Leave it to Jim Barker to leave ’em laughing in the pressbox.
As the clock was running down in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 38-10 Stampeder win over the Montreal Alouettes, Baker — the Toronto Argos’ general manager who took a sidetrip to Cowtown after Saturday night’s Toronto loss in Edmonton — pointed out with a laugh that, “Hey, we’re tied for first place. That’s not bad.”
Indeed they are, and you’d be hardpressed to find anyone who would have called for a 4-0 West Division sweep of the opening weekend of the regular season.
But what the Stamps did to the Alouettes tonight was not an aberration, not by a long shot.
I’ve been saying since Day 1 that the defence would have to carry this team in the early going, and with all due respect to the job done by Drew Tate, Nik Lewis and Jon Cornish, this night belonged to the defence (and to whatever brain-fart that prompted Montreal linebacker Shea Emry to commit an unbelievably foolish unnecessary roughness penalty in the second quarter. More on that later).
The front four really did nothing fancy. They just outmuscled the Montreal offensive line and put constant pressure on Anthony Calvillo. And when he got his throws off, the Calgary secondary did a wonderful job in coverage, allowing just one so-called explosion play — the Brian Bratton 37-yard touchdown — and picking off two passes, by Brandon Smith and Quincy Butler.
This, folks, is going to be an entertaining unit to watch.
Offensively, the Stamps need competence, to begin with, from Tate, and they got it. It will be a growing process, we all know that. He made plays tonight, and he made mistakes, which should be expected. But far more of the former.
As for Emry, it was just a brutal football play for him to pile into Tate in the second quarter, and Lewis certainly took issue with it after the game, suggesting that the Montreal linebacker should have been ejected.
“I think so,” said Lewis. “Just for the simple fact that it was a quarterback, and you need to protect the quarterbacks in this league for the fans, right? If you want a good product on the league, then you have to protect your quarterbacks. If it’s Anthony Calvillo or Ricky Ray — I mean, is he tossed out then?”
Lewis also said Emry’s reputation preceded him.
“Of course he does (have a reputation for playing on the edge,” said Lewis. “From spitting in people’s faces a couple years ago to doing things like that. And I asked him (later in the game) about it. I said, ‘Man, you’re a pretty good linebacker. Why do you do the extra stuff and when are you going to start respecting the people you play against?’ We’re all doing this for a living, and you respect your opponent, and you want to have fun and put on a good showing. I want to win with their best players on the field. I want to say I’m better than you. I don’t want you to leave the game (after being hurt from an illegal hit).”
That, no doubt, will stir the pot for the rematch in 11 days in Montreal.