Category Archives: Matt Nichols

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The 2019 Bombers vs The 2011 ‘Swaggerville’ Bombers

In 2011, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had a chance to write a legendary chapter in their team’s history. The franchise was one win away from ending a twenty year title drought.

They were led by the fun to watch ‘Swaggerville’ defence, who led them to a 7-1 record in the first half of the season. That nickname got a large amount of attention. The Mayor, Odell Willis, and CEO (and former Mayor) Jovon Johnson guided the Bombers to a first place finish and held Hamilton to three points in the East Final.

But it wasn’t meant to be. Winnipeg lost to the B.C. Lions in the Grey Cup (and lost both games to the Riders. Almost just as bad) which was followed by four straight playoff misses. Fast forward to 2019, and the Bombers are starting to get some of that Swaggerville look back. Does this year’s squad have any similarities to that 2011 team? It may be a little too early, but let’s take a look:
Quarterbacks
2019: Matt Nichols.
2011: Buck Pierce.
Two quarterbacks with an injury past, but two quarterbacks that are also tough as nails. Both would stand in the pocket and take a shot if it meant completing the big pass.

Buck was great when he was healthy, and he’s proving his knowledge of the game as a coach right now. The guys seemed to really like playing him. He was always kind of on the fringe of those top three or four quarterbacks in the league, a lot like Matt Nichols.
Running backs 
2019: Andrew Harris.
2011: Fred Reid and Chris Garrett.
Not a lot of similarities with the backs on this team. Harris carries the load on this team, while in 2011 the team went with a one-two punch due to injuries.
Receivers 
2019: Darvin Adams, Nic Demski, Chris Matthews, Lucky Whitehead, Drew Wolitarsky.
2011: Terrence Edwards, Greg Carr, Corey Watson, Clarence Denmark, Kito Poblah.
If Whitehead keeps playing as he did in Week 2, he could have a very similar season to Clarence Denmark’s season in 2011. Watson was a young Canadian receiver making strides that year; Demski isn’t quite as young as him… but close enough.

Both teams possess a solid, reliable number one receivers (Adams now and Edwards previously) and both teams had a sneaky X-factor (Wolitarsky now and Carr previously). Not a lot of super close similarities, but definitely a few.
Offensive line
2019: Stanley Bryant Jr., Geoff Gray, Michael Couture, Cody Speller, Jermarcus Hardrick.
2011: Andre Douglas, Brendon LaBatte, Obby Khan, Steve Morley, Glenn January.
Other than at centre (2011 had a veteran centre in Obby Kahn), The offesnive lines are pretty similar. Both have a first round, high-profile Canadian guard (Gray now andLaBatte previously). Both have veteran tackles, and both are very athletic groups.
Defensive Line
2019: Willie Jefferson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Craig Roh, Jake Thomas, Drake Nevis.
2011: Odell Willis, Doug Brown, Jason Vega, Bryant Turner, Kenny Mainor.
Willis and Jefferson are both the kind of defensive ends that can wreck a game. At the time, Willis was considered one of the CFL’s best young rushers. His start to that 2011 season was ridiculous.

Jefferson has a little bit of a different body type but has the same impact as Odell. Thomas and Roh aren’t quite on the same level as Doug Brown, but Vega and Jeffcoat are both young, promising Internationals.

The 2011 defensive line was the heart of that Swaggerville team. The secondary started their nickname a few years before, but the defensive line was the dominant unit that made it popular. The 2019 version definitely has the potential to do the same
Linebackers
2019: Adam Bighill, Kyrie Wilson, Anthony Gaitor, Jesse Briggs.
2011: Joe Lobendahn, Marcellus Bowman, Clint Kent, Henoc Muamba, Pierre-Luc Labbe.
Not many similarities here, so let’s just move on
Secondary
2019: Winston Rose, Marcus Sayles, Brandon Alexander, Chandler Fenner, Jeff Hecht.
2011: Jovon Johnson, Jonathan Hefney, Alex Suber, Bandon Stewart, Ian Logan.
Johnson started Swaggerville before 2011. He was the creator, and he led that very talented group. Number two was a vacuum out there, having eight interceptions on the year being as shut down as it gets that season.

