Thursday, August 28, 2008

Labour Day Classic ‘08

Well it’s been 5 days since the Michael Bishop trade that rocked Riderville. Now I have made my views on Bishop quite clear in my last post and do not intend to repeat them. Fact of the matter is Bishop is a Rider and will be our starting QB whether I like it or not. But whether you’re a Bishop lover or a sane person, there’s one thing that can unite us all… insulting Bomber fans.

The timing of the annual Labour Day Classic couldn’t be any better this year. This is exactly what we need to put all the negativity surrounding the team behind us and rally together against Winnipeg as a united front.

Regina is preparing for an invasion of toothless halfwits more commonly referred to as Bomber fans. Normally I would say hide the women and children but given that it’s Manitobans it’s more accurate to replace the word women with “anyone closely related to a Manitoban” and children with “attractive farm animals”. If you are approached by one of these creatures, do not fear. They are mostly harmless. Just avoid sudden movement and speak slowly using 1 syllable words and a series of grunts and you should be fine.

Why did O. J. Simpson want to move to Manitoba?
Nearly everyone has the same DNA.

Now onto the game itself…

The game features the Riders who, until lately, have been winning despite not having most of their best players against Winnipeg who has been losing despite having all their good players (well it’s probably best to say starters since "good" doesn’t really describe many of the Bombers).

Last year, Winnipeg came into this game as the top team in the East and boasted the best offense in the league. This year is a decidedly different story. They are tied with Hamilton for last in the league and boast the league’s worst offense and 2nd worst defense. In fact, the only thing Winnipeg seems to excel at is throwing interceptions and missing FGs... they lead the league in those categories. Their only wins this year have come over Hamilton and an upset win over Calgary when Ryan “If Kevin Glenn hadn’t broken his arm no one would know who I am” Dinwiddie saved the day. So all in all I’m about as worried about the Bombers as I am about the threat of a sudden volcano eruption on the prairies.

For the Riders, the game boils down to 2 things: Can our receivers catch, and can we stop the run. If we start completing some passes on offense it will open up the run game and lead to points on the board. If we can contain Charles Roberts (which we couldn’t do with Reynolds or Harris) then it will force Glenn to try and beat us through the air… which he can’t, and thus it will lead to interceptions being tossed up at a Bishop-like rate… sorry… it’ll take me some time to completely come to terms with this Bishop being a Rider thing. You’ll have to bear with me.

There’s just no way I see the Riders not stepping up big time in front of an even bigger crowd than normal. Riders by 12 in an emotional win.

After the game, the whole Rider Prophet crew will be hitting up the Mother of All Parties so if you see me be sure to come up and say hi… though if you want a quasi-coherent response I suggest you come speak with me early in the night.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Now with 50% More Ranting

Riders 10 – Eskimos 27

Who are you and what have you done with my Roughriders?

  • The Riders have one of the top run D’s in the league… the team I watched couldn’t have stopped a senior citizen with a walker from gaining 10 yards a play.
  • The Riders are one of the most disciplined teams in the league… the team I watched took repeated stupid penalties that negated the few decent plays we had.
  • The Riders are the best 4th quarter team in the league… not only did the team I watch not show up in the 4th, they also took the 2nd and 3rd off for good measure.
  • The Riders have one of the smartest GM’s in the league… the team I watched acquired Michael Bishop (which I will get to in minute).
Well I’m not sure what to say about Thursday’s game... Last game the Riders didn’t show up until the 4th quarter. This week evidently they decided to use their one good quarter in the first. After that, things got ugly… like ugly as in if Jason Maas had a kid with a Hamilton Cheerleader ugly.

Basically anyone not named Weston sucked. I was originally going to say anyone not named Weston or Seante but as Media Consultant pointed out, when the defense gives up 225 rushing yards to a team that hasn’t had a decent run game since the Renegades were still around, the DE doesn’t get a free ride.

I’m not sure what made me the angriest… was it the 14 penalties? Was it the continued drops by our receivers? Was it Crandell putting up his worst performance as a Rider? While those things did get my blood boiling it was the play calling then sent me over the edge… we were calling 5 yard outs to Corey Grant while down 17 in the 4th, we were needlessly running Cates at the end of the game risking injury to our top offensive weapon, we put Crandell back in after Jyles got hurt rather than giving Friehauf some garbage time experience. Honestly, did Marcel Bellefeuille sneak his way into the booth?

