Riders 37 - Ti-Cats 24
Saturday the Riders got back in the win column with a victory over the visiting Ti-Cats. The game left me with fairly mixed emotions. Of course a victory against a talented roster (I firmly believe the Ti-Cats are a better team than their record would indicate) is exciting… especially when it leaves you with a 4-1 record. But the game featured such a mixture of great things and bad things.
The good things:
- Our O-line - after getting embarrassed in Calgary that put in a solid performance.
- Wes Cates - he is back to the powerful workhorse he was in ’07 and ’08. He is running very consistently, chewing up yards and moving the chains. Not to mention that amazing catch he made. We also continue to limit opponents’ rushing fairly effectively.
- Special Teams - I was most impressed with this group. Our kicking was outstanding. We were forced to put our chances for victory in the hands (or leg) or Luca Congi and he responded with a perfect outing. Eddie Johnson was very impressive also. He’s got some work to do on his placement but he showed that he has the booming leg we’ve been missing. That one punt he kicked didn’t look like it was ever going to drop (much like Man in the Bush’s left testicle). Lastly our return game actually looked good for once as opposed to the retarded group of lost souls stumbling around the field that we had become accustom to in the opening games.
- Andy Fantuz - When your face ends up on cereal box there’s a certain amount of pressure on you not to suck… Fantuz continues to live up to the hype. There’s good and then there’s cereal good. I just wish he’d take off that ridiculous wig.
- Luck was on our side. Bad hands on catches and snaps by Hamilton (as opposed to any great defensive play) led to 2 INTS and a blocked kick for us. I guess you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. That said the hands Mullinder showed on his were pretty impressive.
The bad things:
- Ineptness on the goal line. We repeatedly made our way down to the goal line only to produce failure after failure and be forced into settling for FGs (and nothing at all in the case of that INT). You are not going to beat many teams with only FGs… well since we play in a division with Edmonton and BC we probably could but the point remains we need to find a way to score majors.
- Pass defense - actually pass defense might be the wrong term since that would actually imply stopping something. How about pass observance or pass allowance. I realize that Arland Bruce is one of the best in the game but at some point after the first 8 catches you think maybe we could have clued into their game plan and done something about it. Seriously what was the conversation among our secondary? “Hey I’ll take McDaniel. You take Bauman and you take Mann… he’s thrown to Bruce the last 10 times so odds are good he won’t be passing to him anymore today”
- This as been a recurring problem. Overall we seem to do okay but each week there seems to be one receiver we just can’t handle. Watkins in week 1, followed by Simon, Stamps, Bryant… all put up huge yards and all but Stamps scored multiple times. Its as if Etch is designing his pass D around American offensive formations.
Now I’d feel a lot worse about these things if it weren’t for the fact that we keep winning. I mean really, Etch can allow Bruce to break all the records he wants as long as we keep winning. That said I don’t victories will keep coming so easy if we don’t fix our porous pass D, especially if our offense continues to be hit and miss. Oh well for now we can enjoy the win and begin to work on our obvious areas of weakness ahead of a tough Friday road game.
Of course the big story around the league this week as the firing of Danny Maciocia in Edmonton. Now the move itself is hardly surprising since Maciocia has single handedly been responsible for the worst run in the history of the franchise. This move was about 4 years overdue. But the timing was a big surprising since they chose to fire him after a win. But I guess its fitting that after getting repeatedly promoted for losing, that Maciocia got fired for winning. I will have a special salute to Maciocia later in the week.
One name being floated around for the vacancy is of course Eric Tillman. Now that would be a great move for the Eskimos and bad news for the rest of the division. It would also completely throw the Argos’ succession plan out the window as they are currently waiting out the last year of Adam Rita’s contract so they can bring in Tillman when it expires. How funny would it be for the Argos to preemptively fire Rita and hire Tillman before the Esks get a chance?