Thursday, September 27, 2007

Riders vs. Alouettes

Well here it is. I've circled this game on my calendar and have been counting down the days. The Montreal Alouettes are in town and that can mean only one thing: French tourists? Diner specials on poutine? No, it means Marcel Bellefeuille (shown above) is in town! If you're a regular reader you're probably waiting for me to start dishing out an endless barrage of Bellefeuille jokes. Well let me stop you right there and set things straight. Although I have cracked many jokes at the expense of Bellefeuille this year it's all been in good fun and I really have nothing against him. I think he's a good guy. I mean Montreal making him their offensive coordinator was the best thing that could have happened for the Riders (if you're scoring at home that's 1 Bellefeuille joke).

This is a big game for both teams as they are both on a losing streak right now. I guess it should come as no surprise that a team coached by Bellefeuille is on a losing streak (that's 2). The Riders played pretty good last week so hopefully they can build on that this week. This game comes down to our defense (which has been suspect of late) vs. the Als offense (which has scored the 2nd fewest TDs in the league so far, again shocking given that it's Bellefeuille calling the plays... that's 3). Montreal will likely get Cavillo back this week but that will be offset by Watkins sitting out. There will be some changes to our defense with Clovis getting benched in favour of Scott Gordon, and there's a chance that Robinson could sit out due to injury.

There are two major reasons I'm confident about our chances this week. One is Montreal's O-line. It sucks. They have given up a league leading 51 sacks this season (15 more than the next worst team). We could line up Rick Hansen at D-line and still get 2-3 sacks. The second reason I'm confident is Montreal's offensive scheme. Our DBs would pretty much have to all be blitzing the QB to get beat deep by Bellefeuille's passing attack (4). If we can plug up the middle (to stop the shotgun draw) and cover Elijah Thurmon that will cover about 95% of Bellefeuille's playbook (that's 5 and I'll think I'll have mercy on Marcel and stop there).

Bottom line we should easily win the game and if we don't we are in trouble. I'm talking like OJ sized trouble.

Joke of the week:
Q: Why does Anthony Cavillo drink from a bowl?
A: Because he lost he last 3 cups

Around the CFL:
Sherko Haji-Rasouli was suspended for 1 game for punching Scott Schultz and ripping his helmet off. While the suspension wasn't much of a surprise, the fact that Rasouli won't appeal was. Sources say he had a pretty good defense lined up - Apparently, during the melee, he noticed that Shultz's nose was out of alignment and as we all know that can lead to blocked airways and suffocation. Caring only for Shultz's safety, Rasouli sprang into action. He quickly removed Shultz's helmet so he could get at the potentially blocked airway and proceeded to manually straighten the nose with his bare hands thus alleviating the threat of suffocation. Finally, Rasouli gently kicked the area near Schultz's ribs to ensure the lungs were taking in air (a technique similar to CPR). So what looked like a fight was nothing more than a concerned football player administering emergency first aid to his peer.

Fines were a big story this week, with the league handing them out with the frequency usually reserved for apologies for referee mistakes. Rob Murphy and Corey Rodgers were fined for their involvement in the brawl on Saturday. Eric Tillman was fined $1000 for making disparaging remarks about BC. And finally, the Calgary Stampeders were fined $10,000 for comments they made about the League following the injury to Burris. Message to Tom Higgins, what a waste. Do you know you could have tampered with 10 QBs for that price?

Finally, just when you thought that Toronto was done signing reject CFL players the Argos go out and sign RB Troy Davis. Davis becomes the 5th RB the Argos have looked at this season. You'd think this would be the last time this year the Argos bring in a rejected veteran but with quality names like Ranek, Warren, Hervey and Greene still out there never say never.

