As the 2018 season was about to get underway, there was a clear favourite – the odds-makers had Calgary out in front of the pack. Hardly surprising when you consider the Stamps have gone an incredible 130-47-3 since 2007 without experiencing a losing season in that span.
Despite all that success however, there remains a question mark. For all of their regular season dominance, Calgary were upset in the Grey Cup final by Toronto last year. Further to that during their decade long period of regular season success they have won only two championships, been beaten in three finals and lost in the playoffs on five other occasions.
Right now they are having another great regular season, sitting at 5-0, being the only unbeaten team in the CFL heading in to week 7 of the regular season and once again looking like the team to beat. Until and if they win it all in the playoffs though the doubts will remain. Those championship slip ups have to rankle when paired with all that regular season success.
Fans of other teams are quick to point out that despite Calgary’s successes the last 8 Grey Cups have been won by 7 different teams. The fact that Toronto are the only team to do it twice in that run despite having a run of boom and bust seasons, and the fact that on both occasions they beat Calgary in close contests doesn’t make it any easier for Stamps fans.
With that in mind Stampeders fans will be looking for any reason to be positive and if the old adage that defence wins championships holds any truth at all then they certainly have reason for optimism. Through 5 games the Calgary D has allowed a miserly 46 points (9.2 points per game), the next best D belongs to Ottawa who have allowed 111 points in 5 games (22.2 points per game).
Over the early weeks of the 2018 season Calgary’s D has been truly dominant. The Stamps also lead the league in a host of defensive categories including turnovers, least passing yards, and least rushing yards allowed. Of course the story was the same in 2017 too when Calgary had the stingiest D in the league.
There is a sense that the deja-vu of Calgary’s regular season dominance is a welcome sign for Stamps fans. What is less welcome is when others point out that we have been down this road before. The Stamps do have a dominant D (again), but will the outcome be different? Will they deliver their first championship season since 2014?
Defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks has produced another well oiled machine on the defensive side of the ball for the Stamps and it is clear that success is doing his reputation no harm at all. He’s definintley in the debate for future head coaching vacancies – a point debated over on cfl.ca recently: https://www.cfl.ca/2018/07/26/berg-vs-ferg-cfls-top-coaching-prospect/
So, what can we expect from here onward? it seems clear that Calgary will continue to be a defensive force in the league. What remains to be seen is if they can break that cycle of regular season success being undermined at the last hurdle. If their D remains in this kind of form they will always be competitive. As for the rest? That’s why they play the games – as ever it’s going to be fun watching it all unfold.
Original image from www.toacorn.com