Henry Burris' football career has been a roller-coaster ride. Despite a great college career at Temple, he went undrafted by the NFL, came to the CFL and sat on Calgary's practice roster in 1997, and then was stuck behind Dave Dickenson and Jeff Garcia in 1998 and 1999. He moved on to Saskatchewan in 2000, then headed to the NFL for stints with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, was sent to NFL Europe by the Bears, returned to Saskatchewan in 2003, headed back to Calgary in 2005, won a Grey Cup there in 2008 and had plenty of success but then was shipped off to Hamilton in 2012. He led the Ticats to an appearance in the 2013 Grey Cup, but was then released so they could sign Zach Collaros and wound up with the expansion Ottawa Redblacks, where he endured a 2-16 inaugural season and plenty of calls for the team to move on from him and play younger quarterbacks. Now, at age 40, he's not only having the best season of his career and the best season of any player in this league, but one that led Ottawa to a 12-6 record, a first-place finish, and could lead to a Grey Cup appearance. It's a season that's not only remarkable in its own right, but also one that should cause many of Burris' critics to reconsider his overall career more favourably. He's likely one of the CFL's top 10 quarterbacks overall, even if that's not always recognized.Read More »from Henry Burris' remarkable age-40 renaissance could redefine his career
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- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Wed, 18 Nov, 2015 4:54 PM EST
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Wed, 18 Nov, 2015 3:11 PM EST
Moving on with our CFL Obituaries series, here's a look at what went wrong for the B.C. Lions this season.
The B.C. Lions' season passed away Sunday with a 35-9 West semifinal loss to the Calgary Stampeders, but it had been in poor health for some time. The Lions posted a 7-11 regular-season record and barely made the playoffs, sneaking in thanks to two late wins and losses from Winnipeg and Montreal. They had plenty of struggles this season beyond the wins and losses, too, and they have lots of potential free agents who may take off this offseason. The key question for the survivors of this Lions' season is if this year's issues were just growing pains in new head coach Jeff Tedford's first season and staying the course will make things better, or if more radical moves are required to turn things around.Read More »from CFL Obituaries: Were the Lions' 2015 struggles a step back or a building block?
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Mon, 16 Nov, 2015 6:30 PM EST
The Toronto Argonauts' 2015 season passed away Sunday in Hamilton with a 25-22 loss to the Tiger-Cats, one bout of adversity they weren't able to overcome. The Argonauts had faced tons of challenges this year, from playing away from Toronto until August, hosting "home" games in Fort McMurray, Ottawa, and Hamilton (thanks to the PanAm Games and the Blue Jays' playoff run), missing quarterback Ricky Ray for most of the season and dealing with a lame-duck year from owner David Braley before the already-announced sale to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum took effect, but they'd found a way to deal with all of them until now. However, some of the Ticats' successes against Toronto Sunday proved just too much to handle.Read More »from CFL Obituaries: The Argonauts finally met adversity they couldn't overcome
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Mon, 16 Nov, 2015 2:39 PM EST
Welcome to this year's first playoff edition of the Three Stars, focusing on the top performances from offensive, defensive and special teams players. This time, we're looking at the top showings from the East and West semifinals.
First star/defensive player of the week: Ted Laurent, defensive tackle, Hamilton Tiger-Cats: Laurent has been a terrific addition for the Tiger-Cats over the last two years, and the reunion with Kent Austin (who was at Ole Miss at the same time as him) has worked out well for him. Laurent's stats were down a bit this year, as he only recorded three sacks during the regular season (he posted nine last year), but he was vital in Sunday's 25-22 win over Toronto, notching two sacks and providing terrific pressure up the middle all day. He and the rest of the Hamilton defence kept enough pressure on Argonauts' quarterback Ricky Ray to hold him to 220 yards and one touchdown, well below Ray's usual standards. Laurent should be key for the Tiger-Cats going forward.
