CFL scoring way down

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

If offence, indeed, sells tickets, the CFL is going to see a drop in fannies in the stands over the second half of the season.

Offences around the league have dried up like my vegetable garden this summer, and quarterback injuries only explain part of the drought.

Did you know there are three teams that haven't even averaged 20 points per game this season?

Heading the list of the listless is Toronto, with 16.6 points per game. The Argos are followed in futility by Hamilton (17.8) and Edmonton (18.1).

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, at 21 points per game and sinking fast, appear to be well on their way, too.

Last season, no team finished with less than 20 points per game. In fact, that hasn't happened in three years.

In 2005, seven teams scored at least 25 points per game. So far this year, there are two -- Montreal and B.C.

Over the last three weeks alone, there have been seven teams held to single digits in a game. That happened just once over the first half of last season, three times all year.

This is three-down football, for crying out loud. The true north, strong and high-scoring.

What gives?

It's true, Damon Allen in Toronto, Dave Dickenson in B.C. and Kevin Glenn here in Winnipeg have all gone down with injuries.

But backups don't usually perform as poorly as Spergon Wynn has in Toronto, or as Mike Quinn and Co. have here. Only one team, the Lions, has got reasonable play from its backup.

But the problem runs much deeper than the rehab tub.

Name me a city where they've been happy with their offence. Vancouver, maybe.

Even in Montreal, the Alouettes usually-potent attack has flowed like a garden hose you connect for the first time -- sputtering sporadically.

Only one quarterback, Ricky Ray of the Eskimos, is on pace for 5,000 yards passing. Three of them got there in '05.

Have you noticed there are a lot of mediocre teams this season, too?

And we thought '06 was going to be one of the best in recent memory.

The collapse of the Ottawa Renegades would reduce the field to eight strong teams, the thinking went.

Instead, we've got the Alouettes, Lions -- and bunch of also-rans.

The plan was parity, and we've got mediocrity.

It's not like the Renegades dispersal draft was heavy on defence, either. Heck, the first couple of picks were quarterback Kerry Joseph and receiver Jason Armstead.

But somehow CFL defences are dominating like they haven't in years.

Last season, no team averaged less than 300 yards offence per game. So far this year, there are two.

Last year, four teams averaged better than 300 yards passing, alone. This year, there's one.

Perhaps the most dramatic statistical drop is touchdown passes per game.

Last season's average was 3.17 touchdown throws per game, both teams combined. So far this year, the average is 2.53 touchdowns through the air.

It's starting to look like the 1970s again. Or the NFL.

Maybe it's a half-season glitch. Or a defensive cycle that'll come and go.

But if I were the deep-thinkers in the CFL (is that an oxymoron?), I'd keep a close eye on this one.

If it keeps up, it may be time to tweak the rules again, the way the NFL did years ago when it created more space for receivers and allowed offensive linemen to use their hands to block.

Either that, or allow all those new fans you've discovered the last few years to nod off and discover there are more exciting things to do than watch a typical CFL game.


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