The 2016 CFL season is now past the half-way point and all teams are looking at what needs to be improved to earn their spot in the playoffs. No team is guaranteed a spot. And that includes the Calgary Stampeders. Even though they have played strong football and currently sit in the top spot in the West division, the Stampeders can’t coast to the 2016 CFL playoffs.
Stampeders Can’t Coast to the 2016 CFL Playoffs
Some would say the Calgary Stampeders are sitting pretty in the West division at 8-1-1, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the season is going to be easy. They are only three points ahead of the B.C. Lions and they still have to face off once again with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Labour Day Classic rematch this weekend. And after what we have seen from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers the past few weeks, they are a legitimate threat. So what does that mean for the Stamps? It means there’s no coasting to the playoffs. It’s time to stay focused and play smart football.
What the Stampeders are Doing Right
Not many teams can claim that they have gotten to Week 10 with only a single loss. But the Stamps have now done it three times in the past 10 years, 2010, 2014 and now this year. It’s been said so many times this year, but it’s true; Calgary keeps finding ways to win games. According to the Stampeders official website, “Since they went into the three-minute warning of a July 29 game against B.C. down by 15 points (before rallying for an overtime victory) the Stamps have outscored the opposition 184-82.”
The offensive line is doing a great job keeping Bo Levi Mitchell upright and giving him plenty of time to throw the ball. Calgary has only given up 10 sacks this entire season. Mitchell uses a rotation of receivers to get the ball down the field. And this is a recipe that has worked well so far. In fact, Marquay McDaniel is in the top 10 receiving yards list in the league.
Calgary is also very good at clock management. Late in the game, the defence is keeping the opponent off the field. And on offence, the Stamps play it safe by giving the ball to Jerome Messam. Messam has been a rushing beast. Last week against the Eskimos, he rushed 110 yards and scored two touchdowns. That’s also his third game this season with over 100 yards rushing.
Calgary also has the best kicker in the league. Rene Paredes is on another streak with 31 straight field goals. This is unprecedented since his record-breaking year in 2013 when he broke the Lion’s Paul McCallum record with 38 consecutive field goals. His teammates have nicknamed him “El Matador”. And he’s earned it.
With their successful record, one would think there’s very little to improve on. But with the Calgary Stampeders, there are some things that need to be kept in check. Calgary has been criticized for too many penalties earlier in the season. More recently, it seems Calgary has addressed these problems. There are fewer penalties, and more often than not, five-yard penalties. But these yards add up.
Coaches and players have commented on a lack of playing the full 60 minutes of football, and there are criticisms of “sloppy” football. If Calgary becomes complacent late in the fourth quarter, they can find themselves in a bit of trouble. There have been a few too many games where Calgary had a comfortable lead, only to have it taken away by too many penalties and and too much laziness.
If the Stampeders want to remain at the top in the West and punch their ticket for the 2016 Grey Cup, they can’t coast their way through the rest of the season. Calgary has to watch the penalties, play for all four quarters and keep their hands on the ball. As any fan knows, in the CFL, nothing is guaranteed.