Grey Cup live(ish) blog

4:07pm: Dean Brody just finished a pretty decent song to pump up the crowd. That's Dean Brody, right?

4:09pm: If you're looking for some reading material ahead of the big game, here's my rundown on the ridiculous "Eskimos offensive name" controversy.

4:17pm: I'm already sick of the frogtalk. I know Ottawa is in the match and some people in that city speak that horrible backwards language, but the rest of the country doesn't appreciate it. Hey, do you think maybe ditching it might help save the ratings? Worth a try.

4:18pm: The Ottawa REDBLACKS are playing their promo video.

4:21pm: The Edmonton WhiteRaceIsSuperiors are playing their video now. Great shots of all the defensive touchdowns we've scored. Oh yeah, I guess there's an offense too.

4:25pm: An asian and two blondes walk into the bar. Is this a joke? No, it's the company I have coming over in 5 minutes, which means this cowboy has to clean up and stop liveblogging. Enjoy the game! Edmonton Eskimos/WhiteRaceIsSuperior 36, REDBLACKS 17 is my prediction!

5:15pm: The girls have gone, I finished the leftover pizza, and the Edmonton Eskimos are the 103rd Grey Cup champions (or, if you prefer, the "2015 Grey Cup Champions"). The Evil Eskimo Empire has come out on top again, all is right with the world. Still, since I didn't get to update this last night (and dear Lord do I still have a cleanup on my hands) I figured I'm finish this "liveblog" off with a few game notes.

Hey, what the hell happened to the famed Eskimo defense? Yes I know the REDBLACKS are a high flying team, Burris is an experienced QB yadda yadda yadda. But the first five minutes of each half was just nothing but the Esks looking like spectators as the REDBLACKS stormed across the field. Sure in the second half you can credit the blatent pass interference that Aaron Grymes committed as the big screwup that gave Ottawa three points and the lead, but in general the defense took way too long to find their footing. It reminded me a lot of the Saskatchewan game in October [the score resembles the October 17th game against BC. -ed] that saw the Roughriders take a 14-3 lead after the first quarter that they stretched into a 21-3 lead after the first play of the second. Only in that game the Esks turned on the offensive coals and decimated the Wheatherders. In this one...well, they kept on stumbling.

Defense wins championships and the Eskimos defense to their credit finally did get their bearing. The offense didn't to nearly the extent, and awarding Mike Reilly the Grey Cup MVP seemed like a bit of a cheat. You can't point to anything he did particularly wrong and 26 points probably isn't much to sneer at, but it certainly felt like the Eskimos offense turned down several chances to put this game away. Sure you can bring up Shawn Whyte's brutal performance in those field goals (notice that the Eskimos twice tried for two point conversions following his post-hitting), and...well, let's just bring that up. Where the hell did that come from? The guy who had a 93% field goal completion rate looked like the second coming of Richie Leone, for Pete's sake. Grant Shaw's punting looked just fine, though nothing spectacular, and he was never tested with the need for on-side kicks or anything particularly skillful. Oddly enough, Chris Milo's punts (twice referred to as "line drives") looked far better than anything Shaw put together but Shaw's longest (69 yards) was only 3 short of Milo's longest, and Shaw actually had the longer average. Take that TSN play-by-play announcers who kept calling Milo's punts "line drives"! Still, though, those fuckers sailed across the field, and Edmonton never had good field possession to start off a drive. Oddly enough, each team only had a single 2 & out the entire Grey Cup, despite them leading the league in forced 2 & outs per game (Edmonton 6.9, Ottawa 6.1). On the other hand, Burris did throw an interception, and twice the Eskimos got an initial first down only to stall out on the next 10 yards.

Kendial Lawrence should probably take a pretty big amount of blame for the poor result as well. He averaged only 7 yards per punt return in the Grey Cup and had a fumble that Ottawa turned into their second touchdown. on the season his average kick return is down 30% from last year (he has more yards but on far more carries), and while his punt kick return numbers are trending upwards it's a little worrying. He was second in the league in combined returning yards though, so there isn't really much of an upgrade available for the position. The Eskimos will just have to work next year on giving him more room to storm up the field. Still, coming back from punts was brutal in the Grey Cup and fortunately the defense held Ottawa down at the ends of each half, or it could have gotten ugly.

