Monday, October 11, 2021

Monday Morning Sentimonies: We Suck Again

Riders 19 – Stamps 22

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Defense sleeps through the opening of the game, has trouble tackling but otherwise plays good enough to win. The offense is so useless that you can’t fathom how most of them tie their shoes and it leads to a close game where we ultimately fall short. If it sounds familiar its because the exact thing just happened two weeks in a row. Two weeks ago it looked like we had a chance to bury the Stamps in the standings. Now we let them right back into the mix for second in the West.

Look, in the wake of that dreadful performance lots of criticism is being thrown and Fajardo and Maas. Most of it is warranted. But even the best OC’s and QB’s would struggle to field a competent offense with an O-line this bad. They offered Fajardo all the protection of a condom with holes in it. It wasn’t a matter of whether we let a defender through for most of the night, it was a matter of how many we let through. There were times that Fajardo didn’t have enough time for a 3 step drop and quick pass. Until the line gets better, there will be limits on what Maas and Fajardo can do.

Now I’m not absolving Maas of fault here. He does some really dumb things for a guy with a bad O-line. We routinely ran empty backfield sets. So we gave no illusion of running and had no extra blockers to help. When you know your line is garbage, why would you do that? We also have all this ridiculous pre-snap motion where Powell motions out to WR and Lenius motions to RB. Nobody is fooled by the this so the end result is we put the better blocker out to catch passes and the better pass catcher into block. Why? And somehow with an offense that can’t complete a deep pass we thought the answer to that problem was to target Powell deep? In what world does that seem like a good idea when we have all these big tall receivers on the roster?!? Why do we not run more slants? We have the big bodied guys to do it. It fits within our offensive capabilities and philosophy but we don’t use it. We had receivers dropping passes yet again. I hate to rag on Fajardo with all this crap working against him but he’s still not doing himself any favours. There was a play where Fajardo forced it to Schaefer-Baker on the sidelines. Had he looked just slightly to his right, we would have seen Lenius open on the seam for a massive gain.  Bottom line is our offense is not even close to good enough to win us games. Unless Evans and Williams recently learned to play offensive tackle, they will not be the miracle cure for what ails us.

Defense is really difficult to peg down. They start slow. They struggle to cover and tackle. But game after game they get the job done despite not looking great in the process. They allowed a solitary TD. They got 3 sacks. They even avoided penalties for the most part (except for that time where Bo talked the refs into a ridiculous flag that came out 15 minutes after the play was over). They forced 3 turnovers and you know what our offense managed to do with that? 6 points! I cursed a lot at our D on Saturday but they consistently do enough to give us a good chance to win. Which more than I can say for other phases of our team.

This bye week might be well timed because we are in a mini-tailspin and some time to clear our heads might be helpful. I honestly assumed that we’d easily take 2 of 3 from Calgary and suddenly we are staring down a very good chance of being swept and starting to keenly watch the math on a crossover.

Other random thoughts:

·        Was Campbell legit hurt? Or just really committed to the protecting his pride by claiming injury was the problem?

·        Brett Lauther channeled his inner Jaime Boreham and unloaded on that special teams tackle. He is giving his all these last few weeks.

·        Jon Ryan had a crap day punting.

·        While we are speaking of people I used to notably hate on, Dan Clark also had a crap day.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Riders vs. Stamps: Let’s Try This Again

Saturday, Stamp-toberfest shifts to Regina, as Round 2 takes place at Mosaic Stadium. The Riders will be looking to atone for the defeat last week and hoping the hometown crowd will give them a needed boost.

I could sum up my analysis of this game with 2 points. If the Riders wants to win they need to A) start playing defense before the 3rd drive and B) start playing offense before the 4th quarter. That’s it. That’s the recipe to success. /End blog post. Last week we spotted the Stamps a 14 point lead and scored just 7 points over the first 3 quarters and still had a chance to win, on the road. Our problems are many, but in spite of them we still have chances to win games. Imagine what we could do with a full 60 minutes out of both sides?

