Burnett and Gaitor released

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CardiacKid
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Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:47 pm

Burnett and Gaitor were released earlier today. Burnett had been supplanted by Awe and Gaitor had been torched for some big plays in recent weeks.
Too bad with Gaitor, he did a good job last year slotting in last year when Yell and Lee went down to injury. But it didn’t translate to this year. Such is the business I guess.

My fear now is the secondary will yet again revert to some perverse game of musical chairs where 1 new guy slotting in means everyone else shifts. What are the chances of simply having the new starter in the secondary go straight into Gaitor’s old spot?

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Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:11 pm

Why now ?? Scapegoat ?

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Sir Purrcival
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Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:42 pm

With three games left, it hardly seems worth the bother. Nice way to torch them. Maybe trying to send a message? Little late for that.
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Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:39 pm

The timing is strange but this gives a chance for some practice roster players to show what they can do.

Gaitor has been a huge liability all season. His blown coverages and tendency to watch the quarterback while receivers slipped in behind him cost the team several games, and he kept making the same mistakes until he finally lost his starting job last week. The secondary played great without him in Winnipeg.

Burnett was never a true linebacker, just a converted DB and nickelback who played out of position at linebacker in Winnipeg and B.C. because that’s where the teams had a vacancy.
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Blitz
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Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:49 am

I wasn't happy about the free agent signing of Tony Burnett and believed Awe should be starting at linebacker much sooner than he did.

As for Gaitor, I thought he was our best defensive back last season, after Lee and Yell were injured. Gaitor did a good job in the two toughest spots to play - boundary halfback and boundary corner and he was a rookie.

This season, I thought Gaitor played well at field halfback but didn't play well at field corner, especially in recent games. Buddy Jackson will probably play field corner the rest of the way unless we want to look at someone else.

I have not liked the way our secondary was configured from the start this season, other than the training camp notion to go with an import safety. Thompson has not played well at either field corner or safety. Purifoy was such a good nickel that he should not have been moved. Fenner could have played field halfback.

Purifoy started training camp at nickelback. He was then moved to safety with one week of practice time, then played corner and halfback.

The only defensive backfield players who have played in position all season have been Yell and Lee. Parker, who looked as if he would be our starting field corner, after his fine play last year, never got a shot to start this season.

Its been interesting.
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Hambone
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Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:00 am

CardiacKid wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:47 pm
Burnett and Gaitor were released earlier today. Burnett had been supplanted by Awe and Gaitor had been torched for some big plays in recent weeks.
Too bad with Gaitor, he did a good job last year slotting in last year when Yell and Lee went down to injury. But it didn’t translate to this year. Such is the business I guess.

My fear now is the secondary will yet again revert to some perverse game of musical chairs where 1 new guy slotting in means everyone else shifts. What are the chances of simply having the new starter in the secondary go straight into Gaitor’s old spot?
I think changes will be minimal. Last game may have been a sign he was on the way out. Gaitor had started several games in a row at field corner. Then after getting roasted against Ottawa he was dropped to backup field DB in Winnipeg with Jackson taking the start at field corner backed up by Parker. Based on last game they will effectively be replacing a backup. Tevin McDonald has been with the club since the first day of training camp. I expect he will draw in to replace Gaitor as a backup in the secondary. If there are any musical chairs played it may be a result of assessment on others still there. Did Jackson play well enough vs Winnipeg to get another start at field corner? Could he lose that spot to Parker who now has 2 games under his belt after being on the 6G? If that happens will it allow them to get Nick Moore back onto the field? That could play a role in some shuffling.

I find Burnett's release also creates intrigue. What do they do to fill that spot. Does Herdman or Chagnon slide over to back him up? Does PJ Davis, who seems to be built more like an MLB, draw in? Given his short time in camp, not likely. More likely Dyshawn Davis comes off the 1G.
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Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:11 pm

Dyshawn Davis will come off the practice roster.

Gaitor is only one of many Leos players who have not had as good a season as expected.

Kirby Fabian has not had a good season at guard and while Husband has been ok he also hasn't played as well. Manny and Burnham finished 3rd and 4th in CFL receiving last year. This season, so far they are 9th and 10th in CFL receiving. Both have played well but have not had the number of big plays as last season.

Jonathan Jennings was predicted to be this season's MOP by many CFL prognosticators. Sacked, pressured relentlessly, hit and hit hard often, injured twice, he has had a tough season at quarterback and its affected his confidence.

Chris Rainey, on offence last year averaged over 8 yards a carry. This season his rushing average is pedestrian. On punt returns, he has the worst average in the CFL, but that has been the result of poor blocking more than anything else.

