October 2016 – Ruby “Popp’s Folly”- Fool’s Gold Not Diamond in the Rough

I’m not sure exactly WHEN Herb Zurkowski became an apologist for Jim Popp. Being the curmudgeon that he is, Zeke once pissed Popp off so much, he lost his access to the players…years back. NOW he drops FREQUENT hints on the radio that he knows more than he writes…VOLUMES in fact. I’m sure we’d all have to crawl on our bellies in supplication, to feel the holy light of Poppian Grace. No doubt we have a book to look forward to, once Popp has left the nest.

Regardless…when the Alouettes’ GM whistles up a *”Popp Piece”, it seems Zeke is always ready to oblige. I invite everyone to watch this video of #69 Left Tackle Jacob Ruby’s performance against the Riders, and THEN read a few extracts of what Zeke has to tell us:

It would be easy to throw Ruby under the bus, but the 6-foot-7, 315-pounder obviously came to the league in 2015 with some credentials. He was a first-round (eighth overall) draft choice who played in NCAA Division I with the Richmond Spiders. The Als traded Ryan Bomben to Hamilton specifically to secure an additional first-round pick, likely with the intention of selecting Ruby, fearful he wouldn’t last until the second round.

“Ruby’s a great player. He may have struggled the last game, but he’s a good player. I have no doubt of that,” said Blake, who played right tackle, then centre, at Baylor.

Hey Herb. Ruby’s been CATASTROPHIC all season. What exactly are you trying to pull here?

“On Saturday, I had a bad game and hit a rut. It was technique, not being mentally tuned into what they were doing. We knew what they were going to do. They did a few things different. It came down to me having a bad game and not playing well. We have two weeks left. I’m going to try and get better, become the best player I can.”

Technique my left testicle. Ruby stood like a statue while the Riders rushers ran by him as if he wasn’t even there. It COULD be coaching. Has ANYONE ever told the guy his job is to PROTECT the quarterback and STOP those guys rushing towards him?

“I don’t think we’re bad. We’ve struggled in some areas but, for the most part, we’re pretty solid,” Perrett said.

In many ways, the play of the line has been a microcosm of the Als’ offensive struggles in general. Montreal has averaged 20.9 points per game, ahead of only Saskatchewan. The Als also are averaging a league-low 299.1 yards of net offence per game. The team has produced 32 offensive touchdowns. Those are not the totals that translate into success. Even last weekend, during a rare victory, the Als produced 230 yards and only 15 first downs. Adams passed for only 177 yards.

People can point the finger at Ruby following one bad game, but there have been ups and downs throughout the season, Chapdelaine admitted.

Microcosm schmicrocosm. If Ruby had NOT been here to LEAD one of the WORST offensive line performances in Alouettes HISTORY…we’d be watching Cato (or Glenn) and the Alouettes prepare for the playoffs. GUARANTEED.

The thing that scares me about that video is that it’s Ruby who basically FORCES Adams to scramble, as if he wasn’t even there. Adams looked GREAT on the run, but with the line patched up…the last 2 passes of the half were disturbingly weak and inaccurate. OK, it was drizzling…but the “optics” on his arm-strength left a LOT to be desired the rest of the game. I salivate to think what Cato would now do with so much time in the pocket. Oh yeah…check the Toronto game.

At the end of the 1st half, we see part of the new O-line practising on the sidelines. I remember asking my CFL buds at the time, “Is THAT LBJ warming up on the sidelines?!?” Predictably someone mentioned Lyndon Johnson. Haha. Even WITH the new line of: LT:#68 Blake LG:#51 Matte C:#51 Brodeur-Jourdain RG: #53 Gagnon RT: #54 Perrett…a little harmless (arm-less? dis-arming?) ragdolling is BOUND to happen.

Someone had ALREADY commented on the article by the time I got to it:

Peter Wowo

The coaches only realized this now when it has been so painfully obvious all year?

I merely elaborated:

Nostre Dummass

How To Interpret a Popp Piece*

What was Jim Popp thinking? Only he would know. When Popp traded Ryan Bomben to Hamilton for a handful of draft picks, he ignored a vital truth in this league: Competent Canadian Offensive Linemen are worth their considerable weight in gold. While one of those Hamilton picks can arguably be said to have netted Chris Ackie…the trade was essentially one-for-one: Ryan Bomben for Jacob Ruby.

But it doesn’t stop there. Last year’s draft featured a number of interesting potential left tackles. Popp chose Laval guard Phillipe Gagnon…mystifyingly. And the rest, as they say, is history.

While some may claim the play of this offensive line is a mere “microcosm” of the team’s offensive woes this season…MOST observers KNOW…it was the very foundation of our misery. At the time of his dismissal, Kevin Glenn “led the league in being sacked”. And the trend did NOT subsequently diminish. The Alouettes have accorded a league high 60 sacks through 16 games, roughly 4 per game. In comparison, the best team in CFL football (guess) has given up a MERE 18, with one more game played. The IMMEDIATE question is how would Bo Levi Mitchell, Calgary’s young stud quarterback, have fared under these conditions? Looked at another way, HOW would Kevin Glenn have done, assuming his line had protected him to the tune of 1 sack per game? OR Rakeem Cato?