After 2 straight loses, each in progressively more embarrassing ways, it seems we are back to the drawing board. As Coach Austin said last year “Everything is up for review. Everything”. With that in mind here a few Rider Prophet suggestions for improvement…

  • Quit playing Kitwana at DE. He’s my favourite player but he just can’t play that position. Get him back to being a linebacker where he enjoyed his greatest success.
  • Quit throwing to Palmer. He’s obviously not capable of being the reliable inside threat we need. Throw to Childs instead (who I actually like at slotback… as shocking as that may be to hear coming from me)
  • A Fantuz-style benching is in order for Bowman. On those few occasions he does manage to secure the pass, his YAC yards are awesome. Problem is he can’t seem to catch most of what’s thrown his way. I know we’re short on receivers but this guy needs a wake up call. At this rate, not only will he not make the NFL next year, he may not make the CFL.

This of course brings me to the biggest news from the weekend… the Michael Bishop trade. I’m sure your wondering what the official Prophet opinion on the move is, so here goes… I hate it.

Even I, a staunch Crandell supporter, have to admit that he’s been ineffective for 3 games now and deserved to be benched but at least 50% of the blame has to lie with our receivers who couldn’t catch herpes from the world’s dirtiest prostitute at this point, let alone a football. Was it Crandell’s fault his receivers suck? No. Was it Crandell’s fault we took stupid penalties? With one exception, no. So what exactly will Bishop do that Crandell or Jyles couldn’t have? Would it not make more sense to bring in a receiver?

Admittedly, my opinion of this trade is heavily biased by the fact that I think Michael Bishop is a giant sack of crap and is the most overrated QB next to Casey Printers. Now many do not share my opinion so let me address all you pro-Bishop folks out there with my latest installment of “Addressing Uninformed Opinions" aka "Everyone Is Stupid But Me".

Addressing Uninformed Opinions: Michael Bishop Edition
Uninformed opinion #1: Bishop is a talented QB.
False. Bishop’s career completion % sits under 50% and last season under his guidance the Argos offensive production was the worst in the league. Besides, if Bishop was really as good as some people make him out to be why did the Argos go out and acquire a new starting QB? You didn’t see Winnipeg rushing out to replace Glenn or Calgary relegating Burris to second string.

Uninformed opinion #2: Michael Bishop was 11-1 as a starter last year.
Utterly False. Bishop happened to play in 11 games that his defense won last year. Among starting QBs he posted the worst QB rating, completion % and almost led the league in INTs despite missing roughly 1/3 of the season. Toss in the fact that the Argos led the league in defensive and special teams scoring and you get a pretty good picture of how much Bishop contributed to those wins. Saying Bishop was 11-1 as a starter is about as relevant as saying I was 14-3-1 as a BC Lions spectator.

Uninformed opinion #3: Bishop is the answer to the Riders woes.
False again. Our receivers can’t catch, our playing calling is questionable and our defense is suddenly vulnerable to the run (partly due to being on the field so damn much, but partially due to coverage breakdowns and missed tackles). Will Bishop fix that? No. He couldn't even manage a productive offense despite being blessed with Arland Bruce. What’s he going to do with our receivers? We’re talking about a guy who’s been around for 6 years and never proven he can be a consistent starter. Toronto’s recent success in the post-season should give you a pretty good indication of his ability to lead a team to the top.

Hopefully that clears things up about Bishop. Unfortunately, Tillman and Miller don’t share my opinion and all signs point to Bishop starting on Labour Day. As a Rider fan, all I can do is trust that Tillman knows best. The good news is that since it's a Rider home game, and Labour Day no less, I was going to be drunk anyway. That should help.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back in Action: Riders vs. Eskimos

How did I ever manage to survive the offseason? These past 14 Rider-less days have seemed like an eternity. While I’m sure my liver appreciated the break in the otherwise rigorous schedule that is the regular season, the rest of me did not. But the long wait ends tonight when the 6-1 Riders visit the 4-3 Eskimos in front of an expected crowd of over 50,000 (take that Buffalo Bills).

The Riders have had 2 weeks to think about their first loss of the season and the big question is how will they respond?

On the injury front…The bye week did allow Glen January and James Johnson to get healthy enough to play, however this is somewhat offset by the news that Dek Bake (foot) and Tristan Clovis (personal issues) will not be playing. Normally the bye week helps teams decrease the size of their injury list. The best we can do is an even swap of healthy for non-healthy players (though the way the season has been going I guess we should be happy with an even swap).