On defense, Mic'hael Brooks, coming off a disappointing 2016 season in which he was injured a lot did not rise up this season and give us a dominating interior defensive lineman. Anthony Gaitor, who beat out Buddy Jackson for the field side half position, was moved to corner and now Jackson has temporarily, at least taken his place.

Anthony Thompson, both at corner and safety has not shone either. Craig Roh started off really well but has faded.

But there have been some positives. Ty Long leads the CFL in punt average, learned to become a field goal kicker on the fly and has been a real plus, shoring up a big problem for us last season in the field goal department.

Shaq Johnson has had a good season as a first year starter. He is our 3rd leading receiver and has more receiving yards than Iannuzzi, Williams, and Moore for us this season. Only Marken Michel has a better yds per catch average than Shaq Johnson. Johnson has been the receiver who has given us the deep threat we anticipated we would get from Williams.

Fenner has been solid overall at nickelback, even though I prefer Purifoy there. Yell and Lee have played well. Awe is a stud hitter who should only get better. Junior Luke is starting in his rookie season and should get better too but I thought Forde also has played solid too at tackle too.

David Menard has had another good season in his rotational role. And Sol E. has been impressive again...what would our defense be without him. Jeremiah Johnson has also made some outstanding cut plays and showed his talents. He has the best average per carry (5.8 yds.) of any CFL tailback with over 100 carries and should have been used more often in numerous games, both running the football and being thrown to as well.

But personal performance is also a part of team performance. Inadequate pass protection has hurt our quarterback and receiver play. A weak pass rush has made it a tough season for our secondary.

Of course, as we all are aware, game planning, scheme, and play calling can enhance or hinder player performance. No need for further comment...most of us are aware of the problems in this area of our Leos.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Toppy Vann
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Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:56 pm

Blitz:
Chris Rainey, on offence last year averaged over 8 yards a carry. This season his rushing average is pedestrian. On punt returns, he has the worst average in the CFL, but that has been the result of poor blocking more than anything else.
I have never seen a BC ST so bad that they literally are never back and squared off up field ready to block for Rainey or whoever else is there.

Wally claims the punts are short and high and while true sometimes it's not true all the time. Regardless the STs coach is hardly making any changes for shorter punts and Rainey never has blocking.

The dumping of the defenders might be Wally doing the message sending more than wanting a change.

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Hambone
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Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:35 pm

Actually Blitz Ty Long has learned to punt on the fly. He was a placekicker in college. He only recorded 5 punts in his 4 years at UAB. He fits Fera's description of himself as a placekicker who also punted. Nonetheless it's a great story to see a kid like Long who was a specialist in one area come to the pros and be outstanding in all as a rookie. Easily our ROY candidate.

The only question I've had about Long is his hangtime at times. He's nearly matching Leone's average distance but it seems far too often there's only 2 gunners just getting down in the general area of the returned while the rest of the cavalry is still 7 or 8 yards back bringing up the rear. Conversely Rainey all too often seems to be almost surrounfed bt 4 or 5 coverage guys knocking on the door of the 5 yard halo.
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Blitz
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Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:42 am

Thanks Hambone.

I was very aware that Long was a field goal kicker who learned to punt this season but obviously got it mixed up in my post.

Wally tried unsuccessfully and stubbornly to convert two punters (Duncan O'Mahoney, Richie Leone) into field goal kickers but getting a field goal kicker in Ty Long also learning to punt has certainly been successful.

I think part of the reason that Gaitor and Burnnett were released at this moment in time, rather than the end of the season, was to send a message to the players that no one's job is safe for the remainder of this season.

He's done this as a motivational fear tool in the past.

Chris Williams will be getting a lot more pay next year. I wonder how that will turn out, especially with the development of Shaq Johnson this season and his ability to stretch the field deep. Do we really need a Chris Williams next season?

I didn't like the Chris Williams free agent signing to begin with and especially its eventual cost.

When I look around the league and the number of quality International receivers that can be discovered, it might be wise for our Leos to go in a different direction next season and look for a future DaVaris Daniels or a Brandon Zylstra, Jalen Saunders, D'Aguille Williams, Marken Michel. Talent can be found at International receiver and at a lower cost than Williams.

When I look at our Leos, projecting out to 2018, there are some key decisions to be made.

Of course, new ownership and a new coaching staff is always a possibility (or not) so ignoring that aspect, where does this team go, player wise?

Those include is Jennings our quarterback for the future. I believe he has elite tools but needs a different style of offence and better line protection. Do we bring often injured Travis Lulay back. He played the best football of his career this year. One thought is to transition him by serving as a third string quarterback/quarterback coach.

If it was me, I would make him the offensive coordinator for next season. While most can';t make the transition from quarterback to offensive coordinator that quickly, Lulay is one who could do it, if he had the right mentor as a Head Coach, as Dickenson did in Calgary with Hufnagel.

