto and Montreal playing on Monday, Coach and I only had 3 games to dive into today.

I found our convo interesting today because Etch touched on the "Coaching Slavery" that the CFL traps its coaches in. 

Today's OFFSIDES podcast warns everyone to pumps your brakes on Calgary, and touches on the fact that we shouldn't be surprised by Jeremiah Masoli's ability to slice through a soft defensive scheme.  I actually re-think my stance on the Hamilton QB because of this segment.

As we put a bow on Week 5 we talk about a few of the things that were ONLY HEARD ON OFFSIDES thus far in 2016, and use that narrative to speak on the upset in Riderville with the Riders over the RedBlacks.

Don't forget to subscribe to us on iTunes!!!  I've provided the link below...


For all over you non-iTunes enthusiasts, the embedded downloadable show is also right below...

Friday, 22 July 2016

Getting Out Of Your Own Way

Here's a link to a piece I'm fortunate enough to be able to contribute to

The Riders must cut out the things that they're hurting THEMSELVES with. Check it out...

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Stretching The Field...

Check out our latest Chalk Talk show via
Dan Plaster and I looked at a couple of ways that the Ottawa RedBlacks try and take advantage of the large CFL field. 

Here's the link...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

OFFSIDES! Style Over Results

Week 5 in the CFL is upon us and todays OFFSIDES podcast starts off with what may just be a MUST-WIN for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
As Coach Etch and I discuss what a huge game this is despite the stage of season, it brings us to the Joe Mack NARRATIVE that was so careful spun and emphasized when the current Blue Bomber regime first got into town.  Everyone in the Winnipeg media (minus Doug Brown who I think needs to be on the TSN panel) was overly critical of Joe Mack and for all intents and purposes, things have since REGRESSED from that stage.  As Etch brings up, at least the Joe Mack era included a Grey Cup appearance.

Our discussion on the Joe Mack topic also leads into an interesting chat surrounding Kyle Walters and his qualifications when it comes to being a CFL GM. 

You guys will enjoy this segment as it speaks on a different angle than the one so often portrayed in the Winnipeg press.
Next up we talk Hamilton vs. Edmonton and while we talk about Hamilton’s unreal Defence, it brings about another conversation piece involving how the rule disparity in the CFL makes it IMPOSSIBLE to win a football game with 2 of the 3 phases of the football team playing poorly (namely the Defence).  As I though about it, Etch brings up a good point because in the NFL there is plenty of opportunities to win a ball game even though teams may not be operating with all cylinders banging.

Toronto is on the docket next and I continued my mini-rant about why I’m going for Toronto and how it’s got nothing to do with any on-field issues.  Coach and I discuss the need to separate the marketing/advertising side and the FOOTBALL side when it comes to Toronto and the unique circumstance that the Double Blue find themselves in while operating out of Southern Ontario.

It’s also in this stretch of the show where we get our CFL reality check when our co-host brings up the “Style over Results” argument that has to do with Scott Milanovich’s views on running the rock.

Finishing out our OFFSIDES podcast for Week 5, we take a look at the Ottawa vs, Saskatchewan game that is slated for Friday and talk about what a HUGE deal this would be in Ridernation if the team could pull off a ‘W’. 

As we close the show, I also ask Coach Etch one of our fan questions that asks, “How would Coach Etch scheme against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the early stages of 2016” and the answer he gives will THRILL the football fan that enjoys taking a good hard look at the X’s and O’s.

Like always, the iTunes link to the OFFSIDES podcast is listed below


For non-iTunes users, I have left the embedded show below this sentence for your downloading pleasure.

Talk soon folks!!!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016



Well folks, the goal has been to improve with every time out, and in WEEK 4 we FINALLY registered our first 4-0 week!  What the hell is with all the Visiting Teams winning games?!?!?
One can expect to see some of these squads starting to improve in their trouble spots now that all 9 teams have gotten their feet under themselves, and I think that will make for some potential surprises over the next few weeks.  Let’s hope that rings true in #RIDERNATION!

Without delay, in an effort to help your water cooler conversations and smoke breaks, here are YOUR CJ Evans Home Designs CFL Picks for Week 5!

Calgary @ Winnipeg
Well if we’re going with the trend of every home team LOSING in their own yard, this one seems like a sure deal!  One should be careful writing off the Bombers immediately here though. 

With Calgary coming off of a bye week and having partied at the annual STAMPEDE for a few days, Dave Dickenson’s squad may be at risk of stumbling out of the gate.  A slow Calgary start may be just what Drew Willy and the Bombers need to grab momentum early.  At this point, Winter-Peg will take any advantage they can get. 

