How the 2015 season played out:
The Tiger-Cats have historically been a football team that can be prone to slow starts. This didn’t happen in 2015. The team went 8-3 out of the gate. Zach Collaros at quarterback was having a MOP-caliber season as he had accumulated 3,376 yards of offense and a 70% completion percentage. On September 19th, Collaros tore his ACL and the Tiger-Cats were left with back-ups Jeremiah Masoli and Jeff Matthews, who tried their best to fill the hole on offense. As other injuries accumulated, the team hobbled to a 2-4 record down the stretch.
Hamilton made it to the playoffs and pulled off an exciting last second field goal to win 25-22 in the Eastern Semi-final over the Argonauts. But, ultimately, their season ended on a Hail Mary play by Henry Burris and the Redblacks in the Eastern Final.
All things considered, the Tiger-Cats were heavily banged up all year and head coach Kent Austin showed his brilliant coaching prowess again to keep the team together, and get to the precipice of a Grey Cup berth.
Additions and Subtractions
The team made a huge splash to start the off-season as they signed star receiver Chad Owens to a free-agent deal. Chad Owens expressed his desire to play in the winning culture that the Tiger-Cats have created since Kent Austin took over in 2013. On the coaching side, The team hired Stefan Ptaszek, who had been the head coach of CIS’s McMaster University since 2006 – a tenure which included a Vanier Cup championship in 2011 as Canada’s top university squad. His vast knowledge of the Canadian game will be extremely valuable as offensive coordinator and it will be interesting to see how his first foray into the pro game proceeds.
On the subtraction side, the team lost defensive lineman Brian Bulcke to their rivals, the Toronto Argonauts, via the free agency. He had been experiencing some extremely bad injury luck late in his tenure in Hamilton, but had become a bit of a fan favourite.
2016 Season Thoughts
While they may not know the exact date of Collaros’ return from injury, the team looks poised to have another great year with a potent offense of receivers such as Andy Fantuz and Tiquan Underwood. They also boast some explosive running backs by the likes of CJ Gable and Brandon Banks – who also doubles as a deadly return threat.
Orlondo Steinaur’s defense will be formidable, and will rank among the CFL’s best this year, hosting the likes of Emmanuel Davis and Simoni Lawrence who had a combined 141 tackles last year. All in all this team looks like a legit threat; not only in the Eastern Division, but the entire CFL and could even challenge for the Grey Cup this year.