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Ferguson: The art of throwing to the sticks – CFL.ca

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We’ve all heard it before, from a high school sideline to a mic’d up CFL coach chasing a player down the sideline.

“Get the first down!”

When you really think about it, that simple four-word sentence is the motive behind all that happens in offensive football with the exception of coach speak classics ‘score points’ or ‘play smart.’

When it comes to first down passing, the Canadian game is like no other. No wasted downs mean that a first down throw is equally rewarding as it is risky and second down becomes life or death to a drive, momentum and a chance to leave the field victorious.

While there is plenty to be appreciated about first-down passing, my favourite part of Canadian football is the second down passing game. It’s after a run for no gain or an incomplete pass on first down that the best quarterbacks immediately look to the sideline, refocus and prepare for the challenge ahead.

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BC Lions receiver Bryan Burnham (Left) celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Mike Reilly. (The Canadian Press)

The defence knows you want to pass, you know you want to pass. It’s a tactical game that quickly becomes a tangible fire drill the second the snap comes up from centre and pass rushers pin their ears back, hunting for a sack to celebrate.

This week, I took an in-depth look at the art of 2nd-and-long in hopes of gaining an understanding which current CFL passers have room to grow, which should take more risks and which have mastered the CFL’s essential passing skill: 2nd-and-long.

Here is a look at all second-down throws from the 2019 CFL season from the fifteen quarterbacks meeting the requirement of at least 150 pass attempts last season.

As you can see, there’s a plethora of information to work from. My first focus was on quarterbacks’ willingness to challenge defences right into their teeth on second down. Be it from coaching, personal philosophy or other influencing factors, some quarterbacks are more likely to live a screen, draw and check down lifestyle on the CFL’s most important down.

While the approach is smart, safe and can win you games when surrounded by a top-notch defence and special teams units, the reality to the eye is that CFL football rewards this who are willing to press the football — wisely — into the heart of the defence driven by the reward available instead of ever-present risks.

First a look at all qualifying quarterbacks willingness to throw ‘to the sticks’ on 2nd-and-1, 2nd-and-2 and so on.

What I found here matched the eye-test in that as the distance-to-go attached to second down gets longer the willingness of CFL quarterbacks and their coaches to throw it to the sticks is lessened with 2nd-and-4. The most likely down and distance for passers to pass at or beyond the sticks and several long down and distances presenting too formidable a challenge to bother throwing into.

At the same time, I took a look at the production-grade of passers at those targeted stick throws.

The trend here displayed why coaches and quarterbacks lose enthusiasm for stick throws as the reward wears off the further downfield the first down marker is. The volatility of extreme 2nd-and-long (15+ yards) proves to be a feast or famine experience with no true consistency amongst any two quarterbacks in 2019.

If we can learn what depth of throw is most valuable as it relates to a down and distance above then why not look at the target depth that most rewards a quarterback’s efforts on the most common second down, 2nd-and-10.

On either side you see the screen/shovel game creating passes behind the line of scrimmage and offences taking deep shots with defenders taking away the first down creating a higher percentage of targets for each depth. The short and intermediate target depths are where the value remains on 2nd-and-10 though with the most valuable target depth resting at 14-yards.

Apply that to tangible x’s and o’s and you can imagine deep in-breaking routes with a quarterback firing in front of linebackers, skinny posts splitting safeties or perfectly thrown corner route bending receivers downhill to the sideline for a clutch first down conversion.

In 2019, 42.5% of all second-down pass plays result in a first down or touchdown, but which passers were most likely to take a shot to the sticks, and which quarterbacks were rewarded for their willingness to see through the defence and push the football vertically on 2nd-and-7 to 10.

There’s no secret as to why some of the CFL’s most exciting names are featured to the left with a high rate of passing at or past the sticks (red bars). Vernon Adams Jr, Mike Reilly and Bo Levi Mitchell have never been afraid to press the football downfield, but their production-grade (blue dot) rests below the aggression line created by their red bars.

