Thursday, September 30, 2010

Burris Photo Controversy

By now I’m sure you have all seem this photo or one of the other similar ones of Henry Burris posing in a bra. The photos have been making their rounds behind the scenes for a number of weeks but they were finally thrust into the public spotlight this week.

There is a clear split in how people are reacting to the photos. Some people are trying to make a big deal out of it while others (namely Burris) are blaming Rider fans for trying to make something out of nothing.

Personally I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Who among us has not had an embarrassing photo taken of them? But what I find way more entertaining than the pictures themselves is Burris’ response. Pretty much every embarrassing photo has the same explanation: I was drunk. Had Burris just come out and said that he got super blitzed because he had had 3 sips of a wine cooler and next thing he knew he was being photographed in a bra the story would likely have just gone away. However, Burris’ actual explanation is that is was a “harmless birthday prank” that his wife knows about and that its Rider fans fault for try to stir up controversy.

Let’s take a closer look at each part of his “story”…

It’s Rider Fans Fault

So it our fault that Burris was stupid enough to a) put on a bra and b) get his picture taken while wearing it? This is the information age and you have to assume as a celebrity that any photo or video of you will likely be made public (this is why I will never ever be able to run for public office). Blaming us for the pictures is like Germany saying it was Poland’s fault they invaded them since there were conveniently located so close.

It’s A Non-Issue Because His Wife Knew About It

Bullshit!! If my fiancĂ©e saw a picture of me without my shirt on with a young lady who also didn’t have her shirt on, it would be an issue alright. In fact she’d likely murder me… or dole a punishment so severe that it would make Lorena Bobbitt look merciful by comparison. I can’t imagine too many women being okay with those kind of photos, especially when the excuse is a “birthday prank”.

Birthday Prank

What the hell kind of people celebrate a birthday by taking their close off and swapping underwear?!? I could maybe see that at a keys party but not a birthday party. I’d hate to see their version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Further more how do you “trick” someone into to taking their shift off and putting on a bra? Did Henry think they were just putting the party hats in the wrong place? I’m not sure it can even be called a prank when a guy willingly takes his shirt off, puts a bra on and smiles for an entire roll of film.

Based on the facts available there are only 3 explanations I can come up with for this whole fiasco.

1 - Burris is messed up and hangs out with people just as messed up as him.

2 - The Burris’ are swingers

3 - This was the beginning of Burris’ training to vie for the next drag queen competition (not there’s anything wrong with that)

I won’t speculate on which one is correct. As I said I could care less about the photos, I’m just entertained by Burris’ lame attempt to explain them.

This isn’t the first time that controversial pictures of Burris have surfaced. Back in 2007, in a Rider Prophet exclusive, the following photo of Burris was uncovered… and I personally think that what he is doing in this picture far worse than the bra ones.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Riders Get It Done On The Road

Riders 32 – Ti-Cats 25

Coming into this game I thought we matched up well against the Ti-Cats and should in theory be able to defeat them but given that the team tends to forget to pack their talent when they go on the road I was a bit apprehensive about our ability to turn theory into reality. In theory communism works… in theory.

The way the first few series of the game went had me convinced that we were about be treated to yet another horrific road performance. First we managed to let them score their a TD so fast that I’m not sure that the anthem signer had finished saying “we stand on guard for thee” yet. Then our defense followed up by treating us to a rarity in football. They managed to stuff the Ti-Cats 3 times from the 1 (which is an amazing defensive showing) yet still manage to give up a TD because we couldn’t grasp the simple concept of lining up without your fingers going over the big line of paint (I can only assume that these same people had trouble colouring within the lines). Needless to say at that point I was pretty sure that the only way that the Riders were ever going to win outside of Mosaic again was if the team were relocated and their home games were played elsewhere.

Fortunately unlike previous games where the teams’ talent was left at home, this time the talent must have just missed the original flight and caught a later one because in the 2nd quarter something clicked and the team started to play up to their potential. Durant put on an aerial show (minus a couple ill-advised throws and that whole “fumbling when all we needed to do to win the game was not fumble” thing). Though Fantuz wasn’t the focal point of our attack (he did have an amazing one handed grab), the attention he drew from the defenders opened things up for Getzlaf, Bagg and Dressler whose TD catch was simply unbelievable. This was one of those rare football plays where Rod Black would have been right in his element. I mean a leaping circus catch into a triple barrel roll – TD combination is right up his alley. Though instead of talking about the TD he probably would have instinctually segued into a discussion of the marks to artistic merit.