And here we come to the crux of the biscuit: Popp has insisted on leaving this swiss cheese of an O-line intact…THROUGH the decimation of the plan to have Glenn mentor our young quarterbacks. He didn’t change or even tweak the line as Anthony Calvillo’s career as OC was slipping through his fingers. He DIDN’T EVEN change the line as his OWN Head Coaching job was “on the line”, so to speak. Lest we forget the injustice towards Rakeem Cato, essentially a rookie, forced to put a struggling team on his back, with an incompetent OC and HC (and GM), toxic receivers and a porous offensive line.

Enter Vernon Adams Jr. Popp’s Golden Boy, if ONLY by virtue of what this team has paid for the guy.

Popp’s entire future as GM can be said to depend on Adams’ success or failure. BEFORE his first EVER start, Adams, is “gifted” with the removal of receivers who’s attitude and lack of effort have hobbled this team all season. Halfway into his first start, Adams is the beneficiary of en entirely renovated offensive line. MAJOR culprit Jacob Ruby having been removed ENTIRELY.

And while Cato WAS the recipient of a SIGNIFICANT upgrade at HC and OC…from reports, Chapdelaine is not altogether fond of young Cato. Unfortunately for Rakeem, Chappers has some MAJOR baggage after the Casey Printers incident in BC, and can’t seem to separate the one from the other. Cato’s “intensity” is an asset…and I prefer to think “Doug Flutie” rather than “Casey Printers” when interpreting his emotional spectrum. But then I have NO SUCH BAGGAGE.

Regardless…young Prince Adams has been given all the advantages his predecessors lacked. And that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, except for what that LACK has done to the 2016 Alouettes season.

Kevin Glenn has moved on. As a 16 year veteran, Glenn is set for life. Cato’s another story. Who knows if any other CFL club will pick him up, after the horrors of this season, and the continuous besmiching of his reputation?

Jim Popp better hope Adams’ arm is up to the task. His first start was NOT entirely convincing. Popp’s judgment has been questionable (at best) lately. Just ask Chris Rainey, on his way to leading the BC Lions to a deep playoff run. Run Rainey Run.

Adams showed a lot…and his Houdini act could NOT have come at a better time, considering how much our quarterbacks have had to escape from this season. But in the quarterback abatoire that is this CFL…MORE than one competent quarterback is not only advisable, it is key to any success your team might have.

As some wise and lucky team will no doubt find out when they pick up Rakeem Cato, for free, once Popp has released him. God help Jim Popp once that happens.
Because I’ve run entirely out of patience.

*A Popp Piece is much like a “puff” piece. However, rather than ignore or obfuscate the important issues at hand, they are distorted through the myopic prism of Jim Popp’s Mind.

Jacob has a passion for teaching young players the game of football and continues to educate the importance of not only taking care of yourself both mentally and physically but players need to take care of their equipment as well. Football is a high physical contact sport and when equipment is not properly dried it will develop a bad smell from bacterial growth (MRSA).

MRSA has been known to spread among football players through cuts and abrasions because they have repeated skin-to-skin contact and share items and surfaces that touch skin. This can be very harmful and has been known to interrupt or halt play time due to infections.

From his performance this year, we can assume Ruby is not only infected, he may well have contaminated the ENTIRE OFFENCE. All joking aside, isn’t it GRAND when things line up like that? Heck…even the guy’s jersey number is a joke.

 

UPDATE: I rarely do this. These BLOG posts are basically “opinion pieces” anyway…but this time I cannot resist. IMNSHO** Jim Popp is FULLY capable of sacrificing the ENTIRE 2016 season, stiffing Rakeem Cato and Kevin Glenn out of an adequate O-line, DESTROYING AC’S burgeoning coaching career, EVEN putting his own Head Coaching career in jeopardy…just to be RIGHT about Vernon Adams Jr. Some might call that a heroic effort to find our next quarterback. I call it the ONLY thing Popp is capable of any more: mangling the truth, manipulating and scheming, destroying careers of players who come to this team in good faith, and the hopes of Alouettes fans, THIS season and for so many others.

It’s ONLY my opinion. But after all these years…all I’ve heard and seen of the man, I’m CONVINCED it’s true. Furthermore, coaches and players have no doubt IMPLORED Popp to allow changes on the O-line, ESPECIALLY at the crucial left tackle spot. Popp has REFUSED…categorically. This NOT ONLY puts Cato’s frustrations in a different light, assuming HIS knowledge and participation in lobbying for more protection…it explains MUCH if not ALL of the disrespect and tension on the team…ESPECIALLY as we continued to LOSE and our offence continued it’s anaemia.

Did Jim Popp REFUSE to improve the O-line to put Rakeem Cato in a bad light, and allow Adams Jr. to SHINE in comparison? In my “heart of hearts” I am ABSOLUTELY certain he did.

Popp obviously has a LOT to answer for. But THIS is at the heart of this team’s disintegration in 2016. You probably already KNEW who to blame. Now we have a better idea WHY. 

 

**In My Not So Humble Opinion

Peace Out!

 

 

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