Thursday, December 18, 2008
Richie Hall has at long last realized his dream of becoming a head coach. You’d think being passed up 7 times in 4 years would discourage a guy, but not Richie. Like many, this is a day of mixed emotion for me. Obviously as a Rider fan, this is not great news. We are losing one of the top defensive coordinators in the league - to a division rival no less. And you can’t help but be somewhat hurt at Richie choosing Danny Maciocia over the Riders. In football, as in life, it hurts when you are dumped in favour of a portly midget with the IQ of a can of lima beans. But you can’t help but be happy for Richie. He’s been among the top coordinators in the league for many years and on top of that is one of the classiest guys in the league. If anybody deserves a head coaching spot it was him. Richie is engrained in Rider history like few others. So congratulations Richie, you will be missed.
Of course now that you are a member of a rival organization I hope all the bad things in life happen to you and no one else but you.
Hall inherits an Eskimo team that has fallen from greatness and has wallowed in the West basement for 3 years. I think he will have a very positive impact on the franchise. They will be able to draw on his defensive wisdom to improve their questionable defense. And hell, as long as Richie is smart enough to run the ball more than 3 times in a game he’ll be a monumental improvement over his predecessor.
Hall’s departure of course leaves many questions surrounding the Rider defense. Will our defense, which has carried this team for years, experience a drop-off without the mastermind that built it? Who will be chosen as Hall’s replacement? Will Richie be able to convince our defensive free-agents to follow him to Edmonton? Is there any chance Hall will push Maciocia to trade for former Grey Cup MVP James Johnson? My fingers are crossed on that last one (and for those of you keeping track at home, yes James Johnson is back on the hatred list).
Speculation is running rampant that many of our players will follow Hall to Edmonton. Names like Lloyd, Lucas, and McKenzie have been tossed around. Also it appears the Esks are very interested in Scott Gordon… Gordon? Seriously? Have at er’ Richie. He must feel strongly that the Esks need more safety blitzes and clearly Gordon is among the best in the league… well perhaps “most experienced” is more appropriate than “best”. I could see 1 or 2 guys following Richie, but the mass exodus some are predicting is just absurd. The same predictions were made when Shivers and Barrett left and never really materialized.
You know, the one good thing about all this is that if Omarr Morgan somehow manages to make the team again next year, at least Edmonton won't try to test him. Richie will make sure it's clear that they must stay away from there. "Listen Ricky, I don't know what you thought you saw for the last 4 years, but I'm telling you that running a crossing pattern against Morgan just isn't going to work! He's too good!"
By the sounds of it Tillman planned ahead and already has replacements for Hall and Mike Gibson in mind but any announcement will have to wait until Ken Miller gets back from vacation.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: Andrew Harris (free agent signing)
Out: Tyrone Williams (officially released)
Andrew Harris is being likened to Stu Foord… a standout RB in junior who the Lions are snatching up rather than risking him going into the draft. Interestingly enough, one of Harris’ former teammates on the National Champion Vancouver Island Raiders recently joined my touch football team. Considering the available alternatives of hanging out with the Rider Prophet and hanging out with Wally Buono, I have a feeling Mr. Harris will soon come to realize that he made the wrong choice.
In: Davis Sanchez, Ben Cahoon and Scott Flory (re-signed)
Long-term planning is evidently not Jim Popp’s strong point. Currently his “long range plan” is to build a team around a core of aging veterans the majority of whom he just signed to 1 year extensions. Sure, the Als will be a decent team next year… but what happens in 2010 when old age security kicks in and every good player on the team retires?
In: Khari Jones (hired as QB Coach)
With Jones joining the Ti-cats, Casey Printers is now the 5th best QB on Hamilton’s roster.
In: Claude Harriot (signed contract extension)
The Argos describe Harriot as their best defensive player down the stretch last season. As recently as 2 years ago, that would have qualified as a huge compliment. This year, however, all that means is Harriot managed a slightly less embarrassing performance than his teammates.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Ever since Jason Clermont was released on Dec 4, teams across the league (except Hamilton) were clamouring to sign what is easily the biggest name on this year’s free-agent market. With offers from 2 teams and phone calls from 3 others, Clermont had many good options in front of him (well he had a couple good options and then Toronto and Winnipeg).
So while Rider Nation held their breath to see if the long awaited homecoming would indeed materialize, one man decided to actually do something about it… that man was me. While Clermont was mulling over the latest offer from the Riders, I stepped up to the plate and made an offer no true Regina boy could refuse… a free case of beer. I made the offer Thursday afternoon and the deal was official by the end of the day… the beer no doubt being the thing that cinched Clermont’s decision (signing a 2 year plus an option contract).
No need to thank me. Just doing my part to help out. Well actually you should be thanking me and this being the Christmas season and all, I would graciously accept tokens of your appreciation. Such as a case of beer.
Now all the intangibles that come along with Clermont like being a Regina native, a former Ram and an all-round good guy are nice, but the most important part of this signing is that in Clermont we get an elite level player who will have a big impact on our offense next season. When you look at the prospect of Fantuz and Clermont lining up together, it’s hard to believe that just a few short years ago, we were forced to rely on Jason French, Dylan Ching and Patrick Thibeault as our Canadian receivers (man those were some rough years).
Some people didn’t feel this signing was necessary or even a good idea so let’s address those misguided fools (who are hopefully in the minority) with another edition of Everyone Is Stupid But Me (aka Addressing Uninformed Opinions)
Uninformed Opinion #1: We have no need for Clermont given our current depth at Canadian receiver.
False: While we do have a number of very promising prospects, I would contend that none of them are as good as a former Rookie of the Year, 2 time Most Outstanding Canadian, and 2 time league all-star. I’m not sure what led people to think we have better options than Clermont on our roster. Was it Chris Getzlaf’s many awards and 1000 yard seasons? Adam Nicolson’s track record of not getting cut in favour of Clermont? David McCoy’s wealth of game time experience? … oh wait.
Uninformed Opinion #2: Clermont’s best days are behind him.
False. Clermont is only 30 so he’s got a few good years left in him. And if you use the logic that his injury-filled ’08 season is a sign of a declining career then I can assume that you feel Wes Cates, John Chick and Andy Fantuz are also pretty much done.
Uninformed Opinion #3: We needlessly spent big money on Clermont when we should have been using that money to sign our linebackers.
First off, while Clermont received a decent contract it can hardly be considered “big money”. Second, the Clermont signing has no affect on our negotiations with our linebackers. The money for this signing will likely come from letting DJ Flick leave via free-agency. I will miss Flick as he is a character guy and a talented receiver but when you have the chance to sign an elite Canadian who plays the same spot, the decision is easier than making the playoffs in the NFC West.
In other news, that Omarr Morgan rumour I told you about last week, turned out to be false. Seems the Washington Huskies have filled their DB coach spot. You see this is how the offseason goes for me. Thursday I posted an update on Clermont and the Morgan rumour. By that night, the Morgan rumour had been debunked and Clermont had signed (rendering most of my post irrelevant and outdated - hard to believe, I know). Same thing happened last year when I guaranteed we would not draft Teale Orban… within hours he was a Rider. No matter what I post, something will come up right after I post it that screws everything up. Honestly if you want to guarantee we get a brand new stadium in Regina, all it would take is for me to post that there’s no chance in hell it will happen and within hours Brad Wall and Pat Fiacco would be at the ground breaking ceremony.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: Paul McCallum (re-signed)
Looks like this time Chinigan is packing up the whole family and moving them to Vancouver, possibly out of his overwhelming shame of being associated with Regina. It could also be that he can no longer afford to maintain two households during the season, largely due to the fact that he had to take a pay cut on this contract since the Lions removed "Jason Clermont's Spokesman" from his title.
In: WR Chris Dunlap, FB Mike Giffin, WR S.J. Green, CB Cortney Grixby, LB KaMichael Hall, DE Rodney Hardeway, WR Andrew Hawkins, RB Chris Jennings, T Ryan Karhut, QB Chris Leak, QB Ricky Santos, DB Chris Smith, RB Brandon Whitaker (signed contracts for 2009)
If you’re asking yourself “what’s notable about these signings?”, the answer is nothing (unless you believe that Ricky Santos is the heir to the Calvillo throne). It's just that other than the Clermont story, there’s been very little CFL news this week and by including this fairly long list of signings it makes it look like this post has more content that it actually does… welcome to the offseason.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
But before you all start heading out and ordering your #82 Rider jerseys, I feel I should inform you that Clermont has contacted me in regards to my touch football team’s offer of a beer after every game (seriously). While no commitments were made, I felt there was some genuine interest from both sides. So Jason, if you are reading this, I’m willing to up the offer to 2 beer after every game. And failing that, if you sign with the Riders I will hand deliver you a case of beer. And yes, I acknowledge that the beer clause is binding!
As for the rest of you, don’t let it be said that the Rider Prophet never did anything for the Riders.
