The last season that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats accomplished their ultimate goal of winning a Grey Cup championship was in 1999. Since 1999 the Tiger-Cats have had four opportunities to win another Grey Cup, but each time they came up short. In 2023, Hamilton will be hosting the Grey Cup Championship game in Tim Hortons Stadium.
During this off-season, the Tiger-Cats need to have a sense of urgency concerning making roster adjustments that will give them the edge to make 2023 a championship season. During the struggles that the Tiger-Cats faced during the 2022 season, there were a few bright spots that could be observed. The reality for the Tiger-Cats is that their roster has a good collection of CFL talent, and they are only a few adjustments away from taking that next step. Today we will take a look at a few of those decisions that could lead the Tiger-Cats to a 2023 Grey Cup victory.
Get Dane Evans back into a success-oriented mindset
A popular opinion in the CFL is that the Tiger-Cats need to make a move at the quarterback position. The Tiger-Cats even made the move of trading for the rights to Bo Levi Mitchell. The question is, why would the Tiger-Cats want to gamble on Bo Levi Mitchell?
While Mitchell has been a successful quarterback in the CFL historically, the last two seasons with Calgary were a struggle. Last year Mitchell had a quarterback rating of 87.1 with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in a season that resulted in him being benched in favor of Jake Maier. Dane Evans had a quarterback rating is 90.1 in 2022, and he threw 16 touchdowns with 16 interceptions.
Evan’s weakness was his inability to control his emotions in tense moments which led to him trying to do too much and leading to a large number of turnovers. With Evans being under contract through the 2023 season it would benefit the Tiger-Cats to help him get more settled as a game-managing quarterback and limit his turnovers.
You could pay a large amount of money to Bo Levi Mitchell, buy out Evan’s contract, and get similar production in addition to a poor attitude from Mitchell that seems to want to play in Saskatchewan. With Evans having experience with the Tiger-Cats coaching staff and chemistry with his newly-rebuilt receiver group, it would make more sense to invest time and resources into Evans rather than chasing the illusion of success by pursuing an aging Bo Levi Mitchell.
Sign free-agent running back James Butler
When looking at CFL teams that win the Grey Cup championship compared to the Tiger-Cats a trend can be observed related to the ability to effectively run the football. Both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts both had a workhorse running back that they could use to give balance to their offensive units. An effective running game can help with pass protection and play-calling by keeping the offence ahead of the chains rather than being in a 2nd and Long situation in every series.
James Butler has been one of the most productive running backs in the CFL over the last two seasons with an average of 5.05 yards/carry in 2022. By investing in the running game and Butler the Tiger-Cats would be creating an environment that would allow Evans to settle down and use his weapons effectively rather than trying to make all of the key plays for Hamilton.
Re-sign receivers Tim White and Steven Dunbar Jr.
Coming into the 2022 season, the Tiger-Cats needed to completely rebuild their wide receiver, position group. Getting a group of receivers and developing chemistry within the offence can be a very complicated process. Both White and Dunbar Jr. stepped up during the season and were the driving force behind the Tiger-Cats’ 5-1 finish that allowed Hamilton to make the 2022 playoffs.
White produced 94 catches for 1265 yards and 8 touchdowns in the 2022 season, and Dunbar Jr. had 72 receptions for 1000 yards and 6 touchdowns. It would be a great decision by the Tiger-Cats to make a long-term commitment to these receivers and work with their offence to allow them to develop into consistently explosive playmakers.
Re-sign breakout linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox
The strongest unit for the 2022 Tiger-Cats was their talented defensive unit. During the season the Hamilton defence suffered a significant number of injuries including several injuries to linebacker Simoni Lawrence. In Lawrence’s absence, Jovan Santos-Knox was allowed to step up, and the result was a breakout year for Santos-Knox. In 2022 Santos-Knox produced 104 tackles, 1 interception, and a quarterback sack. Santos-Knox played a huge part in the Tiger-Cats success against their opponent’s run games, and he showed the flexibility to play well in space.
With Santos-Knox being only 28 years old, it would be a great time for the Tiger-Cats to make a long-term investment into this excellent defensive player and allow him to become a leader of their defence in the future.
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