One may expect Calgary Defensive Coordinator Devon Claybrooks to come with some substantial pressure in this game knowing that Winnipeg has had trouble keeping Drew Willy clean.  The Bombers have allowed 13 QB sacks thus far in the 2016 and the inability to keep Willy protected has surely contributed to the fact that the Bombers sit 3rd in the league in Offensive Turnovers.  That’s not to say that Winnipeg needs to be afraid of the Stamps D, the Stumps are near the bottom of the league in every statistical defensive category aside from Points allowed (they’ve had the luxury of a bye).

The bottom line here is that the Winnipeg Offence needs to score TDs!!!  At the very least, Paul Lapolice’s crew needs to extend drives!  The Winnipeg Defence is a good one, but their abilities fade in the stretch if they are continually asked to “get back out there” after consistent 2-and-Outs from their O.

Hopefully the Bombers can jump out early and force Calgary to play from behind, however I picked against Bo Levi-Mitchell in the first go-round involving these two squads, and I won’t do it again.

Pick:  The stinking STAMPS…Shout out to Mike Labinjo!

Hamilton @ Edmonton

Word on the street is that Zach Collaros is CLOSER but not ready quite yet.  ADVANTAGE: Edmonton.
It’s one thing for the TiCats Defence to absolutely BALL OUT against an undermanned Montreal Alouette squad, but this is a far more developed offensive unit that the Tabbies are up against going into Commonwealth Stadium.

Having said that I actually like the chances of Jeremiah Masoli being ability to make throws from an unimpeded pocket during this game unless the Esks DC Mike Benevides continues to tinker with his strategy; however, throwing from an unimpeded pocket may also mean a higher likelihood of interceptions from Masoli as well.

It’s hard to ignore the three headed monster that continues to develop under Jason Maas in Edmonton (Bowman, White, and Walker).  It seems that with every passing week, Maas has figured out a few more ways to get the most production out of this immensely talented group. 

The scary part of this whole deal is that Cory Watson seems to have found the “key to health” and has become an x-factor that really spreads out a defensive secondary.

Right now it looks as though the Hamilton TiCats need an outstanding return game from Brandon Banks every contest, and for their Defence to be absolutely lights out, because they’re really struggling with consistency on the Offensive side of the ball.  Montreal managed to subtract Andy Fantuz from last games equation and it exposed Hamilton’s limitations in that phase.

Pick:  The Reigning and Defending Grey Cup Champion Edmonton Eskimos

Montreal @ Toronto

I heard that Kevin Glenn is practising!  Then I heard that the Alouettes haven’t decided on what the plans at QB are (at least up to now on Tuesday afternoon).  How rude…don’t they know that we’re trying to do a pick-em here?!? #WTF

Anyway, this game’s being played on a Monday and I have absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind that the crowd at BMO Field is going to be talked about far too much already.  Therefore, I won’t speak on the fact that it’s unfortunate that the schedulers of the CFL haven’t really given an EXCLUSIVE opportunity for people around the city to “fall in love” with the ARGOS as yet.  New field aside, everyone in Ontario are relatively snobby (including me) when it comes to certain events. 

Unfortunately, the Argos have always seemed to fall into that category.  Even the “TAILGATING” factor is going to become faux pas should the Argos continue to play in dumb time slots and lose. 
One home game at the beginning of 2016 and then scheduling the ARGOS to disappear into the WEST with night games that started at 10pm Eastern time, for 2 straight weeks, wasn’t a ringing endorsement for the squad when they returned to play in WEEK 4 during the early afternoon while everyone was still stuck on the 401 coming home from work.

I also won’t make light of the fact that another 530pm game during rush hour on the 401, 427, and the QEW makes it difficult for anyone to commit to the CFL unless they can catch a glimpse of the action from the bend that overlooks BMO field on the 427! 

I’m picking the Argos here.  Although I was never a fan of the CFL growing up, and only knew about the Argos because John Candy and Bruce McNall were part owners, it’s time I throw them some support!  I’m going to find a Ricky Foley Jersey, and cheer hard as hell for my former OVFL teammate Andre Durie (SLICK).  Shout out to Wayne Smith, my brother from another mother who keeps punching back at Father Time…Go ARGOS God Dammit!!!

Pick: Argos…Analyst Hat completely thrown out the window.