In other Riders news, I had an interesting rumour passed my way. Seems there is some speculation (and it is purely speculation at this point) that Omarr Morgan is being considered for a coaching position with the Washington Huskies. Former Rider Steve Sarkisian was recently hired as their head coach and Sarkisian and Morgan were roommates back in their college days at BYU. Sarkisian is in need of a DB coach and Morgan’s name has been tossed around. I guess Sarkisian feels his DB’s need to learn how to play 9 yards off a receiver. This marks the first time where I would actually be happy if another team lured one of our players away. No disrespect to Morgan, he’s done a lot for this franchise, but it seems his best days are behind him. Let me add that if Sarkisian is looking for defensive coaches I think James Johnson would make a great assistant to Morgan. Just saying. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more.
CFL Ins and Outs
Out: Mike Gibson (hired as Hamilton’s new Offensive Coordinator)
This seems like a logical move for Gibson. He goes from coordinating our O-linemen who are a bunch of jokers to coordinating Hamilton’s offense which is a joke. Good luck Mike… you’re going to need it.
In: DL Caesar Rayford, DB Donald Brown, K Sean Whyte and WR Rufus Skillern and Greg Hetherington (signed contracts for the 2009 season), DL Justin Shaw and LB Josh Bean (agreed to terms on new deals).
Out: Tyrone Williams (asked to retire)
At first I was excited at the prospect of Williams becoming a free agent… then I realized he’s 36. Plus he's obviously expendable in BC now that the defensive force that is Justin Shaw has committed to returning to the fold in 2009 (I know, who?)
In: Anwar Stewart (re-signed)
Out: Jeff Keeping, Elijah Thurmon and Mike Vilimek (released)
Okay let me get this straight… last year the Als were so over the cap that they lost a draft pick. So far they have done no major salary dumping and now their answer is to release 3 players who didn’t play a single down last season and spent all season on the 9-game? The sad thing is despite this ridiculous logic, the Als are still the best run team in the East.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Flashback to 2006, the CFL had just announced the impending implementation of a Salary Management System (SMS). Just prior to the cap taking affect the Lions signed a huge number of front loaded contracts to secure the core of their team without the bulk of those contracts counting towards the cap. It was a wonderful system and allowed BC to field arguably the best team in the CFL while still complying with the new salary system. But like all good things, it had to come to an end.
Here we are heading into 2009 and now all of those front loaded contracts are starting to expire. That means that BC’s payroll will soon reflect the number of all-stars on the roster and swell to well beyond the cap level. In order to continue abiding by the SMS, big changes are needed in Wally-world. Buono is wasting no time in getting those changes underway.
Last week, he released Charles Roberts, Otis Floyd and of course Jason Clermont (who I will get to in a minute). There is also word that Tyrone Williams and Barron Miles could also be on the chopping block. Now when a former all-star linebacker, a big bad defensive tackle, the best safety in the CFL bar none, and one the top Canadian receivers in the league suddenly become available, GM’s around the league are going to take notice (well except Hamilton, who seem to have no use for talented players). It’s clear however that Buono is indeed human and the rules that the rest of the league are following do indeed apply to him (he was just able to delay their effects longer than the other GMs). Let’s not forget that Buono is doing all this payroll cutting despite the fact that Cameron Wake is widely expected to be NFL bound. Can you imagine how many more cuts would be required if Wake decided to stay? I mean people have always joked that Wake’s talented enough to be a one man defensive line but that may have to become a reality if BC hopes to afford his contract.
While I think Williams and Miles would be worth a serious look should they shake free, all the talk this week in Saskatchewan has been about Jason Clermont. It seems like a perfect fit. Clermont is a Regina native, is beloved for his years as a Regina Ram and lives here year-round while peddling crappy condos in the offseason. Now that he’s available people are insisting Tillman do whatever it takes to sign him and create the super Canadian slot duo of Clermont and Fantuz. Unfortunately things aren’t that simple.
Clermont is a perennial all-star and 2 time Canadian of the Year, as such he will command a respectable salary and be highly coveted on the free agent market. Winnipeg, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton are already expressing some interest (as I mentioned before, Hamilton, who should be making every effort to sign him, is currently not in the mix given that they have no use for talented players). As we all know, the term “fair” best describes the offers Eric Tillman makes as opposed to “lucrative”. Also, we are fairly deep when it comes to Canadian receivers and slots in particular. But in the words of ET, “We can always get better”.
The way I see this playing out is Tillman will make a very respectable offer to Clermont (as he should) and a couple other teams will make bigger offers. It will then be up Clermont to decide whether it’s actually worth the extra money to head out East and play for a crappy team as opposed to getting decent money and staying at home with a legitimate contender. For the record, my touch football team has offered to buy him a beer after every game if he’ll sign with us but as of yet we haven’t heard back from his agent. My gut tells me that the long awaited homecoming will indeed happen (but that is no more than a gut feeling at this point - let’s not forget that Tillman is the idiot that passed on him twice, and would have no problems doing it a third time). My only recommendation is that Clermont’s contract include a clause whereby my Rider shareholder discount would apply to any real estate I purchase from him.
As a regular feature during the offseason, I’ll be keeping you up to date with rosters moves across the CFL with Ins and Outs
In: Bryan Chui (re-signed), Etienne Boulay (re-signed), Keith Godding (free agent signing), Erik Galas (free agent signing)
Boulay has now managed to ride the coattails of winning an arbitrarily contrived award (Gibson’s Finest Canadian Player in 2007) into a stint with the NY Jets and a contract extension with the Alouettes (who apparently don’t even know what position he’ll play)… he must have one hell of an agent.
In: John Comiskey (re-signed)
As soon as I think of a humourous comment to make about this signing you’ll be the first to know.
One last note, Sunday marked the NFL’s regular season debut in Toronto. About the only good thing I can say about the game itself is at least Toronto fans were treated to a game of the quality they’ve come to expect from their local sports teams.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Let’s get right to it…
Best Player Name
This year the award goes to Calgary’s Charleston Hughes which is a hilarious name given how close it is to Charleston Chews. And you know it seems kind of fitting… one is a candy that I’m not that fond of and actually think is a bit disgusting, the other plays for a team I’m not that fond of and also find a bit disgusting.
Quote of the Year
We have our first 2-time Prophet Award winner. Mike Abou-Mechrek once again gets the award for Quote of the Year.
While gems like this make him a perennial contender: (When asked about home-field advantage) … "Sleeping in your own bed, eating your own meals, not getting beer cans chucked at you -- you know, home-field advantage stuff."
It was this quote that cinched it. When asked who he would be if he could be anyone in the world he responded…
“Scott Schultz, so I could play with my man boobs”
Play of the Year
When handing out this award, I like to look for a play that captures the essence of a team’s entire season. This year I had to wait until the final game of the regular season but I was not disappointed.
With the score tied in the dying minutes of the 4th quarter, the Argos were faced with 3rd and 10 in their own end against the visiting Riders. Rather than making the safe choice to punt the ball away and force the Riders to drive the field for the winning points, the Argos inexplicably called a fake punt and direct snapped it to the fullback. Well at least they tried to direct snap, the snap was atrocious, was bobbled and led to a loss of yards and a turnover on downs. It was pure hilarity.
You can see the play at the 4:11 mark of this video.
Botched Call of the Year
While it was admittedly a fairly good year for officiating across the CFL, the referees were not without their foibles. For this year’s award winner we take you back to the Banjo Bowl. Michael Bishop threw a touchdown pass to Gerran Walker and we were all cheering… but wait, it seems the referees were too busy gawking at the inbred Bomber fans to make the correct call, and ruled it incomplete. The worst part was that Ken Miller had already used up his 2 challenges to fix 2 other blatantly missed calls in the game, so we couldn’t even review the TD catch. Needless to say this led to me hurling such profane language towards the television that it would have made George Carlin (God rest his soul) blush with shame.
The Commercial I Didn’t Get Sick Of Seeing Even Though TSN Made Me Watch It 54,297 Times Award
Probably the worst part of being an avid CFL watcher is being forced to watch the same 3 commercials during every commercial break of every game in the entire season. This award, new to our prestigious ceremony this year, is meant to honour those advertisers who at least make an attempt to produce commercials I don’t begin to hate before I’ve even finished watching it once.
This year’s winner is…
Actually Holiday Inn has had some quality commercials for the past few years. Now if only company’s like Wendy’s, Tim Hortons and Ford would quit airing crap (well I’ll take Ford off the list given that I don’t think they’ll be doing much advertising in ’09).
Fans Choice Douche-Bag of the Year
Well you, the fans, have spoken and with 52% of the vote you have chosen Rob Murphy as your Douche-Bag of the Year. Murphy becomes the second BC O-lineman to be recognized for his outstanding achievement in the field of douche-baggery, joining last year's winner, fellow tackle Jason Jimenez. Murphy earned himself this dubious title by repeatedly placing opponents in choke holds and liberally punching, all while inexplicably avoiding being disciplined… or even flagged for that matter.
Most Insulted Sports Figure
Marcel Bellefeuille jumped out to an early lead and looked like a shoe in to repeat. That is until Aug 23rd when Michael Bishop became a Rider. Within mere days he jumped out to an insurmountable lead in this award category and never looked back. I served up Bishop insults almost as often as he served up turnovers (I tried to keep up but it proved impossible).