Well that's the way I saw things this week. This is the Rider Prophet saying: See you all down at Mosaic on Saturday and don't forget to bring a food donation for Tackle Hunger Day. Remember that thousands of people use the food banks every day, maybe even someone you know. Heck, if the Alouette's don't start winning, Marcel Bellefeuille might have to start relying on them too (6, sorry I just couldn't resist).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Celebrity Endorsement

*The views expressed in this speech bubble do not necessarily reflect those of Doug Flutie

Monday, September 24, 2007

So Close

I would like to start today by compiling a list of people who deserve full credit for their effort on Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium:
1) The fans
2) Luca Congi

The fans were outstanding on Saturday night, particularly in the 4th quarter. Wally Buono commented before the game that if a team is prepared, fan noise doesn't make any difference at all. I wonder if he still felt the same way after his offensive line took back-to-back procedure calls on a key 4th quarter drive simply because they couldn't hear Jarious Jackson's cadence. Clearly the 13th man did everything they could to help the defense shut the Lions down in the dying minutes, and they should be commended for it.

As for Congi, the Rider kicker contributed a field goal and was good on all of his converts. While these may seem like basic plays, Luca deserves credit for making good on the basic play every time he was asked to. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about many of his teammates. In particular, I'm looking in Tristan Clovis' direction... which I guess gives me something in common with every offensive coordinator in this league that needs a big play at an opportune time.

When we got the Lions in 3rd and 10 with well under a minute left to play, I just knew the Riders had the game locked up. When Jackson dropped back and let the ball fly in the direction of Geroy Simon, I took one look at the trajectory of the ball and the position of our safety, and I was even more confident than I had been a moment earlier. Then I watched in dumbfounded amazement with 27,799 of my fellow victims as Clovis suddenly forgot everything he's ever known about football and the ball floated untouched into the waiting hands of one of the most dangerous receivers the league has seen in years. Seriously, Clovis, what were you doing back there? Stephen Hawking could have made a better adjustment to that ball!

Now, I'll be the first to admit I was shocked to see Jackson throw to Simon in desperation time since watching recent Lions games led me to believe that Jarious and Geroy had yet to be introduced to each other, but I mean come on! How does a team let #81 get that far behind them when the game is all but over? How does a team let ANYONE get that far behind them when the game is all but over? Some say we're missing the veteran leadership of Eddie Davis, but does it really take a wily veteran such as ED to say "Okay, we're up by 4 and they've got one play left. Don't let anything get behind you!"

Now, while I obviously place a great deal of the blame for this one on Clovis, he's unfortunately not the only one wearing the horns after that one. I have to give credit to the play of our special teams on Saturday night, as they absolutely lived up to their name - the long kickoff return and the blocked punt left no doubt in my mind that Alex Smith's troops were in fact "special". My only real question was how they got that many guys to Taylor Field on the short bus.

Now, here's where I'm going to disagree with an opinion that I have heard from many Rider "fans". Kerry Joseph. Yes, Joseph fumbled right before halftime in what could have been (but fortunately wasn't) a devastating break. Yes, Joseph overthrew a wide open Andy Fantuz late in the game in what would have been at the very least a drive-extending play that continued to eat away at the clock. Yes, Joseph had little success moving the ball late in the game, which gave the Lions repeated chances to chip away at our lead.

NO, Kerry Joseph was not the reason we lost that game! Seriously, anyone calling for Marcus Crandell to start next week on the basis that Joseph lost this game for us should seriously consider having their heads examined. 34 points should be enough to win any game against any team in the CFL on any day of the week. Period. Blaming Kerry Joseph for this loss is comparable to blaming Al Gore for Global Warming. No wait... Rider fans would never blame Al Gore for Global Warming, since that was probably Kerry's fault too.

Originally I was going to say "Blaming Kerry Joseph for this loss makes about as much sense as watching a fight between Scott Schultz, John Chick, Rob Murphy and Sherko Haji-Rasouli and then ejecting Cory Rodgers", but I don't want to go so far as to suggest any of my loyal readers have the intelligence of a CFL official. But while we're on the topic, what the hell was that? On one side you've got Murphy with a choke hold on Chick, on the other you've got Haji-Rasouli ripping off Scott Schultz' helmet and throwing it across the field, and neither of them are ejected from the game. I have to think though that the league will step in and suspend Sherko for his actions - which, if precedent has taught me anything, will give them roughly three weeks to locate a BC Lions season ticket holder who also happens to moonlight as a judge.

Elsewhere in the CFL...

