2017 turned some CFL tropes on their head

There are certain axioms that everyone accepts, but sometimes are not true. Defense wins championships is the big one that has been debunked numerous time, including right here on 3DownNation a couple years ago.

But the 2017 CFL saw a few other long-held football tropes get a swift kick in the rear end, with proof that maybe the old adages aren’t so foolproof after all.

Belief: Can’t hire a coach late
Debunked by: Toronto Argonauts

Remember when we all mercilessly mocked the Toronto Argonauts for waiting until almost March to name their head coach for 2017? Remember how it happened almost three weeks after the start of free agency and reportedly cost them a number of top free agents, like Derek Dennis, Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams? Look at the Argos now.

Toronto Argonauts players celebrate with the Grey Cup after defeating the Calgary Stampeders in CFL football action in the 105th Grey Cup on Sunday, November 26, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Not bad for a team that had no clue what they were doing four months before the season started, eh?

Belief: Midseason coaching changes never work
Debunked by: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Midseason coaching changes in some sports, mostly basketball and hockey, happen frequently with not only good teams, but teams that eventually win championships.

Recently, the Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt midway through the 2015-16 season and went on to win the NBA title that June. The New Jersey Devils fired head coach Robbie Ftorek with eight games left in the 1999-2000 season and went on to win the Stanley Cup that June. These are just two of a number of examples of this working in those sports.

But these types of midseason coaching changes never work in football, so when the 0-8 Ticats named June Jones the team’s interim head coach in late August, no one expected much. All Jones did was guide the team to six wins and very nearly got them into the playoffs. He was so successful, that the team has decided to bring him back and signed him to a three-year contract on December 4. So much for in-season coaching changes not working in football.

Belief: General managers need to be in place early to establish their vision
Debunked by: Edmonton Eskimos, Toronto Argonauts

Two teams that didn’t have a leader in their front office won 12 and nine games, respectively, got their teams into the playoffs, with one winning their division and, oh yeah, the Grey Cup.

The Argos didn’t bring in Jim Popp until late February (on the same day they hired Marc Trestman) and it was after the team lost out on a number of high-profile free agents because they didn’t have the vision to sell to the players. Well, Popp found some guys on the scrap heap, like Cassius Vaughn, and the team picked up guys like Rico Murray and Bear Woods when their previous team deemed them expendable, and all those players, especially Vaughn, played a huge role in the Argos winning the 105th Grey Cup just a few months later.

The Esks might have been in an even worse situation as they waited until April before they fired Ed Hervey and hired his replacement, former Ottawa Redblacks assistant GM Brock Sunderland. Sunderland came on board just 13 days before one of the biggest days for a CFL GM, draft day. All the Esks did: make solid choices, including two picks, fifth-round pick Kwaku Boetang and third-round pick Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga, that finished the season as team award winners (Boetang as the team’s top rookie, Mulumba-Tshimanga as top special teams player). Not bad for a guy who had less than two weeks to prepare.

Belief: Justin Medlock is the greatest kicker in CFL history
Debunked by: Justin Medlock

No ill will meant, but Justin Medlock had a tough year, and an especially tough midseason stretch. His grip on the title of league’s best ever kicker became a lot more tenuous. He still led the league in made field goals, with 56, but he took 70 attempts and his 80 per cent success rate was dead last for kickers who attempted more than 30 kicks. He missed seven field goals over a six-week span, including an oh-for-three day against the Edmonton Eskimos in late September. Medlock found his groove again late in the season, but his 14 misses were more than his previous two seasons combined and almost double his previous record for missed kicks in a season, which was eight last year. Medlock is still in the conversation as the league’s kicking G.O.A.T., but he is no longer the unquestioned greatest ever after a rough 2017.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
Josh Smith

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About Josh Smith (398 Articles)
Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

20 Comments on 2017 turned some CFL tropes on their head

  1. Rider fan // January 1, 2018 at 11:12 am //

    The road to the cup was more equitable they might not be the champions. Argo fans will have something to say about that. Happy new year. Everyone

    • But they are the champions!
      The crossover gave the Riders another chance to get to the Grey Cup but shockingly the weak and meek Toronto Argonauts didn’t shrivel up and let it happen.
      Not trash talk simple fact.
      Happy New Year to you as well.

