After Week 1 of the 2022 CFL season, it would be easy for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to be discouraged. . The 2022 CFL regular season is a 21-week-long journey with the hope that a team will do enough to qualify for the playoffs. Week 1 in reality is simply the first opportunity for a team to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Teams in the CFL have a short training camp and 2 pre-season games. Most of the pre-season is spent evaluating players and determining who will be kept and who will be released. The work of building the 2022 team starts during Week 1.
Heading into Week 2 vs. the Calgary Stampeders, the Tiger-Cats are focusing on getting better and taking the next step in their regular-season journey. The Tiger-Cats are who we thought they would be coming into the 2022 season. The defence is a veteran unit with a few news pieces sprinkled in from last year’s CFL runner-up team. In Week 1 they played their brand of football well with a “bend but don’t break” mentality. They gave up some yards, but until the final 3 minutes of the game, they kept a potentially explosive offence contained. Offensively, the Tiger-Cats have come into the season with mostly new personnel, and in football, it takes time and reps to play well as a unit. The Tiger-Cat’s special teams have shown the ability to control field position and have the potential to put points on the scoreboard.
Today, we will take a look at a few areas that the Tiger-Cats will be working to improve as they head into Week 2. The areas we discuss today are the offensive line, wide receivers, and defensive pass rush. Improvement in these areas will be critical if the Tiger-Cats hope to compete for an opportunity to be a 2022 playoff team.
How can the offensive line get better?
Offensive line play in professional football is complex and is one of the most difficult elements of an offense to rebuild. The first step in this process is to acquire offensive linemen that can compete in the CFL and arrange them so that they can complement one another. Coming into the season the Tiger-Cats had to replace several key components of their offensive line, and after the pre-season, there were still concerns at the left tackle and centre positions. Hamilton attempted to solidify this unit by bringing in free agent Alex Fontana, and then moving some of their returning pieces to find reasonable solutions to their concerning areas. Since then the Tiger-Cats have also recently signed Aron Johnson, who has NCAA experience at right and left tackle, and Andrew Pickett, who has been on the Redblacks roster previously as an offensive centre and sometimes guard. At some point, the Tiger-Cats will need to get their best group of linemen on the field and get reps. The most difficult part of rebuilding an offensive line is to get reps and build chemistry within the unit.
Can the wide receiving unit get open and begin to make plays consistently?
Similar to the offensive line, the Tiger-Cats wide receivers are in a state of a rebuild with many young players who need to step up. Bralon Addison mentioned after practice that he does believe that this group of receivers are talented to get open, but needs to get a heavy amount of reps to develop chemistry within the group of new receivers. One aspect of improvement is connected to the offensive line because it is difficult to evaluate the level of effectiveness of receivers when the quarterback is under heavy pressure and is unable to complete his read progressions. As the offensive line improves, it would make sense that the receivers will also become more productive as a unit.
Can the Tiger-Cats defensive front generate a consistent pass rush?
Coming into the 2022 season, the defensive backfield is considered to be one of the best units in the CFL. And this was evident last Saturday when they were able to contain the potentially explosive receivers of the Roughriders. This was impressive, but it was even more impressive when you realize that the Tiger-Cats defence failed to apply pressure on the Roughrider’s quarterback Cody Fajardo. Without an effective pass rush, the opposing quarterback has the opportunity to settle into his reads. The result is that the defense suffers “a death by 1000 cuts”, meaning that the opposing offence can control the pace of the game and make plays to extend drives. The Tiger-Cats will need to apply more pressure over the next few weeks as they face some of the better quarterbacks in the CFL this week vs. the Stampeders and next week vs. the Blue Bombers.
Heading into Week 2 the Tiger-Cats seem to be excited to have their home opener of the 2022 season. They will be facing the Calgary Stampeders this Saturday night at Tim Hortons Field at 6:30 pm. This game will be an opportunity for Hamilton to show improvements that it has made, but will also be another game to evaluate the current status of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
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