Friday, November 28, 2008

Whatever I Was On, It Must Have Been Good: 2008 Prophecies Revisited

Back on June 10th, I made a number of predictions regarding the upcoming season. It’s now time to look back and see how far off I was. Please bear in mind while reading this that not even I, the great Rider Prophet, can account for 7 broken fibulas.

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

Canadian Blog Awards

For the 2nd year in a row The Rider Prophet has been nominated for 4 Canadian Blog Awards and now I need your help. First Round voting runs until Nov 29th so please follow the links below and cast your vote.

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
*Note: Please use caution in pursuing any of the above listed options. In an unrelated issue, it has already been proven that the courts tend to reject the argument "It's okay, The Rider Prophet told me to do it."

Best Blog

Best Blog Post

Best Sports Blog

Best Humour Blog

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Damn You Calvillo

*I sincerely hope all of you read my warning prior to following my “Bet the house on Montreal” advice. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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

Bet The House On Montreal

*Warning: Rider Prophet is not an expert in the field of sports gambling and following his advice may lead to bankruptcy, homelessness and performing sexual favours for drug money.

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

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Yes I know its Tuesday

While I realize that this is later than normal, with the Riders being out of the picture my urge to post in a timely fashion (which wasn’t that strong to begin with) is gone… what can you do? I actually wrote this last night but had some problems with the interweb. As I was writing this I was watching Trent Edwards throw 3 first half INTs on Monday Night Football and couldn’t help but think he would a perfect fit as our next QB.

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

Obligatory Playoff Commentary

Good Day Rider Fans, if you’re like me, your interest in the CFL has probably waned since the Riders were ousted from the playoffs. However, there’s still a number of CFL and Rider stories to talk about (and more importantly, make politically incorrect commentary on) so let’s get down to business.

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

Just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber…

… you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!

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

Monday Morning Sentimonies: F#@% Michael Bishop!!

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.
One final note about the game itself. In a fitting end to the Rider season, Chris Szarka suffered a broken fibula in the second half of the game. I feel bad for Szarka but you almost have to laugh at the whole ordeal.

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

Playoffs on the Prairies

You can feel the excitement building, you can feel the tension rising, you can see work productivity dropping and that can only mean one thing… we are but one sleep away from the West Semi Final.

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

I've Hit The Big Time

Look who is featured prominently on today...

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Mixed Emotions

Riders 45 – Argos 38

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.