To his credit, Bishop was man enough to accept his award his person and pose for this commemorative photo
Monday, December 1, 2008
The 2nd Annual Rider Prophet Awards will be handed out on Thursday. Find out whether Marcel Bellefeuille can repeat as my Most Insulted Sports Figure and who you chose as the Fan’s Choice Douche Bag of the Year. All this and many more arbitrarily contrived awards are just days away.
Now onto some CFL news…
The big news in the days following the Grey Cup has been coaching. Do you realize that when the 2009 season starts, Wally Buono will be the only head coach left from the 2007 season? That’s right, in just 2 short seasons, 7 of the league’s 8 teams have changed head coaches. Last year, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto changed head coaches. During the season Hamilton and Toronto changed head coaches. And in the coming weeks Winnipeg, Edmonton and, you guessed it, Toronto will be looking for new head coaches.
Winnipeg’s vacancy is a result of Doug Berry getting unceremoniously axed… becoming the first coach I know to sign a contract extension and then manage to be fired before it could be publicly announced. It takes a special level of incompetence to manage that. Mike Kelly (the Eskimos receivers coach) has been chosen as Berry’s replacement and may even take over control of roster moves from Brendan Taman. This can only be seen as good news for Bomber fans and bad news for any GM looking to acquire Winnipeg’s first round pick in 2010.
Toronto is just a mess plain and simple. Whoever they name as coach will become the 4th head coach they’ve had in just over a year. Their problem is their philosophy with regards to recruitment. For years, the Argos have felt they need to acquire only high-profile big name players to impress their Toronto fan base rather than build a solid talent base. This has led to such impressive acquisitions as David Boston, Bethel Johnson, Ricky Williams, Mike Vanderjerk and the list goes on and on. That’s why I’m guessing that they will pass on quality candidates such as Richie Hall and Mike Benevides in favour of another NFL name: Jim Fassel… that is if Fassel is even interested. Word is he’s also being considered for the soon to be vacant Oakland Raiders job. Man what a terrible spot Fassel is in. I mean when you’re only options are Oakland and the Argos you know you’ve just about hit rock bottom. Actually hitting rock bottom I guess would mean your options are the Detroit Lions and Hamilton Ti-Cats.
In Edmonton, their head coaching spot is vacant because Danny Maciocia has stepped down in order to concentrate exclusively on his duties as GM. I for one will miss Maciocia and his comical face contortions on the sideline. I will also miss his blatant disregard for running the ball. No firm word yet on who will be named as his successor though some names being tossed around include Chris Jones, Greg Marshall, Benevides, Noel Thorpe, Doug Berry and our own Richie Hall (Richie, Please don’t leave us for Maciocia - that’s like the highest level of insult possible).
As a Rider fan I don’t like any of these moves. I was quite content to let these 3 teams falter along with incompetent coaches and the fact that they might actually be improving is somewhat concerning. The good news is Toronto is still a mess, Maciocia will still be heavily involved in holding the Esks back and Winnipeg… is… well Winnipeg and they don’t concern me all that much.
One final bit of news for you, Noel Prefontaine, Kamau Peterson, Mike Labinjo and Belton Johnson have all re-signed with their respective teams. I’ll do my best to keep you informed of other signings as the offseason progresses.
Friday, November 28, 2008
My 18 predictions are listed below and I will mark them on the following scale: 1 point for being right, 0.5 for being close (it’s like the Prophetic equivalent of a rouge), and 0 for being wrong.
On day one of the season Marcus Crandell takes the reigns,
Quite different from Joseph - less moves, but more brains.
I maintain that he’s smarter than Joseph but in light of how things unfolded… 0 points
The offense features an embarrassment of riches,
Crandell and Co. will make other defenses their... well you know.
3rd last in scoring… 0 points
Wes Cates returns to lead the rushing attack,
Offensive weapons we certainly do not lack.
Cates was 2nd in rushing… 1 point
Our offensive line is stacked to say the least
And watch for Glenn January - he'll turn out be a beast.
While I still have high hopes for January, the term beast would be a bit premature… 0 points
Our defense will be younger, stronger and quick
Lead by a monster by the name of John Chick.
We were younger and quick, not so much on the strong… 0.5 points
Reuniting Davis and Morgan will make our secondary strong
And hopefully, James Johnson will step up and prove me wrong.
Secondary was among the stingiest in the league against the pass (though it had little to do with either Morgan or Johnson)… 1 point
Our linebackers remain solid despite losing Hunt
The best D in the league; we'll force many a punt.
Best LBs in the league bar none… 1 point
Our special teams' blocking and coverage surely improves
Fueled by Weston Dressler's lightning fast moves.
Not even Dressler could overcome our lack of blocking… 0 points
Our team looks quite different but I see no reason to fret
We've got talent across the board so don't count us out yet.
Same record as last year with a vastly different roster… 1 point
Tillman's shipped off some vets but 'tis no reason to moan
Have faith in their replacements despite being unknown.
Unknown certainly describes the guys we played on offense throughout the season, but they got the job done… 1 point
For 1 or 2 of these "no-names" I will guarantee
By the end of the season will be considered marquee.
Is Rookie of the Year marquee enough for you?... 1 point
We will start 4 and 2 to the surprise of many
We shant miss a beat under the direction of Coach Kenny.
We started 6-0 but sure didn’t miss a beat under Miller… 0.5 points
There will surely be some bumps we will have to fight through
And the bandwagon will temporarily empty as if right on cue.
5 losses in 7 games over middle of season… 1 point
In the end we will finish 11-7 - good for second
Proving that we're still a force to be reckoned.
2nd place and within 1 game of the record… 1 points
In the West Semi we'll play the Stamps in the snow
Burris will choke (but claim it's not 4 in a row).
No Stamps in the West Semi, No Burris choke, and no snow… 0 points
Then it's off to BC on our way to defending,
But this year the Lions ruin the storybook ending.
For the date at the dome ends our quest to repeat
It will be a good season but end bittersweet
Game was in Regina and it wasn't the west final but the result was the same… 1 point
We won't have a Grey Cup to help the dynasty be built,
But at least it's not all bad - neither will Milt.
Right on both accounts… 2 points
Out of a possible 18 points I got 12. Meaning that I’m 66.7% accurate in my predictions. This is exactly where I was last year so although I may not be overly accurate at least I’m not getting worse. And besides, with my career accuracy in the mid 60s I’m still miles ahead of Michael Bishop. Zing.
Don’t forget to vote for me in the Canadian Blog Awards if you haven’t already done so… and if you have, do it again for good measure.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Only 1 vote per IP address counts so please vote from as many different places as possible and tell everyone you know to do the same. Here are a few ideas to help maximize the votes I receive.
- Invite yourself over to a friends place and commandeer their computer once inside
- Take your laptop and drive around and vote on any unsecured networks you can find
- Break into strangers houses while they are sleeping and vote on their computers
Best Blog Post
Best Sports Blog
Best Humour Blog
Well for the second week in a row a correctly called a QB choke but once again I pegged the wrong QB. Turns out that while John Hufnagel seems to have found a way to prevent Burris’ patented playoff choke, Marc Trestman (who looks like a freakin’ alien) did not find a way to prevent Calvillo’s patented Grey Cup choke. Honestly, 2002 must have been a fluke because Calvillo is more prone to choking in the big game than the Buffalo Bills of the early 90s. He’s now 1-5 in the Cup having lost in ’00, ’03, ’05 and ’06 as well.
This is an old joke but a gooder nonetheless…
Why does Anthony Calvillo drink from a bowl?
Because he lost his last 4 cups.
His problem was his decision making. In the first half, he relied on Jamel Richardson and Ben Cahoon as his go-to guys and this led to some decent success. In the second half he chose to mix things up by replacing the reliable Cahoon with the unreliable Brian Bratton and the ever-dangerous Richardson with the Calgary secondary as his go-to guys… resulting in the Als potent offense coming to a grinding halt.
Coming into the game the focus was on Brandon Browner's lack of mobility… which was a change from the focus usually being on his lack of skill. Unfortunately the Als were unable to exploit Browner or any part of the Stamp defense for that matter. Full credit to the Calgary defense, particularly Mike Labinjo who clearly should have been named Outstanding Canadian in the game. Personally I think 3 pass knockdowns, 1 tackle for a loss and a sack are far more outstanding than kicking a few field goals (only 2 of which were over 30 yds) followed by sprinting down the field in delirious excitement… but what do I know? Maybe all those phantom records DeAngelis broke this year swayed the voting.
On the flip side, Montreal had no answer for the powerful Stampeder offense. Obviously Trestman thought along the same lines as me and was banking on a Burris choke because it certainly didn’t look like he game planned for a good performance by Burris. The lone bright spot for the Als D was when Reggie “Le Reaper” Hunt intercepted a pass on a terrible read by Burris. I thought that was the beginning of the end for Calgary, turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Als.
I will give credit to Burris, he played a good game and was unfortunately deserving of the game MVP. While he amazingly did not choke in the game, he certainly did when it came time for the post-game interview…
''There was so many times I used to hear that song 'We are the Champions,' I never could listen to the whole song because I always wanted to be a champion”
… that’s it? The defining moment of your career and all you can talk about is a song by Queen? Come on Henry you had 5 years to work on this and that’s the best you can come up with? Why not just liken the win to “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang or the “Locomotion”? What’s worse is he gave the exact same speech in 2 consecutive interviews. It’s really hard to take someone seriously when they are openly weeping while trying to explain the deep significance of “We Are The Champions”.