The injury to Bake means that newcomer Seante (pronounced Shonte) Williams will start in his place. The last time we had someone by that name on the roster it was 2003 when Shonte Peoples was a Rider and about the best thing I can say about him was that he helped form Frontlyne. Hopefully Williams will do better than that. I wonder if Seante has ever thought about adopting the nickname “Big Te” and forming “New Frontlyne”. Neal Hughes could be the new “Nee Deep” and James Johnson could round out there entourage as “2J”. Just something to think about. Now where was I? Oh yes… the game…

The teams come into this game with some interesting matchups. Edmonton has yet to lose at home, while the Riders have yet to lose on the road. Their offense (led by Ricky Ray) is 2nd in the league, while the Riders have the best defense in the league. The Riders boast one the top run defenses in the league… which won’t really be a factor since Edmonton has absolutely no run game (why they’ve even bothered signing an RB the past couple years is beyond me).

Edmonton’s secondary has had its problems so far this season and that was reinforced in their game against BC. In an effort to strengthen the secondary the Esks acquired former Rider Airabin Justin. Now I was always a big fan of Justin’s and think he’s a very talented player. Normally when our opponents pick up a player of this caliber I would be worried, but given that it’s Edmonton, I’m not worried at all. We’re talking about a team that couldn’t make a descent secondary out of perennial all-stars Omarr Morgan and Jordan Younger and the talented Stanford Samuels. Maccioccia’s coaching will more than compensate for Justin’s talent.

Edmonton has a mediocre defense and no run game so there are really only 2 things we need to worry about - Ricky Ray and Tristan Jackson on returns. If we can contain those 2 we will win. Cates will have a big game as long as our receivers can do something to stretch the defense.

Riders by 5 in a very close game. The difference will be a Wes Cates TD.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Lord How I Miss Rider Football

Well what can I say about the East division games that hasn’t already been said about eating at Arbys… it was a difficult to stomach and left you feeling physically ill.

Last week’s action clearly justified me calling the East the retarded cousin of the West Division.

First there was Hamilton vs. Winnipeg, where Winnipeg was trying their hardest to suck just enough for Hamilton to win but Hamilton was doing their best to hand the game right back to the Bombers. Honestly, when your top offensive plays come from Tom Canada and Joe Lobendahn you can’t really brag about your offensive performance. As for Hamilton, it’s the same old story. Just when you think they’ve turned a corner and are becoming a half decent team, they slip back into their old ways of sucking. If you think our situation at receiver is troubling, just think it could be worse we could be Hamilton. At least it’s our 3rd and 4th stringers who are struggling, Hamilton’s “starting” receivers are the problem.

Then we move on to Montreal vs. Toronto where the only good news for Toronto is that at least 2 east teams make the playoffs and fortunately the other 2 teams competing with them for that 2nd spot are somehow worse than them (*note this is not a compliment to the Argos but rather a statement on the sad state of the other east teams). The Argos still have no offense and their defense seems to get worse each week. In an effort to jump start the offense, Stubler pulled Kerry Joseph at halftime and gave Bishop a shot. The plan would have worked had it not been for the fact that Bishop sucks and his receivers suck more. He went 1 for his first 9 with an INT fueled by no less than 4 drops by his hapless receivers. I guess Adam Rita should have read the warning label before he traded for Kerry Joseph. Had he done that he may have seen this in print:

Warning side effects of spending $350K on a QB may include a disgruntled back-up, lack of an offensive line that can block, terrible receivers, no run game and a head coach who is under qualified to coach even intramural football.

Finally there’s Montreal who are the CFL’s luckiest team because they have been handed 1st place in the East on a platter. Admittedly they are a talented team but given that all their wins are against the East and all their losses are against the West I’m not prepared to say that they are a top team in the CFL. Fortunately for the Als, even if they fail to defeat a West team they will still be a shoe in for 1st place (as sad as that is).

The good news is that bye week is now ever and we can get back to talking about legitimate teams. Riders resumed practicing over the weekend in preparation for Thursday’s showdown in Edmonton. Check back later for my thoughts on that game.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bye Week Blues

Well it’s that time of the season that is loved by players and hated by fans… yes it’s the bye week. This week is a true test of patience for Rider fans as news about the team is about as easy to come by as Olympic medals are for Team Canada…Okay that reference is not entirely fair since there has been at least one Rider news story this week, so it would be more correct to say news about the team is about as easy to come by as Olympic medals are for Team Uzbekistan.