On the contrary, Saskatchewan Roughriders Cody Fajardo produced above his aggressive efforts last year with a production-grade well above his ‘stick throw rate’. With Jason Maas in house, this shows me Fajardo is ready to take the next step in his second-down passing evolution, expect him to land somewhere in the top three of ‘stick throws’ this year while trying to maintain that production-grade.

From there we see Nick Arbuckle and Jeremiah Masoli both play effectively with a high ‘stick throw rate’ followed by a pair of Eskimo and Blue Bombers quarterbacks who produced on 2nd-and-7 to 10 above their aggressive tendencies.

When 2nd-and-long hits, the best Canadian quarterbacks’ eyes light up, you can see their energy change as a physical manifestation of stepping up to answer the moment. These are the little moments and mind games we miss so much right now.

All that much more to look for, enjoy and celebrate when the game comes home and the players hit the field in 2020.

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Art Hounds: An audio play about understanding people who disagree politically – Minnesota Public Radio News

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Actor, singer and director Ben Lohrberg is looking forward to hearing the show “Understood” from Trademark Theater. The theater has adapted its 2018 stage play into an audio production, and Lohrberg looks forward to hearing how the COVID-accessible format changes the show. The play takes on the timely topic of how we connect with people with whom we disagree. It follows a young, separated couple who each start relationships with individuals who share very different political views. Written by Tyler Mills and directed by Tyler Michaels King, it’s a show about navigating relationships and finding common ground. The audio play streams from Thursday through Nov. 4. Pricing for digital tickets is pay-what-you-choose.

Photographer Jacinda Davis is planning to visit the Hutchinson Center for the Arts to see the new exhibit “Malaise” by fiber artist Liz Miller and beadwork artist Chris Allen. The title of the show reflects the uncertainty of the times, but Davis says she finds the bright colors of their work energizing. Liz Miller uses knotted ropes to make large sculptures, while Chris Allen’s fine beadwork creates textures on a smaller scale. The show runs through Nov. 13.

Theater artist Ariel Johnson of Burnsville, Minn., loves the work of St Paul singer/songwriter Hannah Bakke, who writes folk and comedy music for mandolin and acoustic guitar. Bakke describes herself as “three shots of espresso with a dash of nutmeg; energetic, sweet and will remain fresh for up to nine months if stored properly.” During the pandemic, Bakke has been performing “little free concerts” outside of people’s homes in the Twin Cities area, which will continue as long as weather permits this fall.

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5 Art Accounts to Follow on Instagram Now – The New York Times

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As the pandemic continues to devastate countries around the world, natural disasters bear down and Election Day draws nearer, I find myself struggling with opposite impulses: I want to keep up with the news, and I want to escape into pleasure and imagination. Instagram offers both. Some accounts help me process current events, others provide aesthetic wonder, and still others manage the two at once. This list covers all the points on that spectrum. Consider it a creative coping mechanism for staying engaged during a trying time.

Many artists who started projects while on lockdown in March have stopped posting about them on Instagram, but Piotr Szyhalski is still going strong with his “Daily Covid-19 “Labor Camp Reports.” (“Labor Camp” is the framework within which Mr. Szyhalski has made art since 1998.) The series consists of black-and-white drawings that use the style and language of propaganda posters to capture the pain and absurdity of the pandemic, with heavy doses of sarcasm and rage at the federal government’s response. Some are direct, like one with a hand pointed at the viewer that implores “You! (Do Something)”; others are more abstract, like a sparse drawing of silhouetted birds above the words “Limitless Melancholy.” Either way, the works are meticulous but piercing, like a carefully released primal scream.

