Week 19 CFL Takeaways: Stampeders right to rest Bo Levi Mitchell

Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. (Larry MacDougal/CP)

Week 19 in the CFL said goodbye to a legendary stadium, goodbye to the pursuit of a legendary record and hello to a potential playoff matchup that we’ll see again this coming weekend.

Stamps make right call in benching Mitchell, McDaniel

Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson had said both publicly to the media and privately to his team in the locker room that they had much to play for still and were going for the best record in CFL history. His actions didn’t match his words as he rested the best QB in the league Bo Levi Mitchell and his best receiver Marquay McDaniel.

Drew Tate got the start behind centre and he does have previous starting experience, but had just six passes previously all season. Tate struggled throwing two costly interceptions and the Stamps lost to Montreal, one of the worst teams in the league, after scoring just eight points.

That said, despite the fact the men in charge forfeited a chance at history, I’ve got no issues with the decision. The obvious reason most cite is you want to ensure Bo Levi Mitchell doesn’t get hurt before the playoffs. That’s actually not the chief concern as Calgary allowed the fewest sacks in the league. Instead, my rationale is what happens if Mitchell does get hurt in the playoffs? Your Grey Cup aspirations then rest on the shoulders of Drew Tate, and you want him up to speed in the event he has to win you a game.

I don’t think the Golden State Warriors lost the NBA championship because they went for the all-time NBA wins record. But they are proof that your regular-season accomplishments are nullified if they aren’t capped off with a championship. This game was inconsequential for both teams—it didn’t affect competitive balance because the outcome had no playoff ramifications. If there was ever a game to get some reserve players some live action, this was it.

Don’t get me wrong—for the players on the Stampeders, this will haunt them. They’ll always wonder “What if…?” However, it won’t haunt them as much as the West Division final loss haunts the 1989 Edmonton Eskimos, who went 16-2 in the regular season.

Onside-kick call was offside

For the second time this month the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been screwed by an incorrect officiating call late in a game. A couple of weeks ago Ottawa wrongly retained possession after a clear fumble and kicked the game-winning field goal to beat the Cats. This week Brett Maher’s onside kick was wrongly ruled illegal despite the fact that the Eskimos’ Adarius Bowman clearly touched it before it went out of bounds. Afterwards, Ticats special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold and head coach Kent Austin were flagged for objectionable conduct for arguing the call.

Austin said postgame the reasoning he was given for the call was that Bowman was in the air and not on the ground while he touched the ball. Since nobody touched the ball while in the field of play, the penalty was to be assessed against Hamilton for an illegal kick (even though no yardage was marked off due to the penalty). That’s not the correct interpretation of the rule and logically makes no sense.

The call luckily didn’t matter as Hamilton had essentially lost the game as soon as they didn’t recover the onside kick, but Austin and Reinebold deserve an apology. The only penalty yardage that was marked off was against them for arguing something they obviously were right about. If Austin is forced to apologize when he makes mistakes in regard to the officials the same should be reciprocated to him.

Rematch a playoff preview?

Ottawa and Winnipeg will face off again this weekend and it could end up being a preview of the East final. Ottawa couldn’t lock up the East with an overtime loss last weekend after blowing a 15-point lead. They didn’t make the same mistake on the road against Winnipeg, however, as they held on to win by 13. Ottawa now gets a bye into heir second straight division championship and an opportunity to host the East final a year before they host the Grey Cup.

Winnipeg, meanwhile, is just still points up on Edmonton in the West, but the Esks have the tiebreaker and just a matchup against the struggling Argos left. The Bombers must go on the road to Ottawa hoping to get some revenge and avoid a third potential matchup with the Redblacks should they advance that far.

Lions looking like dark horse

How good has BC looked down the stretch? I’m standing firm that they are the team with the best shot at giving Calgary a game in the West final.

With Jeremiah Johnson’s score against Edmonton, BC has 23 rushing TDs, the most in the CFL. Manny Arceneaux got his league-leading 11th receiving TD. Jonathon Jennings has put together three straight games with multiple TD passes.

Aside from Mitchell, if you had to start a franchise with one QB in the league, would it not be Jennings at this point? Offensively they have the firepower to go shot for shot with Calgary. And their defence gets after the QB—they registered seven sacks against the Riders in the final game at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium. The Lions are the only team to beat Bo Levi Mitchell this season and should be the dark horse team to look out for.

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