The Calgary Stampeders are primed for another Grey Cup run in the 2019 CFL season.
At first glance, the Stamps appear to be lagging in the competitive West Division. The Edmonton Eskimos went to work without delay once the face of their franchise, Mike Reilly, departed from the city of champions to sign with the B.C. Lions. The Eskimos signed Ottawa standouts Trevor Harris and Greg Ellingson, to name a couple of drastic off-season changes.
Arms Race in the West
As mentioned above, the B.C. Lions signed the CFL’s most coveted free agent — quarterback Mike Reilly. Reilly has thrown for at least 5,500 passing yards in each of the past three seasons, all while spearheading the league’s most explosive offence. B.C.’s spending spree did not conclude with the signing of their new pivot. They continued, landing Duron Carter and re-signing star receiver, Bryan Burnham.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Calgary’s’ 2018 West Final opponent, were able to keep the majority of their big-name roster together. The Bombers re-signed the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Adam Bighill, to a three-year contract extension back in January. They also added defensive monster Willie Jefferson to the mix.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were the team in the West who appeared to lose out in the 2019 free agency frenzy. Rider Nation was able to keep Zach Collaros and Naaman Roosevelt from taking their talents elsewhere. However, as far as importing big names that will likely make a significant impact in 2019, the Riders aren’t a team frequenting the headlines. Though they still have a competitive roster, adding star defensive tackle Micah Johnson.
Consistency is Key
With this being said, it’s understandable why CFL fans may see the Stampeders as a team on the outside looking in. But to do so would only be feeding into what the Stampeders desire.
Calgary bares an intriguing resemblance to the National Football League’s New England Patriots. The Patriots are fed by the public’s criticism and despise. Yet, they put a championship caliber team on the field, year after year. Each year the West Division boasts teams that are expected to compete with or even top the Stamps based off roster talent.
Calgary is the CFL’s living example that a team can engrain a philosophy and standard of excellence into an organization and maintain greatness. Calgary’s stayed atop the league for years, despite the constant roster turnover that is characteristic of the short-term contracts that the CFL is known for.
It should be mentioned that Calgary’s general manager, Jon Hufnagel, was Tom Brady’s former quarterbacks’ coach. While with the Patriots, Hufnagel was able to witness how the organization was run. Hufnagel learnt how one of the greatest organizations in sports history is operated.
The Last Word
It is probably not a coincidence that the Stampeders resemble New England so closely. The discipline and next man up culture that they have become recognized for is one of the reasons that the Stampeders have been present in the last four Grey Cups.
Brace yourselves CFL. Bo is back, and Dave Dickenson and John Hufnagel remain at the helm. Another Calgary Stampeders dominated season could be on the horizon.
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