To be fair, on the second Bagg TD he probably could have been called offside and he also might have got away with a tincey wincey bit of interference on the defender when he threw him to the ground. Maybe the refs were just too intimated by Bagg’s 150 man posse to penalize him for anything. Or maybe they were just fulfilling their weekly requirement of questionable calls (given how many if them there are week in and week out across the league I can only assume they have a quota).

It seems our offense has finally rediscovered the explosiveness that they started the year with.

Defense turned in a bi-polar performance. Some series they played great, such as stuffing Cobb on a 3rd down gamble or forcing 2 big forced fumbles. Some series they were so clueless that I wondered if the trainers would have to start handing out velcro cleats. But in the end, they made big plays when they needed to so hats off to them for that. The combination of Glenn being a quick release passer and missing 2 starters on the D-line definitely limited the amount of pressure we were able to generate and the later clearly affected our run D. They did a good job of limiting Arland Bruce and they pitched a shutout over the final 20+ minutes of the game, forcing 3 turnovers in that time including James Patrick finally getting an INT that counts to end the game. I’ve liked Patrick ever since he first came to the Riders so to see him now developing into one the League’s premiere safeties is a real treat.

This win just goes to show you that there are 3 ways to do things. The easy was; the hard way and the Rider way… which is really just the hard way with a few more twists, turns, profanity and angina (which explains why Man in the Bush describes his approach to his love life as the Rider way).

The win combined with an embarrassingly awesome Calgary collapse (seriously at least Durant was touched when he fumbled… what was Henry’s excuse? Low barometric pressure?) leaves us just 1 game back of first place which, considering how things looked just 2 weeks ago, is pretty awesome. This team seems to be hitting their stride as we head down the stretch which is exactly where you want to be.

Other thoughts from around the league…

- Winnipeg sure has no killer instinct. You can point to questionable reffing all you want but this team has lost so many close games that they should have won that at some point they need to start looking in the mirror for the source of their poor season so far.

- That BC/Calgary was painful to watch at times. The game pretty much went: big return by Yonus Davis, 2 and out BC, McCallum FG, Henry Burris embarrasses himself and repeat over and over and over.

- The CFL should publicly apologize to the city of Moncton for subjecting them to the Argos for 3 hours. They have to wait this long for a pro football game in the Maritimes and they get stuck watching the Argos make the brutal Esks look like a decent team

Thursday, September 23, 2010

13th Man Contest

Earlier in the week I told you to vote for me the Canadian Mint's 13th Man Contest... and if you haven't already done so you should go do it now (I'll wait)

However as I was browsing through the other entries, I came across one so good that I'm considering just conceding defeat. I simply don't know how I can compete with this. While I still think you should vote for me, if you vote for this guy I will completely understand.

Riders vs. Ti-Cats: On The Road Again

Saturday the 7-4 Riders travel to Hamilton to take on the 6-5 Ti-Cats. Both teams are coming off dramatic come from behind victory (though to be fair the Ti-Cats’ victory was aided by a blown reffing call and the repeated ineptness of BC). Outside of Edmonton and Winnipeg, the Riders boast the worst road record in the CFL having only managed 1 solitary victory on the road (which was also aided by the repeated ineptness of the Lions).

The roster could look very different from the last time we played. Some changes are being made because we want to, others because we have to. Under the “we want to category” is Joel Bell being made a starter again. He will replace Geno at tackle and Geno will move back to guard. This will approximately attempt number 27 to make Geno a guard. We have been trying to do it since 2008 but injuries always end up forcing him back outside (or in some cases to centre). With all due respect to Geno, Bell we be a massive upgrade at tackle due to his pure athleticism. Geno’s veteran savvy will be better put to use on the inside. The line played well against Calgary last week and should be even better this week. Also under “changes we want to make” it looks like Grice-Mullen will make his debut. If nothing else he will add speed to our return game… I say that because there really isn’t anything else he adds… other than maybe increasing our dreadlock ratio.

We will also be forced to make a couple changes due to injury. Hawkins and Chunky are both hurt so that means 2 DLs will get promoted from the PR. Though I’m still holding out hope that the Rider Prophet endorsed Ike Squared will make his debut it looks like Montez Murphy and Ryan Lucas will get the nod. Dang. Hamilton’s OL has been pretty solid so this group will have their work cut out for without 2 of their better players. Though since Jimenez has figured out how to intentionally injure players for the low cost of half a game’s salary I do worry about escaping this game without further injuries.

