Our most recent #CFLPApoll asked you which CFL division would produce the 2015 Grey Cup Champions. Although you Western fans came out to an early lead, the East rebounded and have maintained a vote-for-vote trade-off since. At current tally, about 56% of you think the West will have a back-to-back-to-back champ (Saskatchewan in 2013, Calgary in 2014), where around 44% of you think the East will reclaim the title.
I’ll be honest; I wanted a close call on this poll. Why? So I could go ahead and briefly break down all 9 teams for you! Over the next 5 days, I will be breaking down the teams in terms of their basic overviews, notable changes, and other intangibles. Let’s start with the 2014 Grey Cup Champs, and the runner-ups:
Team overview: The 2015 Calgary Stampeders look eerily similar to the dominant squad that plagued the other 8 teams of the CFL last season. John Hufnagel, Dave Dickenson, and Rich Stubler will again hold the reigns for the Stampeders as; HC, OC, and DC, respectively. Bo Levi Mitchell will again start under center, with Jon Cornish at his back, a stout offensive line at his front and a deep receiving corps to boot. Defensively, additions have only served to strengthen the team’s already strong talent pool with incumbents like Charleston Hughes, Juwan Simpson, and Keon Raymond, being met a crop of veterans from around the league.
Notable 2015 changes:
- Brandon Boudreaux signed by the Calgary Stampeders
- Stanley Bryant signed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- Joe Burnett signed by the Calgary Stampeders
- Nik Lewis signed by the Montreal Alouettes
- Brett Jones signed by the New York Giants (NFL)
- Maurice Price signed by the Ottawa REDBLACKS
- Eric Taylor signed by the Calgary Stampeders
- Shomari Williams signed by the Calgary Stampeders
Intangibles: What more can be said about the modern iteration of the Stampeders, that has not already been said. Under Huff’s leadership (2008+ specifically) this team has been competitive every season, with the worst record occurring in 2009 where the team had to settle for a 10-7 record and a loss in the Western Final. Keep in mind that Hamilton made the Grey Cup final last season with a 9-9 record. Add to that mix: a soon-to-be elite quarterback (if not already), a future hall-of-fame running back, 2 of the best kickers/punters in the CFL and a defense that doesn’t quit, and you have a nightmare for any team in competition.
Team overview: This season for Hamilton looks as though it can be opened with one word; continuity. Although you will see changes in several phases of the game, Hamilton has retained the balance of their firepower that yielded an undefeated home record in 2014. Match that with continuity in all major coaching positions, and the Tabbies have a very serious opportunity to try and add 1 more post-season victory culminating in the 2015 Grey Cup.
Notable 2015 changes:
- Ryan Bomben (OL) signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Delvin Breaux (DB) signed by the New Orleans Saints (NFL)
- Greg Ellingson (REC) signed by the Ottawa REDBLACKS
- Sam Giguere (REC) signed by the Montreal Alouettes
- Johnny Sears Jr. (DB) signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Spencer Watt (REC) signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Anthony Woodson (RB) signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Intangibles: Hamilton is a team that has a lot going for them. Hamilton has reinvigorated their fan-base, which can best be illustrated with their undefeated campaign (all-time) at Tim Horton’s Field. The Tiger-Cats have also rapidly become a team of depth throughout uncharacteristically high amounts of injuries. Through these set-backs, players like: Brandon Banks, Mossis Madu, and Terrell Sinkfield, all earned their shots to become steady-contributors for Hamilton. The Ticats culture has players in second and third depth chart slots ready to compete the instant that their names are called, and that is an immense key to success in professional football.