Coming into Saturday’s game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders you could make a case that these were very similar to one another. For 3 and 1/2 quarters, this was true, both teams struggled to produce points offensively and both defenses played exceptionally well. In the final 1/2 of the 4th quarter, the Roughriders separated themselves and ended up winning the game 30 to 13. This game was a demonstration of just how ineffective the Tiger-Cats offense is at the start of the 2022 CFL season.
The defining statistics for the Tiger-Cats offensive struggle were 5 turnovers (3 fumbles, 2 Interceptions thrown), allowing 3 quarterback sacks, and offensively playing behind the chains all night. The cause of the Tiger-Cats struggle was a failure to find consistent success on 1st down. The Tiger-Cats offence faced 2nd and Long situations 17 times in Saturday’s game. This will be a significant problem going forward in 2022, and this is the primary problem the Tiger-Cats will need to solve as soon as possible. With this in mind, we will take a look at the metrics that we identified that would allow the Tiger-Cats to be successful in this game by looking at the results of our 5 Growling Questions.
Growling Question #1 Result
Will the Tiger-Cats defense be able to hold the Saskatchewan receivers to 2 or fewer touchdowns?
The answer is yes, the Tiger-Cats defensive secondary did a nice job of not allowing the Saskatchewan receiving unit from taking over the game. While Duke Williams, Shaq Evans, and other receivers did make plays and extend drives, they were not able to take over the game. Coming into the game, the Tiger-Cats secondary was viewed as one of the best defensive units in the CFL. After this game, it is still true that this defensive backfield is very good. The Saskatchewan receivers did score 1 touchdown in this game, but not until 3:06 left in the 4th quarter.
Growling Question #2 result
Can the Tiger-Cats defensive front pressure Cody Fajardo into committing 3 or more turnovers?
The answer is no, the Tiger-Cats defensive front did not get a quarterback sack against Roughrider’s quarterback Cody Fajardo. They also could not force any turnovers. Fajardo completed 22 of 32 passes for 311 yards and 1 touchdown. For the Tiger-Cats to have a chance to beat successful teams in the CFL, they will need to pressure the quarterback with edge pressure and force turnovers. Against the Roughriders, the Tiger-Cats defensive front was not able to accomplish either of these goals.
Growling Question #3 result
Will the Tiger-Cat’s special teams continue to be special, and score a special teams touchdown?
The answer is no, the Tiger-Cats were not able to create any game-breaking plays by scoring a punt return or kick return touchdown. In addition, the Tiger-Cats kicker Michael Domagala missed a 46-yard field goal at the end of the 2nd quarter that would have allowed the Tiger-Cats to go into halftime tied with the Roughrider’s 6 to 6. One bright spot with the Tiger-Cats special teams was newly acquired punter Simon Laryea. After being added to the Tiger-Cats mid-week, he punted 9 times for an average punt of 43.1 yards and a long of 58 yards.
Growling Question #4 result
Can the Tiger-Cats running game generate 4+ yards/carry?
Once again the answer is no, the Tiger-Cats running game averaged 2.4 yards/rush attempt with 26 yards on 11 attempts. Improving the running game will be a major factor in whether or not the Tiger-Cats will be able to become more effective on offense. Unfortunately, this is a problem that involves several factors. The offensive line, the running backs, and the play-calling will all need to be re-evaluated and adjusted if this element of the Tiger-Cats offense will improve significantly.
Growling Question #5 result
Will quarterback Dane Evans be able to produce at least 7 yards/passing attempt?
Surprisingly the answer is yes. When quarterback Dane Evans had the time to complete passes he was effective. Evans was 18 for 28 for 222 yards with 1 touchdown. This resulted in a 7.9 yards/pass attempt, but this success was negated with 2 fumbles lost and 2 interceptions by Evans. These mistakes are not surprising when you realize that he was sacked by the Roughrider’s defence 8 times and pressured nearly many more times. If the Tiger-Cats are going to improve their passing offence, they need to find solutions to their pass protection issues.
There is an old saying among football coaches, things are never as good as they seem and they are never as bad as they seem, the truth lies somewhere in between. The defense played reasonably well for the majority of the game. The offense could not find success and made a host of critical mistakes. Looking forward, things will not get easier for the Tiger-Cats, next Saturday night the Tiger-Cats face a Calgary Stampeders team that will be coming into the Hamilton with momentum after defeating the Montreal Alouettes.
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