With the West Division on hiatus for the week, I am forced today to comment on the East Division (or as it’s more commonly known, the “retarded cousin of the West Division”), which is normally about as painful as reading Reed's Black's comments. Fortunately, though, this time around the East is such a gong show that it would be travesty not to devote an entire post of my hilarious commentary to it.

The week opens tonight with a showdown of the 2 worst teams in the CFL… Hamilton and Winnipeg. I’ll start with the Ti-cats. This season has confirmed 2 things about the team. 1 – Jesse Lumsden is ridiculously injury prone. When he’s on the field he is without a doubt the top RB in the league, problem is he will never play a full season let alone 3 consecutive games. 2 – Casey Printers is indeed brutal. The Ti-cats are the only team I know whose chances of winning greatly improve when their starting QB gets hurt. I’m not sure how they can justify paying $500K to a guy who has put up a whopping 0 passing TDs when the back-up (who they pay a fraction of that price) managed to throw 3 in one game. At this point they would have been better off to invest the $500K in actual printers, since that would at least provide some benefit to the team. With Williams under centre the Ti-cats are a better team… they are by no means a dominating team but they are mediocre and fortunately for them mediocre is good enough to contend in the East.

Onto the Bombers, who are definitely living up to their name. They were early favourites to repeat as East champs and on paper there is no reason they shouldn’t have. The reality is though they are 1-6 and the team is in complete disarray. Their new kicker is terrible, their old kicker is calling out the head coach in the media, their star receiver is struggling to amass the measly 200 yards he needs to break the all-time receiving record mainly because his old body has been too injured to even make it onto the field, the RB is completely useless (whether its due to play calling or individual performance is up for debate), and they can’t figure out what QB gives them the best chance at not embarrassing themselves. This week they have decided to sit Ryan “The turf was blue at Boise State so sometimes I get confused when I try to find my receivers“ Dinwiddie in favour of Kevin Glenn who looks like a scared little girl on the field since breaking his arm. This week they added Jason Armstead in an attempt to bolster their return game and receivers (normally the phrase Armstead to bolster the return game is an oxy moron but given that the alternative is Fred Reid it is actually a fair statement in this case). In my opinion, Doug Berry is indeed the problem. Quite simply put, the players don’t seem to respect him (not that I blame them for disliking that head case). I don’t see things improving anytime soon for the Bombers… and that suits me just fine given that Labour Day and Banjo Bowl are coming up. Keep up the good work Mr. Berry.

Next we move on to the top 2 teams in the East (though I use that term reluctantly as top in the East is about as big an accomplishment as the participant ribbon I received at my grade 8 track meet)… Montreal and Toronto.

I’ll start with Toronto, which continues to be a gong show. Rich Stubler is a prime example of someone who was promoted to their level of incompetence. He was a great D Coordinator but is a terrible Head Coach. Kerry Joseph clearly misses Kent Austin and the Rider offense. He has thrown only 4 TD passes this year and 6 INTs (he only threw 8 INTs all of last season) and he just generally looks lost out there. Admittedly, he doesn’t have a lot to work with given that his O-line is terrible and last game his best receiver was the 3rd string QB, but still Joseph is certainly not looking like an MVP. Last year, the Argo offense was as bad as this year but the defense and special teams were able to carry them to wins. This year however the defense looks terrible (as evidenced by 2 losses to Hamilton) and can no longer compensate for their complete lack of offense. As with Winnipeg, the Argos’ problem is coaching so until Stubler is axed or relegated back to the defense, things will not improve.

This brings us to Montreal, who are the only legitimate team in the East. As long as they win 2-3 more games they will pretty much clinch 1st in the division. Calvillo looks 10 years younger this season, Avon Coburne is a beast and the Montreal O-line (the worst in the CFL last year) is mysteriously really good this season despite no major player changes. Basically the Als only obstacle to playing for the Grey Cup at home will be if a West team crosses over (correction… WHEN a West team crosses over).

