The 2015 CFL season started in extremely auspicious fashion for the Ottawa Redblacks, as they beat the Montreal Alouettes 20-16 on the road. That victory puts Ottawa halfway to the two wins they recorded in their inaugural 2-16 campaign last year, and it gives their fans something to be excited about heading into their home opener next Saturday against the B.C. Lions. There were also definite bright spots for them, especially as they hung on to the lead late with a great drive. However, the Redblacks didn't answer a lot of the questions about their team in this one, and they benefited from poor play and injuries on Montreal's side. While this win's something to be proud of, they'll still have a lot of work to do if they want to keep winning, as this kind of overall performance isn't often going to leave them victorious.Read More »from Ottawa Redblacks start on right foot with win over Montreal, but still need work
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- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Thu, 25 Jun, 2015 11:43 PM EDT
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Thu, 25 Jun, 2015 8:27 PM EDT
Continuing with our CFL previews, here's a look at the Ottawa Redblacks, who open the season Thursday night against Montreal. Also take a look at our previous pieces on B.C., Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Toronto, plus league-wide storylines, and stay tuned for our final one on Montreal!
The Ottawa Redblacks enter the 2015 season with almost nowhere to go but up. After a disappointing inaugural season in 2014 that saw the expansion franchise go 2-14 (but succeed off the field, at least), the consensus seems to be that they'll be better, especially when you consider the way they improved their receiving corps (one of the key problems last year) through trades and free agency. The question is how high they'll climb, though. While there are some reasons to be optimistic in Ottawa, there are also a lot of challenges left. Will they be able to overcome those, or will 2015 still be a struggle for them?
Ottawa's biggest advantage in 2015 as compared to 2014 shouldRead More »from Will receiver additions help the Redblacks take a leap forward in Year Two?
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Thu, 25 Jun, 2015 7:00 PM EDT
Finishing our CFL previews, here's a look at the Montreal Alouettes, who open the season Thursday night at home against Ottawa. Also take a look at our previous pieces on B.C., Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, and Ottawa, plus league-wide storylines!
The Montreal Alouettes' 2014 season was full of highs and lows; the team started 1-7, but a quarterback change from Troy Smith to Jonathan Crompton and midseason hires of assistant coaches like Jeff Garcia and Turk Schoenert helped them. They went 8-2 down the stretch to make the playoffs, and went all the way to the East Final, but then fell to Hamilton. Ahead of 2015, they've made some splashy additions, but they've also suffered some key losses, and there are questions about if their second-half success is sustainable. How will things work out for the Alouettes in 2015?Read More »from The Montreal Alouettes have big names, but they also have some big questions
The CFL season kicks off Thursday night with the Ottawa Redblacks facing the Montreal Alouettes (7:30 p.m. Eastern, TSN/ESPN2), and it should be a fascinating one. From the Calgary Stampeders' attempt to repeat as Grey Cup champions to the Redblacks' hopes to improve in their second year of existence, there are plenty of team-based storylines, but there are also player-centric and league-wide stories to consider. Here are five of the biggest storylines to watch for in 2015.
How will the new rules impact the game? The CFL made dramatic rule changes this offseason, limiting the amount of permissible downfield contact from defenders, moving back one-point conversions, forcing interior linemen to wait until the ball's kicked on punts and kicks while adding no-yards penalties to the end of returns, and allowing the offence to start the clock more quickly if they want to play up-tempo. All of these changes seem somewhat positive, at least in theory; the coverage changes on passes and punts should emphasize speed and athleticism over brute physicality and allow for exciting plays without tweaking the game too dramatically, while moving the conversion makes that less of a gimme and offers more interesting decisions about whether to go for two points or not, and the ability to start the clock should make up-tempo offences more viable.Read More »from Five CFL storylines to watch in 2015
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Thu, 25 Jun, 2015 3:14 AM EDT
Moving on with our CFL previews, here's a look at the Toronto Argonauts. Also take a look at our previous pieces on B.C.,Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, and Hamilton, and stay tuned for more!
This is setting up to potentially be a very difficult year for the Toronto Argonauts. While the team finally has some future stability thanks to the deal for Bell and Larry Tanenbaum to buy them at the end of the year and move them to BMO Field and the pending owners' decision to extend the contracts of general manager Jim Barker and Scott Milanovich, this season might not go as well. They're coming off a 8-10 year where they missed the playoffs, and thanks to scheduling issues at the Rogers Centre with MLB's Toronto Blue Jays and the Pan Am Games, the team doesn't play in Toronto until Aug. 8. (They have a "home" game against Edmonton to open the season this week, but it's in Fort McMurray, Alberta, making it a much easier trip for the Eskimos.) Also, quarterback Ricky Ray's recovery from shoulder surgery hasn't gone well, and he's been placed on the six-game injured list. Moreover, the team didn't sign any free agents around the deadline in February. Will they be able to find ways to succeed despite those hurdles, or is 2015 going to be rough?Read More »from Can the Toronto Argonauts endure offseason attrition, injuries and the schedule?