Not only did the Calgary Stampeders manage to lose to the football powerhouse that is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but they also came out of the game with one less quarterback than they went in with. Old Smilin' Hank sure didn't seem to be smiling once that shoulder popped out. If you re-watch the game film, you can actually see the exact moment where Calgary's season ends. For those of you that don't have the keen eye of the Rider Prophet, I can tell you that it's roughly halfway between Henry sprawling out in a vain attempt to reach the endzone and Akili Smith trotting onto the field. Then you have Tom Higgins, who clearly demonstrated his subscription to the Adam Rita method of building a quarterback's confidence when he responded to the question "is Akili Smith ready to start?" with "No, but he's going to have to."

Many people have asked me today, "how did Toronto so easily handle the Winnipeg Blue Bombers yesterday?" The answer is quite simple: Kevin Glenn is playing hurt. For some, that may bring up the follow-up question "why is Kevin Glenn playing hurt?" The answer to that is simple too: the Bombers backup is a Dinwiddie, and I can't say much better for Brendan Taman, who I assume is responsible for handling that type of thing.

Montreal lost to Edmonton for the 2nd time in two weeks. I don't know what to do with that team anymore - first I thought Bellefuille was the problem, then I thought I'd come to the conclusion that it was Calvillo and Cahoon holding the Als back. But fortunately, I have a solution. I am, after all, a Rider fan. So I'll just blame Kerry.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Riders vs. Lions: Grudge Match

Rider Prophet here getting ready for the third and final regular season meeting between the Riders and the Lions.

The Riders are coming off two lackluster performances which is cause for some concern given that the Lions are the top team in the league right now. However, the silver lining is that this game will be played in front of 28,800 Rider fans. We are tough be beat at home, having lost only 1 game in Regina this year. Of course that loss just happened to be to the BC Lions but the fact remains that playing at Mosaic Stadium is a big advantage for us.

When you think about it, we match up well against the Lions. We are good at stopping the run and bad at defending the pass. They have a good run game and bad QB. Some might say I'm under-valuing Jarious Jackson but let me just point something out... How many TDs has he thrown in the last 3 games? The answer is 1. So forgive me for not shaking in my boots at the though of having to face the mighty BC passing attack. If I were Richie Hall I would put 2 guys on Paris Jackson (the only WR Jarious throws to), 9 on Joe Smith and line Jamie Boreham up on the 5 yard line as an insurance policy (he doesn't have to cover, just punish anyone who manages to get past everyone else).

I would like to set one thing straight. People keep talking about how important it is that we get the win so we have the tie-breaker over BC. Although it is important for us to win to stay in contention in the west, the tie-breaker with BC is about as useful as Danny Mac's colour commentary since the only way that the tie-breaker will even come into play is if we tie one of our remaining games. That's right, we need to tie to tie BC. So let's give up this tie-breaker talk and just focus on winning for the sake of winning.

All the controversy surrounding Bill Belichick in the NFL has got me thinking. Belichick in an extremely successful coach and he cheated. Don Matthew's did the same thing and he's the CFL's winningest coach. This leads me to wonder if our good buddy Wally Buono is also prone to cheating. However, if Wally does decide to steal our defensive calls, the joke's on him. Imagine his surprise when his spy informs him that our next defensive play is as follows: "OK Wally, the call is: fail to contain the QB, play 5 yards off every receiver and then miss the tackle on the ball carrier letting him stroll easily in for a TD."

In other news, Adam Rita made some controversial comments about Damon Allen this week on a local radio show. Rita said that Damon has something to contribute, just not on the field and that the Argos have been stunted by having Damon at QB for so long. When questioned about these comments Rita coyly said he didn't remember making those comments and it doesn't sound like something he'd say. Note to Adam Rita: That excuse doesn't work too well when the comments in questions where said on public radio. Note to Damon Allen: Despite leading the team to the east final every year since you joined it, winning a Grey Cup and being named league MVP, you are apparently stunting the Argos as an organization. In the future, please try a little harder.

In Hamilton, Casey Printers will get his second start tonight since signing with the Ti-Cats. Last week's performance was nothing short of embarrassing (a true sign that Printers is fitting in quite well in Hamilton). But to be fair, Printers was playing on 3 days practice and without his starting RB and top WR so hopefully the game against Calgary will go a bit better. Regardless of how the Printers-lead Ti-cats finish the season, I think there's an important lesson that all prospective coaches/GMs should learn from the situation. That lesson is: Contrary to popular belief, signing a big name QB will not improve your receivers' catching abilities, make your O-line block better or improve your defense's ability to stop your opponent's offensive attack. Write that down.