Ottawa @ Saskatchewan

While filming our CHALK TALK segment for this morning, Dan Plaster referred to the Ottawa RedBlacks Offence as the CFLs version of the “St. Louis Rams, Greatest Show on Turf” team.
With a deep sigh, unfortunately one may not be able argue with him.  The RedBlacks own the Total Yards, Passing Yards, and Passing TDs stat categories, and currently sit 2nd in rushing yards.  To hammer home Plaster’s point, Ottawa isn’t close to the top of the league in terms of possession time which speaks more to their ability to score quickly as opposed to consistently going two-and-out.

Many experts may actually look at this game as a “trap game” for the RedBlacks who come in to Riderville against a team that is prone to communication errors and assignment busts on D, and now may be rolling out a re-constructed Oline behind a back-up QB that showed great potential, but doesn’t have a body of work that gives anyone the ability to make a definite assessment.
Having said all of that, I still think that despite being written off by a lot of people already, the Riders still have a shot here.  It’s just going to take them playing a close-to perfect game for the first time this year but from a locker room standpoint there should be plenty of confidence. 
First off the RedBlacks, just like the Riders are one injury away from a severe shift in execution.  I’m not suggesting that the Riders play this game with an intent to “take out” guys, but it’s the reality of every football contest.  That’s the uncontrollable. 

The controllable factors are favourable.  I’ve stated this before but the Ottawa Defence is capable of giving up just as many points as their Offence can score which is illustrated by the games that the RedBlacks have played in already.  A last possession game against Edmonton, a shootout that resulted in a tie against Calgary, and win that they had to scratch tooth and nail for against the Toronto Argonauts.  This team hasn’t been blowing anyone out folks! 
If the Roughrider O can manufacture lengthy drives that result in TDs, that’s as good a Defence as any.  Keep Trevor Harris and Co. off the field as much as possible. 

When the RedBlacks Offensive Weapons do hit the field, diligent film work will help the Green and White defenders understand that their quick-hitting plays to the sidelines are setting up their big-play throws that they look to catch teams napping with.  Another must on Friday is the need to play PHYSICAL with the RedBlack receivers when they’re looking to throw blocks.  This is a receiving core that has become very good at clearing space for their ball carriers, and Ottawa has gotten a ton of YAC (yards after catch) because of their commitment to block for their teammates.

This may only seem like one or two anecdotes against a team that can beat you in a few ways however sometimes that’s the name of the game; taking away a team’s ability in one or two areas and letting the dice fly elsewhere.

Over the past two games, fans have really gotten to see a team with two-faces…the first face is a team that features outstanding athletic ability and competitiveness that gives them a chance in any competition.  The other face of this 2016 Roughrider squad is a team (coaching staff and players) that shoots themselves in the foot far too many times to have a legitimate shot at winning ball games.

Friday’s competition depends on which Rider team shows up, and more importantly, at what time?

Pick: With reluctance, the Ottawa RedBlacks.  This may be closer than some of you may think.

Monday, 18 July 2016


Had a few questions in our Pro Perspective Mailbag for todays post and our second response should cover a couple of your inquiries at the same time.  It's funny because no matter what our discussion points may have been in the past, we spend a lot of time hammering home the same topics at times.  Now this isn't a bad thing when I look at it.  I think that the more that certain FOUNDATIONS of being a professional athlete are discussed, the more you all have a chance to actually put yourselves in a pro athletes cleats.

Make sure your stopping by this page for daily content this week especially on Thursday when I drop the link for the work I contribute to 

That piece will consist of a look at an overarching theme that I noticed during the weekend once the Riders result against the Lions was in.

Get YOUR questions into the MAILBAG via the comment section below, or via Twitter (@lucmll95) or email (

We love talking ball with you guys here on THE WEEK FOLKS!

Via Twitter (@lucmull95)
Q: (From the BC game on Sat) Was that borderline not calling forward progress stopped before the (Anthony Allen) pitch back to Jennings?

A:  The referees shouldn’t have called a stop to the forward progress in that situation and they were right in letting the play continue.  Allen was legitimately being tackled and there were opportunities for defenders to still try and strip him of the ball or just bring him to the ground.  I looked up forward progress situations in the rule book and couldn’t find anything (I’m sure it’s in there).  I’m pretty sure that forward progress refers to plays where there will clearly be no more yards gained after a player has gotten to a certain spot and there aren’t any more options for either party.

Either way it was a good ‘no-call’ by the refs and a play that took a set of 90lb stones in order to pull off.  So many things could have gone wrong for BC in that moment.  Unfortunately for Ridernation, the gamble paid off and gave the Lions life when the Green and White were about to have all of the momentum on their side.

