The Calgary Stampeders are in a unique position as this week gets underway with an opportunity to finish off the 2016 season with 16 wins. Calgary wants to hit that goal, Dave Dickenson wants to win the title of most wins in a rookie head coach year, and the Stamps want to win the Grey Cup. So the only remaining question is what are the strategies for the Calgary Stampeders for the remainder of the season?
Strategies for the Calgary Stampeders Going Forward
There’s been much hype over the last week as to the possibility of the Stampeders making CFL history by winning 16 games in a season. The only other time a team recorded that many wins was in 1989 by the Edmonton Eskimos. One could argue that this milestone shouldn’t be too hard to achieve for the Stamps as Calgary’s remaining games are against the two worst teams in the East, the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes.
Before Calgary fans start buying tickets to the Grey Cup though, the Stampeders first have to get there. And there are still a few bad feelings about getting to the playoffs and choking in the West Finals.
Strategy One: Stay Focused
The Stampeders have to remain focused and not become complacent in their recent success. Yes, Calgary is arguably a better team than the Alouettes and the Argonauts. Yet Montreal seems to have new life with interim head coach Jacques Chapdelaine. The Alouettes’ Rakeem Cato also has some very good receivers at hand in Duron Carter and Nicholas Lewis. Calgary’s defence should be reminded that overlooking Cato, Carter, and Lewis could be costly. And as for the Argos? Well, the team made some head-scratching moves by releasing four of their receivers this week and their quarterback situation is messy at best. But don’t forget that Calgary has had some problems with Toronto these past few years. These next few games are not guaranteed wins, especially if Calgary doesn’t keep their eye on the ball, so to speak.
Strategy Two: To Bench or Not to Bench
This is where things start to become tricky. Calgary has gotten themselves to where they are today because of the talent of their star players, such as Bo Levi Mitchell, Rene Paredes, Jerome Messam, and Marquay McDaniel, just to name a few. Therefore the question becomes, should Dickenson consider benching some of these players so they don’t run the risk of getting injured? Drew Tate has gotten Calgary to the playoffs before, and the Stamps have a number of highly talented receivers to rotate in. Tate, however, hasn’t played a lot of football other than short yardage plays in recent years. It is also fair to point out that many teams have had critical injuries playing in contests that don’t matter for playoff positioning.
There is one problem with this strategy, the Stampeders have a bye week the last week of the season. This means that the team won’t play a live action game until the West Finals nearly 21 days later, a lot of time for the players to not be playing football. Is that rest good or bad? It’s both helped and hurt them in the past, so it’s not an easy question to answer. Plus, Mitchell is very focused, competitive, and driven. It’s safe to assume Mitchell won’t go for sitting down the last few weeks, if he has any say in the matter. Yet in the end resting players, even for portions of the games, has to be a strategy that Dickenson and the coaching staff are thinking about.
Whatever strategy the Stampeders pursue for the remainder of the season, no game is a guaranteed win. If Calgary manages to hit that 16-game prize, it’s not going to be easy getting there. And even if they do, it won’t mean much unless they are holding the Grey Cup at the season’s end. Fans will just have to wait and see which course the team takes going forward.