That's it for now. Hope to see you all down at the game tomorrow. This is the Rider Prophet signing off.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Special Report: Rider Road Games

Last week I said that my field reporter Dom would be filing a report from Calgary. Turns out this guy is harder to track down than good press on OJ. But unlike good press on OJ I did actually manage to find Dom. So with out further adieu, here's the debut report from Dominic Dufour, The Man in the Bush...

Hello, this is Dominic coming to you from the road, where thousands of Rider fans felt as disgusted as me and went home disappointed after the second ugly loss in a week. I hit the road in support of the green and white for the games in both Winnipeg and Calgary, and after both I was left shaking my head wondering why exactly this team has forgotten how to cover the pass. Since most of you reading this were either at the game or watched it on tv, it’s pointless for me to comment on the team's struggles, plus I can leave that to the Rider Prophet. So instead, here are some thoughts from the road in what was a tough week being a Rider fan.

Memo to the fans in Winnipeg: where do you get off calling us from Saskatchewan rednecks, have you never been to Brandon? Now for the Banjo Bowl, the plan in Winnipeg was to create the same atmosphere as Labour Day in Regina, which failed miserably. If you're going to yell random gibberish, at least make it intelligent and have it make sense. "Riders Suck", yes at the time we were #1 in the league, and yet I was listening to many drunken fools yelling this as me and my party were leaving CanadInn’s stadium. I did not respond in kind since I did not want to stoop to the level of a Bomber fan, not to mention the fact that I was badly outnumbered. Now some Winnipeg fans tried to start fist fights with Rider fans who had made the trip, which came to me as no surprise because even though us Rider fans were outnumbered in bodies, in a battle of wits they stood no chance. So I left Winnipeg, and on the drive back home to Regina I tried finding some positives out of it all. Two thoughts came to mind. The first was how thankful I am I don’t live in Winnipeg. The second was the fact that I was going to Calgary on the weekend and certainly the Riders would be more motivated in front of what was basically a home crowd in cow town.

First off, a kudos is well deserved for all my fellow Rider fans that were at the airport Saturday morning at 5 a.m. The Riders truly do have the best fans in the league. The Riders vs. Calgary pre-game tailgate party in Calgary may be the most fun atmosphere before a game other than the Labour Day Classic in Regina, with the only real problem being that it eats up about 1/3 of the available parking around the stadium. Now, for those that haven’t been to McMahon, it’s a horseshoe and you can access your seat from any entrance, and might I add, one beautiful stadium. Especially when the Riders are playing, mostly because there’s more green than red. So with me and thousands of others looking on from one loud pro-rider section, the team once again played terribly. The Riders defense showed in body, but not in spirit, and for some reason which I’m not quite sure, forgot hot to tackle. The offence, well…yeah. So for the second week in a row, I had to listen to serenade of "hey, hey, hey, goodbye", and more chants of "Riders suck", and certain profanities I choose not to mention. Once again finding the silver lining in it all, I walk out of McMahon dignified, not answering any of the comments, and thinking to myself… 'oh, I’m sorry, you'll have to speak up - I can’t hear you all the way down in third place.'

Dominic Dufour - "Man In The Bush"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another Loss For the Riders

I would like to start off today's blog with a quote that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the Riders. In the words of Rob Schneider in Waterboy "Aww, we suck again!" Just when I thought this version of the Riders was different from the Riders of old, we have now slipped back into a team that has a tendency for choking just when things look to be going great.

I think the DAWGS should change their name to DIE (Defense Is Embarrassing). I can't even talk about problems with coverage and containment since those concepts are far too advanced for the level of play our D is showing. We can't even grasp the most basic defensive concept of all... tackling. Sources say that Richie Hall is considering moving practice this week from Mosaic Stadium to LeBoldus High School so the players can be exposed to players and drills that are more at their level.

