Riders 14 – Eskimos 17
The game started out exactly how we all expected. Riders built up a comfortable lead and managed to chase Ricky Ray from the game. But apparently the team only got as far as the end of the first quarter when they were game planning because the ensuing 45 minutes among the worst minutes of Rider football I’ve been subjected to recent memory. 47 scoreless minutes may be considered an exciting soccer game (well, not by me, but in general) but in football (aka a real sport) it is an embarrassment plain and simple.
It’s a sad state of affairs when your longest offensive play of a game comes in the first 5 minutes of the game… from your safety. But that’s exactly what happened when James Patrick picked off a pass from Ricky Ray that seemed to be intended for Lance Frazier and took it to the house. It was the first of 3 first INTs for Patrick (who is emerging as a star at the safety position) who played an outstanding game. Actually, I thought the defense as a whole played well. Other than some initial difficulty containing Zebranksy, they did their job. They allowed only 1 TD and the only reason that happened was because a blocked punt gave the Esks the ball on the 8 yard line. They did everything they could including chasing 2 Eskimo QBs from the game so my hats off to the defense on a solid performance.
Actually the way the game was unfolding was giving me flashbacks to the ’07 Grey Cup. The heavily favoured Riders struggling offensively. The hopes of the other team placed on an inexperienced QB from Boise. One lone DB single-handedly having to win the game for the Riders. Only difference was that I actually respected the hero DB this time instead of wanting to go slam my head against a wall repeatedly every time I heard who got the INT.
The rest of the team however, played like absolute garbage. While there were so many craptacular performances, I would like to focus on 3 in particular. The first craptacular performance is the most obvious… Darian Durant. Last year, Durant spent the bye week in the film room and it turned out to be the turning point of his season. This year he did the same but it seems to have had the complete opposite effect. He looked brutal out there. This has led me to wonder if someone accidentally switched the game film he was supposed to be studying with the Best of Nealon Greene circa 2005, Man In the Bush doing the charleston or possibly this…
Double D was forcing throws, making poor reads/decisions and lacked the confidence and leadership he has become famous for.
The 2nd craptacular performance I would like to mention is Doug Berry. Now admittedly Durant’s poor execution may have made our offensive game plan look worse than it was but still, it was pretty bad. There were just so many glaring problems with our schemes. Edmonton’s run defense is brutal yet we were unable to take advantage. Cates had some early success but when the Esks adjusted and plugged up the middle we refused to change anything. We just kept running Cates up the middle into a pile of defenders. We made no attempt to bounce him outside. We also didn’t use Durant’s legs at all. It was mind boggling how we refused to attack their greatest weakness.
Also, the whole “Make our worst receiver the focal point of your passing attack in an attempt to make him feel like a big boy again” was just ridiculous. I’ll even put aside my blatant hated of Rodriguez for a minute (and the fact that he served up an easy INT)… fact remains pound for pound he is at best our 3rd best receiver (personally I’d rank him 5th behind Getzlaf and Clermont but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here). Even more infuriating than our over reliance on Rodriguez is the miss-guided ways we are using him. He is a tall receiver who is a natural WR since he can stretch the field and beat DBs for jump balls… at least that’s how a logical coach would do things. But Berry seems to have determined that 95% of Rodriguez’s routes should be quick screens and short crossers. Which makes complete sense since it allows him to use none of his physical attributes to his advantage. All Prechae really has going for him are his physical attributes (it’s certainly not his effort or ability to fight for the ball) but we refuse to use them to our advantage. Might as well just put Clermont out there and appease the masses if that’s all you are going to ask of your wideout.
The last craptacular performance I will mention is Jim Daley (a repeat offender in the field of craptacularness). Blocked punt – check. Non-existent return game – check. Blocking scheme that seems to involve our blockers pretending they are matadors and letting every opposing player get a free shot at our return guy – check. Remind me again why this guy is still employed. When pretty much every aspect of your special teams is terrible and a liability shouldn’t that be a sign that maybe the guy who coordinates it all is to blame? Sure our coverage on kicks is good but if that is what is considered acceptable for a special teams coordinator we might as well just give the job back to Alex Smith. He managed to field good coverage and poor returns without all the embossing failures that Daley brings to the table.
There is no way we should have lost that game. Edmonton didn’t play that well we just managed to suck more than they did. Hopefully getting humbled by a bottom dwelling team will serve as a wake-up call for this team. We have loads of talent and the potential to be an elite team but unless we start translating that into consistent performance in all 3 phases of the game we will never realize our potential.
The good news is that Labour Day is up next and the perfect cure for our current unhappiness is repeated insulting of our neighbours to the East… and all their uncle-daddy’s, sister-nieces and momma-goats.