Football

How a lot will Johnny Manziel play? When will Atlantic Canada get a workforce? Key questions for the CFL season

Will the CFL be capable to verify a conditional 10th franchise in Atlantic Canada earlier than the top of this season?

There’s cautious optimism within the CFL head workplace. “I feel they’re heading in the right direction,” commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated of Maritime Soccer Ltd. proponents Bruce Bowser, Gary Drummond and Anthony LeBlanc. “Can they recover from the aim line? I feel it’s a million-dollar query and we’ll solely know once we know.” He expects to know by Gray Cup week in Edmonton.

Progress is being made. Moncton Mayor Daybreak Arnold met with Ambrosie and LeBlanc final week to debate doable roles for the New Brunswick metropolis, together with internet hosting coaching camp, pre-season and common season video games at Moncton Stadium whereas a everlasting venue is in-built Halifax. LeBlanc has talked about a 25,000-seater might value $200 million, and Halifax mayor Mike Savage stated personal funding has to cleared the path.

Ambrosie stated the Ottawa mannequin — with the stadium on the centre of a revenue-generating soccer district — is an efficient one and ought to be adopted.

“You don’t construct a stadium, you construct a whole ecosystem. You construct a stadium and also you construct a improvement across the stadium as a result of individuals are now not simply going to video games,” Ambrosie stated. “The calculus of their use of their time shouldn’t be a ‘transport me to a recreation after which dwelling from a recreation.’ It’s ‘take me for lunch and perhaps some procuring after which I’ll go to a recreation after which after I’ll go for a drink or dessert after which I’ll go dwelling.’”

Will Johnny Manziel make Hamilton probably the most attention-grabbing workforce to look at, on and off the sector, within the CFL this season?

Briefly, hell sure. It has already occurred. The training-camp eve arrival of Johnny Soccer made a right away impression on jersey gross sales and media consideration in The Hammer. It stands to cause that he will even drive attendance at Tim Hortons Discipline for the whole 12 months, so thick with drama is his backstory.

And there’s no doubt that he has opened the door to publicity on ESPN and different massive American media platforms.

The primary pre-season recreation through which he performed drew 300,000 Canadians to TSN’s broadcast, in line with the overnights. That’s nicely past the norm for a Hamilton-Toronto pre-season tilt.

Whether or not the previous Heisman Trophy winner performs frequently or not, whether or not he begins or not, whether or not the Tabbies win or lose, Manziel is poised to turn out to be a perennial story engine.

If Hamilton erases final 12 months’s shedding methods and makes successful a weekly behavior, maybe he will get some common rubbish time in reduction of Jeremiah Masoli. If the Cats preserve shedding, the preferred man with the followers of a struggling soccer workforce is at all times the backup quarterback. And sure, as with every different backup QB, he’s just one damage away from changing into the starter at any time limit.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell appears to be like for a receiver towards the Saskatchewan Roughriders on June 8. Mark Taylor / The Canadian Press

Will the brand new ball have an effect on offence?

It appears unlikely. Casual Postmedia polling of a number of quarterbacks, kickers and receivers suggests the brand new ball is rather like the previous ball, with a slight variation on the tack, or really feel of the leather-based.

“I took a pair dwelling within the low season, bought the tack off them, and when you get it labored in, it’s fairly much like the previous ball,” stated B.C. pivot Jonathon Jennings.

Calgary’s gunslinging Bo Levi Mitchell believes the brand new ball holds its form, as soon as it’s labored in, barely higher than the earlier iteration. “And I feel it will get there a bit bit quicker,” he stated.

Quarterbacks had been usually disenchanted that the one change they proposed — a discount within the thickness of the laces to extra of a sleeker, NFL-like profile — was not instituted.

“It at all times spins higher, to me, with out the fats laces on there,” stated Mitchell.

So why did the CFL change its ball, however not the laces, if no one was going to note a lot of a distinction?

“I don’t suppose there’s any distinction in the fee,” stated Ambrosie. “I do know our guys examined the 2 balls. We had plenty of quarterbacks throw them, and to an individual they felt that this was the higher ball for them. It simply made it not an advanced choice.”

Will the elimination of a coach’s problem on unlawful contact have an effect on the tempo of play in a constructive method?