James Johnson should be benched for a couple games, plain and simple. In a regime that stresses accountability you can't let this guy slide under the radar. Did you notice how Burris threw to his side on almost every play? Glenn did the same thing on Labour Day. Now I'm not an expert when it comes to quarterbacking but I doubt that QBs routinely pick on a talented DB. While I can forgive allowing talented receivers to make catches, I cannot forgive not being able to at least tackle the guy after he makes the catch. Johnson showed tackling abilities on Saturday afternoon that rival those of Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen.

While it's hard to fault the offense for a loss when the defense gives up over 500 yards, I do think our QB situations needs to be addressed. While I commend Kerry Joseph on his leadership and heart in the first half of the season, I think it may be time for a change. Joseph is an average passer at best but his ability to use his legs to make plays makes him very dangerous. The problem is if you don't use his legs all you are left with is a mediocre pocket passer. In the last 2 games combined, one of the CFL's most mobile QBs managed 2 rushes for 20 yards (compared to the last 9 games where he averaged 48 yds per game). He also rarely rolls out of the pocket anymore. I've been saying for 2 weeks that I think Joseph is hurt and now I'm more convinced than ever. But whether he's injured or not, unless you are going to roll him out and run him, put in Crandell as he's a vastly superior pocket passer. I would also bring in Keanu Reeves as a back-up plan. If movies have taught me nothing else it’s that Keanu can lead a professional football team to victory. We would also need a deaf tight end, a sumo wrestling O-lineman, a wiry kicker and of course Clifford Franklin because Clifford Franklin has moves even Clifford Franklin never seen before. We could also look at taking the Sentinels’ approach of having a former player released from jail, but I guess we already have enough options at middle linebacker (too soon?)

I will admit that the reffing was slightly better this week than it was for the Banjo Bowl but that's not saying much. Yet again the refs botched a few calls. Most notably the first Rider punt (where the ball was clearly fumbled and recovered by the Riders) and the Rambo TD (where he was clearly out of bounds). Now one could argue that Austin should have challenged those plays and rightly so. However, what would have been even better is if the refs had got the calls right to begin with. Novel concept hey? On the Rambo TD the ref was within a foot of the play and didn't think to look at Rambo's feet to see if he was inbounds. Just because Austin didn't challenge the plays does not excuse the refs from making a bad call. When I screw up at work I can't just absolve myself of wrongdoing by telling my boss "Well it's your fault for not pointing it out earlier."

Well that's it for now. This is the Rider Prophet saying help control the pet population have your pets spayed or neutered (hey with Bob Barker gone, someone had to step up to the plate).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rider vs. Stampeders II

Happy Hump Day Rider fans. Rider Prophet here getting set for a big game in Calgary against the 5-4-1 Stampeders.

Coming off a game where we were beat in every phase of the game, the Riders are looking to rebound in a big way. At first glance, this game should be cause for concern. We are on the road, playing an above 500 team on a 2 game winning streak. But then you look a little closer and realize that (a) you can hardly qualify this as a road game since at least half of McMahon Stadium will be filled with Rider fans and (b) Calgary's 5 wins have all come against the 3 worst teams in the league (Hamilton, Toronto and Edmonton x3). Now I'm not saying Calgary will be a push-over, I'm just saying things aren't as bad as some people are making it out to be.

The Stampeders have two very different sides to them. Offensively they are very dangerous. They have the 2nd most potent offensive attack in the CFL featuring such weapons as Reynolds, Copeland, Lewis and some QB I've never really heard of (Borris is it? Sounds Russian). Defense is a completely different story. No one in the CFL has allowed more points than the Stamps. Higgins is apparently a big fan of the Phoenix Suns philosophy: don't bother playing defense and just hope to score more than you're opponents. There are more holes in the Stamps D than there are on the highway between Regina and Calgary.

Unfortunately the Riders will have to beat the Stamps without star receiver Matt Dominguez. It was revealed yesterday that he suffered a sprained MCL last game and will be out a minimum of 4-6 weeks. While you can never replace a guy like Dominguez, it's not the end of the world since we still have good receivers like Flick and Fantuz. Plus Yo Murphy is ready to play so at least we have a solid veteran to step in at receiver. Tillman also brought a couple NFL cuts in for a look at receiver, although one on them was injured during his first practice. I guess when Austin told him they needed him to play like Dominguez he took it a bit too literally.

