Riders 34 – Bombers 31
So allow me to summarize. We entered this game boasting a receiving core featuring a Canadian rookie, someone we cut in training camp, the back-up running back, someone we just signed a week or so ago and a mildly concussed midget. The return of John Chick lasted only a few series until he broke his hand. Chunky Adams also went down meaning Mike Abou-Mechrek briefly made his debut at D-Line. Wes Cates got hit hard and did his best impression of a towering sequoia falling in the forest. We were down 17 points with 11 minutes remaining in the game. And despite all this, we still won!!!! God I love Rider football!
In true Rider fashion, Sunday’s game took fans on an emotional rollercoaster ride. From the highs of scoring on the opening drive and the miraculous come from behind victory to the lows of… well pretty much everything in between.
Now you all know my feelings on Michael Bishop but I will give him credit for coming through when it mattered most. Now if you’re looking for me to retract the negative things I’ve said about Bishop and declare my allegiance to #17 you obviously don’t know me very well. When Bishop learns to quit sucking before the 4th quarter, learns not to take stupid objectionable conduct penalties and when he manages to not almost get pulled by the head coach (which Miller almost did) then I will think about saying he’s a good QB (I’ll think about but, I make no promises even then). So kudos to Bishop for doing what it took to come away with a victory (which in the end is all that counts). He looked good on Sunday but it will take more than one good performance to convince me.
How about our receivers?! For being the smallest and least experienced group in the league they certainly made an impression. Bagg was reliable, Marshall stepped up big time, Dressler played like an all-star and Gerran Walker looks like a keeper. What these guys lack in height and experience they certainly make up for in speed. It must be tough for Bishop to find his receivers since most of their helmets wouldn’t show above our O-line. Fortunately they are all fast enough for the “throw it like hell and hope someone runs under it” passing attack.
Man it must suck to be a Bomber fan. The only that would suck more than that is being an actual Bomber player or coach. The term “monumental collapse” just doesn’t do justice to the Bombers’ performance on Sunday. They outplayed us for 3 quarters and had the relatively easy task of making sure we didn’t score 3 times in 11 minutes to hold on for a big win for their hometown crowd. Suddenly they realized that they were the Bombers and they were playing far too well, so they proceeded to turn in a 4th quarter performance that was indicative of the 2-7 record they carried into the game. To be fair though, it’s hard to blame them for not expecting Michael Bishop to put up 196 passing yds in the final quarter. I mean really, no one saw that coming.
The win keeps us atop the CFL at 8-2 (which is a better start than last year) and leaves us with a 4 point cushion in the West over both Calgary and Edmonton.
Our own Man in the Bush was in Winnipeg for the weekend festivities and he’ll have a special report for us… assuming I can track him down.
As if an exciting Banjo Bowl win and a league best record weren’t enough… my day got even better this morning with this gem of a news story…
The Charlie Taaffe experiment in Hamilton is over, the Ti-cats fired him today. Under Taaffe’s direction the Ti-cats amassed a disgraceful 5-23 record and became the laughing stock of the league. To be fair Taaffe didn’t have a lot to work with… his starting QB is easily the worst QB in the league despite being the highest paid, his RB is the best in the league… well at least for the 6 or 7 quarters that he can stay healthy for in a season, his receivers still couldn't crack the Riders' depleted lineup, and the highly touted safety that was going to help shore up his defense broke his leg in the preseason. But still, coaches are paid to win and in Taaffe’s case Hamilton spent a lot of money on those 5 victories.
Now the fact that Taaffe was fired isn’t what made my day… I have nothing in particular against Taaffe or the Ti-cats. What made my day was the announcement that followed the Taaffe firing. The interim replacement for Taaffe as Hamilton’s head coach is none other than my good friend… Marcel Bellefeuille. Now regular readers will know that Marcel has been insulted more times in this space than anyone else (mainly because he makes it so easy) so it took me a good 5 minutes to stop laughing when I first learned of this move. We’re talking about a guy who has been responsible for some of the league’s worst offenses, most notably the Riders (man those were some painful years) and last year in Montreal where he somehow managed to ruin an offense featuring Calvillo, Cahoon and Watkins (look how good the Als are doing this year without Marcel). The sad thing is, all things considered in Hamilton, Bellefeuille was the best choice by virtue of the fact that he's not Denny Creehan. When Bellefeuille is your best option for head coach, you know your franchise is in shambles.
This move really makes me question what people see in Bellefeuille. After we didn’t rehire him in ’06, he gets an offer to be the receivers coach in Montreal (who was a stronger franchise than us at the time), they then promote him to Offensive Coordinator, he sucks and they cut him loose, then Hamilton picks him up and now they too have promoted him. Not sure how someone who sucks so much keeps getting work… he must interview really well.