The final score of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers Week 3 was 26 to 12 in favor of the Bombers. If you just looked at the score it would be easy to say that the Tiger-Cats came up short again, and are on their way to having a poor season with their 0-3 start to the 2022 season.
Many people had predicted that the 2022 Tiger-Cats would be a favorite to make a run to their 3rd straight Grey Cup championship game, which could still be a possibility. But if you take a deeper look you will see this edition of the Tiger-Cats is a team that is in a transition period, and in many ways is a rebuilding team.
It would be easy for the Tiger-Cats to make excuses and explain that they shouldn’t be held to the highest expectations. But no coach or player from the Tiger-Cats is making excuses or complaining about being 0-3. And if you watched the game vs. the Blue Bombers then you would have seen that both teams were very similar. The difference in the game was explosive plays, the Blue Bombers made 2 and the Tiger-Cats could not produce their explosive plays.
At the end of the first half, Zach Collaros completed a 40-yard pass to Nic Demski that put the Bombers on the Tiger-Cats 1-yard line which running back Brady Oliviera turned into a 1-yard touchdown giving Winnipeg a 14-9 halftime lead. Then at 8:55 in the 4th quarter, Dane Evans had a pass intercepted by Willie Jefferson for a defensive touchdown which gave the Bombers a 25 to 12 lead. If you take these 3 plays out of this game, the Tiger-Cats and Bombers essentially played an even game.
Along with these explosive plays, we had identified 5 areas that the Tiger-Cats needed to win in to upset the Blue Bombers, we will now take a look and see if the Tiger-Cats answered the 5 Growling Questions.
Growling Question #1 result
Can the Tiger-Cats defence pressure Blue Bombers QB Zach Collaros by producing 3 or more sacks?
The answer is yes, the Tiger-Cats successfully sacked Zach Collaros 4 times and they pressured him many more times. The result was a 65.6% completion rate, no touchdown passes, and 1 interception. Being able to successfully pressure Collaros shows significant progress defensively. This is an area that the Tiger-Cats will need to continue to show growth in going forward. But if we compare the first 2 weeks to this week defence has made steps towards being a better defensive unit.
Growling Question #2 result
Will the Tiger-Cats defensive front 7 be able to hold the Blue Bombers run game to less than 4 yards/carry?
The answer is yes, the Blue Bombers had 22 carries for 87 yards which is an average of 3.95 yards/carry. This is the best performance that the Tiger-Cats have had against an opponent’s run game in 2022. Once again the Tiger-Cats are making significant improvements, and they are getting much better as a team. Improvement does not always show up on the scoreboard, and this is an example in which the Tiger-Cats are making improvements. Hamilton needs to continue improving defensively, but they are beginning to play at a higher level and compete well against the best teams in the CFL.
Growling Question #3 result
Can the Tiger-Cats offensive line protect Dane Evans by allowing less than 3 quarterback sacks?
The answer is yes, the Tiger-Cats offensive line only allowed quarterback Dane Evans to be sacked 1 time for the 2nd week in a row. This is a combination of Evans also getting the ball out quick, and the offence offering a game plan featuring quick passes and screens. But keeping the quarterback clean needs to be a trend that continues if the Tiger-Cats are going to keep getting better in 2022.
Growling Question #4 result
Can the Tiger-Cats offence score on 100% of their trips to the red zone?
Once again the answer is yes, the Tiger-Cats offence made 2 trips to the red zone and scored both times. Now to clarify, they scored field goals both times. Winnipeg had a similar outcome, but they were able to turn one of their red-zone trips into a touchdown. The Tiger-Cats red zone efficiency is improving, but they need to find ways to score touchdowns if they want to win consistently.
Growling Question #5 result
Will the Tiger-Cats be able to win the +/- turnover ratio?
With 2 interceptions thrown (1 for a defensive touchdown), and only one Collaros pass intercepted, the Tiger-Cats had a +/- ratio of -1. When 2 teams are playing an even game, it hurts when the offence turns the ball over and gives up points. In the last 2 games, the Tiger-Cats have turnovers that lead to defensive touchdowns, and in both of those games the Tiger-Cats had an opportunity to win and came up short. Protecting the ball and getting takeaways will most likely be the next biggest area of growth for the 2022 Tiger-Cats.
Ultimately, the Tiger-Cats have started the 2022 season with 3 consecutive losses. But they have also played by what many consider to have been 3 of the best teams in the CFL when they played. Other than giving up an explosive play at the end of the 1st half, and a self-inflicted touchdown in the 4th quarter, the Tiger-Cats have shown significant improvement. In Week 4, the Tiger-Cats will need to stay focused on the process and continue to get better as a team.
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