This 2019 team doesn’t have a true star corner like him. They both have a veteran Canadian safety, but that might be it. It’s too early to tell though. Maybe Sayles turns into a Hefney type of player.

Again, the Bombers are only 3-0 and it’s probably silly to look ahead already. But Winnipeg hasn’t started a season as the clear cut number one in the west in since that 2011 season. Bomber fans love to dream is this is finally their season. That dream hasn’t been this strong in a long time.

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Saskatchewan Roughriders Final Stretch

The Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-5) find themselves four points back of first with two crucial divisional matchups against the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers ahead before a date at McMahon Stadium with the Calgary Stampeders October 20th. The Saskatchewan Roughriders final stretch proves to be no easy task. However, it’s hard not to look ahead at that matchup and get excited for what it potentially means. The Roughriders are winners of six of their last seven games finishing up their final matchup against an Eastern Division opponent this past Sunday. A 34-29 victory over the Montreal Alouettes helped the Riders finish with a record 5-3 against Eastern opponents. Two of their most notable losses came at the hands of the Ottawa Redblacks.
A Look Ahead
Edmonton
Thanksgiving Monday could give the Roughriders and their fans a little extra to be thankful for. With a win over the struggling Eskimos and a Bombers loss, the Riders would clinch a playoff spot. Edmonton is trying to right the ship after appearing to have a stranglehold on second in the West mid-season. The Eskimos falling 30-3 at home against the Bombers doesn’t invite much confidence for this group going forward. However, any team with Mike Reilly under center should be taken seriously, regardless of recent performances. Reilly leads the league in passing yards with 4,383 and is currently second in passing touchdowns with 27. His favourite target, Duke Williams, leads the league in receiving yards (1,337) and receiving touchdowns (10).
Winnipeg
After a favourable 5-3 start, the Bombers have found themselves in a tailspin themselves going 2-4 since. At 7-7, the Bombers are in the middle of a dogfight for their playoff lives along with the Eskimos (7-7) and BC Lions (6-7). Three of these four teams will make the playoffs. One of which will be crossing over into the East to visit either the Hamilton Tiger-Cats or the Ottawa Redblacks. Nichols has maintained his starting job since standing on shaky ground post-Banjo Bowl, posting an 80% completion rate against Edmonton last week. For all their flaws, the Bombers will be another difficult test for this Roughriders squad that continues to squeeze out victories.
Calgary
Finally, the matchup that is sure to be circled on many fans’ calendars is the tilt on October 20th against the surging Stampeders. There is still an outside chance this game will have implications on first place in the West. However, the Riders have a number of factors working against them. The first being that the Stampeders are currently four games up on the Roughriders with a game in hand. Moreover, Calgary’s next two games are far more favourable than what the Riders are up against. While Saskatchewan will be playing the two aforementioned playoff-hungry teams, Calgary will be travelling to the 3-11 Alouettes and then host the hot and cold Lions a week later. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that Calgary could be 13-2 going into Week 19’s matchup. Even if the Riders go 2-0 as well, that still places them at 11-5 with just one game to play.
The Last Word
The Roughriders, however, have a slight advantage thanks in part to those who put together the 2018 CFL schedule. The Riders have their third and final bye on the last weekend of the regular season (Week 21). Regardless if the Riders finish second, third, or crossover to the East, they will have a bye week to prepare for whoever they match up against. There has been plenty of debate surrounding the benefits of bye weeks heading into the playoffs. Some view it as an opportunity to get a head-start in preparation on their opponent while others see it as the resting team developing “rust”. First place being out of reach may be of benefit for the Roughriders. If they were able to miraculously leapfrog the Stampeders, they would have two weeks off before the West Final. This is something Ottawa fans feared last season though it never came to fruition.

It’s difficult to not look ahead and get excited for all the potential playoff scenarios that exist for Saskatchewan. However, it starts with Monday’s game against a desperate Eskimos football club. If the Riders don’t respond with the same sense of urgency, as if their season is on the line (and it mathematically still is) then these scenarios become a lot less fun in the weeks to come.

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