Via Twitter (@lucmull95)

Q: I read a Facebook/blog article after the game that stated that the fan/media NARRATIVE that “We can’t win without Durant” is killing the team’s mentality.  When you played how did fans opinions affect the locker room?

A: First off, until this team gets a back-up QB that can make the right reads and operate the McAdoo offence, that “We can’t win without Durant” narrative will remain true.  I’ll be the first one to tell you that Football is the ULTIMATE team sport BUT the Quarterback is so much more essential because aside from the centre, he touches the ball during every play on O, and is responsible for administering the pre-snap diagnosis and the execution of the play call itself.  Teams simply cannot win CONSISTENTLY without a quality QB.   To go one further, in the CFL, because the offensive schemes aren’t always build to protect the QB like in the NFL, teams need TWO quality starters up here in Canada and right now that’s where the “we can’t win without Durant” phrase has come from.  Saskatchewan hasn’t had someone in place that can provide consistency other than Durant.  It’s not a narrative up to this point, it’s a FACT.

Having said that, if Mitchell Gale is able to build on some of the good things he did on Saturday in his spot work, while learning from some of his teachable moments, I believe the coaching staff has a QB that they can have some confidence in moving forward.  It looks as though Gale will give them a shot from the QB spot for however long that the Face of the Franchise it out.  Gale has been a discussion topic on many of the football platforms that I’m fortunate enough to be involved in.  Like Trevor Harris, and Zach Collaros he’s been a student of the game under Scott Milanovich, but more importantly, HE’S HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP while watching from the sidelines for a few years.  He hasn’t been rushed into major duty and that has allowed Gale to develop an understanding for the nuances of the CFL game.  People often forget that Darian Durant himself went through a few years before he was ready to be the full time starter for the beloved Green and White.

The opportunity in front of Mitchell Gale is enormous right now, and it's what every player worth his salt wants in his career.  It is a chance to prove that he can be "the guy" in this league, whether it's in Saskatchewan or somewhere else (Winnipeg? #JustSaying).  Fortunately, with the educational process that Gale has been afforded, his chances of success are a lot higher than some of the QBs that the CFL has seen pass through its gates.  We'll get into the analysis of the RedBlacks game as this week progresses but the Defensive scheme that Ottawa employs now may be conducive to Gales skillset, if what we saw against BC was any indication.

I’ve probably addressed the second part of this question a number of times but I can honestly say that the fan opinion and media narratives don’t hold a lot of weight in the locker room, so for as much speculation and criticism that may or may not happen; not a whole lot ends of penetrating the locker room walls.

That’s not to say that athletes don’t care about what the fans think! 

It’s quite the opposite in fact…Players care deeply for the fan base of an organization and with the ability for social media to reach an individual like never before, we’re in a day and age where players can’t necessarily ignore the thoughts and feelings of others.

At the end of the day the bonds of brotherhood that are such a special part of professional sports are what keeps groups together during times of duress and will ALWAYS be the reason why players take the field. 

Do athletes hear the narratives and opinions of others?  ABSOLUTELY!  But it’s the narratives and opinions of the outside world that act as a bonding agent.  The louder the media, fans, and analysts get, the more the players band together and realize that at the end of the day, it’s the guys in the locker room that count. 

Quite often fan rhetoric is used as building blocks in order to create that “we all we got” attitude that carries teams through adversity.

Before I close out, I’ll give you guys an example.  During one stretch of a particular season our Defensive Line was having a particularly difficult time pressuring the QB.  In order to motivate our group one of our coaches printed off an entire thread from about the individual performance of a couple of our teammates.  The thread was filled with harsh words and unfair proclamations about their work ethic and abilities on the field.  Anyone with a soft exterior would have questioned their talents as a pro ball player with the detailed assertions that some fans were making. 

This collection of comments drew all of our interests at first because we were waiting for the team meeting to start.  After well all read through it, the most productive player in our group took the papers, ripped them up and threw them in the trash.  He then smiled and laughed saying that, “this is what we sign up for!  We’ll LIVE and DIE for each other. That’s all that counts.  Good or bad boys.  It’s just us.”

That thread from one of the more popular fan forums in the league could have said that our Dline group was the greatest of all-time OR it could have stated that we were the worst of all time.  Our attitude needed to be the same at the end of the day.

One does it for his brothers in the locker room in the best of times and during the worst of times.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

OFFSIDES! Closing the Book on WK 4!

As we get familiar with our new format here on the OFFSIDES podcast, todays show finds Coach Etch and I trying to bring you some insight and analysis that you guys may not have thought of during your own football conversations.  Week 4 didn't disappoint viewers, and it set the table nicely for some tough upcoming games in Week 5.