The work of Patience Zalanga, a freelance photojournalist who often covers the Movement for Black Lives, has a gripping, quiet intensity. She tends to forgo the drama of big action for the intimacy of portraits and smaller moments. For instance, a photo of young men inside a ransacked Office Depot seems to hit pause on the scene, as a hooded figure stops to check his phone; through that mundane gesture, Ms. Zalanga creates a feeling of familiarity, even tenderness. There’s also a welcome honesty to her captions, which include a mix of information about the images, personal comments and thoughts on the ethics of documentary photography. Ms. Zalanga, whose work has been featured in The Guardian, Minnesota Public Radio and Time, among other places, and who got her start in Ferguson, Mo., after the killing of Michael Brown, doesn’t pretend to be an all-knowing, objective observer, but lets her followers in on her process and works in community.

If Ms. Zalanga’s images speak to an experience of being Black in the United States, Jamie Lee Curtis Taete’s showcase a culture of whiteness. The Los Angeles–based photographer has an eye for distinctly American forms of consumerism and, and over the past few months he’s brought it to bear on events like pro-Trump rallies and coronavirus lockdown protests. Many of his pictures carry a tension between the ironic distance of the viewer and the subjects’ earnestness, encapsulated by a proudly carried sign or boldly emblazoned T-shirt. In one of my favorites, a yelling blond woman holds an American flag and a poster reading “Give me liberty or give me death,” while standing outside a Baskin Robbins. The intensity of her crusade of victimhood is palpable. As with so many of Mr. Taete’s photographs, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Part of what I love about the artist Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin’s account is that when I come upon her posts, I don’t necessarily know what I’m looking at. Maybe it’s an almost abstract image of bubbles, or maybe a pair of hands holding dirt, but I’m still wondering: Why this dirt? What’s she doing with it? Such murkiness is appropriate, since Ms. Shin is interested in processes we can’t see, like brewing, fermentation and the cultivation of mold, and how they reflect the complexities of society. It’s a delight to come across one of her photographs and be awed by the extent of the natural, and largely invisible, world. Her captions offer limited explanations — the dirt contained hyphae nuggets, which she brought home to feed — but just as quickly generate new questions, like what are hyphae? (The answer: parts of fungi.)

What does an exhibition look like when it doesn’t comprise objects in a gallery? The pandemic has prompted a variety of answers to this question, from bland online viewing rooms to printable PDF shows. The Flag Art Foundation’s inventive response has been to post “impossible exhibitions” on Instagram. Each one takes the form of a slide show, with a title, curatorial statement and checklist. What makes them “impossible” is that they can include anything available in image form, even if it no longer exists or is physically inaccessible. Eliminating the logistical aspect of curating has freed up people’s imaginations in intriguing ways. The miniature shows are cross-cultural, richly associative and sometimes deeply evocative. The curator Amy Smith-Stewart’s “In this short Life,” for example, is titled after an Emily Dickinson poem and in just nine slides evokes a spiritual sense of the fleetingness of life.

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Embrace Life Council seeks artists for mental health art contest – Nunavut News

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Embrace Life Council is holding a mental health art contest for Nunavummiut aged 5 to 18.

“The aim of it is to create art that we’re hoping will inspire healthy living,” said Nastassja Fraser, a volunteer for the organization. It will also provide children and youth opportunities to explore their creativity while helping others.

The cover from the 2020 Embrace Life Council’s 2020 calendar. photo courtesy of Nastassja Fraser

Children aged 5 to 13 are encouraged to submit drawings or paintings focusing on physical health, while those between 14 to 18 years of age can submit artwork reflecting mental health.

Judges will be evaluating the artwork based on the “artist’s interpretation and ability to visually communicate a message of healthy living,” said Fraser. She added that creativity, technical skill and general craftsmanship will also be evaluated.

The judges are “really just looking for kind of an insightful way of portraying whichever theme it is they choose to address,” explained Fraser.

Twelve winners will be selected: nine from the children category and three from the youth category. The winning artworks will be displayed in the Embrace Life Council’s 2021 calendar.

Winners will be announced on Oct. 16 after the Oct. 10 deadline. Submissions can be mailed or dropped off at the Embrace Life Council in Iqaluit. For more information contact Elisapee Johnston at ejohnston@inuusiq.com or call 867-975-3233 ext. 223.

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