Finally this week, it has been brought to my attention that former Rider Colin Scrivener has been charged with attempted murder after a man was beaten and thrown from a 3rd floor window. Just to be safe I would like to rescind all Colin Scrivener jokes previously made on this blog… especially since I live on the 3rd floor of my apartment building.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Another one bites the dust

Riders 25 – Stamps 30

Well 7 games into the season and we finally discovered what the key to our success so far was… Belton Johnson. When the likes of Flick, Fantuz, Chick and Dominguez went down to injury, the Riders barely missed a beat. But take away Belton (due to another broken fibula… are you freaking kidding me?!?!) and they suffer their first loss of the season. I was as shocked as anyone to discover the importance of #58.

Seriously though, the Riders undefeated streak was halted at 6 games by the visiting Stampeders. Now realistically, losing this game shouldn’t bother me too much. We were a severely injured team taking on a very talented Stamps team that was looking for revenge after only 4 days rest. But the loss does bother me… mainly because it was a very winnable game for us despite our injuries.

If we had done anything at all in the first 3 quarters we would have won. Unfortunately the combination of poor play calling and dropped balls led to 4 point in 3 quarters (1 off a punt single and 3 off a FG following an INT deep in Stampeder territory). Calgary neutralized Cates completely and our passing game was unable to compensate. With our offense struggling, our defense was forced to spend a lot of time on the field and Calgary was able to take advantage of their fatigue. Honestly, on that Rambo touchdown he was so open that he had time to sell Norwex back there. He was like “You want this spray bottle? How about this special cloth? Oh excuse me for a second I have to go catch this ball.”

At halftime it looked like not only would we lose the game but we would do so in embarrassing fashion. Fortunately the fans were once again treated to an exciting 4th quarter. A touchdown off a deflected pass, a blocked punt (by Renauld Williams, who is playing great football) for a TD and a nice catch by Dressler in tight coverage for a 3rd TD led many Rider faithful including myself to think we had a shot at a miracle comeback. And had it not been for Eddie Davis tripping on the game clinching first down we may very well have completed the comeback. Unfortunately our surge proved to be too little too late.

Everyone has been talking about the drops our receivers had. People are being particularly hard on Bowman. While I’m not happy about the drops that he and Dressler had, I’m not about to hang the loss on them. These guys are rookies. Very talented rookies, but rookies none the less. They have played a total of 7 (4 in Dressler’s case) CFL games so should it be a huge surprise that they aren’t quite ready to carry the team? Instead of criticizing our rookies maybe we should be criticizing our veterans. These are the guys who should be stepping up and being leaders on the field. I am very disappointed with Michael Palmer in particular. As a 6 year vet, we need Palmer to step up and be that steady possession receiver inside like Flick and Fantuz were. However, instead of stepping up, Palmer is making more rookie mistakes than our rookies… on a 2 point conversion attempt he runs his route short of the goal line, he fumbles the ball, he stalls drives by dropping key passes. Guess that’s what we get for acquiring someone from the Argonaut school of offense.

Now that I have that mini-rant out of my system, it’s time to take a deep breath and remember that things aren’t all that bad. We are still the top team in the CFL going into the bye week, and still have a 4 point cushion over 2nd place. With the state of the East division, we're likely only a win or two away from guaranteeing ourselves our 7th consecutive playoff appearance. And most importantly, we're not the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Doug Berry isn't our head coach.

What a story that has turned out to be! Many thought that the Bombers would be the team to beat in the East this year (if there is such a thing), but as it turns out, last year's Grey Cup also-rans have stumbled to a hilarious 1-6 record. Coach Berry has announced that Kevin Glenn, dethroned as the Bomber starting quarterback after the first four games of the season, will reclaim his position as starter over the struggling Ryan "I'd be a lot like Brett Favre if I didn't suck" Dinwiddie. This comes just weeks after Berry announced that Dinwiddie would be the starter for the foreseeable future. Then again, when the team's GM employs such tactics as consistently trading away any and all available draft picks and investing money in an aging, injured receiver that wants one more shot at a championship, maybe Berry doesn't deserve so much criticism - foresight doesn't quite seem to be 20/20 in Winnipeg, where the team seems to have the long-term planning of a fruit fly.

Finally, word out of BC is that Joe Smith may be on the trading block. Smith led the league in rushing last season but has fallen out of favour with Wally Buono this season after some very half-hearted performances. Toss in the strong play of Stephan Logan and all signs point to the end of the Smith era in BC. I honestly never thought I’d see the day when a former league leading rusher had his tenure with a team ended due to a love of gardening. I guess truth is stranger than fiction.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Riders vs. Stamps Round 2 (… if we can field a team that is)

It was the best of times. It was the blurst of times... I mean worst of times.