Our discussion leads off by examining who best two teams are from each individual conference where we look at Ottawa, and the surprising (but somewhat expected) start by the BC Lions.  As we lead into the first game of the week between Ottawa and Toronto, Coach and I find ourselves in accordance with each other as we talk about Ottawa not being the powerhouse that many might see them as right now.

Moving forward the lack of Offensive Production in Winnipeg over the last few years grabs the spotlight as we analyze the Bombers game against Edmonton.  I think you guys will enjoy this segment as Etch attempts to paint a picture that not to many people would like to think of.

Inefficient Offensive schemes continues to be the theme as we get to the Montreal vs. Hamilton defensive gem, however we also discuss the +1 pressure concept a little more because of the Defensive Coordinators that were on the docket in La Bell Province.

To close out our Week 4 review on OFFSIDES, Etch and I talk halftime adjustments and give you guys an interesting perspective regarding the BC Lions victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Hope you guys enjoy our WEEKLY Reviews.  Let us know what you think because we love to get the pulse of some of the greatest fans in the world...YOU guys are what makes these football conversations so exciting!

Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes to get your OFFSIDES podcasts the minute we drop them.
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Talk Soon!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Forcasting against Rain-ey

Here's a link to this weeks Chalk Talk segment that I'm fortunate enough to be a part of on! 

One of the Keys to Success will be limiting the return ability of the BC Lions...

Chalk Talk on w/ Dan Plaster and I

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

OFFSIDES! The Picasso Principle.

With Week 4 in the CFL kicking off on Wednesday, we wanted to get this OFFSIDES episode dropped before the Argos and RedBlacks flipped the coin.

If you haven't heard, we're breaking up our original podcast schedule into 2 shows, one immediately following the CFL week in order to analyze the games, and then this mid-week show that forecasts the upcoming schedule of games in our great league.  We'll also try and address one "hot-button" issue that our listeners have in this time-slot.

Today Coach Etch lead off by offering his thoughts on Rick Campbell as it relates to the rest of the Eastern Conference.  In Coach Etcheverry's mind, Campbell has leapt out as the most qualified coach in that division, and that lead him into predicting the winner of this weeks opening game.

As we moved to the Winnipeg/Edmonton game Etch pits the coaching staffs against each other in an effort to shine some light into what has the potential to be a very close game.  If there's one thing that we can agree on, it that this particular contest seems a lot tighter now than it looked to many experts and fans prior to the season commencing.

Jeff Reinebold was an absolute pleasure to play for during my time in Montreal, and the charismatic Special Teams coach of the Hamilton TiCats takes centre stage when we try and make sense of the Alouettes vs. TiCats game this Friday.  We also talk about the potential failed experiment that Kent Austin has in the Cornell product Jeff Matthews.

Before we close out todays episode of OFFSIDES by talking about a game that I've had a bad feeling about all week.  In the beginning of the season, I marked this game against the BC Lions as the 1st win of the 206 season for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and now, for some reason I don't like the match-up any more. 

I ask Coach Etch from the outset of this part of the show, "Am I trippin?" and coaches immediate response was, "I think you are!"

What followed was some great analysis that you`re not going to get anywhere else in the country, not to mention some positive news for RIDERNATION!

At the end, we discuss what it REALLY takes for a guy like Devon Claybrooks to succeed as a CFL Coordinator because one of YOU listeners wanted substantial facts on thin resumed coaches rather than just the normal "so-and-so itsn`t qualified" narrative.

We love having you guys as part of our conversation here at Pro!  Hit the comment section, or my Twitter account (@lucmull95) if you want to weigh in on todays show...BTW NOBODY KNOWS WHERE PRODUCER SAM IS!!!

Don't forget you can subscribe to our show on iTunes here:
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For you non-iTunes listeners, our show is embedded to be downloaded or listened to below as always!

Also, for anyone looking to sponsor our OFFSIDES podcast, get ahold of me by clicking the "Join Our Team" link on this blog site!  We have quite the opportunity for any prospective partners!

As always guys, we love TALKIN BALL with you!!!
Talk soon folks!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Picking WK 4 in the CFL!

Last Week: 1-3! WTF...Who ties a game?!?!?  We're taking it as an 'L'.
Last week, I learned a valuable lesson...Trust the gut feeling in my stomach.  I wanted to pick the Bombers because of the precarious situation they were in, and didn't.  This lead me wanting to throw my controller through the TV.  I also felt like the Lions were going to struggle a bit but picked em anyway...WELP!!!  Not trusting my gut earned us ANOTHER 1-3 week!!!

