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.
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.