The talk of the week has been Fajardo’s post game comments. Look, dude got fired up after a loss. Anyone whose played team sports has had teammates be pissed in the moment and it works itself out over a post game drink. So I’m not too worried about it. At least he cares. I think the key point in his frustrations are less about the receivers and more about not feeling confident chucking it deep when you absolutely need a first down (let’s maybe try plays that do make our QB feel confident).  One final point on this, to be fair, Fajardo also needs to throw up balls that give his receivers an actual 50/50 chance. A lot of the recent passes have been more like 45/45/10 balls with 2 defenders having a better shot at it that the receiver.

Okay onto the game…

Since we are talking offense already, let’s start there. One thing we desperately need to fix is our tendency to start as slow as if we were fielding 12 senior citizens who recently had hip replacements. We average 4.3 first quarter points and if you exclude that Game 1 explosion against BC the number is 2.9 points over the past 7 games. Less than a FG is what we average in the first quarter! Very difficult to win with that. We now have film on how Calgary is going to defend us, use that and come out with an aggressive attack. We need a first quarter TD to swing momentum to us and get the crowd engaged. As bad as his last game was, I’m going back to Lenius. He’s been reliable up until last week and as awesome as Schaefer-Baker is, pinning everything on him is not going to be helpful. We also need to keep getting Moore moving up field. He’s as good at avoiding the first tackle as anyone but the negative yard swing passes aren’t working. He’s a good receiver, use him accordingly. Powell has been delivering so don’t forget about him. But it’s going to start upfront. O-line has not been good enough. Lauderdale is practicing and the line seemed to suck less with him but even if he plays, I don’t think we can suddenly expect our line to suck less. That means helping them out with St John, Dupuis and Awachie in as extra blockers. Also let them run block more (Jefferson is a good run blocker but really struggling in pass protection of late). Moving Fajardo’s launch point with roll outs will help too.

Defensively we need to see two things. Start playing before spotting a 2 TD lead and tackle! Way too many missed tackles last week. A suggestion might be to try using your arms in the tackle attempt rather than assuming your shoulder is enough to get the job done (our DBs are really bad at that). I want to see Micah get another chance to put hits on Bo. I also really want to see Bo throw another pick because the crowd will be all over him. I’m fairly confident in our D. Last game if you exclude the first drive (where they were clearly not prepared) and the second drive (where our offense stupidly gifted Calgary the ball on our side of half) they allowed just 150 yards the rest of the game and that’s with a ton of missed tackles. Obviously Calgary will have some new wrinkles but if our D-line can be disruptive upfront again, then we should be ok.

If Calgary wins, they take the season series and are right back in the battle for second in the west. We win and we go up 3 games on them with 5 remaining. After the bye we have 4 of 5 on the road to finish the season. Can’t afford to waste a home game.

I could do without the last second dramatics… but unfortunately I think that’s something we are going to have to get used to. We don’t believe in style points or doing things the easy way. So, while I see us winning, I don’t see me enjoying the roller-coaster ride that leads to said win. 

Riders by a Fajardo TD super late in the game.  I have a feeling after showing his frustration, he’s going to take the team on his back and will us to victory to the tune of like 75+ yards rushing… I just hope he doesn’t break himself in the process.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Monday Morning Senitmonies: Beaten By A Dead Horse

Riders 17 – Stamps 23

There was a huge sense of deja vu watching the game on Saturday. It played out almost the exact same as the week before. Defense started out struggling but eventually shut it down and did their job. Offense was MIA for the bulk of the game and showed up super late in the game to make for a dramatic finish. But this time around we proved that is not a sustainable plan. We are not a good enough team for the defense to take the first quarter off or the offense to take most of the game off and expect to win. Calgary is not a great team as was without their best 2 receivers and we let them off the hook.

Jason Shivers seems to be really good at in game adjustments and his D consistently adjusts to lock things down. He’s not been doing great at game prep though as 2 games in a row we’ve come out super flat and put us in an early hole. I don’t want to rag too much on the D too much. The allowed 9 points over the final 3 quarters, forced 2 turnovers and had 3 sacks. They gave us a chance to win as they usually do. The sad thing is their performance could have been even better if not for their early game nap, more untimely penalties and way too many missed tackles. So many time we had a body on the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage only to give up 7 yards because we couldn’t secure the tackle. Nick Marshall needs to be benched pure and simple. Look he has one skill: coverage. He can’t tackle in the open field to save his soul, or even attempt to use his arms when tackling. Add to that the fact that he gets beat more than he should and most infuriatingly consistently takes stupid penalties. The definition of 2021 Marshall was on the first drive, he got beat, gave up 32 yards and added an idiotic penalty on top of that. At this point his negatives outweigh the positives and maybe some time on the bench would smarten him up.