In the words of the immortal John Lynch, "HOW DUMB CAN YOU BE?!?!?"

Oddly enough, I'm having a ton of success in Draft Kings now that the CFL has struck up this partnership.  I've been paid out every week thus far, minus a heads up match I dropped to one of our listeners...Parker, you owe me a beer!

Maybe we should turn this into a DRAFT KINGS selection column if we end up sh*tting the bed again this week???

Before we go losing all of our self-confidence, I'm determined to break out of this slump this week, so LET'S DO THIS THING!!!

Without further are the CJ Evans Home Designs CFL Picks for Week 4!!!

Ottawa @ Toronto

The most important point of emphasis heading into this game, if one is an Argo fan, is that Toronto probably won't get away with kicking Field Goals against an Ottawa RedBlacks squad that leads the league in Total Points, Passing Yards, and Passing TDs. 

Toronto has to be able to put the ball in the end zone once they breach their opponents side of the field.  With Ottawa being able to score so quickly, field goals become frustrating if Ottawa cancels two of Hajrallahu's scores out with a single TD.

Toronto has the talent to score, and if there's one thing that we know about Ottawa it's that for as many points as they're able to score, they're just as likely to concede that many as well..

Winning two games out West does a lot for momentum in the locker room but the way in which the Double Blue got those wins was an impressive show of character and grit that they're going to need to fall back on with the RedBlacks in town. 

One would have to give the edge Defensively to the Boatmen and this is going to be the 3rd outing for a veteran group that understood that it might take a few games to start operating on the same page, especially on the back end.

It seems like such a daunting task to go up against an Ottawa Offence that has scored 10 passing TDs, but if one takes out Chris Williams' contribution of 6 TDs the RedBlacks don't seem like such a monster...the problem is taking out Chris Williams.

I love Toronto's chances in this game but right now the prolific rate at which the RedBlacks are moving the ball cannot be ignored.

Pick:  Ottawa...going with my gut.

Edmonton @ Winnipeg

I can't imagine there was much celebrating in Winnipeg after the Bombers capitalized on Hamilton's mistakes to steal a win in Steel Town.  That's not to say they didn't deserve to celebrate, but with Edmonton up next, the 'Peg probably basked in the glory of victory for a few hours and then locked right back in to this Week 4 clash with the Esks.

There's plenty of potential to score this week for the Bombers.  To this point the defending Grey Cup Champs haven't found a foothold defensively but with the talent that they have in that locker room, it's only a matter of time before the light goes on with their coaching staff and their players.

Right now the theme of the CFL is that HOME TEAM's cant win!  The number of visiting team victories has been eyebrow raising to say the least.  In keeping with that trend, the Bombers have allowed a league high 10 QB sacks.  There's no better time than the present for the Eskimo's Defensive Line to come alive!

Pick:  The Reigning, and Defending Grey Cup Champion Eskimos...My gut agrees.

Hamilton @ Montreal

Tough game to call here.  On one hand, we've got the Montreal Alouettes who will be without 3 of it's top offensive weapons, and on the other hand we have Hamilton that has a major issue at the QB position until Zach Collaros gets back.

I've got all the confidence in the world that the ALS defence can keep them in this game, and maybe even score a couple TDs while their at it.  As a matter of fact, La Belle Province needs a HUGE game from Noel Thorpe and his troops but that's not a big ask when one considers who Montreal has on that side of the ball.

The major question mark is what Anthony Calvillo and Kevin Glenn can put together with a unit that thrusts veteran Nik Lewis into the spotlight for leadership (as always) but now may have to lean on him for production. 

At the end of the day it's not fair for the all of the responsibility to be put on the shoulders of the Defenders in Montreal.  Hamilton's Special Teams Units have a knack for coming up HUGE in games like this, and if the Hamilton D can comes to play it may be too much for a short staffed Alouettes team to overcome. 

Pick:  The gut feeling here for some reason.  Seems legit.

BC @ Saskatchewan

I hate the fact that the only games that we've picked correctly here on Pro Perspective are the contests that have featured the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Obviously having followed this team from a healthy distance since training camp allows for a better feel for the team, but one never likes to be correct when one is picking against the Green and White.

This week is weird because I had a much better feeling about the Roughriders chances against the Edmonton Eskimos last week than I do about their chances against the Lions this week. 
*That's not necessarily a bad thing considering the rough start to the year we're having.*

For one, this Defence that Saskatchewan faces on Saturday is a lot farther along than the previous two opponents.  For some reason Ryan Phillips is the only player alive that looks to be defeating Father Time (knock on wood) and Adam Bighill is...well...Adam Bighill.  They've even got a pass rush going on over in British Columbia!

