Saturday the Riders (7-6) take on the Argos (3-10) at Mosaic Stadium. The timing of the game is just further example that the schedule makers are just trying to piss off the fans. After enduring afternoon games in the scorching summer heat, those geniuses now offer us up evening games in the chilling cold of winter. Maybe it’s just a conspiracy by the league to drive up sales of team blankets, jackets, and toques.
Unfortunately the Rider Prophet will be unable to attend Saturday’s frigid affair because I have to attend a wedding. Believe me I am none too impressed. Given that the bride and groom are both from Saskatchewan, they should have known better. In the hopes of preventing others from encountering this unfortunate wedding inconvenience, I have developed 3 guidelines for scheduling weddings in Saskatchewan that I feel should be enacted into law:
1 – Every attempt should be made to schedule the wedding between December and June. The first 2 Saturdays in September are also acceptable.
2 – Failing #1, two tentative dates for the wedding should be scheduled. That way if the first date happens to conflict with a Rider game, a quick switch to the second option can be made.
3 – Don’t get married. Seriously… poor life decision.
Bold prediction for Saturday… Prophet spends excessive amounts at the toonie bar and ends up offending at least one member of the bridal party’s family.
Anywho, given that most of you will actually be able to attend/watch this one I suppose I should at least make an attempt to break down the game.
Toronto is terrible, there’s just no way of putting it lightly. Personally I’m shocked that a head coach with zero CFL experience who hired a coaching staff also with zero CFL experience is failing so miserably. It seemed like such a great idea at the time. Under the direction of Count Andrus-ula, the Argos offense has been atrocious. Here’s a list of reason why the Argos offense does not scare me…
- they are last in points scored
- they are last in rushing and second last in passing
- their top receiver is a guy they signed partway through the season and he wouldn’t crack the top 3 on most other teams. Their #2 receiver is the running back
- close to half of their entire offensive output comes from Jamal Robertson
- they have the worst giveaway-takeaway ratio at -16
- the only thing they lead the league in is sacks allowed and penalties.
- they can’t decide which of their QBs is crappier at this point
- their head coach is most likely a vampire only instead of saying “I want to suck your blood” he tends to drop the last 2 words.
That list is by no means exhaustive.
Defensively they actually aren’t all that bad. They have allowed the 2nd least yards and have the #2 best run D in the league. They have a pretty solid front 7. While they are good at playing defense they are even better at taking dumb penalties. Couple that with a weak secondary and an offense that couldn’t sustain a drive if their life depended on it and you can see why the Argos have given up more points than any other eastern team. Though if you ask the Argos defensive coaches (who like Andrus) are new to the CFL, their struggles on defense are due to their inability to force their opponents into 4th down situations.
The Riders will be without the services of Jamie “The Juggernaut” Boreham who suffered a neck injury while turning Grice-Mullen into a human carousel. So for the foreseeable future Luca Congi will handle all the kicking duties. Congi is a decent enough punter but hopefully he’s improved his kick-off skills since the last time I saw him because otherwise we might as well just go for the onside kick every time since his actual kick offs historically haven’t gone much farther.
The keys to the game are fairly simple. On defense, shut down Robertson. There is no way that the Argos will beat us through the air. We also need to take advantage of a weak O-line and repeatedly hit whichever QB they decide to serve up. Offensively we just need to control the ball. A couple big defensive plays from the Argos could swing momentum to their side. If we can just control the ball and sustain drives our defense should be able to easily keep them out of the endzone.
Toronto will fight hard and it won’t be the blow out many are predicting but in the end even if we turn in a mediocre performance it will be more than enough to defeat the lowly Argos who have yet to beat a western team this season.
Riders by 10
Around the CFL…
The Riders are taking advantage of the expanded practice roster to take a look at a couple prospects who have been cut by NFL teams. RB Marcus Thigpen, DT Vaalyn Jackson and WR Jeremy Gilchrist (who was supposed to be here for training camp but had passport issues) arrived in town this week. Sadly, the additional players on the practice roster came at the expense of another player. Justin Beaver was released to make room for the new trio. When asked about the move, Rider staff said the decision was not an easy one but in the end it was in everyone’s best interest to trim Beaver from the roster. Personally, I don’t think it’s that hard of a decision. Cutting Beaver is always a good decision… much like cutting Bush was.
In Winnipeg, my old friend James Johnson had his season ended when he was placed on the 9 game injured list. While I’d prefer to be able to watch him join Michael Bishop in embarrassing himself for my viewing pleasure, I guess you can’t always get what you want. JJ kind of had a rough go in Winnipeg this season though. When he arrived he was determined to be the second best J Johnson at on the corner and saw Jovon take the starters role. Then they put him on kick returns but before long he was yet again the second best J Johnson at that spot and had Jovon take that role away from him. I think the only suitable ending for this story would be if Jovon suffered a season ending injury and ended up rendering James as the least talented J Johnson on the 9-game.
Lastly, does anyone else find the parallels between BC and Winnipeg amusing. In BC, Buono told Paul McCallum that he was old, crappy, had no place on the team and should pursue a trade. A few days later Buono abruptly changed his tune when he realized Sean Whyte was terrible and offered McCallum his spot back. In Winnipeg, Kelly told Barrin Simpson that he was old, crappy, had no place on the team and should pursue a trade. A few weeks later Kelly abruptly changed his tune when he realized Joe Loebendahn was injured and offered Simpson his spot back. Personally I hope both these players are still pissed off at their respective head coaches and look to screw them over. Just imagine McCallum lining up for a game winning FG, intentionally shanking it and flipping off Wally as he walks off the field and into retirement. Or Simpson squaring up for a tackle that would prevent a game winning TD by the opposition then suddenly turning around and spearing Mike Kelly through the trainer’s table instead. Maybe I just watched too much wrestling a kid.