I thought the penalty calls were fairly even in the game, I know it's a favourite pasttime of sports fans to blame the officals (though, in Edmonton's case, it does come with a pretty decent justification, frankly), but generally the calls were pretty reasonable. The first pass interference call on the final Eskimo TD was probably the most ridiculous call of the game, and I personally think that pass interference needs to be toned down a little bit. On the other hand, the CFL wants to maintain scoring. Regardless, it's a little silly that a pass recipient can look at an approaching ball, look at an approaching defender, and make the rational judgement that it's better to get into the path of the man than the pigskin. The second pass interference call on that drive was similarly pretty weak, but had a little more legitimacy as he did tie up the receiver's hands. I think the CFL should be allowing a little "interference" like that, though. Awesome when the call works for you (as it did for the Eskimos) but in general a little flakey. The Grymes interference call was bang on though. Oddly enough, you can't haul a receiver down to his shoulders two full seconds before the ball even hits the dirt. Funny league, I suppose.

As for that second REDBLACKS pass interference call, there's a lot of talk about the possibility of the Saskatchewan SisterKissers taking Eskimos coach Chris Jones for themselves, in a dual role of coach and GM. Now in general you can't fault Chris Jones for what he's done with the team: he's changed the culture from the Machochia/Tillman nightmare, he's been creative with the offensive plays (how many fake punts and fake kicks and fake throws have the Eskimos done this season?), and he's been in charge of a defense so stifling that it's now law in Canada that you refer to the Edmonton Eskimos as having a "stifling defense". But during that pivotal play yesterday when Chris Jones was going to let the possibly-game-changing call go by without using his coaches' challenge, I was screaming at the TV in the hope that the Flatlanders take him away from us. The three minute warning was coming up, and as soon as that happens all coaches challenges are gone forever. This was the perfect chance for a challenge too: it's a punt the ball away if you fail, it's first and goal on the ten yard line if you succeed. More importantly, this was Edmonton's first coach's challenge (Ottawa had the questioned one earlier, unsuccessfully) and therefore there was no penalty for failing: Edmonton wouldn't have lost its timeout. Instead, the Eskimo players themselves took it upon themselves to do the coach's job for him. Kenny Stafford, for one, refused to get into position and spent so long arguing at the bench that he forced Jones to burn out that same timeout he was in no danger of losing to begin with! Fortunately, in that time Eskimos off field team was able to look at the footage and let Jones know that he had a case. As the time-out wound down, you could see him reluctantly throw up his challenge flag with an absolute look of disdain on his face. Yes, Stafford and some of the other players basically refused to accept his authority, but ultimately with good reason. Had they meekly let Jones accept the call on the field, the Ottawa REDBLACKS would be the Grey Cup champions today.

I mentioned at the beginning of this liveblog (back when it was, indeed, a live blog) that the opening act, some nice Canadiana from {insert generic young male country performer name here}, was pretty good. It had a decent mood to keep the crowd moving. The halftime performance from Fall Out Boy on the other hand was complete garbage. First, Pete Wentz looks big enough to have played on the Eskimos O-line. Whatever happened to this guy? Secondly, they weren't putting a whole lot of energy and effort into the performance. You could blame the weather I suppose, but that seems to be a cop-out. They came on, played three (or was it four) generic songs that were so identical that at least at home it couldn't even be understood which song was playing. They only played one of their hits, and that was right in the middle. At first the (natural) blonde that was over watching the game didn't even think it was them, she assumed it was some warmup act. But Fall Out Boy was the warmup act, and they didn't even warm up. An energy-free performance, generic songs, I ended up switching channels to something the girls and I could actually enjoy. (the fireplace channel, hubba hubba)

Another thing I kept muting the TV for and changing channels over was that goddamned Frogtalk. Do you want to know how to make the CFL more relevent and hip for a younger crowd? stop pretending that Canada is half French. French is a little wart in the corner, they'd be better off in Punjab or whatever those gutter trash posing as Syrian refugees speak.

Finally, there's a lot of talk about the state of the league, Twitter conversations, etc. But if you want a good sign of how much more distance the CFL has to come, it's almost 24 hours after the game was finished and a YouTube search for "Grey Cup" videos posted today yields 113 videos and only one over 500 views (and it's just Fall Out Boy's performance and still under 2,000). By contrast, "Patriots" (for the NFL game yesterday) yields 820 results with the top three combining for 486,003 views. That's definitely not a good sign.