On the offensive line, we could lose Hunter Steward to an NFL tryout but even if he doesn't make it down south I can see Steward not wanting to return to B.C. Its a shame that a National of his unique talent to play left tackle has been wasted again this season.

What do we do about Vaillencourt. He has played so well when he has started but he has been mostly injured. Kirby Fabian has not had a good season and needs to improve. Fabian played his best football under Malone as our offensive line coach. David Faucault, for all the smoke about trading for him, lost his position as starting left guard after a few games (and should never have been started at guard in the first place and then was tried out at right tackle.

Facault is too lanky and has too high a center of gravity for the guard position. Right now the best place for him would be right tackle next season with the hope of getting Brett Boyko next season.

A dream would have been to have both Steward back next season and Boyko also joining our Leos.

At linebacker this season, Sol E. has been outstanding again. However, losing Bighill for 2017, because Wally pushed a $30,000 pay cut on him the previous year and Bighill negotiated an NFL window in exchange, was not wise. But Awe has shown that he can play and with Bighill only on an NFL practice roster, having Awe or the potential of Bighill again, means the outside linebacker position look solid for 2018.

At nickel back, Purifoy was more of a game changer than Fenner but Fenner has played solid. So have Yell and Lee.

But change is needed at the remaining three defensive back positions that Purifoy, Buddy Jackson and Thompson now occupy. When Wally said he was going with an International safety and a National corner this season, I was dubious because he is such a traditionalist that we suffered through season after season at free safety after Barrin Miles retired with inadequate play at safety with a National in that spot. Same thing happened this season as Buono quickly went back to a National safety.

I would still love to see us go with an International safety for 2018 and a National corner. Thompson could be the dime back. We have Parker, who has proven he can play and potential in Nate Hamlin.

The most curious cases of drop off play this season have been Jennings and Chris Rainey.

Looing at our return game, Chris Rainey went from having the best punt return average in the CFL and being considered the most dangerous return man in the CFL and for good reasons to having the worst return average in the league and not being dangerous at all. Rainey has also gone from having a mind blowing yds per run average in 2016 to having a very pedestrian season in that department too.

This season, for example, Calgary has more than twice the punt return average than our Leos do. Teams punt high for their return man too. That is not the big problem. The problem seems to be our punt return blocking and over time, its also begun to impact Rainey's play.

Lots to think about as we wind down 2017 and also prepare for our playoff lineup for 2018.
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Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:34 am

I too would like to see Lulay as the Lions OC, however I think he still wants to play. I suspect he will start the season as QB coach and sign a (1/2 year or whatever) backup QB contract once healthy. He then goes shopping for a free agent starting QB contract in 2019.

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Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:05 am

Blitz wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:42 am
I was very aware that Long was a field goal kicker who learned to punt this season but obviously got it mixed up in my post.

Wally tried unsuccessfully and stubbornly to convert two punters (Duncan O'Mahoney, Richie Leone) into field goal kickers but getting a field goal kicker in Ty Long also learning to punt has certainly been successful.

I think part of the reason that Gaitor and Burnnett were released at this moment in time, rather than the end of the season, was to send a message to the players that no one's job is safe for the remainder of this season.
While placekicking and punting are two distinctly different disciplines I suspect it's much easier for a placekicker to learn to punt than the other way around mostly because of the need for accuracy for the placekicker.

I'm sure there's a bit of a message to be sent out of the releases of Gaitor and Burnett. While the eternal optimist in me says the Lions have a chance of making the playoffs the realist in me says it's over and time to use the rest of the season to see what some of these PR guys have. I think the releases are as much about 2018 as anything else. I don't think either one was in BC's plans for next year given Gaitor is now 29 and Burnett has been made redundant by Awe. They do have younger players like McDonald and Davis who they've liked enough to keep around for all season and in the case of Davis last season too. Now is the time to make roster room for them to see if they can still be part of the future. BC does just that by releasing the two vets. The other byproduct is that when 2 players get promoted from the PR it opens up spots to bring in 2 more players for a look to see if they are candidates for 2018 TC.
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Hambone
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Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:10 am

DanoT wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:34 am
I too would like to see Lulay as the Lions OC, however I think he still wants to play. I suspect he will start the season as QB coach and sign a (1/2 year or whatever) backup QB contract once healthy. He then goes shopping for a free agent starting QB contract in 2019.
That might be a bit too quick of a transition to go from QB to OC in one offseason. Dickenson had a meteoric climb up the ladder but not nearly that quick. Like Lulay he spent the bulk of his final 2 seasons as a player on the sidelines battling injuries. Then he spent 2 years as a positional coach (RBC in 2009, QBC in 2010) before earning the OC job in Calgary in 2011.
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