Five reasons why firing unlikely to solve Cats' woes

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have sent Charlie Taaffe packing with eight games to go and the team just four points out of a playoff spot.

Will the rare in-season firing work out and propel the toothless Tabbies to the playoffs?

Probably not, judging by the last five in-season firings in the CFL. Here's a look back:

1. July 10, 2006 -- The Ticats fire Greg Marshall after an 0-4 start to the season and replace him with the club's senior director of football operations, Ron Lancaster. The Tabbies go 4-10 the rest of the way, finishing dead last overall.

The final straw: A 27-21 loss to Montreal.

2. Aug. 8, 2004 -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were a CFL-worst 2-5 when management tied the can to Dave Ritchie and tapped the shoulder of defensive line and special teams coach Jim Daley. The Bombers went 5-6 under Daley and ended up four points out of a playoff spot.

The final straw: A 49-27 loss to Calgary.

3. Sept. 17, 2002 -- Gary Etcheverry receives a pink slip after the "listless" Argos fall to 4-8. Club president Michael (Pinball) Clemons returns to the sideline for the second time and the Argos win four of their last six games to finish second in the East. After beating B.C. in the East semifinal, the Boatmen get hammered 35-18 by Montreal in the division final.

The final straw: A 40-11 loss to Saskatchewan.

4. Aug. 2, 2002 -- Steve Buratto gets his walking papers after the B.C. Lions kick off the season with a league-worst 1-5 mark. GM Adam Rita takes over and guides B.C. to an impressive 9-3 record down the stretch. The Lions, however, get smoked 30-3 by the Bombers in the West semifinal.

The final straw: a 23-15 loss to Calgary.

5. Oct. 31, 2001 -- Montreal Alouettes head man Rod Rust, who was 73 at the time, is forced out with only one game left in the regular season. The Als started 9-2 but lost six in a row, prompting the team brass to put the headset on GM Jim Popp. Montreal lost its regular-season finale and then bowed out of the playoffs with a 24-12 loss to Hamilton in the East semifinal.

The final straw: A 38-18 loss to Hamilton.

Opening drive

The player of the week drought continues in Saskatchewan, but that could change this week after quarterback Michael Bishop's sublime performance Sunday against the Bombers. The Riders, despite leading the league with an 8-2 mark, are the only team that hasn't had a player of the week this season ... Despite owning the same

2-8 record as the Ticats, Bombers GM Brendan Taman said yesterday he is not contemplating a coaching change ... Don't be surprised if Taaffe is happy to be out of Hamilton. Before Saturday's loss to B.C., his $500,000 quarterback, Casey Printers, put the wristband with all the offensive plays on his arm. The only problem was it was the previous week's game plan, and he was forced to take a timeout.

Endzone toss

CFL practice rosters expanded yesterday from seven to 12 players, and the Argos tried to make some noise by bringing in a couple of former NFL first-round draft picks: Offensive lineman Kenyatta Walker and defensive lineman Duane Clemons ... The B.C. Lions are reportedly chasing Canadian receiver O'Neil Wilson, who has bounced around the league the last two years.

Extra points

Just how bad is the East Division? Toronto, Hamilton and Winnipeg are on pace for a combined total of 16 wins. Excluding the U.S. expansion years, there haven't been three teams that bad in the same division since 1993, when Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto scrounged up 13 victories. That was before the crossover, so the Rough Riders made the playoffs with a

4-14 record.

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THREE STARS

1. Riders QB Michael Bishop -- Threw for 370 yards and three TDs in huge comeback win over Bombers.

2. Stamps LB Shannon James -- An interception-retur TD, a forced fumble, a sack and seven tackles versus Esks.

3. Als QB Anthony Calvillo -- Lit up the Argos for 369 yards and three majors.

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CRYSTAL BALL

Our predictions for the week ahead

Weekly Sun predictions

Winnipeg at Toronto -- The hosts win the latest East Toilet Bowl. Argos by five.

Montreal at Calgary -- Smilin' Hank and the boys win a shootout. Stamps by six.

Hamilton at Edmonton --

Coaching change won't help one bit. Eskimos by 19.

Saskatchewan at B.C. --

Champs have won eight of last 11 at B.C. Place. Riders by two.


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