In fact. However how a lot? There have been 127 coaches’ challenges through the 2017 CFL season. Forty of these, absolutely 31 per cent, got here in response to a name or request for a name of unlawful contact on a receiver. In order that’s vital.

Nevertheless, defensive move interference made up the lion’s share of requests for video evaluation, 86 of them, for 68 per cent.

The CFL created a monster by permitting coaches to query unlawful contact. Viewers hated the interruption, so any transfer to restrict the variety of challenges is an efficient one.

In 2017, Edmonton challenged probably the most calls or non-calls, 19, and was profitable simply 47 per cent of the time. Toronto challenged the fewest, at 10, and was profitable half the time. The groups with the best fee of success on challenges had been Winnipeg at 69 per cent and Calgary at 67 per cent.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Adarius Bowman snags a landing move towards the Edmonton Eskimos on June 1. John Woods / The Canadian Press

What are an important CBA points to be negotiated by the CFL and the CFL Gamers Affiliation to get a brand new settlement accomplished?

In an e mail to Postmedia, CFLPA government director Brian Ramsay stated there may be “no timeline on negotiating a good settlement” however believes either side try to get it accomplished earlier than expiration of the present pact.

“General, we anticipate that development (on all ranges together with enterprise and the sport itself) in addition to sustainability of Canadian soccer might be a precedence for everybody,” Ramsay stated.

Ambrosie echoed that sentiment and stated the league has proven its full marketing strategy to the CFLPA’s government workforce. He additionally harassed it’s vital that the league and gamers act collectively to develop revenues. “The best way for the gamers to win is for the league to develop,” he stated.

It seems that the participant security file will even be integral to a brand new deal, in line with this quote from Ramsay: “The gamers proceed to attempt for equal illustration relating to participant security and endeavour to alter the present course of the place they should cut price with possession for rule modifications affecting participant well being and security.”

Will the transfer away from Sunday video games — there are solely three all season — and the addition of Saturday triple-headers have an effect on TSN rankings?

In a small method. There was only one triple-header final 12 months, and principally none within the decade earlier to that. TSN vice-president and government producer Paul Graham stated by scheduling 4 triple-headers in 2018 the community was cooperating with the league and its need to place bums in seats in cities like Edmonton and Winnipeg that choose afternoon tilts.

“We definitely would favor extra prime time nights, once more for apparent causes,” he stated, referring to a rankings enhance at night time over daytime video games. “However on the similar time we perceive the league must cater to a bunch of teams, households and youngsters and what have you ever. There are particular markets that choose afternoon video games. Triple-headers cowl all of the bases. It permits some groups to get extra of a household presence within the afternoon and it nonetheless maintains a primary time viewers for us at night time.

“The opposite experiment with it, if you’ll, is that it truly is us saying, ‘hey, if you happen to’re a fan of the CFL, we’re going to offer you 9 hours of actually nice soccer again to again to again.’ I’m notably to see how that seems.”

Edmonton hosts three video games as a part of triple-header Saturday motion, whereas there are two every in B.C., Toronto and Winnipeg and one every in Ottawa, Calgary and Hamilton.

Is Montreal GM Kavis Reed on the most popular seat within the CFL?

In an off-the-cuff ballot of Postmedia soccer writers, most selected Reed because the coach or GM with the brightest highlight on him. The Alouettes gave up probably the most factors (580), web offence (408 yards per recreation), first downs (448) and speeding yards (120.5 per recreation) in 2017 and wound up 3-15, useless final within the league.

Montreal parted methods with quarterback Darian Durant within the low season, earlier than having to pay him a sizeable bonus, however didn’t adequately change him. Former NFLer Josh Freeman was unimpressive in camp and all of a sudden retired, leaving Drew Willy and Matt Shiltz to battle for the function of starter.

Reed’s dealing with — some would say mishandling — of the quarterback place leaves him open to criticism. He has made some high quality additions to the defence, the place cornerback Tommie Campbell and rush finish Jamaal Westerman ought to bolster the troops. Reed additionally employed a head coach with zero CFL expertise in Mike Sherman. The previous Inexperienced Bay Packers bench boss will even be on a fairly brief leash.

Electronic mail: dbarnes@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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