In professional football, a team is defined by its record, and in 2022 the Tiger-Cats are 2-6. The path the Tiger-Cats have taken to get to this outcome is so reproducible that it could be considered to be a philosophical template. In the first half, Hamilton came out strong and did many good things, and built a 14-6 halftime lead.
A lingering issue the Tiger-Cats have was present in the first half, their inability to score touchdowns rather than field goals. That issue would be key in the 2nd half in which the Tiger-Cats started their weekly process of melting down. Turnovers and errors on special teams allowed Hamilton to squander their halftime lead, and a blocked punt for a touchdown allowed Toronto to take control of the game. Unlike the Tiger-Cats, the Argonauts did finish after securing the lead.
If you watched the game in just the first half you would think that the Tiger-Cats are legitimately the best team in the East division. Getting defensive stops, moving the ball offensively, pressuring the quarterback, and playing sound football. But then they did lose Bralon Addison to an injury in the first half. In the 2nd half, they turned in a team that was tentative and seemed to be trying to hold on to their lead rather than extend their lead.
The breaking point came on a play in which the Argonauts blocked a Tiger-Cats punt and turned it into a touchdown. What followed was a comedy of errors leading to their inability to overcome struggles and losing the first of four games to the Argonauts. Let’s take a look and see how the Tiger-Cats performance measured up to our 5 Growling Questions.
Growling Question #1 result
Can the Tiger-Cats defence apply pressure to Argonauts QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson by producing 4 or more quarterback sacks?
The answer to this question is no, the Tiger-Cats did come close due to a strong 1st half performance. At halftime, the Hamilton defence had registered three quarterback sacks against the Argonauts QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson. This kept the Toronto offence from getting into a rhythm. Due to adjustments by the Argonauts, the Tiger-Cats defence was not able to keep the pressure on. The result is that Bethel-Thompson was able to get into a rhythm and played well in the 2nd half.
Growling Question #2 result
Will the Tiger-Cats defensive front be able to hold Argonauts Andrew Harris to less than 4.0 yards/carry?
The answer to this question is yes, the Tiger-Cats run defence was able to contain the Toronto running game. The Argonauts produced 66 rushing yards on 17 carries and averaged 3.9 yards/carry. Coming into this game the Toronto running game, led by Andrew Harris, had been a strength of Toronto. Hamilton was able to minimize the impact of Harris and the running game. But like the rest of the Tiger-Cats situation, they were much better against the run in the 1st half than in the 2nd. This is another area the Hamilton defence needs to be able to finish at the end of games.
Growling Question #3 result
Can the Tiger-Cats offensive line protect Dane Evans and Matt Shiltz by giving up 2 or fewer quarterback sacks?
For the 2nd week in a row, the answer to this question is yes. With a combination of a discernable running game and continuity on their offensive line, the Tiger-Cats are successfully protecting quarterbacks Dane Evans and Matt Shiltz. This has been an area of weakness for the Tiger-Cats for a long time, so the progress that they are making is exciting. In the long run, Hamilton will need to maintain continuity in their offensive line personnel. Running the ball also allows the offence to not be as predictable and keeps the opposing defence from being able to pass rush freely.
Growling Question #4 result
Can the Tiger-Cats produce 3 or more touchdowns?
The answer to this question is no, the Tiger-Cats were only able to muster one touchdown. In the first half, Dane Evans completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to running back Don Jackson near the goal line. That was the lone Tiger-Cats touchdown for the game. The Tiger-Cats defence did have a few opportunities to create turnovers that could have led to scoring situations. Unfortunately, the defence just missed on those opportunities. Hamilton needs to find ways to produce explosive plays, and use those to score a few more touchdowns each game.
Growling Question #5 result
Will the Tiger-Cats be able to break through and win the +/- turnover battle?
Like every week of the 2022 season so far the answer to this question is no. The Tiger-Cats offence lost a fumble and threw an interception in the 2nd half allowing Toronto to come back and get a win to start the series of games these rivals will play in the next several weeks. Hamilton’s defence did have several opportunities to produce turnovers but was not able to make those key plays. The turnover ratio is a huge factor in who wins football games, and it will be difficult for Hamilton to win big games if they continue to lose in this area. The Hamilton defence needs to find ways to produce takeaways over the next several weeks.
So the Tiger-Cats predictably took a big lead at BMO Field, and then blew that lead in the 2nd half. This has been the ongoing story for the Tiger-Cats since the 2021 Grey Cup championship game. The key to winning in the CFL is making adjustments and maximizing opportunities. In Week 10 the Tiger-Cats will be hosting the Toronto Argonauts at The Hammer next Friday night. We will see if the Tiger-Cats can make the right adjustments to get a big win against their rival, the Toronto Argonauts.
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