Coming into this season, I thought Hamilton was in for a big season. Given how bad they used to be, 2nd in the East is hardly something to complain about but the general consensus is that the Ti-Cats should be doing better. Though they are a game above .500, only 2 of their wins have come against a team with a winning record and those 2 were against Toronto which can hardly be considered a powerhouse.

Their record is really quite amazing given their talent laden roster. Kevin Glenn is 2nd in the league in TD passes. Arland Bruce is hands down the best receiver in the CFL. They have arguably the best LB group in the league and their front 4 is pretty good (and should only get better with the addition of Stevie Baggs). Many people will point to Marcus Thigpen as another star on there team… I will not. Thigpen went from the most underrated guy in the CFL to most overrated one in a matter of 3 weeks. Honestly what has he done since his monstrous first few games… the answer is be very average.

In terms of weaknesses, Hamilton has 2 key ones… well 3 if you include the fact their decision to invest heavily in Sandro DeAngelis has gone as well as previous high profile free agent acquisitions such as Kenton Keith and Casey Printers. Maybe Sandro just needs Eric Wilbur to beat the crap out of him so he feels more at home.

Weakness the first… Running Game. It is the worst in the CFL by a large margin. That is mainly due to the fact that people are finally realizing what I knew all along… DeAndra Cobb isn’t that good. I have no idea how he go it so many yards last year because he looked only slightly more impressive than Henri Childs. He is thus far averaging 60 yards per game. Admittedly Cates is faring only slightly better but at least he is a scoring machine. Plus Durant’s legs give our run game a boost. The threat of Glenn running ranks right up their with the threat of Nick Hutchins running a deep flag pattern in terms of things that concern a defense.

Weakness the second… Pass Coverage. Their secondary gives up a lot of yards through the air and there aren’t really any game changers in that group. That is where they are vulnerable.

Keys to the game are fairly obvious. Offensively we need to lean on Fantuz. We need to balance that by running Cates and Charles to keep the defense honest but the air is where we need to attack the Cats. Fantuz is coming off a career game but he second best game as a pro just so happens to have come at Ivor Wynne. Simply put good things happen when you throw to Fantuz… not only does he rack up the yards but it will also open things up for the other receiver (i.e. Dressler’s long TD). This of course will require a strong performance from our revamped O-line.

Defensively… For the love of god somebody cover Arland Bruce!! He pretty much had his way with our secondary last game en route to tying a CFL record. It was as if we were intentionally not covering him for how often he got open. That needs to change. Our pass coverage in general needs to be tight because Glenn is an accurate passer and Stala and McDaniel give him some legitimate options to work with. I’d add Maurice Mann but he needs illegal blocks in order to do anything of value.

After watching us go toe to toe with the best team in the CFL I’d really like to say the Riders should win this game. That said I have also watched all our other road games and for the most part they have been about as pretty as a Hamilton cheerleader. For some reason we just seem to forget how to be good when we leave Mosaic. Not sure if this is because the road schedule doesn’t allow our coaches their accustomed nap time or what. The Riders are a bad road team with a ton of roster changes facing a Ti-cat team at home that is generally intact. Logic would favour the Ti-Cats.

However, being a Rider fan for as long as I have you quickly learn that logic gets thrown out the window when it comes to the green and white. I think the dramatic win against the powerhouse Stamps will be the catalyst this team needs to take their game to the next level. Our pass protection is improving, our offense is showing some diversity and is starting to lean on our top play makers. We are making changes to address out weaknesses along the OL and in our return game. All signs that this team is heading in the right direction.

As usual we won’t do this the easy way but I expect a back and forth game that is decided late in the 4th quarter. Much to the chagrin of my heart…

Riders by Darian Durant rushing TD

TJ Karwandy

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vote For Me

The Canadian Mint (some sort of up and coming candy company I assume) is running a contest to see who the ultimate Rider fan is. In a fair world, I would have just been anointed the winner. But thanks to "democracy" the matter is going to a vote. So you should do you prophetly duty and go and vote for me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Still Undefeated At Home... Barely

Riders 43 – Stamps 37

Well we wondered about the Riders would respond after an embarrassing defeat... and based on how the first series went it looked as though the pitchforks and torches might be soon broken out. Fortunately the first play was not indicative of how the rest of the game would go... well except for maybe the last play of regulation but I will get to that in a bit.