As for our offense, I got asked after the game whether its Maas or Fajardo that’s the issue and I’ve been thinking on that one for a while. The honest answer is that its both. Actually there’s a third factor… our O-line is not very good (Jefferson has been awful in the last 2). Better protection up front would make both Maas and Fajardo look a lot better. Here’s my case for why its Maas. Really weird play calling decisions. Going for its on 3rd and 2 early was a bad decision. Just punt it and help out your D. But if you are going to go for it on 3rd and 2 from your own end why on earth would you call the one play that we suck more than anything at?! We suck at the deep ball. Take 5 yards and keep the drive going. Yes Moore was open and yes Cody made the right read but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a terrible call. Another thing I hated was that Kyran Moore (our best receiver) was reduced to not running routes beyond the line of scrimmage for the majority of the game. You noticed instantly the boost it gave us when Moore actually started running real routes and picking up yards. Use your playmakers to make plays not stand there waiting to get hit on the world’s most obvious swing passes. I didn’t like the bomb to Louis either. We had time on the clock and the play that is least likely to succeed for us this season is a long bomb (especially when its into double coverage). It just doesn’t make sense that we spend all game on the high percentage plays and then get risky at the exact moment we should not.

As for Fajardo, he’s a tough SOB but I’m guess he’s nicked up way worse than he’s letting on and its affecting his play. He’s also making some bad reads and forcing balls where there is obviously too much coverage. He’s also just plain missing guys. I said I hate the 3rd down gamble to Moore but it was there and Cody missed it. He also managed a time count on the first play of a possession change, that’s rookie mistakes. Also didn’t help him that Brayden Lenius’ head was somewhere in a different timezone. I like Lenius and bad games happen but it was obvious to everyone but Maas and Cody that it was a waste of a play to target him late in the game. The only positives on O were Powell (he got a healthy workload and made the most of it) and Baker. What more can you say about this kid?

Speaking of positives… Brett F’N Lauther!! Dude has shook off an early season slump to be back to automatic on his kicks and those onside kicks were a thing of beauty. His placement was great and he read the kick coverage perfect to identify that the dribble up the middle was open. He also sacrificed his body to ensure he made the play. We got 99 problems but a kicker ain’t one.

The frustrating thing is that despite all the issues I just listed, that was a winnable game. We aren’t a bad team but we are reminding me a lot of the Barrett era Riders of late. Good enough to hang with anyone but too inconsistent for sustained success.

Other random thoughts:

-        I would much prefer he didn’t do it but that hit by Fajardo to prevent an INT was an earthquake! Can you imagine having to be that defender in the film room watching you get decleated by a QB?

-        Not sure what Jamal Morrow was thinking on that missed FG return. Thought about conceding (which he should have) and then just briskly jogged out to offer himself up to the defenders.

-    Still can't believe Rob Black used the term "unmolested". How is that in your vocabulary?

Friday, October 1, 2021

Riders vs. Stampeders: Stamp-toberfest

And thus begins Stamp-tober. Over the next 4 weeks, we will play Calgary 3 consecutive times (2 road games, 1 home game). We have a bye in there, Calgary does not. When the schedule came out I knew this would be an important set of games. I assumed it would go a long way to determining a tight race for spots 1-3 in the West. I was partially right. Its an important set of games, it will go a long way to determining where we fall amongst the tops in the West. But in my wildest dreams I never imagined it would be a do or die series for the Stamps and that we would have a chance to absolutely bury them. Even if we take 2 of 3 that leaves the Stamps 3-7 with 4 remaining games. That kinda of record is qualifies you for consideration for honourary membership in the East Division. Can’t take this series lightly or underestimate the Stamps but the opportunity is huge. The rivalry may not be as heated as during the Burris-era but sticking it to the Stamps still feels great.

