The 2011 CFL Season kicks off Thursday June 30. Here is a quick look at each team to get you ready for the season. The Odds to win the 2011 Grey Cup are listed at the end of the preview.
What can you say about this team the past couple of years, dominant is one word that comes to mind. The Alouettes have been favorites to win the grey cup the past few seasons and have delivered behind their QB Calvillo. They have beaten the Roughriders the past two season to win the Grey Cup. Calvillo is back again (off thyroid surgery) looking to make it 3 in a row. And if Calvillo falters back-up QB Adrian McPherson is more than capable. Cahoon has retired but the Alouettes are still strong at receiver. The big question mark for them is in the backfield. Coubourne left as a free agent to Hamilton leaving the ball carrying duties to Whitaker who had just 20 carries all of last season.
Acquisitions: Sean Whyte K: Sandro DeAngelis K: Dwight Anderson, CB: Yvenson Bernard, RB; DeAndra’ Cobb, RB; Prechae Rodriguez, WR; Tad Crawford, S
Departures: Ben Cahoon, SB: Avon Cobourne, RB: Damon Duval, K; Paul Lambert, C; Matthieu Proulx, S
Hamilton Tiger Cats
Hamilton will try to make this year be the one they can make it to the next level, last year’s 9-9 record was a result of an up and down season that saw QB Kevin Glenn be the number 1. Even with the solid play at QB the Tiger Cats scraped into the playoffs and once again lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Argo’s. Once again this season it will be Hamilton’s linebackers leading the way. The secondary will have to be much better for the Ti-Cats to improve this season. With Glenn at QB and a solid O line the Tiger Cats should be in the thick of things come seasons end.
Acquisitions: Avon Cobourne, RB: Renauld Williams, LB: Daniel Francis, DB; Justin Medlock, K/P; Wayne Smith, OG; Daryl Stephenson, RB; Carlos Thomas, DB
Departures: Greg Marshall, D C: Otis Floyd, LB: Chris Bauman, WR; DeAndra’ Cobb, RB; Sandro DeAngelis, K; Alexandre Gauthier, OL; Ray Mariuz, LB; Jermaine Reid, DT
Toronto looked to rebound last year and new head coach Jim Barker delivered a 9-9 record that saw the team make the playoffs and win their first game to eventually be beaten by the Alouettes. The team relied on tight defense and special teams, overall, they are looking to build off 2010 and make some noise this year. If Cleo Lemon and the Argonauts offence can be even middle of the pack the Argonauts have a chance.
Acquisitions: Steven Jyles, QB: Wes Lysack, S: Ray Cheatham, DB; Dovonte Edwards, DB; B.J. Hall, QB, Nate Robertson, DT; Claude Wroten, DT
Departures: Adriano Belli, DT: Eric Taylor, DT: Jamie Boreham, K/P; Ken Dorsey, QB; Reggie McNeal, WR
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Last year was something Blue Bomber fans could do without, they had the league worst 4-14 record and new coach Paul LaPolice will be feeling the heat this year if they can’t turn things around. A huge injury to Buck Pierce at QB hurt the team for the whole season but on another note, Fred Reid, CFL Rushing Leader, was a great bonus for a team that had a terrible year. The Blue Bombers need Pierce to stay healthy to have any chance in this tough Eastern Division.
Acquisitions: Henoc Muamba, LB:Kito Poblah, WR: Shawn Mayne, LB
Departures: Phillip Hunt, DE: Steven Jyles, QB: Yvenson Bernard, RB; Daryl Stephenson, RB; Markus Howell, WR; Taylor Inglis, LS; Ryan Donnelly, OL; Shawn Gallant, DB; LaVar Glover, DB
The Calgary Stampeders went into the 2010 season with high hopes. They met the raising of the bar in the regular season but once again they disappointed the playoffs, Henry Burris was a stud throughout the regular season and collected a much deserved MVP award for his efforts. A few tweaks for the team this season but for the most part they will be a force again in the West Division.
Acquisitions: Dave Dickenson, OC, Geoff Tisdale, DB, Reggie McNeal, QB/WR; Tim St. Pierre, LB; Larry Taylor, KR
Departures: Ben Archibald, OT; Dwight Anderson, CB; Brandon Browner, CB; Tom Johnson, DL; Mike Labinjo, DL; Jesse Lumsden, RB; P.K. Sam, WR; Ryan Thelwell, WR
The Riders have been so close the past few years and 2010 was no exception. They were up and down in the regular season finishing at 10-8, then with 2 playoff wins they were right back in the Grey Cup Finals. But as fate may have it, the All’s were too much for the Riders to handle. Gone as head coach is Ken Miller and in is Greg Marshall. QB Darian Durant completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 5,542 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. He also added 618 rushing yards. If Durant can cut down on the turnovers the Roughriders will be a factor in the West this season.
Acquisitions: Tristan Jackson, KR; Alex Gauthier, OL; George Hudson, OL; Graeme Bell, FB; John Eubanks, DB; Chris Leak, QB; Dario Romero, DT
Departures: Ken Miller, HC; Andy Fantuz, SB; Omarr Morgan, CB; Jeremy O’Day, C
A rocky season for the Lions was a result a QB Printers most disappointing second year at the helms of the Lions offense. This was the result of the slow start of the season for the QB Printers and the duties were handed over to the QB Travis Lulay. After a good second half of the season the Lions snuck into the playoffs and lost to the Roughriders With Lulay starting at QB out of the gates the Lions have high hopes for this season. They will need a big year from RB Jamal Robertson to do any damage this season.
Acquisitions: Ben Archibald, OT: Eric Taylor, DT;
Departures: Emmanuel Arceneaux, WR: Yonus Davis, KR: Tad Crawford, S; Joe McGrath, OL; Sherko Haji-Rasouli, OL O’Neil Wilson, WR; Sean Whyte, K/P
The Edmonton Eskimos had a tuff year last year. They started with a 0-4 record that put them behind the pack early on and they were unable to catch up. The hiring of GM Eric Tillman might have been a step in the right direction for the team as he used the rest of the 2010 season to look at how the team can improve for 2011. Hopefully he saw a lot of areas that the team can build on. In as Head Coach is Kavis Reed and back at QB is Ricky Ray. Ray will need to improve on his 11 TD’s to 16 INT’s from a year ago and will need Stamps to have a big year if the Eskimos want to get back to the playoffs. One of the big question marks for the Esky’s is at running back. Whitlock is not ready to start the season (foot injury), so look for Daniel Porter to get the ball for the Esks to start the season. And it is going to be difficult to fix the Eskimo defence in just one offseason. The Eskimos allowed 388+ yards per game and 30+ points per game last season. Obviously this has to improve a lot, but it isn’t going to happen overnight. There are a lot of question marks for the Eskimos but anything can happen in the CFL.
Acquisitions: Kavis Reed, HC: Ted Laurent Scott Mitchell Nathan Coehoorn all Draft Picks from the draft. Adarius Bowman, WR; Taylor Inglis, LS; Brandon James, KR; Marc Mueller, QB; Julius Williams, DE
Departures: Adam Braidwood, DT: Mark Restelli, LB Kelly Campbell, WR; Kai Ellis, DE; Tristan Jackson, KR; Maurice Lloyd, LB; Jason Maas, QB; Kamau Peterson, WR
Odds to Win the 2011 Grey Cup (Courtesy Bodog Sportsbook):
Calgary = 3.75
Montreal = 4.00
B.C. Lions = 6.50
Saskatchewan = 7.00
Hamilton = 8.00
Toronto = 13.00
Winnipeg = 13.00