October 2016 – Rakeem Cato, “They Gotta Kill Me Out There”

Rakeem Cato comes from one of the TOUGHEST places on the planet. He wants the LEAGUE to know what it’ll take to keep him off the field. I believe him.

Mike Reilly is one of my favourite quarterbacks EVER. Why? In a word: TOUGHNESS. Reilly’s been voted toughest player in the CFL more than once in his career. A rare enough occurrence for a quarterback…especially considering those voters are his peers, those who play with and against the Edmonton pivot.

Reilly’s toughness has continued to earn him respect across the league. He’s shown that he’ll take the hit to make a play, whether it’s completing a pass under pressure or going headfirst for a first down or touchdown. After rushing for 709 yards a year ago, Reilly ran for 616 this season.

I’ve been less impressed with Maas’ playcalling this year. A lack of imagination, and a healthy dose of predictability has seen Reilly take some HELLACIOUS hits this season. But Mike’s still on his feet. We’re going to have to deal with him. At 6’3″ 230lbs Reilly is a force to be reckoned with.

At 6’0″ 181lbs (in FULL winter gear, including snowshoes and sled dog), Rakeem Cato is a “force” of a different colour. But a force he definitely IS. I can honestly say I’ve NEVER seen anyone change directions while running full tilt, like Rakeem Cato.

From a pure “physics” standpoint, Cato’s slight frame has a LOT to do with his “juking/jitterbigging”. One can debate whether some more muscle would protect the young pivot, OR hinder the ONE thing that makes him such an elusive runner.

Both pivots are evenly matched for speed, with Cato running a 4.71sec 40-yard dash, and Reilly running a 4.82sec 40 at the NFL Combine and has been clocked in the middle 4.7’s on a number of occasions.

Comparisons would seem to end there. After all, Cato will slide like he was SNIPERED from the stands RATHER than take a hit. While Reilly will generally try to run through a defender if he can. Still, toughness is hard to quantify and BOTH pivots would seem to have a healthy measure.

So how do the Alouettes deal with Mike Reilly? Assuming Maas continues to drop Reilly into the pocket MOST downs, I’d say BLITZ his ass off. Keep an eye out for screen plays and the like. But if Thorpe doesn’t bring PRESSURE on Monday…it could be a VERY long day indeed.

Another HUGE worry is the Eskimos running game. Since the Alouettes cut Vaughn Martin we’ve almost exclusively run a a 3-4 defence. It’s no secret this team has been vulnerable on the ground. While platooning their two tailbacks, Shakir Bell and John White, the Eskimos have managed to put together an effective running game…ALWAYS important as the days grow shorter and the weather becomes a factor.

Even assuming the Alouettes offence continues to improve, THIS defensive vulnerability to the run COULD be our undoing. How IRONIC if our defence ultimately loses us a playoff berth. It worries me.

On the other side of the ball the Alouettes have lost Sutton for yet another game. As mentioned before, Chapdelaine has been running option plays with Cato and Sutton. It’s been opening up the running game for the Alouettes, and hopefully will continue with Rutley on Monday afternoon. I’m probably NOT giving anything away by mentioning that Rutley is better catching the ball out of the backfield than Sutton. I look forward to whatever Coach Jock has in store for the Eskimos…

Quarterbacks…regardless of how tough they are…get injured. It is in fact, the ONE thing that motivates a dedicated pass rusher: KILL THE QUARTERBACK.

In a game where BOTH teams are clawing and scratching to get into the playoffs, THAT imperative is in the forefront of EVERYONE’s mind. Whether you have murder in your heart, or are trying to keep your pivot on his feet and out of the hospital…the quarterback’s the thing.

Edmonton can ill afford to see Reilly miss this playoff push…and the Alouettes could benefit GREATLY from his absence. And if Cato goes down, Alouettes fans better hope Vernon Adams Jr. is prepared and ready to lead this team.

NOBODY wants to see anyone injured. But it’s a reality of the game and something we all need to deal with. Fortunately…we BOTH have some pretty tough hombres out there.

Go! Als Go!

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