The current state of the Stamps is difficult to fathom. Things have never been this bad since Hufnagel came to town (there was plenty of bad pre-Hufnagel). Losing record, 1-3 at home, at risk of missing the playoffs. We are just not used to seeing it… not that I’m complaining. But as lowly as the Stamps are I don’t think they can be taken lightly. Of their 5 loses, 4 of them have been by 6 points or less. They have been competitive in most games just falling on the wrong side of the win column in the end. I expect an equally competitive outing this time around. Dickenson shared a stat yesterday that the Stamps are 14-2 off a bye over the last 10 years. They may be a hurting unit but if we expect them to just lay down for us we have another thing coming.

Their defense is actually pretty good. They allow a ton of yards (2nd most) but not a ton of points (4th least). They only have 12 sacks on the season and 7 of those came in one game against Edmonton (and if you watched the Tuesday game you know that Edmonton related need to come with an asterisk now). Their D-line is playing noticeably better over the last couple games but I don’t think they are that formidable (which is good news because our O-line was also not that formidable last week). I think the strength of that D is the linebackers led by Thurman and Sankey. Thus far the way to beat the Stamps has been through the air. No one allows more passing yards than the Stamps (some of that has to do with the relative mediocrity of their D-line). I want to see a similar plan of attack as last week (just not waiting until late in the game to get it working). We quietly now lead the CFL in rushing attempts and Powell leads RBs in attempts so apparently if I complain enough good things happen. Keep a consistent run game, spread the ball around with accurate passes and mix in some downfield shots to keep the D honest. Obviously something clicked with Louis last game and having him be a reliable option would be a huge boost. O-line needs to suck less and clearly need some more help with TE sets or FBs chipping in with blocking. Fajardo has been sacked the most of any QB. I’m sure he’d be OK with changing that up a bit.

I’m assuming Bo Levi will start and under normal circumstances that would be cause for concern. But man has he been awful this year. Obviously injuries are a major factor. Early on it was his broken leg and more recently it was playing on his leg that magically recovered the instant his back-up started playing half decent. A bye week will likely help him but he’s not 100% and its showing in his play. He’s tied with Fajardo for most INTs in the league with 7. The thing is, Bo threw that in 4 games compared to the 7 Cody has played in. He also has the lowest completion % among QBs who have played in more than 1 game.  He is 33% on passes 10-19 yards (for comparison Cody is 74%). For context, we have been complaining about our short pass game… well the Stamps average less yards per pass.

What they do have is pretty solid protection up front. They have allowed the least sacks. What they don’t have is a run game. Last week we faced the most run averse team in the CFL, this week we face the 2nd most run averse team in the CFL (69.9 y/game). So we know they will be throwing (lead the league in pass attempts). Finally getting Leonard back from his prolonged time out should give a needed boost to our pass rush. We have not had both Micah and AC play in the same game since Week 3. Hopefully AC is fired up to make up for missing time. Be strong up front, keep the run game in check and don’t get beat over top. Outside of Kamar Jorden (who is a flat out stud), Calgary’s WRs are underwhelming, decent but not great. Sounding more and more like Jorden won’t dress do to injury which is a big blow to the Stamps. If we don’t allow to big plays and force them to string together drives I see them stalling and making mistakes (Stamps have the most INTs and second most fumbles).   

I keep waiting for the Jamal Morrow breakout game. It’s coming but I doubt its this one. Stamps have the top kick coverage in the CFL and are the only team not to allow a 30+ yard return.

Stamps are 0-5 in games in which they score 20 or less. They are also winless when allowing 23 or more. So based on that we need our D to hold them under 20, which I think is realistic. And we need our O to score 23 (which has happened every time we didn’t play Winnipeg). I’m less confident about that but in their own very ugly way, I can see them getting there.

We need 2 of 3 but winning the first is super important as it sets the tone for the series. Much better to come home off a win with the pressure on them. Then come home off a loss with the pressure on us. I want to see some killer instinct here. The horse is limping and we all know what you do to a horse with a bad leg.

This will be a tough grind, but as they have been doing, I expect the Riders to find a way to come away with a win here.