Overall the Riders seem to respond well to adversity so I see the Riders pulling off a close win on Saturday.

Here's a little Stamps joke to get you ready for the game:
Q: Why does the Calgary Stampeders' website suck?
A: Because they can't put three Ws together.

Elsewhere in the CFL...

Much to the dismay of many people in Riderville, Regina product Jason Clermont signed a contract extension with the BC Lions, putting to rest the speculation that Clermont was Saskatchewan bound at the end of the season. Apparently it was a lucrative contract that Clermont couldn't refuse and included a travel allowance. So basically that means that in the last six months, Buono has managed to retain the services of Buck Pierce, Rob Murphy and now Jason Clermont by making them "offers they couldn't refuse." And all this time I thought it was Matthews that was known as "The Don".

Toronto is in the process of dumping all their QBs. They cut Eric Crouch last week and then followed up by trading Mike McMahon to the Alouettes. In terms of healthy quarterbacks that leaves only Bishop and Butler. When asked for comment about who the Argos would use as their 3rd stringer for the remainder of the season, a spokesperson replied that it doesn't really matter who suits up as their 3rd QB. I couldn't agree more. I mean what are the odds of a 3rd string QB in Toronto getting called into action?

Trevor Gaylor was fined this week for making disparaging comments about the refs. I can't believe I'm about to defend an Eskimo (but then again given the team's inability to defend players on other teams, I doubt they would be able to defend one on their own team either) but here goes... I personally don't think that Gaylor's comments were any worse than what other players like DJ Flick said so I'm not sure why Gaylor was singled out. (On a side note, now that I just stood up for an Eskimo, I feel so dirty that I need to go take a shower).

That's it for now. This is the Rider Prophet saying... If you are one of the thousands making the annual pilgrimage to Calgary, drive safe and try not to catch anything. Our own Field Reporter Dom Dufour, the self proclaimed "Man in the Bush", will be at the game so check back later for his report.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Riders Lose Banjo Bowl

Well it was bound to happen and yesterday it did. The Bombers defeated the Riders 34-15 in the 4th annual Banjo Bowl. There's really not that much positive that can be said about Sunday's performance.

Our defense was about as effective as a condom with speed holes. They didn't manage to force Winnipeg into a punting situation until the 3rd quarter. Kevin Glenn and his receivers had their way with our D all day. To the secondary's credit, they did make the necessary adjustments to prevent Armstrong from getting another 200 yds. Problem was those adjustments apparently involved ignoring every other Bomber on the field. Our coverage and tackling were so bad that Fred Perry had to rush the QB and then turn around and run 12 yards down field to tackle the receiver who caught the ball. Pretty cool to see but if I had my druthers our LBs and DBs would be handling that so Mr. Perry could focus on getting sacks.

You could hear a gasp across the whole province when Matt Dominguez went down clutching his knee late in the game. "Not Dominguez! Why not Grant or Washington or even Fantuz? Anyone but Dominguez!" Now, like a college student at an STD clinic we are left waiting for news that we're pretty sure isn't going to be good but we're still praying for a miracle. After the game, Dominguez said he didn't think it was too bad. Problem with that is he said the same thing in '05 when he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. I'm guessing he misses 1-4 games so here's hoping Yo Murphy is ready to go.

How did it come to this? At the start of the year we had so many receivers we didn't know what to do with them, now we are struggling to fill spots. Oh well, at least next week we get Calgary's defense, so I would feel confident starting Chris Best at wide-out.

Reffing was once again a hot topic. The game featured a number of questionable calls. Now I know the refs have a hard job and the Riders have been on both ends of bad calls this season, so I don't want to start ragging on the refs. However, there is one call from yesterday's game that I just can't ignore. In the 4th quarter we attempted an onside kick which Stegall and Kornegay both went up for and it appeared that Kornegay successfully knocked the ball out of bounds, thus making it Rider ball. In step the refs with this gem of a call... Apparently both players touched the ball at the same time (okay I'll give them that one). Now instead of making the logical call that a tie goes to the offense, the ref ruled that since both players touched the ball at the same time it cancels out and the ball is deemed to have been kicked out of bounds. What?! You can't just pretend that no one touched the ball. What's next? Are they going to rule that when a DB and WR both catch the ball at the same time it's as if it never happened and it's an incomplete pass?