The second reason I don't like this match-up is because Wally Buono is...well...Wally Buono.  He showed absolutely no problem switching QBs when the Lions couldn't muster up any points against Toronto, in fact one would argue that he may have actually waited longer than he should have.  I don't think he'll hesitate long in Saskatchewan where momentum will go a lot farther for this football team than any other. 

That means that the Roughriders need to prepare for two QBs this week.  Travis Lulay looked GREAT in the action that he saw, and that doesn't bode well for a Defence that is still looking to round into form.  The Lions looked like a different squad under the former Grey Cup MVP and we shouldn't be surprised if we see a healthy dose of #14.

One would also expect to see a different defensive approach than the scheme that Chris Jones used against Edmonton simply because this Lions team features a completely different make-up.  Knowing that makes this game even tougher to try and predict because we can't look at individual match-ups within the construct of a familiar pattern.

If this game turns into a battle of field position one would have to like the BC Lions chances with Chris Rainey's ability, and we cannot discount the fact that the Orange and Black are going to try and establish the Line of Scrimmage and the run game.

I feel like I'd be bananas not picking Saskatchewan in this game.  Everything seems like it's lining up nicely, and as Dan Plaster, who I do our "Chalk Talk" segment with on pointed out that it may be the Defences turn to jump out and have a game!

For some reason something is not letting me commit to the Green and White this week and its killing me.  Last week I chose not to go with my gut and it cost me the Winnipeg game, and the Toronto game.

This week I'll go with that funny feeling in my stomach.

Pick: The British Columbia Lions...DAAMMM YOUUU GUT FEELING!!!


Monday, 11 July 2016


Coming off the heels of an EXCITING week of CFL action we got some great questions pertaining to Week 3 from YOU, our readers. 

For those of you who are knew to the game here at Pro Perspective, our Mailbag Monday column is for your questions...

Anything goes, and much like the time spend in football meeting rooms; there are NO dumb questions! We just enjoy helping you through whatever topics that are on your mind.

There are two ways to join the conversation, you can get your questions into the comment section below, or shoot them to us on Twitter via @lucmull95.

Here's what our answers to the questions you guys had this week! 

Via Twitter (@lucmull95)

Q:  It’s early but what’s the brightest spot for the Saskatchewan Roughriders so far?

A:  If you missed it, I’ll include it in a link at the bottom of this answer, but I wrote about how important this Offensive Line was going to be to the Green and White in my first column of the year for

In my mind the best part of this young season has been watching the Face of the Franchise Darian Durant operate effectively from the pocket while going relatively untouched.  Saskatchewan’s Oline has only allowed 1 sack in two games and if we look at what some of the keys to success are in 2016, the biggest one was probably the need to keep Durant healthy.

Doubles went 27/38 for 4 TDs and 317 yards on Friday against an Edmonton D that features some capable pass rushers.  I’m sure if you were to ask him, he’d give credit to his guys up front for allowing him to go through his progressions stress free. 

This team is going to go as far as Durant can take them this year, and I’m not saying that in an effort to separate him from the pack.  After a terrible 1.5 seasons without #4 and the makeup of this team on the defensive side of the ball, the Riders will need to limit two-and-outs and SCORE TD’s (not Field Goals) in the score zone, while the D finds their groove.  Over the course of the first two games, despite both being losses, the Offensive Line has done a fantastic job knocking guys off the Line of Scrimmage, winning 1v1 battles, and sorting out the blitz.

The BIG HOGGIES up front have been one of the brightest spots in the early stages of the 2016 season.

Via Text (use the comment section please)

Q: What’s it like to TIE a football game?

A:  In futbol (soccer) ties are part of the deal, and one can watch an entire game fully aware that one team may be playing simply to draw against their opponent.  THIS AIN’T SOCCER (SAWFFFT).  

Ties are the worst.  I can’t remember what year it was but as a member of the Green and White we played to a tie against the Calgary Stampeders and I would have rather lost that game than tie it.

One feels like the whole week of prep and travel (if you’re the visiting team) was an absolute waste of time.  As a football player or coach, one conditions themselves to compete and WIN.  If winning doesn’t happen, then one is trained to learn from every teachable moment and go out and compete to WIN when the next opportunity presents itself.
There is NEVER a post-game plan for a stupid TIE, or a set of emotions that are associated with it.  Guys just sit in the locker room after a tie wondering where the hell the last two hours of their life went.

