Come on, they told us so

ERIC FRANCIS

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

Let's be honest -- they promised there were going to be growing pains.

Whenever it was suggested the Stampeders were Grey Cup favourites whose season would be a failure without a visit to the big game, they bristled. They backpedaled. They squirmed.

Turns out deep down they knew something the rest of us didn't: They're not that good.

At least not yet, anyway.

Outscored 97-23 over the last two road games, which included an incredible streak that saw them outscored 82-0, the Stamps were obviously hammered in every aspect of the game. They turned the ball over like it was a playoff game, their young defence was a minor irritant to the opposition and their offence was almost as embarrassing as Canada's under-20 soccer team, which didn't score at all.

Local pie throwers had a better completion percentage (one for two) than Calgary's previously vaunted quarterback duo of Henry Burris and Akili Smith.

Yet, if the Stamps have accomplished anything positive over the last six days it's the fact that they have lowered expectations. Dramatically.

And fortunately for them they have done it at a time when a good chunk of the team's fans have been more focused on Stampede's funnel cakes than football.

Truth is, football is still playing second fiddle to Flames talk so far this summer. It's too early for anyone to be that emotionally invested in this season.

While the size and scope of their losses is truly stunning, word of the Stamps' second-consecutive trouncing Thursday elicited little more than a confused look and a shrug from Stampede goers. Obviously, no one is too thick to suggest the season is lost by any means.

That said, if they pull one of those no-shows at home next Saturday against the Argos there will be hell to pay. There's quite a difference between seeing your team get pistol-whipped while surfing channels than there is while investing three hours of your life in a home game in which the host team doesn't show. The locals will snap, putting surprising pressure on the squad just four games in.

The irony of it all is that the Stamps went into the season knowing the regular season wouldn't mean squat. The 18-game schedule was to be considered a mere warmup for the true test of this organization's desired progression from laughingstock to top dogs. The season will be judged on the team's playoff showing and nothing else.

Good thing, as the campaign hasn't exactly started the way Red & White fans expected.

The Stamps were so bad the last two games they couldn't even break the club record for consecutive thrashings, finishing one point shy of the 1956 squad which followed up a 52-0 punking with a 37-14 loss -- a 75-point difference.

The good news is that no one is screaming for Burris to be replaced by Smith as the backup has proven to be equally as inept as his CFL mentor. The quarterback controversy we all expected -- as ridiculous as it may be -- won't start until after Saturday's game at the earliest when the true character of this team will show, whatever that may be.

By then there will be no more excuses as the players will have had three days off to recharge before getting a full week of practices to address the club's considerable weaknesses.

Remember, the players weren't the ones talking Grey Cup.

And they certainly won't be any time soon.


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