I went out for supper last night after the game, still sporting my Rider jersey, and a guy driving by in his car hurled insults at me and 2 others questioned my sanity for wearing the jersey. I, being the courteous person that I am, promptly apologized for wearing the colours of the best team in the CFL... Did I miss something? I mean yeah the loss wasn't pretty but it's not the end of the world. We are still in 1st place. If I can take one positive away from the loss it's that there is a lot more leg room on the Rider bandwagon now that a bunch of people have jumped off.

I have a new fundraising idea for the Riders (patent pending). They should charge a $5 cover charge for getting on the Rider bandwagon. The cover charge however would not include re-admission. Just think of the money you could make off of the part time fans that get on and off the bandwagon on a weekly basis.

I would like to formally apologize to Marcel Bellefeuille. Over the course of the season I have made many jokes about his abilities as on offensive coordinator. However, after watching last night's games against BC it became obvious that it was not Bellefeuille that was holding back the Alouettes, but rather Calvillo and Cahoon. With those 2 out of the lineup the Als turned in one of their best performances of the year and upset the visiting Lions. Clearly Brady to Thurmon and Davis is way more effective that Calvillo to Cahoon. So again, sorry Marcel, I guess from now on I will have to makes jokes about AC and Cahoon instead. "So a Mexican and a Mormon walk into the doctor's office..."

Speaking of the BC game I find it funny that in a receiving corps featuring reigning league MVP Geroy Simon and "Mr. Reliable" Jason Clermont, that Paris Jackson is the go-to guy while the other 2 are virtually ignored. But I guess when you are a 3rd string QB thrown into a starting spot you look for any little bit of continuity you can find. And some guy with the same last name is about as good as Jarious could find.

Poor Ricky Ray. He yet again passed for over 350 yards and threw no interceptions in a losing effort. I don't know how much more he can do. He's 2nd in the league in both Passing and TDs thrown but the Eskimos are on pace to miss the playoffs again. I think Brian Hall said it best when he said "People who think Ricky Ray is the problem know nothing about football. Not just very little but nothing." Then again Hall followed up by saying "Danny Maciocia is not the problem either" so maybe I should find a better sportscaster to quote.

Well that's the way I saw things this weekend. This is the Rider Prophet signing off...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Banjo Bowl: Riders vs. Bombers Round 2

The hotels have cleared out, the rusty '73 Chev Impalas full of dejected bomber fans have returned to Manitoba (coincidentally the city of Regina seems to finally not stink anymore), and most Rider fans are finally recovering from the inevitable Labour Day hangover. The excitement and celebration of the last long weekend of summer is now behind us but fear not - it all starts again in only 3 days.

The Rider/Bomber rivalry now shifts to Winnipeg where the CFL's division leaders will do battle once again, this time in the infamous Banjo Bowl. By the way I'm glad Troy Westwood chose the Banjo when he insulted Saskatchewan a couple years back. Can you imagine getting hyped up for the Wash-Tub Bass Bowl or the Didgeridoo Bowl?

The game should be another great contest. The Bombers will be looking to avenge a loss and will have the hometown crowd to give them a boost. The Riders managed to win last week despite a mediocre performance on pass defense. I fully expect Austin and Hall to make adjustments and tighten up our D. The return of DE Terrell Jurineack should also give a boost to our defense. On the flip side, Winnipeg's defense should get a boost from the re-acquisition of veterans Juran Bolden and Ike Charlton. Personally I was hoping that Juran would retire from football and pursue a modeling career... then he could be Bolden the Beautiful.

Although I may not be the biggest fan of Winnipeg or the province of Manitoba in general, I do have to admit that, more than any province in Canada, they do have an ability to pick team names that capture the true essence of the province. Take for example the now defunct Winnipeg Jets. Now jets are known for taking in and expelling large amounts of air. How appropriate since Winnipeg is known for sucking and blowing simultaneously. Or take the Blue Bombers - aptly named since Winnipeg sports teams have a long history of bombing. Finally, there's the Manitoba Bison, the most aptly named of them all since most Manitobans are big headed hunchbacks with more body hair than the average grizzly bear.