So the Stamps win the Grey Cup… and there was relatively little rejoicing.
And thus ends the 2008 CFL Season and begins that unfortunate time of the year… the offseason. But fear not, for the Rider Prophet is here to help guide through this dark time.
Friday, November 21, 2008
While I was fairly certain heading into Sunday that the Montreal Alouettes would emerge as Grey Cup champions, last night sealed it for me. What, might you ask, could have possibly occurred to make me so sure of an Alouette victory? Simple… Anthony Calvillo won the Most Outstanding Player award last night. While I see this (highly deserved) honour as having little to no effect on Calvillo or the Alouettes, I do see this having a big effect on Henry Burris.
We all know that Burris’ ego is massive. I’m not sure why it’s so big since he has really done very little to brag about, but regardless he has a massive ego. Last year he almost broke the single season interception record and was then surprised when he wasn’t the West nominee for MOP. Following the MOP snub, Burris went out and choked something terrible in the West Semi. This year he managed to get the nod as West MOP (which he did actually deserve) and is now pissed that Anthony Calvillo was named League MOP despite the fact the Calvillo was better than Burris is every QB category and almost matched some Doug Flutie records (the only thing Burris has in common with Flutie is that they they’ve each played for the Bears and Stamps). Burris, ever the classy guy, had this to say following his defeat: “Let's get this over with and get to the game if we're going to get robbed all the time. We're the best team in the league right now, record-wise, and nobody came away with anything.” Now there’s sportsmanship if I’ve ever seen it.
So now Burris has a chip on his shoulder and will be looking to prove that he should have been MOP come Sunday. He’s going to force things and try and be a hero by winning the game by himself, which never ends well for Hank. Expect a heavy dose of turnovers, bad decisions, and very little Joffrey Reynolds. The game features the top 2 offenses in the league and essentially boils down to Burris vs. Calvillo and if I had to choose who will respond to the pressure the best, without a doubt it’s Calvillo (and yes I realize that this completely ignores the fact that Calvillo has lost his last 3 Grey Cup appearances… so what?). So sit back and enjoy as Burris serves up his 4th annual playoff choke.
Les Alouettes de Montréal will win la Coupe Grey and then indulge in a celebratory meal of poutine and maple syrup and sing Frère Jacques until the sun comes up.
Getting back to the CFL Awards…
Two Riders were honoured last night. Jeremy O’Day was presented with the Tom Pate award for community service and, in what was about as big a surprise as Clay Aiken coming out of the closet (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Weston Dressler was named the League’s Most Outstanding Rookie. Congratulations to both players as they are very deserving in their respective areas.
Other winners last night included:
- Canadian: Kamau Peterson – when the hell did this guy get so good?! Whatever happened to Incompleterson?
- Lineman: Scott Flory – I’m pretty sure it’s written somewhere in the rules that you can’t be runner up 4 times for the same award. I believe it’s called the “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” clause.
- Special Teams: Dominique Dorsey - Many thought that Dorsey’s late season injury might hamper his shot at this award but given there’s nothing outstanding about kicking in general, Dorsey was a shoe in.
- Defense: Cam Wake – Wake had this award sewn up by the 2nd preseason game so the only surprising thing is that he wasn’t a unanimous selection thanks to 2 voters from Manitoba… to be fair though, after watching the Blue Bombers for the last decade it’s hard to blame a Manitoban for not knowing what actual talent looks like.
Speaking of awards, the 2nd Annual Rider Prophet awards are coming up soon so please vote above for your “Fans Choice Douche Bag of the Year”
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Well I thought we were going to see 2 very good football games this weekend. What we got instead was 2 teams that were about as legitimate a playoff contender as the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders (given that I was watching Monday Night Football you can expect this post to contain more NFL references than normal).
It started in Montreal, where Edmonton went out and proved my point that they are a one man team. Ricky Ray may be an outstanding QB but he can’t cover kick returns, play defense and catch his own passes. Therein lies the problem with the Eskimos… you know that and Danny Maciocia. Also, note to Edmonton: when your “run” game consists of 3 yards you have no business being in the postseason. At least Montreal gives me something to cheer for.
We then went onto to BC where there was indeed a QB choking at McMahon but it wasn’t Burris… it was Buck Pierce… I was shocked as I’m sure Burris and most of the residents of Calgary were. Pierce was over-throwing receivers like it was going out of style. Note to BC: If you didn’t learn from the Riders that failing to score a TD in the playoffs will cost you, you also have no business being in the postseason. There wasn’t mush else to this game other than the fact I almost threw up in my mouth when Rod Black started comparing Henry Burris to Peyton Manning. But I guess, Manning is a lot like Burris… you know, if you take away all Manning’s records, winning seasons and perfect teeth and add in all of Burris’ whining.
For me the highlight of the Division finals came in the dying seconds of the Calgary game. Clinging to a 4 point lead and faced with 3rd down, all Calgary had to do was kill the final 7 seconds off the game clock. Burris astutely took the snap and ran backwards out the back of the endzone conceding the safety and killing the clock…
What’s that you say? That didn’t happen? Well that’s what a smart person would have done… but we’re talking about Burris here so logic and smarts don’t play into it. What actually happened was he threw the ball as high as he could throw and it landed out of bounds with 1 second left on the clock. Meaning that BC had one shot from the 40 yard line to score the game winning TD. Fortunately for Hufnagel and co. Buck Pierce continued his sucking ways and couldn’t capitalize on the monumental gaffe. Burris should be personally thanking the BC offense for not making him responsible for one of the biggest chokes in playoff history... I mean Burris has had some big ones but this would have topped them all. Oh well there’s always next week.
So it’ll be the Stamps against the hometown Alouettes in Grey Cup 96 this Sunday. Check back later for my thoughts on the big game.
Friday, November 14, 2008
First off, the Division Finals are tomorrow and despite the fact that the Riders aren’t involved, they should actually be good games. Out East Anthony Calvillo leads the CFL’s top offense against Ricky Ray and … well, Ricky Ray. Montreal may have had a schedule that was about as easy as the job applicant screening criteria at McDonalds but I don’t think they are overrated. Their only glaring weakness is a suspect secondary (which unfortunately plays right into Edmonton’s only strength). For Edmonton, their chances at success, as always, lie solely with Ricky Ray. I’m predicting a shootout featuring more scoring than a Japanese whore house. In the end though, I fully expect the Alouettes to emerge victorious and play for the Grey Cup in front of a home crowd. While both teams are fairly evenly matched I give the edge to the Als because they actually have a run game. Also, the fact that Edmonton had difficulty beating the lowly Bombers last week should be a sign to Eskimo fans that they may be in trouble.
Then we head out west for the Stampeders versus the Lions. I’ve been trying to decide for days now which of these 2 teams I hate the least. On one hand you’ve got the infinite douche baggery of the BC Lions, with such lovable characters as Buono, Banks, Marsh, Murphy and Jimenez. On the other you’ve got the utterly annoying Stampeders who counter with Lewis, Armour, Browner and Burris the Gap-Toothed Wonder. I’m very torn here. I honestly hate the Lions and wish them zero success. But, I also really want to see Henry "Mr. November" Burris choke and blow his 4th straight playoff game. I think the only way I would be completely satisfied is if somehow a meteor struck McMahon Stadium resulting in a double DQ (provided Bruce Willis doesn’t screw things up). But since that’s about as likely as a Maple Leaf hockey dynasty, I’m going to have to say that the Stampeders should win but they will choke… again… and BC will win a close one. As much as it will suck to see Wally’s band of ne'er-do-wells get another shot at the Cup, it will be more than offset by watching the backlash of the Stampeders fans at being forced to endure Burris’ Playoff Choke Volume 4. The hatred levels will reach and likely exceed Bishop-esque levels. I can’t wait.
Turning back to the Riders…
First off, congratulations to Anton McKenzie, Mo Lloyd, Wes Cates and Gene Makowsky on being named CFL All-stars. Though if history has taught us anything I would wait a day or 2 before celebrating as there’s always a chance that an error in vote tabulation could result in your all-star status being removed and given to Sandro DeAngeles.
There has been much speculation this week about the Rider’s potential free agents. The list includes all 3 starters from our outstanding linebacking corps as well as 3 of the 4 aforementioned all-stars, which is somewhat concerning. The good thing though is that Tillman is still running the show so I have faith that things will work out just fine… and by that I mean he will likely make a couple highly controversial moves that will send Rider Nation into a frenzy of hate despite the inherent logic in said moves. As someone who operates a year-round Rider blog, I sincerely appreciate Tillman’s ability to keep the offseason interesting.
For those of you who are interested, our potential free-agents are as follows: Darian Durant, Anton McKenzie, Maurice Lloyd, Neal Hughes, Gene Makowsky, Sean Lucas, Belton Johnson, Mike Abou-Mechrek, Scott Gordon, Steve Morley and D.J. Flick
One final note, although the Rider’s season may be over I will continue making regular posts throughout the offseason to keep you informed of all the news that is news across the CFL. Here’s what’s on tap for the Rider Prophet in the coming weeks:
- Continued coverage of the CFL playoffs
- Analysis on the 2008 Rider Season
- Second Annual Rider Prophet Awards
- "Whatever I was on, it must have been good", aka Revisiting My Preseason Predictions
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The bitter taste of an ugly playoff defeat is still in our mouths. Fortunately Eric Tillman was quick to make a move to help quell that taste.