We are the defending Grey Cup Champions. We are the top team in the CFL and we are currently undefeated. As a Rider fan, I should be one of the happiest people in the country. Why is it then that I feel like crying? Mainly because the Riders’ injury list getting so long that it will soon be upgraded from list to full length novel.

Here’s a (not so) brief summary of who’s currently injured: Acree (foot), Berman (achilles), Chick (knee), Durant (ribs), Fantuz (leg), Flick (leg), Heard (knee) Hughes (leg), January (leg), Johnson (concussion), McKoy (knee), Mitchell (leg), Parenteau (knee), Tate (shoulder), Rider Fans (high blood pressure, panic attacks and various stress related disorders).

As if this wasn’t bad enough on its own, we finally received definitive word on Matt Dominguez’s injury yesterday. Matt once again tore his ACL (the same one he did last year) and will be out for the season. Unfortunately, the news came as no surprise given that #88’s knees have historically been about as structurally sound as a Saskatchewan highway. This likely signifies the end of his career, which is a shame. When healthy Dominguez was one of the most dominant receivers in this league, unfortunately his health status can be best described as “slightly better than Nathan Hoffart”. Why are good knees wasted on the likes of Jason French, while Dominguez gets knees that would better suit a senior citizen? It’s just not fair.

But no time to dwell on negatives… It’s game day!

Tonight the 6-0 Riders take on the 3-3 Stampeders in the second round of a home and home series.

Logic would dictate that given the size of our injury list and the talent on Calgary’s roster than the Stamps should win… but that’s not the way I see it.

When you look at this objectively, what has changed from last game? Not a whole lot. Defensively we did a great job of containing the Calgary offense and the only change this week is replacing Heard with Kornegay on the corner. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Heard more than Kornegay (a lot more) but essentially we are replacing a fast DB with no experience with a fast DB with slightly more experience. Calgary has added nothing offensively so I see no reason why we won’t win this battle again. Our defense has been clutch so expect that to continue.

Offensively we are down Dominguez and Hughes but we get back Dressler. I realize this doesn’t quite balance out but with Dressler and Bowman we have two very dangerous weapons to help Crandell exploit the Stamps brutal secondary. I realize that we are lining up our 3rd and 4th stringers at receiver but to be fair the Stamps first string DBs would barely be considered 3rd and 4th stringers on any other team. Calgary will get JoJuan Armour back but, as Wes Cates said, if he makes all the difference in Calgary’s run D, then they are in big trouble. The only reason last week was close was because we scored 1 point in the 2nd half, due mainly to numerous dropped balls. There is no way that happens again.

The final factor to consider is the crowd. The Stamps couldn’t handle the noise in a stadium only half full of Rider fans. How are they going to manage at the sold out Mosaic Stadium? It will be a close game (and take another few years off my life expectancy) but the crowd will spur the Riders on to another emotional win.

Riders by 3.

Elsewhere in the CFL…
Apparently the Eskimos put Brett Favre on their negotiation list a few weeks back. I’m not sure what is more surprising about this news, the fact that the Esks would be interested in Favre despite having the best QB in the CFL and 2 seasoned back-ups or the fact that there is another team other than the Bombers who feel compelled to waste their negotiation list on big names who have no intention of coming north.

Finally, in one of the oddest stories this week, DB Tay Cody has finally reported to the Alouettes. Cody signed a free agent deal with them in the offseason but then never showed up to training camp. Apparently Cody didn’t report as he was dealing with a broken marriage and a lost custody battle. Message to Cody: “I can appreciate that a broken marriage and losing custody of your children is tough but if every pro athlete who got divorced and lost custody of their kids took 3 months off, there’s not a pro sports team out there that would be able to field a team.”

That’s it for now. See you in the stands and be sure to be loud (if you can speak on Friday morning you are not a true Rider fan).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The 2008 Rider Season: A Biblical Explanation

At the start of the 2007 season, Tillman was confident in his team. But he wanted to be assured of success so he cut a deal with the devil. The Devil said he would grant Tillman a magical season and a Grey Cup in exchange for 2008 season full of losing and misery. ET, wanting desperately to bring the cup home to Saskatchewan, begrudgingly agreed and the Devil held up his end of the bargain by making us Grey Cup champs in a truly memorable season.

