Great (red &) white hype

Receiver Jeremaine Copeland comes to grips with another Stampeders defeat over the weekend. The...

Receiver Jeremaine Copeland comes to grips with another Stampeders defeat over the weekend. The team has lost three straight games. (Calgary Sun/Darren Makowichuk)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Maybe the Calgary Stampeders simply aren't that good.

Maybe the athletes wearing red and white these days simply aren't capable of consistently elevating their play the way champions do.

After all, despite the hype, this team hasn't proven a damn thing since Tom Higgins and the local owners took over.

Sure, this is the same crew that won eight of its last nine to close out the regular season last year. But when it mattered most, they coughed up a halftime lead in the West semifinal at home against the Edmonton Eskimos.

Hardly inspiring but supposedly part of the building process.

In trying to explain why a team so seemingly full of potential finds itself trying to break out of a three-game losing slide, suggestions are that perhaps the Stamps are too complacent or too cocky.

Such traits would suggest the team had actually accomplished something in the recent past.

They haven't.

Truth is, maybe this team is just as vanilla as its head coach: Just another ordinary, garden-variety, plastic, run-of-the-mill squad we've seen in this town for years.

Indeed, it seems such a waste as running back Joffrey Reynolds is by far the league's best rusher.

Yet Higgins and his coaches haven't found a way to utilize Reynolds in a fashion that regularly augments their talented receiving corps or takes pressure off a quarterback who has as many doubters as he has supporters.

Although it seems to be a different problem each week, the Stamps should count their blessings with a 3-4 record that could easily be 1-6 if not for an endzone prayer to end their opener and a game-saving boot against the league's worst team two weeks later.

Both lucky wins came at home where they'll try to even their record Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who essentially retain home-field advantage when playing at McMahon.

These are the same Roughriders the Stamps hammered 53-36 in Week 4, putting them in first place and demonstrating the type of dominance Stamps fans have waited for the last year-and-a-half.

As usual, it was just a facade as the team has since regressed.

So, seven games into the season and the Stamps are already feeling the heat of a schedule that could soon find them in a major tailspin. After the 'Riders come calling, the league-leading Montreal Alouettes steamroll into town for what could be a humbling home-and-home series. To follow is the Labour Day week exchange with Edmonton that essentially amounts to a coin flip most times.

Now might be a good time to stop a skid that has fans wondering if the long-term deals signed by most Stamps players will amount to just another lengthy spell without a Grey Cup.

If there is one thing fans have come to expect from their club, it's the unexpected. In other words, expect a big win Saturday for the down-and-out bunch, reigniting talk of a division title and Cup run.

Given how tight the west is and how badly the Argonauts and Tiger-Cats are expected to continue struggling out east, maybe none of it matters anyway.

Regardless of how inconsistent they are, the Stamps are essentially guaranteed a playoff date one way or another.

Then we'll find out once and for all if this team is any better than the humdrum, white-bread bunch it has shown to be so far.

Until then we can only assume they're average at best.


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