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).