      • Rider fan // January 1, 2018 at 12:58 pm //

        Yes I am not saying they are not champions Argos I just want to change the playoff structure to award the wins and losses. The Argos and the red blacks both would have been in the playoffs, but in saying that there road would have been different. They are a good team and congratulations to Toronto Argonauts enjoy the time at the top

        • I’m an East-West Grey Cup proponent, I think it keeps more people across the country interested in watching it (increased TV ratings).
          A Saskatchewan vs Edmonton Grey Cup for example could have diminished interest in Eastern Canada which based on population and corporate $$ wouldn’t be ideal from the league’s standpoint.

  2. Carrie Cueto // January 1, 2018 at 11:28 am //

    This article truly was a wasted effort … I just have one question for y’all … who wants to walk with The Cueto !?!

  3. Not sure an exception here or there is enough to “debunk” what seems to happen more often.

  4. Billinburlington // January 1, 2018 at 12:02 pm //

    I often wonder if any other CFL coach/GM could have done what Trestman\Popp accomplished this past season, or if they had a lot of luck along the way.

    Clearly they made very smart moves along the way, and the acquisition of Bear Woods was in part a dumbfounding move by Montreal to release him in the first place, coupled with his prior relationship with Popp. Likely no other team had @ chance. at signing him, given his strong relationship with Popp.

    On the lucky side, the snow storm that hit the Championship game helped throw a loop into the game day approaches of both teams with the Argos adjusting best.

    • So what about Rick Campbell and Marcel Desjardins???
      They took a 2 win team to a 12 win season and a Grey Cup appearance and then the next year a win in the Grey Cup.
      Let’s see what Tressman and Popp can do in year 2

  5. Put 25,000 people in the stands at BMO on a regular basis for CFL games – the league may give you a deserved respect – not this falsified belief of belonging because we need you or the CFL will die !

    C’mon Toronto – believe in our 3 down game and pack the house in 2018 !!

    • ………..and the old question how do get 25k to BMO for football? They have tried great marketing, cheap beer, cheap tickets, concerts, tail gating.
      Winning the Grey Cup won’t change ticket sales.
      Maybe Manziel as QB may sell a few seats.
      Let’s face it Torontonians do not see the CFL as major league, yes they have some great players that are overlooked by the NFL. As long as the CFL continues to guarantee jobs to Canadians it will be seen by Torontonians as “bush league”, most of the CIS players should not be playing pro-football.

      Get rid of the Canadian ratio, sign Johnny Manziel and Torontonians will pay attention.

      • Toronto is simply not a football town, period. Yes, they would support the American League if it came, but that would just be buying the nfl hype, not really football appreciation. Go to an Argos game, and if you don’t sit with the 4500 season ticket holders, it’s tough to find someone who understands the game. Fortunately it has started to change. Let’s hope it’s a trend and not a blip.

  6. None of the “myths” were debunked despite the outcomes. It is still not recommended to fire and not hire GMs or GMs & HCs as late as the Esks and the Argos irrespective of the outcomes as your plot line suggests.

    To call Justin a G.O.A.T. is ridiculous. This sort of thing is what turns athletes and coaches off as sports have these ups and downs in it. Only fans see it so simplistically.

    • I have to agree about the myth – “defenses win championships” – NO they don’t, OFFENSE wins championships, you have to score more points than your opponent

  7. Have a look at the Vegas Knights. expansion team. Check out the roster. I recognize a couple of players. They are second overall.
    Don’t get it

    • It’s called the Las Vegas flu. It’s sorta like the Vancouver flu, when NHL opponents come here, especially from the Eastern Conference, and party it up the night before at places like the Roxy…and their players, particularly the stars, completely suck playing the next day. Ovechkin and his pal Backstrom have a chronic case of it.

  8. Time will tell // January 1, 2018 at 10:18 pm //

    Belief: Rebuilding is a three or four year process.
    Debunked by Toronto.
    Went from a five win team and an extremely late hiring of a coach and GM, got hot at the right time and won a Grey Cup in their first year.
    For Toronto to miss out on Derek Dennis, Chris Williams and Ernest Jackson last year saved Toronto some money and none of those three had banner years last year anyway. Toronto, on the the other hand found some very good young talent in Posey and Wilder.

    • Rebuilding is a 3 – 4 year process. The Argos went from 5 wins to 9 wins. They were close to missing the playoffs, then had two entertaining but slightly lucky comeback wins. Still a great improvement, but not really fully rebuilt yet.

  9. Time will tell // January 2, 2018 at 9:27 am //

    Interesting that you don’t call winning a Grey Cup in a coach’s first year a successful rebuild but probably approve of Jones rebuild which, after two years, snuck in to the playoffs through the back door. Every game has some luck associated to it but you also have to be good to be lucky.

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