After the game the Devil showed up and reminded Tillman of the deal. Tillman informed the Devil that he was well aware of the deal but added that it would be tough given all the talent he had. The Devil could see that Tillman could not be trusted to uphold the deal on his own. So he decided to level the playing field by getting rid of Kent Austin, Kerry Joseph, and Fred Perry.

So the 2008 season began and the Devil was anxiously awaiting the cries of agony that would soon come from Riderville. But much to the Devil’s surprise the Riders won and there was much rejoicing. The Devil was furious, how could the team possibly win without their coach, QB and star DE? Well the devil was not about to let some mortal outsmart him.

In Game 2, he struck down Crandell, Flick and Mitchell, thinking that this would surely be too much for the Riders to overcome. But they somehow prevailed and the rejoicing continued.

In Game 3, he took our very promising kick returner as he was making the biggest play of his young career. But they somehow prevailed again and the rejoicing gained momentum.

By Game 4, the Devil decided to play hard ball and took John Chick. He then grinned at Tillman and said “You can’t beat the Devil, Eric”. But it was ET who had the last laugh as the Riders prevailed against overwhelming odds and the rejoicing grew even louder.

By Game 5, the Devil was through playing games and went on a tear, striking down Durant, Fantuz and Johnson. The Devil was convinced that he had finally won his little feud with Tillman; a 3rd string QB and a bunch of back-up receivers couldn’t possibly topple the reigning league MOP… but somehow they overcame the adversity and extended their winning streak.
The rejoicing could be heard for miles around.

The Devil was furious! He went to Tillman and screamed “We had a deal Eric! You have your ring now I want the province-wide misery I was promised!” Tillman calmly looked the Devil in the eyes and said “Look, I know what we agreed on but I simply can’t seem to lose. Guess I’m just too good of a GM"

The Devil decided that this would all end in Game 6. He struck down everything in his sight… Dominguez, Berman, Hughes, Parenteau and Heard. He then took a seat beside Tillman as the clock wound down in Calgary. “Times run out Eric” he sneered. But as DeAngeles’ game winning kick sailed wide, Tillman stood with a grin and patted the Devil on the back and said “Better luck next time”. As Tillman strutted out of the room the Devil screamed “This isn’t over!!”

So my friends, the amazing story that is the 2008 season is a result of a bitter feud between Eric Tillman and Satan that shows no sign of ending in the near future.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Calgary Photo Journal

As promised here are some pictures from this weekend's game in Calgary.

Pre-gaming at the Keg which was also overrun by Rider Fans. Note the confused look on the face of one of the few Stamps fan brave enough to join us.

Kumar enjoys a burger after his recent escape from Guantanamo Bay… No word yet as to the status of Harold.
Rider Prophet and Big Norm

The Rider Prophet and CRF

On to McMahon where the endzones were a sea of green

Bring Em Out, Bring Em Out!

The stands midway through the 1st Quarter. Seems many Stamps fans came dressed as empty seats.

The stands when the clock hit 0. Note that the Stamps fans are still doing their best impression of empty seats

Post Game Celebrations

The Rider Prophet politely responds to the jeers of Stamp fans....

... By pointing out the scoreboard!

Rider Prophet with Marcus Crandell after the game. By the way, Crandell is still undefeated as a starting QB this season… just saying is all.

And thus concludes my photo journal. Check back later for my thoughts on the upcoming rematch.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday Morning Senitmonies: I’m Back

Riders 22 - Stamps 21

Ladies and Gentlemen the Rider Prophet is back. I enjoyed my time off . Did a little camping, went on a canoe trip, made the trip to Calgary for a very memorable game (which I will get to in a minute) and even squeezed in a Weird Al concert (which was awesome for the record). Thanks to Media Consultant for running things in my absence. Rather than comment on anything Media Consultant posted while I was away, I will just suggest you re-read the disclaimer I posted before I left as it pretty much covers things. But I’m back so let’s get down to business.

What a game! Yet again the Riders pulled out another exciting win. And yet again the tension of the final minutes of the game took another 3-4 years off my life expectancy (which wasn‘t that long to begin with).

The air was electric as an army of green descended on McMahon Stadium to watch the undefeated Riders take on the arch-rival Stampeders. The Riders did everything they had to early - they shut down Burris and the high powered Stamp offense and they put up points en route to a 21-7 lead at the half. The 2nd half was a different story though. The Stamp O got it going and ours petered out. Though to be fair a big reason for our poor offensive output late in the game was the fact that we were too busy trying to figure out what plays we could run that didn't have any receivers in them. But credit the Riders for not giving up, especially the defense who came up big yet again, most notably on the stuff on 3rd and 1. For the record, the hand-off to the RB on 3rd and 1 is dumbest play in football (fortunately for us Calgary would tend to disagree).