Riders by a Powell TD.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Supremacy of the Swing Pass

Riders 31 – Lions 24

I won’t lie, part way through the third quarter I had a very different idea of how this morning’s post would go. I had this mounting feeling of “I’ve seen this movie before”. Keep it close for half a game despite doing next to nothing only to slowly have the game slip more and more away as the second half went on. I was prepared to lambaste a defense that could not tackle or keep themselves from taking penalties. I was prepared to go on about the insanity of stubbornly sticking to an offense that was 95% swing passes. I was prepared to bemoan that we were back to not being able to find the endzone even if they placed us on the one yard line and pushed us forward. Then we went ahead a decided to win the game and suddenly a mistake filled, anger inducing game transforms into a gritty road win. God bless football!

Look I applaud the Riders for not giving up and continuing to fight for a very difficult first road win of the year. But if we are being honest with ourselves, we were the beneficiary of BC doing their damndest to give that game away. Camacho missed a FG that would have made it a 2 score game with 5 mins to go. Flintoft pooched a punt that gifted us the ball at half when we needed it most. And Lucky Whitehead lived up to his name by paying out like a lucky slot machine. We took advantage of all those opportunities to our credit but if I’m BC I feel like I stole defeat from the claws of victory with that finish.

There was good and bad on both sides.

Defensively we held Reilly in check pretty good. First time in a while he’s been held under 300 yards and 70% passing (coincidentally first time he’s played a team with a winning record in a while… just sayin’). Having Gainey back was obviously a boost. Micah was disruptive upfront. Woodard is just the latest recipient of being made to look amazing by cleaning up Micah’s dirty work. Lacey continues to be a stabilizing force in the middle of that D. The bad was as previously mentioned some really poor tackling. Another night of big time penalty yards on D (75 this time… though that PI call was pretty ticky tacky). Marshall was clearly hurt bad at the end of the half. He didn’t even move on the TD to Whitehead. He should not have been out there. I was shocked he came back and was useful after half. Whatever “aspirin” the trainers have must be good. They locked it down late when we needed it so credit to the D yet again. And just to remind you this is a D missing Leonard, Marino, Bishop, Dean, Edem and Hendy.

Offense was a lot more bad than good. It started out the same old Maas predictable as all hell short passing game. I don’t think I have ever seen so many swing passes attempted despite the fact they were not working. I was watching the game with a buddy and he kept saying they are clearly setting up to pump the swing and go deep. Then the moment came, they pumped the swing… only the check down to the swing. Thank god Lenius exists because if not for him we would make zero deep attempts. O-line had a bad night. They honestly looked worse against 3 and 4 man pressure than they did against the blitz. Not sure what the panel was smoking when the praised our protection at half time. They showed 2 clips of good blocking that led to long completions… they were our only 2 good plays of the half. They were bad. And that Fajardo INT that should have cost us the game was atrocious. I have a lot of respect for Picton, but if Picton in double coverage is your read when we desperately need a play… then maybe your brain ain’t quite recovered from that concussion.

Fortunately Fajardo is fighter and suddenly late in the game it just clicked and our O magically started producing again. The emergence of Ricardo Louis was a big part of that. Defenses are clearly keying on Moore so having a reliable third option to Lenius and Baker is important (honestly didn’t see myself ever writing that sentence). I’m convinced Fajardo crossed the line  by about a millimeter but he got the job done when it mattered and that’s why we love him.

Ugly wins seems to be the theme of the 2021 season. We ain’t putting up style points. In fact if the Riders were a lover their partner would likely suggest the lights be off… like all off and maybe put a bag on their head. But in the wise words of Lonely Island “Still Counts!” I don’t think this current method of winning is sustainable but for now all that matters is that the wins keep coming… and other than Winnipeg, no one has found a way to beat us yet. Second place with the season series over BC locked up is a great place to be at the half way point. Next up is an all Calgary October. If we go at least 2-1 in that three game set, we are sitting pretty. 

Other random thoughts:

-        I honest to god thought that Louis TD pass was going off the crossbar.

-        You can tell Damon Webb is a practice roster player. A veteran would have secured that fumbled kick and gone down immediately. But as a man who does not frequently see the field, Webb was all about them stats.