That’s right less than 48 hours after he cost us a playoff game, Michael Bishop has been released!! Sing with me people “Oh Happy Day! Oh Happy Day!” Honestly, I haven’t been this happy since the day I found that perfectly good pair of underwear just lying there in that dumpster!
Now you can argue that this move is about 4 months overdue (and yes I’m well aware that Bishop wasn’t on our roster 4 months ago but we should have preemptively cut him just to be safe) and you would be right, but the important thing is that he’s gone and we can look forward to being Bishop-free in 2009.
Rather than unleash my usual torrent of insults towards Bishop, I will leave you today with a quote from one of Bishop’s teammates. This is without a doubt my favourite quote of the year.
“You can play against the deaf, blind and the homeless and you will never win a game with (seven) turnovers,''
- Mo Lloyd, Nov 2008
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Lions 33 – Riders 12
Saturday afternoon the entire Rider Nation came to a realization that I, the Rider Prophet, had known all along… if you play “Green is the Colour” backwards you get a recipe for some damn good moonshine… well actually everyone finally realized that Michael Bishop is a bigger pile of crap than that mess the elephants left behind the last time the circus was in town. I was just trying to infuse a little humour as you are all no doubt angry enough to kick a small animal at this point (please resist that urge though as the Rider Prophet does not condone violence against animals… that is unless they taste good on a BBQ).
For the Riders, the game was essentially over before it started. Bishop fumbled on the 3rd offensive play of the game and was intercepted on the 2nd and 4th series, all before the end of the 1st quarter (and here I though Durant tossing up 3 INTs in one half was impressive). He added a fumble in the 2nd quarter and another interception in the 4th for good measure (not to mention the numerous incomplete passes and over throws). Seriously when Bishop manages to get intercepted while handing off to Wes Cates you know it’s not our day. If I was Wayne Smith, I would have whispered to Cam Wake during the second quarter “Look Cam, I’m not going to block you on this play. Can you just please take out Bishop? … Please!” I wish I could say I was surprised by Bishop’s disgraceful performance, but I was not. I knew that Bishop sucked even when he was in Toronto. However, to say I blame the whole thing on Bishop wouldn’t be fair… I mean his performance did make Nealon Greene seem like a quality QB but to be fair it’s not Bishop’s fault he sucks so much; he can’t help it.
For me, the blame lies squarely on the coaching staff, specifically Ken Miller and Paul LaPolice. Their decision making on Saturday rivaled that of … of … you know what, just go ahead and insert your own humorous comparison here as I’m far too angry to think of one on my own. First and foremost, under no circumstances can you justify not pulling Bishop after the first quarter (or at least at halftime). Honestly, it was so painfully obvious that Bishop wasn’t going to be effective that everyone at Mosaic Stadium and everyone else watching at home realized it… everyone, that is, but Ken Miller. He staunchly stood by Bishop as he pissed away our chance at a dynasty. I’m not sure what it was that led Miller to believe Bishop would turn it around. Was it the INTs? The fumbles? The overthrows? The 0 TDS? 30,000 people booing Bishop? The BC Lions laughing hysterically every time Bishop set foot on the field? I’m not sure.
As for LaPolice, I’m not sure what he was on when he was calling the offense but I’m sure it can’t be legal or cheap. I’ve never seen such unimaginative use of a versatile player such as Cates. BC has the best front 4 in the league, we all know that. So why did we insist on running Cates up the middle for a 1 yard gain all game? How about some screens or swing passes or something to get him the ball in the open? Then again I guess the few times we did try that Bishop managed to thrown the ball directly into the D-line’s arms so I guess running was probably a better option. The other thing I can’t understand for the life of me is why Andy Fantuz didn’t see the ball until the 4th quarter!!!! The man is our best receiver by far and we left him out of the offense until the game was already lost. Instead we chose to base our offense around Adarius Bowman. Pure genius LaPo! Let’s ignore our best receiver and reigning top Canadian in the Grey Cup and instead throw to a rookie with 0 playoff experience and questionable catching ability who hasn’t played since September. I’m sure it was only a coincidence that Andy’s first 2 catches were for big gains and first downs and it was in no way a reflection of his talent level and importance to our offense.
Actually, I have a confession to make. You should blame me for the loss. Yes shocking as it may be, it’s my fault our season is over. Friday, I was in the mall and walked by Michael Bishop. It took all the strength in me but I resisted the urge to grab a lead pipe and Tonya Harding his ass. In retrospect, had I done so, I would likely be considered one of the greatest heroes in Rider history and an induction into the Plaza of Honour would have surely followed. Please accept my sincere and heartfelt apology.
Huge props go out to the defense for an outstanding effort!! Despite 3 first quarter turnovers they only allowed 7 points (2 FGs and a punt single) and only gave up 1 TD in the entire first half. That’s simply amazing. They played their hearts out but eventually succumbed to fatigue as they received no help whatsoever from the offense. Kitwana blocked a punt, Anton popped yet another ball loose and in one play Chick ran for more yards than Wes Cates (handing the offense the ball at BC’s 36) and still the offense couldn’t manage even a solitary touchdown. While they played good enough to overcome BC’s offense on Saturday, they were not up to the even bigger challenge of also overcoming the Roughrider offense. It was 2 against 1 so it’s hard to fault them for not coming out on top.
Here’s what I take away from the game…
- Ken Miller is a rookie head coach and it showed in the last half of the season. I’m not yet on the “Fire Miller” bandwagon but I have serious concerns about his decision making and hope he learns big time from his mistakes this year.
- LaPolice is a great receivers coach but a bad offensive coordinator.
- Our defense is stellar and every offensive player should be kissing their ass right now. We are just a dominant pass rusher and a DB or 2 away from the best D in the league.
- I was right about James Johnson all along. Those few games where he didn’t suck were just a fluke.
So that’s it ladies and gentlemen. The season is over (meaning that work productivity levels should start returning to normal). I’ll be perfectly honest and say that given our performance the past 2 weeks, there was no way we were going to repeat as champs so it’s probably best we ended it early before we got our hopes up too high.
In the coming weeks I will have more analysis on the 2008 Rider season as well as coverage of the remaining CFL playoffs.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Saturday the Riders take on the Lions in front of the 18th straight sellout crowd at Mosaic Stadium. Just a note to those of you still complaining about not being able to get tickets to the game: A Rider Share is $250 and season tickets are under $500. Either one would have guaranteed you a playoff ticket (and given what I hear tickets are being scalped for, it would represent a significant cost savings). Furthermore, Jim Hopson doesn’t give a crap that you didn’t get a ticket. The team sold every ticket and he gets his money regardless of who buys them. Ticket reform ranks just ahead of adding a sushi bar to the concessions and slightly behind bringing back the east side troughs on Hopson’s list of priorities so quit wasting your breath.
Now that we’ve cleared that up onto the big game…
This year the edge in the season series goes to the Lions who won 2 of 3. At first this is a bit concerning but let’s look at the losses a bit closer. Our biggest margin of defeat in those games was 6 points. And that 6 point defeat was in spite of the 8 turnovers we committed that game. Not to mention the fact that those loses came at one of our most injury filled parts of the season and players such as Fantuz and Chick did not play. So although BC won the season series, they did so against many of our back-ups and we played them close both times despite numerous turnovers… which is actually a pretty sad statement on the once mighty Lions.
BC has the best front 4 in the CFL, a solid secondary (though I’m questioning the defense’s talent level after allowing over 100 points in the final 3 games), a good O-line, dangerous receivers and an elusive running back. How is it then that they only managed 3rd place? Well it’s quarterbacking. Pierce is the only QB I know who is more banged up than Ben Roethlisberger and Jarious Jackson is one of the few QBs in the league I would rank below Bishop (ouch if you’re Jarious). Buck’s body has displayed the durability of Dave Dickenson’s head and Jarious has displayed the intelligence of a jar of peanut butter so forgive me for not shaking in my boots at the prospect of facing the BC offense.
Speaking of QBs… well simply put, ours sucks and I’m worried sick about how he’s going to perform. Last year coming into the playoffs our QB was one of our biggest strengths. This year it’s our biggest liability. Since joining the Riders, Bishop has served up 12 INTs and 5 fumbles in a mere 9 games. To be fair, Ricky Ray beat him in both categories but balanced that off by throwing 26 TDs and taking a whole season to cough up all those turnovers. Bishop by contrast managed a whopping 7 passing TDs. He’s shown a consistent inability to make good decisions and protect the ball and that concerns me entering the playoffs where one mistake can end your season. Bishop I’m begging you please don’t screw this up… please! Repeat after me “Short passes”.
Bold prediction: I envision only 2 scenarios that lead to a Rider win. 1) The defense stands on their heads and offsets a mediocre-at-best performance by Bishop or 2) Bishop gets pulled at halftime and Darian Durant scores the winning points.
