So how about that Michael Bishop? I realize that there were other factors that led to the loss (which I will get to later) but after spending the better part of 2 weeks having people bug me about how good Bishop is, I would like to take this opportunity to prove yet again that everyone is stupid but me.
A completion % just above 50%, an INT, 2 Fumbles (one of which he lost) and sacked 6 times including twice in a row on the final drive of the game… seriously, if Marcus Crandell had turned in that kind of production people would have been calling for his head. Bishop is quickly turning into the 2008 version of Rocky Butler. He wins 2 games against the worst team in the league and people inexplicably mistake his ability to look moderately impressive against a pathetic team for all-star caliber talent. Then we play a legitimate team and low and behold he no longer looks like the saviour of the franchise he was made out to be. Bishop has the same problem Steven Jyles had in his debut… he’s in love with his arm strength. A few of those sacks were a result of him ignoring short routes and looking for long balls that just weren’t there. Bishop made some good plays but overall failed to prove he’s capable of getting the job done against a strong western opponent.
To be fair to Bishop, our O-line and play calling were terrible and are equally to blame for what happened. The O-line was in tough against the best front 4 in the CFL but 2 guys were routinely breaking through into the backfield. You can’t expect perfection against Wake, Johnson and Hunt but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to not let them all through on every play. And the play calling?! Message to LaPolice: if you notice the D-line is getting ridiculous pressure on your QB why not try some hitches, screen plays or possibly a few short passes to ease the pressure. When a D-line as good as BC knows that you are looking for the long ball, they will just pin their ears back and run right at the QB. You have to change your play calls at least a bit to slow those big boys down.
Overall our receivers had a pretty good game. Dressler is now our leading receiver (ahead of the running back and another rookie receiver on the 9 game) and making a strong case for rookie of the year. And how about that catch from Michael Palmer? I couldn’t believe my eyes. Then he proceeded to fumble it and I started believing my eyes once again, but still it was a hell of a play. Special mention to Adam Nicolson who made his Rider debut. The 2007 1st round pick, managed to rack up 53 yards and a TD against the team that cut him. Hauling in that TD in front of Wally Buono must have felt pretty sweet. It’s too bad we were losing at that point because I would have loved to have seen Nicolson give Buono a DX-style crotch chop. Suck It!
Defensively, we did a decent job of stopping the run but unfortunately our secondary (which has been very good this season at limiting big plays) was unable to contain Simon and Jackson. Omar in particular had a bad day. I never thought I’d say this but I wish Morgan could be more like James Johnson.
The night of course started off in true Rider fashion… with a broken fibula. That’s 6 on the year and 3 at BC Place for those of you keeping track at home. This time the victim was Brandon Lynch, and while you can hardly consider him a key player, this is another blow to a team struggling to field a team week in and week out. Given that the Seattle Seahawks are in somewhat the same boat as us when it comes to receivers, maybe we could amalgamate for the remainder of the season so that both teams are at least able to field a full roster.
Speaking of injured players. The sheer number on our team has made a very busy man out of Eric Tillman. In addition to having to worry about finding enough players to field a 46 man roster, he also has to find guys for his practice roster (since most of our former practice roster is now starting). League rules state that we need at least one Canadian on our PR so Tillman had to go out and find one. He didn’t have to look far as he found a receiver right here in Regina by the name of Patrick Thibeault. Thibeault, as you may remember, spent several seasons with the Riders earlier in the decade before going on to become a big deal in the local boxing community. So now the Riders have a converted running back and a boxer catching passes, and a running back that was discovered while working at a gas station... they're pretty much a convicted felon, a SWAT team officer and Keanu Reeves away from a real-life version of The Replacements.
For the record, I wanted to write a joke that specifically focused on Patrick Thibeault, but that turned out to be a little harder than I thought given recent history. Just two weeks ago, I wrote in this space: "Yep, our receiving corps now officially falls directly between "Danny McManus looking to run" and "the return of Patrick Thibeault" on the list of things that scare a defense." And now he's back! What can I even say to that? It's as if he's become his own punch line. Two rabbis walk into a bar, yada yada yada... Patrick Thibeault! (Cue the laughter)
Overall the loss isn’t the end of the world. We played a close game with a very good team and still have a chance to split the home and home (which I think we’d all be happy with). Hopefully, a sold out crowd this Saturday will give the Riders the edge they need to bounce back.
Around the CFL (in point form this week since the other 3 games were brutal)…
- Toronto is in shambles and if it weren’t for the fact the league mandates a 46 man roster, Don Matthews would probably cut everyone not named Dorsey.
- Montreal’s defense should hang their heads in shame and every Alouette fan should get to boo them for a solid 5 minutes. What a disgraceful performance.
- The Hamilton/Edmonton games featured 8 picks and was more painful to watch than that damn Rita McNeil Christmas special the CBC insists on showing every December.