-        Did we have the wrong footwear for the BC Place turf? Sure saw a lot of Riders slipping out there.

-    I like good Brett Lauther so much better than what we had the past couple weeks

-        Why is Reilly always cursed with OC’s who have no use for the run game?

Friday, September 24, 2021

Riders vs. Lions: Round 2

It’s kind of amazing the parity between the Riders and Lions heading into their second matchup of the season. They have the same overall record, the same record versus the West, one loss at home, one loss on the road. Can’t say I would have expected that based on how the first game went. Friday’s game is a big one. Not only does the winner take over sole possession of 2nd place. If the Riders win or lose by 3 or less they take the season series.

Normally in the second matchup between 2 teams I would talk about the last match-up and the adjustments needed. But that first game was so weird that there’s honestly not much you can glean from it. The pummeling that was the first half. The second half collapse led by gimpy Reilly throwing some of the ugliest passes I have ever seen. BC is a much improved team since then and injuries and suspensions have changed the make-up of our roster so we are pretty much starting fresh.

Going to start with the BC defense because I don’t think they are getting the attention their play deserves. We all know we hung 3 TDs on them so fast in Game 1 that if you went to get a drink you may have missed them. But since halftime of that game the BC defense has allowed 2 offensive TDs… 2!!! Granted all of those games were against teams with losing record including a one legged Bo Levi and Ottawa twice but that still catches my eye. They #2 in points allowed and takeaways (#1 in INTs). Can’t take them lightly. You can move the ball on them though as they are 8th in yards allowed. Fits well with our offense in that you need to take what they give you and not commit turnovers.

I feel like I could copy and paste this next statement every week but we need a consistent ground game. Powell needs another heavy workload. It takes the pressure off Fajardo and the line and we are pretty good at it (#2 rushing attach in the CFL). I know Schaefer-Baker is not Shaq (at least not yet) but I want to see us use him more in what Shaq used to do… primarily those slants. With his size, if the timing is right its super hard to stop. I want to see more of the variety we saw last week. Get guys like Dupuis and LaFrance the odd touch to change it up. Try and get Moore the ball in space. Lean on Lenius up the seam. BC is 7th in sacks (despite playing the woeful RedBlacks twice) so despite my concern over Boyko re-entering the starting line-up our O-line should be up to the challenge (particualrly with news that Tavai is out with injury). We rediscovered the existence of the endzone last week. Hopefully we can do that on the road for the first time this year.

Defensively it will be a challenge. The past few weeks have reminded us that Reilly is still pretty good when his arm doesn’t have the integrity of a wet noodle. They are #2 in offensive points. Reilly is #1 in completion % and has only thrown 1 pick this season. Though just for a bit of context the defenses he has spent the last 5 weeks carving up represent 4 of the bottom 5 ranked defenses and all 3 of the worst 3. Here’s the thing about BC… they don’t run. 7th in rushing yards, 8th in yards per carry, 8th in attempts. Their answer to concerns around their aging QB with arm injury concerns appear to be go all in on throwing. We have the #1 run D so we should be ok to keep rushing out of the equation. That means hoping a banged up secondary can contain the best QB in the CFL right now. Noodle arm Reilly threw for 200 yards in a half against our fully healthy secondary so there’s legit reason for concern. We need our D-line to step up big time and get pressure and hits on Reilly. In the first match-up BC started Figueroa and Matthews (one of the top tackle pairings in the league). This time around Matthews is out and Figueroa is nursing a sore ankle. Need to take advantage there.

Who had Lucky Whitehead as the top receivers in the CFL through 6 games? Not me. He’s a dangerous deep threat. Honestly if I’m BC I have Whitehead run hook and go’s on Marshall all night long, guaranteed he burns him at least once. Oh and if we happen to keep him from going deep we still need to worry about Burnham. Looks like we get Gainey back which is huge but Purifoy moving to Safety still leaves us with a rookie at HB. My guess is that we want Purifoy at Safety so we have someone we trust to limit the deep shots. Bouka is more naturally a corner than a safety and it shows at times. He’s why limiting the deep shot is important. Reilly is really good at it. For comparison, Reilly completes 55.6% of his passes over 20 yards. Fajardo completes 17.9%.  

