For the first two games of the 2021 CFL season, the Tiger-Cats offense has been slow and sluggish. The run game in particular has been extremely disappointing, with only 100 total yards through 8 quarters. This needs to be fixed sooner than later, but how can it be done? Let’s take a closer look at Hamilton’s current running backs, see what they have to offer or what they don’t, and consider some players on other CFL squads that they may look to acquire.
Currently, the Tiger-Cats most effective and most-used runner is Sean Thomas-Erlington, the fourth-year man (fifth if you count the canceled 2020 season) from the University of Montreal. I’ll refer to him as STE throughout this article. He has accounted for just under half of the team’s rushing yards with 49. However, he has done so on 15 carries, meaning his average of 3.2 yards per carry leaves a lot to be desired. In 2018 and 2019, STE proved to be incredibly efficient, averaging 6.4 and 6.8 yards per carry during those seasons. He has never been much of a threat in the endzone, though, recording just one rushing touchdown since entering the CFL in 2017.
While STE also plays a sizable role in the passing game, having 324 receiving yards in his career so far, the Tiger-Cats already have players like Brandon Banks and Jaelon Acklin that get targeted more often. STE could be a solid RB2 for many seasons to come, but right now, it looks like Hamilton needs a true RB1 to get the spark they need. The only other running back Hamilton has on the active roster is Jackson Bennett, a 2018 second-round draft pick from the University of Ottawa. Bennett has yet to carry the ball this season.
If Hamilton doesn’t have what they need on their own roster, there’s a few running backs that they could attempt to trade for. A very intriguing option is John White of the Toronto Argonauts, who recently rushed for 111 yards and averaged 9.2 yards per carry in a 20-7 loss to the Calgary Stampeders. White just joined Toronto this season, but Hamilton isn’t too far away from his new home.
Another running back that Hamilton could benefit from is William Stanback, currently a member of the Montreal Alouettes. He is coming off an impressive performance of his own, rushing for 112 yards off 18 carries in week 2. Stanback was with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers during their preseason in 2017, and was also with the Las Vegas Raiders for their preseason in 2020.
Regardless of how the Tiger-Cats choose to handle this situation moving forward, the bottom line is that the offense needs a boost. While both quarterback and receiver play have been mediocre, the severe lack of ground yardage cannot continue for much longer.
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