It’s like a groom being left at the alter…part of him wants to be absolutely devastated, but a piece of him also wants to fly to Vegas and celebrate his extended freedom.  

One can’t even say, “Well at least we didn’t lose…” Yeah, no kidding…somehow the team did worse than losing…now slap yourself.
“You play to win the game!!! HELLO…You play to win…You don’t just play to play it!”

I love that Herm Edwards quote as he went off on the New York Jets media.  
In this case Coach Edwards summed it up perfectly.

Tie games just mean that you played the game just to do something.  Ties provide ZERO closure in a sport where one wants to be able to close the book and move on to the next week.  Never mind the standings and all of that other stuff.

Professional athletes are as competitive as they come.  Ties are the last thing a competitor wants on their conscience.

Via FaceBook MESSENGER (from the All RIDER Fan Page)

Q:  How come you never do Power Rankings?

A:  I don’t know.  I never paid much attention to Power Rankings when I was a player, and I still find them a bit misleading because a lot of them are based on records and don’t take into account team’s performance over the BIG PICTURE.  For sh*ts and giggles, I’ll give one to you guys here, including a brief explanation for the position.  Let me know how I measure up to YOUR RANKINGS!

1. Ottawa…If Nic Grigsby doesn’t fumble on the Goal line, the RedBlacks are 3-0…But they’re also lucky that Bakari Grant had a game winning TD slip through his hands.
2. Calgary…They’re scoring TD’s, which is the only reason they’re number 2 over our #3, 4, and 5 teams.  #BoLeviMitchell
3. British Columbia...Did anyone else notice how good Travis Lulay looked in the 2nd half of their game against TO?  Their Defence has only allowed 46 points over 3 weeks.  I have them ahead of the ARGOS if Lulay IS playing, and behind them if he isn’t.  I know this looks stupid considering they’re ranked higher than the team they just lost to but the Lions are different with Lulay at the helm and that’s where this position stems from.  Phase of the year is also a consideration here.
4. Toronto…HUGE win for the Double Blue in BC behind the leg of Hajrullahu, but Field Goals aren’t going to get it done in this league over the long haul.  Teams will take winning by a Field Goal or two, however the kicker cannot be one’s primary source of points.  The Argos have to find a way to get into the end zone.  I’m not taking the win/loss record into account here.  Mike McCullough and I talked about Ricky Ray on the Roughrider Roundtable (620 CKRM) and right now we have a push-up bet on whether Ricky Ray gets 12 starts under his belt this year.  He’s over, I’m under.  Obviously we have utmost respect for Ray and don’t want to see him get hurt at all, but something doesn’t seem quite right there.
5. Edmonton…They got the WIN and that’s all that counts, but they cannot continue to play with fire Defensively.  Right now it seems like they HAVE TO score on every drive.  The Esks ability to score points with Mike Reilly and his arsenal of weapons should be a luxury not a requirement.
6. Bombers…Realistically teams 6-9 are all interchangeable but I guess we have to start somewhere!  The Bummers did a great job capitalizing on opportunity, whether it was through turnover or situations that befell them.  With Edmonton and Calgary on deck they’ll need to continue playing SOLID D while their O continues to figure out ways to score.  We really got to see the benefits of the Andrew Harris signing in Winnipeg as the TiCat/Bomber game ticked down and ball possession became excruciatingly important.
7. Montreal…The ALS are treading water wearing ankle weights here at the 7 spot and they’re going to have to find a way to get things done this week minus a minimum of TWO of their Offensive Stars.  Fortunately, their D is capable of keeping them in every game and they’ve got the turnover prone Offence of the Hamilton TiCats coming into their building this weekend.
8. Saskatchewan…NO GREEN GOGGLES HERE.  The reason that the Riders find themselves above the TiCats in this one is because the Tabbies are turning the ball over on Offence in absolutely crucial phases of the game.  Hamilton’s fortune changes THE MINUTE Zach Collaros gets back on the field.
9. Hamilton.  Like I said, the 6-9 rankings are interchangeable at this point.  Hamilton shot itself in the foot far too many times against Winnipeg to have a legitimate shot at winning the game and their Defense is spending too much time on the field because of it.

The CFL is a crap-shoot early and things like Power Ranking aren't a beacon of light that one should depend on.  When one looks at the facts, like teams being UNBABLE TO WIN in their own buildings it shows us how unique and fragile the scales of power are in this league!

Hope this encourages your water-cooler convo's and cigarette breaks!  Talk soon folks.