The last two seasons of Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been a challenging one. Hamilton Tiger-Cats have brought some highs, but also some incredibly lows.
The team of 2019 was the most successful this team has ever seen at the very least, in the season that was regular. A record of 15-3 for the franchise and four awards winner (Most Excellent Player Brandon Banks, Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Chris Van Zeyl, Most outstanding Special Teams player Frankie Williams and Coach of the Year Orlondo Steinauer) and the Grey Cup berth that saw the team enter the game with the ambiguous name of the prohibitive most-wanted.
All of us know exactly what transpired the next day.
When the 2020 season was postponed, most people had penciled the Ticats into returning to their home of the Grey Cup Live Free 2022 and those prognostications weren’t changed after they returned to the CFL was back for another cut-down 14-game schedule in 2021. Many pundits believed that they would see the Black and Gold would pick the same place they left off in 2019, however, the team struggled to find consistency and eventually looked at their rivals, the Toronto Argonauts when the regular season was over.
The fact that they didn’t was enough to deter the Ticats who easily beat their opponents, the Montreal Alouettes in the East Semi-Final. They then employed an attack in the second half to defeat Argos Argos at the East Final to reach their second championship game in succession.
They were greeted by the same team that swept the Ticats a year ago however this time, they were playing in a different way, with the Ticats returning in their usual sub-par role.
Despite their best efforts in the midst of a huge Tim Hortons Field crowd, the Ticats were once more short, and lost their second title game in a row contest against their rivals, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Two major playoff wins and an opportunity to return back to Grey Cup would be a very successful year for nearly any other team, however not the 2021 Hamilton Tiger-Cats. They were expected to take home the title at home but it didn’t take place.
The way things played out this season was not the most likely scenario for the Tabbies however it wasn’t the most ideal scenario either.
What would the ideal and worst-case scenarios for Hamilton Tiger-Cats be in 2022? Is a trip for the Grey Cup suffice, despite it being the same? Could they be eliminated from the playoffs completely for only three times in the past 13 years?
Without further delay Here are the top-case scenarios and worst-case scenarios for the 2022 Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
A championship is the most likely scenario for all teams however for franchises such as Edmonton, Ottawa or B.C. only making it to the playoffs could be considered to be a good season following the fact that all three teams were unable to make it last year. If any of these teams were to win the Grey Cup that would be an incredible story, but their fans are more than likely to be satisfied if they only made it to the postseason.
Not so for the Tiger-Cats.
Hamilton was a regular in the playoffs since 2009, missing playoffs only twice in the past 13 years. This was in 2012 and in 2017. In every one of those seasons they were either in the top two spots and then played in a playoff match. The most notable was in 2011, where they came in third, but they made it through to the East Final after a thrilling East Semi-Final victory over the Montreal Alouettes at Olympic Stadium. Ticats have also won four Grey Cups. Ticats have also played in the four Grey Cups during that span but have been unable to win every time.
Hamilton has had the same amount of success that an organization can achieve without winning an award.
The path to returning to taking home this year’s Grey Cup won’t be easy. In the East Division is as treacherous as it has been for recent times and the four teams in the race of making a bid towards the final game.
The Redblacks significantly increased their roster after hiring an experienced General Manager with a proven track record in Shawn Burke. Ottawa has made a major step forward from the position they had in the same time last year. They’re no longer the empty space in the Bingo card.
Toronto was the best Team in the East last season and has added plenty of veterans to an already impressive team. Relying on the aging stars has led to other teams getting into difficulties in the past however, it could work in the case of Toronto in the Double Blue this year. Whatever the case I wouldn’t be surprised for the Argos to return to being a walkover next season.
The Als seem to be getting better over the past few years, but they haven’t yet get it all in place. What they’ve accomplished in during the past two seasons under the direction of head Coach Khari Jones is a spirited team with them making the playoffs each of the seasons, with 2019 the first time they’ve made it to the playoffs since 2014. The Als are an unidentified team, since chaos is taking over them before the season has started, but If they are able to navigate those difficult waters, I can see no reason why they shouldn’t be fighting for the division championship.
The Ticats are likely to have the top quarterback in the division. They certainly have the top head coach and a team that has proven themselves after years of losing playoff games. They’ve added an all-time Grey Cup champion in Alden Darby to a crowded secondary, and they have an emerging star in the form of receiver Tim White. They welcomed back a fully-fit Bralon Addison, and are hoping to have a full season from the dynamic run-back Don Jackson. Their defense is strong and they boast one of the top linebacking squads in the league as well as their offensive line is top-of-the-line, and is led by Chris Van Zeyl. If the Ticats can get themselves through the mud which is known as in the East Division in 2022, they’ll be prepared for whatever team they will face in the championship game.
The Ticats have been watching as a team celebrated their loss during the last two seasons. If Hamilton is able to survive a difficult division then they will likely be guys from Steeltown who get to be able to enjoy the moment when the fireworks fall.
If nothing happens, I do not see a scenario that would see the Tiger-Cats fall short of the playoffs in 2022. They’re too strong of a roster, and better than the coaching staff to allow this team to fall from the cliff and end up at the bottom of the barrel.
However, they lost many of their veteran leadership during the offseason, with players such as Jeremiah Masoli and Brandon Banks changing their long-running shades for new ones within that same league. Each player will get plenty of chance to take revenge on their old club, and Masoli’s Redblacks playing the Ticats three times, and Banks having four chances to play his old club after joining the Argos.
Loss of Grey Cup lucky charm Ja’Gared Davis isn’t overstated. Davis can be said to be on the Hall of Fame track and watching him leave Hamilton and head to Toronto will hurt even more since it hurts the team he played for while enhancing an opponent that is one of the most disliked opponents.
Hamilton’s depth isn’t as good as it was last season especially in the position of quarterback. Since the departure of Masoli to Ottawa the team is concerned that any injury long-term on Dane Evans would drastically curtail Hamilton’s hopes of winning the championship.
Even if the team doesn’t fall off completely however, there’s still an opportunity that other teams within the division have caught the other teams. In the end, getting into the playoffs is unlikely , however a third-place 9-9 record isn’t completely unthinkable.
There isn’t a single East Division team has won the Grey Cup from the three-seed since the Montreal Alouettes did it in 1970. If the Ticats are to finish with the third place finish, I don’t believe they’ll be the team to end this streak by winning consecutive playoff games on the road. It means that 2022 will end in the same way that all seasons from 1999 onwards have ended: without the trophy of a title.