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Thu, 25 Jun, 2015 12:06 AM EDT
For the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the last couple of seasons have been close, but no cigar. Their recent regular seasons haven't been special, with 10-8 and 9-9 records (oddly enough, the latter gave them first place in their division, which says a lot about the East in 2014), but they've done well in the playoffs, making it to the Grey Cup both years. They got even closer last year, too; while 2013 saw them blown out 45-23 by Saskatchewan, they narrowly lost 2014's Grey Cup 20-16 to Calgary, and might have won if not for Brandon Banks' potential game-winning touchdown return being nullified by an illegal block. The Tiger-Cats return what looks like a strong team this year, though, one with more continuity and greater experience in head coach and general manager Kent Austin's systems, and the rest of their division doesn't look great. Will that be enough to let Hamilton have a third consecutive shot at a Grey Cup, and might they pull it off this time?Read More »from After two straight Grey Cup trips, can the Hamilton Tiger-Cats get there again?
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Wed, 24 Jun, 2015 8:19 PM EDT
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers made some of the splashiest moves this offseason, particularly in free agency. They made a whole raft of impressive acquisitions there, including import left tackle Stanley Bryant from Calgary, Canadian linebacker Sam Hurl and Canadian centre Dominic Picard from Saskatchewan (in Picard's case, after the Riders cut him) and Canadian defensive end Jamaal Westerman from the NFL. It's easy to explain why the Bombers are making bold moves; they're hosting the 2015 Grey Cup, and that puts extra pressure on them to field a great team this season that could potentially get there. Spending big in free agency doesn't always lead to the desired result, though.Read More »from The Blue Bombers spent big, especially on their OL, but will that lead to wins?
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Wed, 24 Jun, 2015 3:52 PM EDT
2014 felt like a step back for the Saskatchewan Roughriders after the high of winning the 2013 Grey Cup. Yes, their 10-8 record was still respectable (if not as good as the 11-7 mark they posted the year before), but this time around, they fell in the first round of the playoffs against Edmonton. They also saw their regular-season points for drop from 519 to 399, and they allowed 441 points compared to the 398 they conceded in 2013. A big part of the issue was the health of quarterback Darian Durant; he missed the second half of the season after getting hurt in the Banjo Bowl, forcing the Riders to rely on the likes of Tino Sunseri and even Kerry Joseph. Saskatchewan's going with a more experienced group this year, which may or may not pay off, but the even more vital question for them may be if DurantRead More »from Will the Saskatchewan Roughriders' experience pay off? Can Durant stay healthy?
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Wed, 24 Jun, 2015 1:42 PM EDT
lost his former fiancée and good friend to ovarian cancer last year, and said she inspired him to grow his hair for Locks of Love, a charity that makes wigs for financially-disadvantaged children under 21 suffering long-term medical hair loss. It took Crompton two years to get his hair to the length needed to donate, but he took that plunge Tuesday, posting a photo of his new look on Instagram with a description of why he did it.Many CFL fans have noticed Montreal Alouettes' quarterback Jonathan Crompton's long hair over the last year, but not everyone knows the story behind it. CromptonRead More »from Jonathan Crompton cuts his hair, donates it to Locks of Love in memory of friend
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Wed, 24 Jun, 2015 12:44 PM EDT
Here's the third installment in our series of CFL team previews, looking at the Edmonton Eskimos. Also check out our pieces on the B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders, and stay tuned to 55-Yard Line for more.
The Edmonton Eskimos' 2014 campaign was remarkable, as the team improved from a 4-14 finish the previous year to a 12-6 one, second-best in the CFL behind only Calgary. They also made it to the West Final. Much of that improvement was thanks to the defensive scheme brought in by new head coach Chris Jones, which helped Edmonton concede a league-low 340 points on the year. However, the Eskimos' offence was strong as well, and the ground game was a big part of that. They led the league in offensive yards per game (363.8) and yards per carry (6.4), and were second in rushing yards per game (136.6) and points per game (27.3). Will Edmonton be able to maintain that success on the ground despite starting running back John White suffering a season-ending ACL tear in training camp?
WhiteRead More »from Will the Edmonton Eskimos find their ground game despite the loss of John White?