Seriously though, I would actually like to take a minute to thank the Bomber fans who made the trip the Regina for the weekend. Not only did you boost our economy and make for some good partying... after a weekend of having to look at a bunch of Manitobans, decent looking guys like me will now seem like Brad Pitt by comparison to the women around town.

For the second time this year, Kerry Joseph was named Offensive Player of the Week. In addition to his last second rush for the winning TD, Joseph also threw for close to 350 yards. He made the Bomber DBs look pretty bad all game. Former Rider Davin Bush was repeatedly picked on by Joseph. But you know what they say "A ball in Joseph's hand is worth 6 against Bush"

Looks like Casey Printers will make his return to the CFL as a Tiger Cat. For Hamilton this is obviously a good move since they are in dire need of a QB that doesn't suck. I'm not quite sure why Printers would want to play for a team that is in last place and seems to be getting worse by the week. He must have his reasons though... about 500,000 reasons.

While we have to wait and see if Printers can replicate his 2004 MVP performance, I still question the logic of making a guy who hasn't played CFL football (or even started at QB) for 2 years, the highest paid player in the CFL. Then again given the logic Hamilton has shown over the past couple years the move seems to fit perfectly with their business plan.

Finally, the Rider Prophet would like to congratulate Kenton Keith on being named the #2 RB for the Indianapolis Colts. This just goes to show you that, if given the opportunity, Keith will always prove that he's better than Dorsey. All the best in your first NFL season KK.

Well that's it for now. Enjoy what should be another great game against our arch rivals to the East.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Riders Win Again

Rider Prophet here, fresh of a game that was certainly worthy of being called the Labour Day Classic.

The Riders extended their winning to five games with an exciting 31-26 win over the visiting Bombers. A 27 yard run by Kerry Joseph in the dying seconds of the game proved to be the difference. Even after that TD, the Bombers still made the last three seconds interesting with the rugby... there's a lot of dangerous weapons on the field for the Bombers on any given play, and I know I was on the edge of my seat as I watched the ball go from Glenn to Armstrong to Stegall to Roberts to the most dangerous of them all, Matt Sheridan. When you absolutely have to score on that play, it must be a scary moment when you realize that your options have come down to single-handedly taking on a wall of Rider defenders and pitching the ball to Matt Sheridan.

By the way, when you're scrambling to make a play and hoping that you can spring anyone for a score, why is an offensive lineman the last man back? Is there nowhere else on the field that he would be more useful at that moment?

Mike Washington had a breakout game for the Riders. After an impressive 51 yard catch he capped off the scoring drive with a wide open catch in the end-zone. Not too bad for a guy who was recruited from das German Beer League. Given the Riders’ success recruiting talent from obscure places expect other teams to follow suit. So if you see a short little man on the sidelines at your next pick-up game going through a series of strange facial contortions as he watches your buddy run an interception back for a touchdown, don't be concerned - it's just Danny Maciocia attempting to find a way to salvage his team's season.

This victory should come as no surprise as the Riders have historically dominated the annual showdown. In fact, to make the game more interesting we felt the need to give the Bombers a couple of our players just to even things out. Glenn and Armstrong at least made the game worth watching.

Here's an interesting stat: the Riders have now given up a grand total of 1 point in the last four 4th quarters. Which means that opponents having been scoring about as often as the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Elsewhere in the CFL...

After watching the Montreal/BC game a part of me wondered if Marcel Bellefeuille wasn't calling the offensive plays for BC as they rushed for 275 yards on 36 tries while passing for only 145 on 19 attempts. I also wonder who was calling the defensive plays for Montreal. It was obvious that Jarious Jackson was not a huge passing threat so the ball was constantly placed in the hands of Joe Smith. Now rather than having 7 guys cover Smith to shut him down, the Als decided they better be wary of the passing attack and leave gapping holes in the middle. The results speak for themselves.

Toronto continues to feed on the discarded remains of other teams, adding Stampeder cast off Marc Boerigter this week. They are now only a QB and a couple more receivers away from an all cast-off offense (maybe the rumours that the Argos are interested in Casey Printers aren't just rumours).

Well that's it for now. Enjoy the win Rider fans and get ready to do it all over again in the Banjo Bowl.

Rider Prophet