For the Riders to be successful we need 3 things. 1) Control the ball – running, short passes, dump passes to the RB, quick hitters to slow the pass rush down (and lower the risk of being intercepted). 2) The O-line needs to step up. In 3 games this season, they allowed 17 sacks against BC. That simply won’t cut it. The return of Jeremy O’Day will hopefully solidify our pass protection. 3) The defense needs to keep it close. We will not win a shoot out against BC so we will have to contain their offensive weapons (Simon, Jackson, Logan) and get pressure on the QB to force mistakes.
Generally speaking both teams are fairly evenly matched but I’m confident that our defense will step up big time and I’m cautiously optimistic that the playmaking abilities of Fantuz, Dressler, Cates and Hughes will be enough to overcome the severe handicap of starting Bishop at QB. You also can’t forget about the intangibles such as having a kicker who doesn’t choke and most importantly the energy of a home crowd 30,000 strong.
Riders by 5
I want to see everyone be louder than they’ve ever been before on Saturday as we cheer our team on to victory. Let’s give Wally Buono 30,000 reasons that home field advantage does indeed exist (and just to be clear I’m talking about 30,000 cheering fans, not hurling 30,000 beer cans at the BC bench). See you in the stands.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Well I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that we will be hosting a home playoff game for the second year in a row. The bad news is that after watching our performance against the lowly Argos, I’m not sure I like our odds of postseason success.
Generally speaking, teams use the last game of the regular season as a final tune-up before the playoff run. Unfortunately I don’t consider throwing 4 INTs on offense and allowing the lowest scoring team in the CFL to put up 5 TDs on defense a tune-up… and if it is, may God have mercy on our souls.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record (or as Rod Black would say a scratched CD) but good lord, Michael Bishop sucks!!! I’m almost starting to think that I should stop insulting him since the Prophet legal department has informed me that kind of behaviour towards the mentally challenged can be considered a hate crime. Honestly… 4 picks!!! If I was the coach I would have cut him on the spot after the 3rd and beaten him with a sack of doorknobs after the 4th. And the topper was how he almost threw a 5th on the final drive. If Adrian Mays hadn’t been so busy interfering with Fantuz, he could have easily turned around and picked off Bishop and ended the game. Why in the hell was he throwing at that point!?!?!?!? We were well within FG range… just run the clock out and kick for the win. It’s such a simple concept that even a half wit like Bishop should be able to get it (but apparently not). Now some people will point to his 3 running TDs as a bright point… well sorry for expecting my starting QB to do more than run and throw INTs. At this rate we might as well declare Hugh Charles as our starting QB next week. He can run better and I’m guessing would throw far fewer INTs.
Here’s some more Bishop bashing (because you can never have enough):
- After Bagg caught that 51 yard pass many were wondering why Bishop didn’t throw to him more often… the answer is simple - Bagg wasn’t wearing blue.
- I heard that Media Consultant decided to dress up as Bishop for Halloween… he put on a Rider jersey and went around handing out footballs to anyone not wearing green.
Oh but the insults don’t end there… allow me to move on to our defense… you know the one that supposedly was one of the best in the league. What the hell?! Did you go on vacation until late in the 4th quarter? James Johnson has found his way back onto the hatred list with his terrible play of late. What happened to the Johnson from the start of the season who didn’t suck? And for Pete sake can we just all agree that the safety blitz doesn’t work and move on? The theory behind the play is simple… you trade off coverage in the secondary for increased pressure on the QB. Makes sense. Problem is when Gordon never gets to the QB all you are doing is giving up coverage downfield. It's almost as if he goes looking for a guy to block him! The best part of the game was halftime… while the Argos seemed to be able to score from everywhere else; they at least couldn’t score from the locker room. They probably just sat there and talked about how happy they were that they don’t have Bishop anymore.
Alright that’s enough ranting for today. We did win so let’s talk about the bright spots in the game…
- Andy Fantuz and Weston Dressler… enough said.
- How about Anton McKenzie? He has an amazing ability to pop the ball loose with a bone jarring hit when it matters most. And how about the hustle showed by Sebastian Clovis?
- Neal Hughes and Stu Foord… it’s reassuring to know that no matter how deep of a hole Bishop digs us, we can always rely on the good ol’ Regina boys to bail us out.
What can you say about the Argos? They say good teams find ways to win… well I guess they are living proof that the opposite is also true. There is no way they should have lost that game but they found a way. First they let Clovis come through and block a Vanderjerk punt, then they let Anton pop the ball loose on a return and the final nail in the coffin was that car wreck of a fake punt attempt. The execution was pure comedy but the play call itself was ridiculous. Who direct snaps on 3rd and 10? 3rd and short maybe but… I’m willing to bet that that idiotic direct snap call on 3rd and 10 was just the Argo coaching staff’s way of saying thank-you for taking Bishop off their hands.
I suppose thanks are in line to the Calgary Stampeders for securing us a home playoff game. Unfortunately I didn’t see the game as I was away attending to some family matters this weekend. I’m told though that thanks are also in order for Paul McCallum for his wonderful kicking performance.
As with the majority of our wins, this one wasn’t pretty… but the end result is a solid 12-6 record and more importantly a home playoff game. Saturday can’t get here soon enough.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
It’s a good thing this game has playoff implications because otherwise it would be very hard to get excited about it. I mean I love Rider game day as much as anybody but when the team we’re playing boasts such impressive accolades as lowest scoring team in the league, most points allowed, most times punted, most penalized, worst run defense, and have not won since Sept 1, the game just doesn’t have that same level of intensity. Face it, when the winningest coach in CFL history can’t help your team you know you’re screwed (just ask the Riders of the early 90s).
It would be easy for the Riders to overlook this game but fortunately the stakes are too high for that. This game is a must win if we hope to host a home playoff game.
This game will mercifully bring to an end what has no doubt been a trying season for Kerry Joseph. The lone bright spot in his short Argo career was cashing his cheques this year; everything on the field was terrible to say the least. The Argos learned what the Ti-cats already knew… simply adding a former MOP quarterback to a really crappy offense won’t improve your offense. Go figure. While Joseph no doubt had a bad season, he sure didn’t have much to work with. He had no O-line, no running game, only 1 talented receiver and ludicrously bad coaching. Not to mention the gong show at QB he had to deal with to start the year.
Speaking of QB gong shows it’s time for me to address the Rider QB situation. It’s been announced that Michael Bishop will get the start against his former team and likely be the starter in playoffs as well. Now we all know how highly I think of Bishop but unfortunately the coaches had no other choice. Durant and Jyles were both given the opportunity to seize the starter’s role but each managed to figuratively and literally throw the opportunity away. Now Bishop did the same thing not 3 weeks ago, but when faced with the choice between 3 guys who seem to go out of their way to give the ball to the defense, I guess the veteran of the bunch becomes your best option going into the playoffs. Bishop showed on Saturday how effective he can be if he sticks to short passes (mainly because he can’t be intercepted by safeties when running 7-10 yard routes) and if he continues doing that he could be very successful. The problem is Bishop has shown a complete inability to do this on a consistent basis and there won’t be an 80km/hr head wind to prevent him from throwing deep when he plays in Skydome.
Another week, another return from the 9 game injury list. This week it’s last years leading receiver DJ Flick who returns after missing 15 games with a gruesomely broken fibula. I expect Flick to be eased into the offense much like Dominguez was so he can get a feel for game speed again and play with our QBs (2 of which he has never played with and the other one he probably wishes he hadn’t played with). Hopefully all goes well in Flick’s return because adding him to our offense for playoffs can only mean good things. To make room for Flick, Dominguez will rest this game as a precautionary move so he’s healthy (or at least as close as he’ll ever get) for playoffs.
The injury plague that ravaged our team and surely brought Eric Tillman to the verge on insanity may actually end up being a small blessing in disguise. Teams around the league are seeing their top guys fall to injury (Glenn, Roberts, Pierce) and even the healthy ones are banged up from a long and grueling season. The Riders by contrast are just starting to welcome back their stars from the injured list and by virtue of not playing a full season they are considerably less banged and bruised. So while we spent the entire season as the most injured team in league history, we may actually enter the playoffs as one of the more healthy teams. Could this all have just been part of Tillman’s master plan?
As for the game I expect another strong showing. Last week was a statement game and this week should be no different. Our defense is playing rock solid and our offense has its playmakers back so I see no reason why we don’t stomp the Argos. They have good pass defense but no run defense so Cates should have a big game. They have no run game and we have one of the stingiest pass defenses in the league so I expect very little Argo scoring. They have Joseph and we have Bishop... well slight edge Argos on that one.
Bold prediction... Riders by 273
Then on Saturday we all have to do the unthinkable and cheer for the Stampeders. It’s terrible I know. Personally, I would rather eat a 5 gallon pail of feces while someone beats me with a hickory stick as I listen to a Kevin Federline CD than cheer for those douche bags but unfortunately we need them to win. So for the first and only time ever on this blog… Go Stamps (though if in the process of losing if BC we’re to seriously injure 2 or 3 Stamps I’d be perfectly alright with that… leave Burris though, I want to see his 4th annual playoff choke).