(Honourable mentions: Keon Raymond, DB, Calgary; Deron Mayo, LB, Calgary; Emanuel Davis, DB, Hamilton.)Read More »from Three Stars: Ted Laurent, Jerome Messam and Justin Medlock top the semifinals
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Mon, 16 Nov, 2015 9:55 AM EST
The matchups are set for the CFL's divisional finals this coming Sunday, with the 12-6 Ottawa Redblacks hosting the 10-8 Hamilton Tiger-Cats (thanks to Hamilton's win over Toronto Sunday) in the East Final and the 14-4 Edmonton Eskimos hosting the 14-4 Calgary Stampeders (thanks to Calgary's win over B.C. Sunday) in the West Final. Both games feature intense intraprovincial rivalries, and these Battles of Ontario and Alberta are always interesting. However, what may be even more important are some of the injuries these teams are facing, especially the challengers who came out of the divisional semifinals; Edmonton and Ottawa have had some injuries of their own, but they'll have had three and two weeks to rest respectively by the time these games kick off Sunday, so they should be in decent shape. That's not the case for Calgary and Hamilton.Read More »from Hamilton and Calgary injuries may be key in the CFL's East and West Finals
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Sun, 15 Nov, 2015 8:31 PM EST
The Calgary Stampeders' 35-9 win over the B.C. Lions in Sunday's West semifinal wasn't really in question for most of the day, but it came at a significant price. The Stampeders dominated for most of the day, leading 24-6 at the half and 28-6 after three quarters, and their defence was particularly strong, holding B.C. to 175 passing yards and 113 rushing yards. However, Calgary lost centre Pierre Lavertu and left guard Shane Bergman for the day early on in this one, further adding to the offensive line attrition they've suffered this year. Those could be significant losses that impact them next week in the West Final against Edmonton.Read More »from Stampeders roll over Lions 35-9 thanks to dominant defence, but suffer injuries
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Sun, 15 Nov, 2015 2:33 PM EST
Here’s the next installment in our Playoff Preview series, taking a look at Sunday’s West semifinal (4:30 p.m. Eastern, TSN/ESPN3/YouTube outside countries with broadcast deals) between the 7-11 B.C. Lions and the 14-4 Calgary Stampeders.
B.C. offence: Two NCAA coaches.
The Lions’ offence had plenty of struggles this year, with B.C. finishing tied for fifth in total points per game (24.3), seventh in points per game from the offence (21.9), eighth in offensive yards per game (313.0), first downs per game (18.2), rushing touchdowns (9), and rushing yards per game (81.3), and last in rushing first downs (84) and average time of possession (27:56). However, there were some bright spots for them, and some quarters and games where their offence clicked at a high level. Much may depend on the play of rookie quarterback Jonathon Jennings, who’s shown promise as the team’s starter down the stretch (since Week 14), throwing for 2,004 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 66.0 per cent completion rate. However, he’s been somewhat inconsistent, tossing 15 interceptions as well. Jennings has some weapons to work with, including running back Andrew Harris and wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux. He also has a good offensive line; the Lions allowed just 34 sacks this year, third in the league and one behind co-leaders Calgary and Montreal. Still, a road playoff start in Calgary isn’t going to be easy.Read More »from Playoff Preview: Will the Stampeders be able to hold off the Lions?
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Sat, 14 Nov, 2015 1:22 PM EST
Welcome back to our Playoff Preview series, an analytical look at each CFL postseason game where we rate each contenders' offence, defence and special teams. First up, Sunday's East semifinal (1 p.m. Eastern, TSN/ESPN/YouTube in countries without broadcast deals), where the 10-8 Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the 10-8 Toronto Argonauts.
Toronto offence: Three veteran quarterbacks: Toronto has a substantial experience edge at quarterback, with three-time Grey Cup champion and 13-year CFL vet Ricky Ray under centre, but that isn't as imposing at it might seem at first glance. Ray has barely played this year, missing the first part of the season thanks to a recovery from shoulder surgery and then remaining on the bench once healthy thanks to Trevor Harris' play. He was only given playing time in Week 19 thanks to Harris' struggles and then received his lone start so far in Week 20, and there are still questions about if he'll be rusty and how healthy he is. He's been okay to date, but far from dominant, and his 20.7 yards gained per possession would tie him with Matt Nichols for 11th if Ray had gained enough overall yards to qualify. Ray's experience may well prove decisive, but it's far from a sure thing.Read More »from Playoff Preview: Can the Argonauts' QB break the Ticats' home-field advantage?
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Sat, 14 Nov, 2015 1:02 PM EST
The Montreal Alouettes' season officially breathed its last following a meaningless final game this past week, after a tough battle with playoff elimination wrapped up a week sooner in a loss to Edmonton. The season had been in dire straits for much of the year, with injuries to quarterbacks Jonathan Crompton, Dan LeFevour and Rakeem Cato worsening its condition, but an aggressive late course of treatment involving a trade for veteran QB Kevin Glenn provided some hope of securing the first-ever East to West crossover berth. It wasn't to be, though, and the season wasn't able to survive.Read More »from CFL Obituaries: The Alouettes couldn't overcome their passing game problems
- Andrew Bucholtz | 55 Yard Line – Thu, 12 Nov, 2015 3:42 PM EST
The CFL's coach of the year award is getting a makeover. The league announced Thursday that the Annis Stukus Trophy will now have two finalists, one from each division, instead of three, and that it will be announced as part of each season's Shaw CFL Awards ceremony during Grey Cup week rather than at the traditional standalone banquet the following spring. The coach of the year ceremony is also getting a sponsor, as the CFL's signed a multi-year deal with Canadian investment firm AGF: the award will now be known as the AGF CFL Coach of the Year, and AGF will launch a companion AGF Community Coach of the Year Award next year to recognize financial advisors who volunteer as amateur coaches. The finalists announced this year aren't that suprising (Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell and Edmonton head coach Chris Jones), but the format change is quite notable, and from this corner, it's for the best.Read More »from Smart Coach of the Year changes include less candidates, time shift, sponsorship