In the end it wasn’t a pretty win, but when when time expired we were still undefeated… and not just the metaphorical undefeated like the .500 Stampeders, the actual undefeated as in 6 and 0.

Once again the win came at a high cost as Dominguez (knee), Hughes (fractured fibia), Parenteau (knee) and Berman (blown achilles) all went down to injury. Add this to a list that already includes Durant, Flick, Fantuz, Acree, Getzlaf, McCoy, January, Mitchell, Johnson, Dressler and Chick. I honestly think we had fewer talented players in the entire 1990s than we currently have on our injured list.

As a result of the never-ending string of injuries to our receivers I recommend coach Miller institute a new policy banning YAC yards. From now on when any receiver makes a catch they should immediately drop to the ground and assume the fetal position. I would also recommend throwing only to the sidelines in an effort to further reduce risk. It may not be the most effective offensive plan but at least we might be able to make it through a game without losing a receiver.

What’s with all the injuries you ask? My theory is that Tillman has decided that he is so much smarter than every GM in the league and no longer feels challenged and has decided to secretly remove calcium from the players’ diet to make things more interesting for himself.

I would like to end by briefly commenting on the Stampeder fans. Some of you are very good natured and very intelligent when it comes to football. Unfortunately you are not in the majority. From beaking Rider fans despite being down 2 TDs at half, to wearing Flames shirts to the game, to requiring an announcer to tell you when to cheer. I haven’t seen a such collection of morons since they tried to resolve the last NHL lockout. But my personal favourite was hearing “Riders Suck” chants as I left the stadium. Now I realize that I have a severely biased opinion when it comes to the Riders but how on earth can you say the defending Grey Cup Champs who are still undefeated, suck? Especially after they just beat you. Man if we suck and just beat you, that must mean the Stampeders are the worst team in the West Division… oh wait, that’s exactly what they are.

Enjoy the win while you can Rider fans, because we do it all again on Thursday.

We took some pictures from our Calgary road trip. So check back tomorrow for my photo journal from Calgary.

I’m the Rider Prophet and those are my sentimonies.

Friday, August 1, 2008

To Beat A Dead Horse

First of all, I propose that we change the name of the Saskatchewan Roughriders to the Saskatchewan Dangerfields. Because we just can’t get no respect. Maybe it’s the numerous injuries, maybe it’s the lack of dominant wins, but this has got to be the least feared 5-0 team in the history of professional sport!

All things considered though, I’m okay with that mindset. Actually I think it stems from when the Riders were still a bad football team that would celebrate a 6 win season. The rest of the league and its fans were right to disrespect those teams. But here we are in 2008 and we finally have a team that just somehow finds ways to win – going back to last season, the Riders have dropped only one of their last 14 games.

All of that said though, I do see the game in Calgary this weekend being the toughest test that the team has had to face yet. There are interesting match ups across the board in this one. For instance:
  • Calgary’s strong offense against the league’s stingiest defense – which is still relatively healthy
  • A Stampeders secondary that is susceptible to the pass against a quarterback that may be rusty and a receiving corps that has been devastated by injuries
  • Wes Cates, the league’s leading rusher and touchdown producer, against the team that has been best against the rush to date (although they have been somewhat untested in this area - personally I think Cates will run all over the Stamps)

    At first glance, not much to pick from between these two teams. But my favourite match up in this game, and the one that just might make all the difference, is the Riders ability to step up in the fourth quarter to win a game against Calgary’s ability to implode in the dying seconds.

    These breakdowns may be directly tied to the previous points though – Calgary fans have been heard to claim that their team would also be undefeated if only they hadn’t given up late touchdowns against Edmonton and Winnipeg. I disagree - it’s my opinion that Calgary may be undefeated if only they had bothered to invest in a secondary. I mean really, saying that those two plays made all the difference is like arguing that Chris Walby would have been a great colour man if only he could stop saying such dumb things - possibly true, but there’s really nothing anyone could do to stop it.

    The turning point in this one really could be home field advantage. So with that in mind, I gotta like the Riders chances! Now if you’ll excuse me… I have a plane to catch.