Monday, October 27, 2008
Ohh so that’s how good our starting line-up is… It’s been so long since I’ve seen them that I forgot (The best part is we are still missing last year’s leading receiver and the best centre in the CFL).
In the final regular season game at Mosaic, in front of 30,950 fans, the Edmonton Eskimos managed to blow more than the prairie wind… no small feat since it was gusting up to 80 km/h. For me, the TSN turning point in this one came in the first quarter when Mo Lloyd put such a vicious hit on Ricky Ray that he fumbled the ball (the first of 7 turnovers on the night), which was returned by Kitwana Jones for a touchdown. It was at that point that the game pretty much ended for the Eskimos as the Riders handed them their second worst loss in franchise history. From what I understand, Esks fans weren't as upset about the touchdown or even the possible helmet to helmet contact on Ray as they were that it wasn't Danny Maciocia getting leveled.
I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing… the fact that they lost by 46 or the fact that they’ve actually done worse in the past. After the game, Maciocia told the media that "We're just playing dumb right now. Collectively we're a bunch of dummies." I guess it took him the better part of 4 years to figure out what we’ve known all along.
The game featured a number of anomalies that Rider fans have not been accustomed to seeing. Our D-line got pressure on the QB and even managed to collapse the pocket; John Chick managed to go a whole game without being injured; and most surprisingly, Corey Grant scored a touchdown. This quote from Grant pretty much sums up how rare a TD is for him: “The coach is like, ‘Act like you’ve been there,’ but I haven’t been there before. It had been a while, so I didn’t know what to do.’’ I couldn’t have put it better myself Corey.
Full credit to our defense for an outstanding performance. Bolstered by the return of McKenzie and Chick they put up 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 2 defensive TDs and allowed 0 TDs. The key was the pressure generated by our front 4. I’m not surprised that Edmonton’s O-line had trouble with the pressure. I mean really… they couldn’t have been expecting it. I know I wasn’t. Hats off to the defense for making perennial all-star quarterback Ricky Ray look like Michael Bishop. While I’m on the subject, hats off to Edmonton’s defense for making perennial failure Michael Bishop look like Ricky Ray.
With our starters back in place, our offense seems to be rolling again. I like that we no longer have to rely on the long ball to move the chains. With possession receivers like Dominguez, Getzlaf (who continues to impress) and the returning Andy Fantuuuuuz we can once again use short to medium passes, complemented by solid running from Cates. Saturday was a good example of how effective that can be. How awesome was it seeing Fantuz back in there? You would hardly know it was his first game back with the catches he was making. He looks like his old self already and he will only get better the more he plays. For the first time in a long time, I thought the play calling was great, seems LaPolice is finally returning to his early season form.
FYI for those of you keeping track at home… we are still undefeated when Belton Johnson plays the whole game. #58 for MVP??
About the only negative to come out of this game surrounds our QB situation (go figure). For the 3rd week in a row, our starting QB threw enough interceptions to get himself pulled. While he wasn’t terrible, Stephen Jyles failed to establish himself as a bona fide starter. Like his predecessors, his downfall was his failure to protect the football. This led to Michael Bishop coming off the bench. Yes, we’ve now gone through the QB batting order and are back at the top of list. To be fair, Bishop played a good half, completing 90% of his passes including 2 TDs. It’s pretty clear that Bishop is now the chosen one going into the playoffs… though to be fair he wasn’t really chosen so much as he was given the spot by default. I will save my thoughts on our QB situation for my next post.
It was a statement victory for the Riders but there’s little time to savour it as we are just 3 sleeps away from doing it all again in Toronto.
Friday, October 24, 2008
With that in mind it’s time for another edition of “Addressing Uninformed Opinions” or as I prefer to call it, “Everyone Is Stupid But Me”.
Addressing Uninformed Opinions: Rider QBs
Uninformed Opinion #1: Darian Durant is worse than Michael Bishop
False. Check the stat sheet ladies and gentlemen because they will show you that Durant is more accurate than Bishop, has a better QB efficiency rating and is a far more effective runner. Also Double D put up 7 TDs compared to 6 INTs whereas Bishop has put up 6 TDs and 8 INTs as a Rider (and he has played more than Durant). Bishop has a long history of failure and general mediocre play. The only thing in Durant’s history is 3 wins and 1 solitary bad game. While Durant may lack Bishop’s arm strength, he outdoes him in every other category and most importantly he gets results (not to mention the fact that he’s at least able to look off a safety).
Uninformed Opinion #2: Darian Durant is a terrible QB
False. He had 1 bad game people, calm down. Ricky Ray also threw 3 INTs in a game this season… bad games will happen. Now I’m not comparing Durant to Ray, but still. Other than a poor showing last game, Durant has been fairly effective at moving the ball. While he’s not all-star caliber yet and certainly can’t walk on water, I’m not ready to give up on him based on 1 bad game.
Uninformed Opinion #3: We Are In Trouble With Jyles As Starter
False. One QB leads the Riders in completion % (by a significant margin), QB efficiency and rushing average… that man is Stephen Jyles. How quickly we forget than Jyles has come in games we are trailing and scored the game winning points on 2 occasions. Aside from his struggles in BC to start the year, Jyles has had nothing but success when he’s on the field. We will be just fine with Jyles running the offense.
Hopefully that clears things up. Now onto the game…
Tomorrow the 10-6 Riders take on the 9-7 Eskimos at a sold-out Mosaic Stadium (17th straight sellout, including every single game this year) in a game with huge playoff implications. Essentially, the loser of this game will finish 4th in the West and cross over to play Winnipeg in the East Semi-Final. The winner remains in the hunt for 2nd place and a home playoffs game.
QB situation aside, the big news for the Riders this week is people returning from the injury list. On defense, Anton McKenzie returns after missing 4 games and John Chick returns (for the 3rd time) after missing 1 game. I’d like to be excited about Chick’s return but given he’s been about as durable as a cheap kleenex this year, I will contain my excitement until he lasts past the 4th quarter stretch. Our offense will get a huge boost from the return of Andy Fantuuuuuuuuuzzz who returns after missing 11 games with a broken fibula. Also returning from a broken fibula is Belton Johnson. For some reason people are overly excited about Belton’s return and are even saying he’s one of the starters we’ve been missing all season. That statement would be true if you changed “starter” to “back-up” and “missing” to “mildly inconvenienced by his absence”. To be fair, we were undefeated until he was injured but that fact is about as meaningless as the relationship I had with that prostitute in Calgary last Thanksgiving. No disrespect to Belton, I think he’s a pretty decent tackle and his return is well-timed given the injury to Smith but I’m just not as excited about it as everyone else seems to be. It is nice to finally be moving in a positive direction injury-wise (though I’m sure this is only a false sense of security and the trend will reverse itself shortly).
The game itself features some interesting match-ups. It will be the 2nd ranked Edmonton passing attack led by the ever dangerous Ricky Ray against the Riders defense which is 2nd against the pass; our dangerous running game against their porous run D; and the best linebacking group in the league against a Eskimo ground game which ranks dead last in the CFL and has been brutal since Maciocia took over. Judging by his rotund figure, Maciocia must avoid running as much in his personal life as he does in his football life.
For the Riders there will be 2 keys to victory. 1 – Stephen Jyles must remain calm, take what the defense gives him, control the ball and use his powerful arm sparingly. Short to medium passes to the likes of Fantuz, Hughes and Dominguez as well as a heavy dose of Cates should keep the chains moving and lead to points on the board. 2 – The defense needs to disrupt the Edmonton passing attack. We need solid coverage on their receivers, particularly on crossing routes and dump passes to the RB (which are Edmonton’s bread and butter). We also need pressure on Ricky Ray. He’s the best in the league and if you give him time he will pick you apart no matter how good your coverage is. Hopefully Chick will give our front 4 a boost because if they continue to get zero pressure, we are in for a world of trouble.
With the regular season almost over and the stakes higher than Pacman Jones’ legal bills, both teams will be going all out (let’s face it, both teams would probably rather be kicked repeatedly in the crotch while being forced to listen to a Bryan Hall marathon than travel to Winnipeg). I expect a heated battle that will come down to a field goal to win the game. Good news for Rider fans is that we have the league’s most accurate kicker in Luca Congi, who, in addition to kicking the longest FG in the league this year, has been lights out this season when it comes to kicking under pressure. Also Edmonton does not have a great record when it comes to kicking game winning FGs against the Riders. If history is any indication if it came down to the Esks kicking a game winning FG, either Omarr Morgan will block it or Edmonton will take an untimely holding call.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
- Kerry Joseph traded – Marcus Crandell is considered terrible, old and incapable of leading the Rider offense
- Game 1 win – Crandell immediately becomes a dangerous QB and the leader of a potent Rider offense
- Crandell gets hurt – Crandell’s status quickly changed from offensive leader to old, washed-up and out of shape
- Rumours surface of a trade to Winnipeg – Fear runs rampant in Riderville that we are giving an opponent a quality back-up QB
- Crandell is cut – Status returns to old, washed-up and ineffective
- Training Camp – His talent is questioned and talk of Drew Tate leapfrogging him begins
- Game 2 win – Status upgraded from Butler-esque career 3rd stringer to minimally competent back-up QB
- Back to back wins – Durant is dubbed the next great QB and the future of the Rider franchise who must be re-signed at all costs
- Injury – Opinion remains unchanged, general view is that upon Durant’s return he will reclaim his role and continue to walk on water
- Returns in relief of Michael Bishop – Looks less than stellar and some questions begin but it’s generally attributed to rust
- Named starting QB again – The saviour of the franchise had returned. Allelulia!