Another thing to watch in this is special teams. BC allows the second most punt and kickoff yards and I keep waiting for Morrow to break one. This could be his night and we may need a game changing play like that to get the win. Unfortunately, Yama-sucky is no longer there to save our hides. Jimmy Camacho has been damn near perfect since taking over. Be nice to see Lauther get back to that after a rough few weeks.

Also BC is the second least penalized team whereas we continue striving for the high score. Tough enough to beat a good opponent on the road can’t give them free yards all night.

 BC is going to score in this one. I love the resilience of our D but they are in tough against Reilly/Burnham/Whitehead. That means we need our O to keep pace if we want to win. Last week gave me hope though that was against a defense in a weird transition between coordinators. I’m really torn I think BC is good but look better than they are based on a friendly schedule. They haven’t beaten a team that is currently has a winning record. I have concerns about us but we have found ways to beat any team not named Winnipeg including 2 teams that do currently have a winning record.

Fully healthy I would take us but banged up and on the road that a lot to overcome. I expect a close game. I expect my neighbours to hear me cursing. I sadly don’t expect a Rider win. I just have this feeling that a slight letdown is coming after an important home win.

BC by a Burham TD.

The good news is that I have been doing so poorly in my Pick Em’ pool that me picking BC definitely helps the Riders’ odds.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Show Me Your TDs

Riders 30 – Argos 16

Full disclosure on today’s analysis… I was at an out of town wedding this weekend and wasn’t actually at the game. So my analysis is based on watching the game on my phone on super patchy wifi. I mean, I got the gist of what wen down put I probably missed a few things.

What I did not miss was us scoring 3 TDs. 3! That means that 30% of our offensive TDs this season came in that game. It was much needed and certainly reassured a lot of fears. Almost as shocking as finding the enzone repeatedly was the massive workload for Powell. We fed him over 20 times and he delivered with 5.8 yards per carry. It’s probably not coincidence that when we ran a more balanced offense, we scored more points. Fajardo also used his legs effectively. He is still taking way too many hits for my liking but unfortunately I think we are just going to have to endure that. If you ignore the part of my pre-game write up where I said we wouldn’t run, I was actually spot on (I realize that’s like a doctor saying, other than missing the cancer diagnosis I was pretty spot on with your physical). Dupuis got a pass, LaFrance got a carry. Lots of short accurate stuff. The story of the offense is of course Kian Schaefer-Baker. On a team featuring 4 Canadian receivers drafted in the top 17, this 4th round draft pick is becoming THE Canadian threat in our offense. He has been gaining steam ever since working his way off the practice roster and this was his coming out party. 9 catches and one of the most hard fought TDs you will ever see. The play I like is when we have him run the slant. Shaq was lethal on those and Baker is now using all 6’4 of his frame to bring that play back to our O in Shaq’s absence. Consider that was Baker’s 4th career game. We may only be starting to scratch the surface of what he can do.

Defense did their job for the most part. Considering the number of starters we are missing I continue to be impressed with what they are doing. They forced a number of turnovers. The nicest of those was that huge goal line stand. Honestly I was just impressed we lined up onside. I mean partial blame goes to the Argos for going shotgun on the goal line but props to the D for getting it done there. That was the turning point in the game. Could have easily let them back in the game there but stood strong. We really clamped down on the run and forced Arbuckle to beat us in the air. As a I said pregame, he has flashes but is not nearly consistent enough yet. Keion Adams had probably the most impactful game I’ve seen out of him. Argos put up yards but made too many mistakes and too few endzone trips. Argos also took a play out of our playbook and racked up a ton of penalty yards.

I’m happy we won. It was much needed. But it was an ugly win and it covered up some issues that continue to plague us. 8- yards in penalty is well below our average put still too high. We are comically bad at clock management at the of the half. Lauther is struggling something awful. No way Cody lasts a full season with the wear and tear he’s taking. Marshall is frustrating. Yes he’s good in coverage but he can’t play half because he can’t open field tackle and he continues to take stupid penalties. Gladly take the win but this doesn’t undo all the struggles of the last 2 weeks. We need to keep improving if we want be beat BC next week.