- 3 Ints before halftime – Saviour of the franchise immediately becomes noodle armed failure who’s big mouth and poor play make him expendable come the offseason… if not sooner
- Traded to Riders - Heralded as a great move by Eric Tillman
- Wins 2 games – Dubbed the most physically gifted and exciting QB in the league, a true franchise player
- 4 poor games culminating in 3 INTs and a benching – Bishop suddenly dubbed an idiot who can clearly not lead us in the post season
- Durant falters – People start questioning why Bishop is not playing
- Traded for Perry – hated since we traded an all-star for this 3rd string QB
- 1st Appearance – hated for almost costing us the game
- Wins Toronto game – hated for not being Durant
- Wins Hamilton game – hated for throwing an INT in a winning effort
- Named starter against Edmonton – hated for reasons I still don’t understand
Stay tuned because with 2 regular season games and the playoffs remaining there is still a large part of this chronology left to unfold. I can only assume it will somehow involve Dalton Bell becoming the public's new golden boy... and quickly just as quickly falling back out of favour.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Well… to say the Riders should be proud of this latest win would be like saying you should be proud of barely beating Rick Hansen in the long jump.
Darian Durant came into this game having climbed his way back to the starting role. He looked sharp early and was moving the ball fairly well. He then proceeded to take a page out of Michael Bishop’s book and throw 3 interceptions (2 of which were in the endzone). In true Durant fashion though, he was far more efficient at it then Bishop as it only took him one half to do it. Enter Steven Jyles, whose early struggles did little to appease the sold-out crowd (especially when he added a pick of his own which was returned for a TD). Fortunately he recovered and put together a couple decent drives and that ended up being enough in the end… mainly because Denny Creehan has evidently never heard of the QB draw.
Now I’m sure many of you will be saying that I should be hating on Durant as I did with Bishop given his performance. While I admit that Durant had a bad outing and fully deserved to be pulled I will not equate him with Bishop. While Bishop has a long and storied history of sucking, Durant has done pretty good in his limited action this season. While I’m guessing Jyles will get the start next week, I would not be opposed to Durant being given a 2nd chance on a short leash. He moved the ball effectively, he just made some very poor choices in the redzone.
I was surprised to see James Johnson relegated in favour of Tad Kornegay this week. It’s not that Johnson didn’t deserve it since he’s been fairly brutal the last couple weeks and kudos to Coach Miller for holding him accountable, but I find 2 things odd about this. Last year when Johnson was terrible and getting burned week in and week out, they kept him in and dubbed him an all-star. This year (with the exception of the last couple games) Johnson has been doing very well... and coming from the former president of the James Johnson Hater Club that means a lot. Also, Johnson is far from our worst corner (see: Morgan, Omarr). So if we’re in the business of holding poor performance accountable maybe we should be looking to the other side of the field. Just saying is all.
Seems defensive end is the new receiver when it comes to injury. This week our mandatory injury was Stevie Baggs who injured his MCL. For those of you keeping track at home, our DE position has gone as follows this year: Dek Bake replaced the injured John Chick, Bake was then hurt and replaced with Seante Williams, who was hurt and replaced with Stevie Baggs who is now hurt and his replacement has yet to be named. One would think that finding a DE at this point in the season would be tough but then again how hard can it really be to find another defensive player who can’t get pressure on a QB?
Our kick returning is atrocious and I demand fiduciary compensation for being forced to watch it repeatedly. I would say our return blocking is brutal but that would not be accurate because something has to actually exist before it can be classified as brutal. While Johnson’s impression of playing Dance Dance Revolution may be uncanny, it is not all that useful in a game situation. Also, why do we keep taking holding calls on returns that don’t go anywhere? Generally holds result in impeding the cover team from tackling the returner as he attempts to make forward progress… evidently not in the kooky world of Alex Smith though.
As much as I respect our coaches for the tremendous work they’ve done this year, it’s gotten to a point where I have to question their intelligence of late… particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Why did we do nothing but pass in the 1st quarter when going into the wind and then proceed to run in the 2nd when the wind was at our back? Why did we concede a single point near the end of the first half only to kneel to end the quarter? If you are going to kneel anyway why not run the ball out since field position doesn’t matter! The fact that we were out-coached for the majority of the game by Marcel Bellefeuille should be cause for great alarm.
People keep saying the Riders play to the level of their opponents. That’s not true. This week we played just good enough to beat the Ti-Cats… last week we also played just good enough to beat the Ti-Cats.
To be fair it was not all doom and gloom. It was great to see Wes Cates back chewing up the yards. Matt Dominguez may have been used sparingly but just seeing him catch a ball and bounce back up was pretty awesome. Chris Szarka took full advantage of getting the ball more this game than all season. And Chris Getzlaf turned in another stellar performance and is looking more and more like a keeper each game.
It may not have been pretty but as Man In The Bush always says “Pretty or not, you gotta take what you can get.” For some reason though I don’t think he was talking about football when he made that quote.
Next up is the Edmonton Eskimos in a “Loser travels to Winnipeg” game. That's such a terrible punishment that I'm told Vince McMahon has considered using it as a stipulation in a match at his next pay per view.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Rider Prophet and Danny Brown
Rider Prophet and Nate
Rider Prophet and Gov
Rider Prophet and Sheldon
This last one is a bit outdated but funny nonetheless...
Rider Prophet for Prime Minister
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Wednesday I made a plea to Ken Miller to realize that Michael Bishop was terrible and it didn’t take long for him to take heed. He has announced that Darian Durant would be starting on Sunday and Bishop would likely be dropping to 3rd on the depth chart behind Stephen Jyles. Furthermore, coming into today Bishop had yet to take a single snap in practice. Alleluia!!!! Seems as though the coaches’ patience with Bishop has finally worn out. I guess only managing 5 good quarters of football over 7 games (28 quarters) will tend to put your security in jeopardy. (Hmm 5 for 28… guess Bishop’s good quarter % mirrors his standard completion %).
As much as I love Bishop bashing though, we have more important things to address… Sunday’s game against the Ti-Cats. To be fair though, a lengthy discussion on crocheting techniques would be more important that Michael Bishop but I digress.
Sunday the 9-6 Riders take on the 3-12 Ti-Cats at Mosaic Stadium. Hamilton is of course coached by my old friend Marcel Bellefeuille. Last year Marcel was my most insulted sports figure. This year I have gone fairly easy on him… now that doesn’t mean he’s improved as a coach to the point where it would be wrong to insult him, it’s more a product of that fact that I’ve been too busy insulting the likes of Bishop, Kornegay and Morgan to have any time for Marcel’s failures.
In typical Ti-Cat fashion, their season is already officially over and they are looking to next year. Their string of failure is almost sad… almost but not so sad that I won’t make fun of it. They entered this season with 3 franchise players… Moreno, Printers and Lumsden. Here we are with 3 weeks left in the season and Moreno has been traded for a draft pick, Printers has dropped down the QB depth chart faster than Michael Bishop (which is quite a feat) and Lumsden has dressed in 9 games, played the equivalent of 5 and is now entering his annual season ending surgery. I’d really like to feel bad for them except we also lost our QB, star LB and RB… and managed to turn a plus 500 season in spite of it… guess you can chalk that up to not hiring Bellefeuille and Creehan as coordinators.
How sad is it when we are missing our centre, LB, DE and anything resembling a receiver and we still outmatch Hamilton at virtually every position?
We actually get some good news for a change as we are expected to get 3 offensive players back this week. Vince Marshall is set to return and more importantly so are Wes Cates and Matt Dominguez! Talk about rejuvenating an offense. Last week we played the back-up RB, an idiot QB and our “veteran” receiver was Weston Dressler by virtue of being the only one on the roster for game 1. Now we have one of the League’s top RBs, a QB whose IQ actually exceeds his jersey number and an actual veteran receiver. This can only mean good things in terms of offensive production. Not to mention we get to face a defense run by the worst D-coordinator in the league.
Despite the fact that Hamilton is currently competing with Toronto for the “Most Embarrassing Team of ‘08” (I currently give the edge to the Argos for the record) they cannot be overlooked. They have nothing to lose and have proven that they can be dangerous. Quinton Porter looks like a decent QB (though when following Printers anyone would look like a decent QB), a few promising young receivers and the most amazing depth at RB in the league… well except Lumsden is done for the season… and so is Caulley… and Kenton Keith may have to miss his homecoming due to a laceration on his arm… I guess all Hamilton really has at RB is a white guy named Tre (you should never trust a white guy named Tre).
The key for this game will be for Darian Durant to do what he does best… manage the game. Use short passes and a heavy dose of Wes Cates to move the chains. Defensively, with their RBs decimated, Hamilton’s only real offensive play will be tossing it up high to Rodriguez on the corner route so as long as we can eliminate that (please don’t suck Omarr, please) we should win.
Riders by 10
See you in the stands on Sunday.