I was impressed with how well the team stepped up against the top team in the league. I mean sure seeing how well they can play did make the loses to Edmonton and Winnipeg that much more unbelievable but let’s focus on the positive for now. After looking like a bunch of wimpy 7 year olds for the past couple weeks I thought the O-line played well. They weren’t perfect but at least they managed to give Durant a bit of time. Speaking of Durant he sure looked like the all-star QB we had become accustom to. When he took a big hit on a run at the end of the first Q to fight for extra yards you knew he was tuned in for this game. He used his legs well and spread the ball around pretty well.

Do you see what happens when we make Fantuz the focal point of our offense?? The man is a monster! If we had been using him like that before we would likely have had a more productive offense. Also, and this should come as no surprise to anyone, Clermont still good for more than just selling condos. He made some clutch catches. Also though I find it a bit excessive for a team that only runs their RB 10 times a game to have a change of pace back, it seemed to work out pretty well. That was a nice cut by Charles and an even nicer back flip. I don`t know where this explosive offense has been for the past month or so but hopefully it is here to stay.

I have no idea what the refs were looking at on that long pass that Dressler almost caught on the defenders back but the fact that they were too blind to call pass interference on that is ridiculous. Apparently the rules have recently changed so that its okay for a defender not to turn and look at the ball or make any attempt to make a play on it. It’s apparently okay to just have your back to the ball the entire time and screen the intended receiver... or at least its okay for Stampeders to do that. Ridiculous!

Defense had another good game despite having to endure a number of injuries. We contained Joffrey Reynolds and didn`t allow Burris to use his legs which is the key to beating the Stamps` O. James Patrick is now leading the league in INTs as well as spectacular INTs that end up getting called back. Poor guy.

This brings us of course to the infamous ``punt``. There seems to be two schools of thought on the controversial decision to punt for the win rather than attempt a 35 yard FG. On one side there is our coaching staff who feel that it was the right decision. On the other side there is me and the rest of the sane world. Seriously that was a dumb decision plain and simple. I wonder how that conversation went on the sidelines. I can just imagine Coach Miller going to Congi, "Luca, the game is on the line. How`s the leg feeling?" "Great Coach!" "Excellent! Go run over and tell Eddie Johnson he`s punting for the win."

While I realize that Miller may know a bit more about football than me. I will give you 2 pieces of information that illustrate just how ridiculous his decision was. 1) Luca has not missed a FG attempt from inside 40 this year. *** EDIT: Apparently he missed one last week. I guess I have subconsciously removed that game from my memory.*** 2)Eddie Johnson`s punt have averaged 43.4 yards. Meaning that the majority of his punts fall well short of the distance he needed to seal the game. If you don`t have complete faith in your kicker to hit a FG from 35 yds then you`d better be looking for a new kicker. That is a huge slap in the face of Congi. And given that he`s Italian that is likely to end up with a mob hit on you... or a horse head in your bed (if movies have taught me anything).

Fortunately the team was able to overcome the monumental gaff and win a thriller in OT. It was a great team effort against the top team in the league. We remain undefeated at home which is a good sign given that the Stamps have to come here one more time. The real test will be if we can sustain this type of performance on the road where we have struggled all year. For now though, hats off to the team on a great performance!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Riders vs. Stamps: Make Me Proud... Or At Least Less Ashamed

Well I have to admit its been awhile since I've had this kind of feeling about a game. You know the "I've got a bad feeling about this" feeling. Back a few years ago I had this feeling all the time but that was because we weren't that good of a team. But over the past couple years we have evolved into one of the better teams in the league and with that comes the belief that any game is winnable. It has been a rarity for me to be worried about a game.

This is one of those rare times.

Maybe its the fact that the Stamps are the top team in the CFL; that they've only lost 1 game; that their QB has thrown more TDs than anyone; that they have an elite RB, talented WRs and a great O-line; that they lead in pretty much every significant defensive category; that I've heard they sacrifice animals and drink their blood to gain strength for battle... there's plenty of reason to to worried.

But oddly enough, its these games that the Riders have historically stepped up big for. I mean sure our piss poor O-line is matched up against their furious front 7. And sure this isn't exactly the best match-up for our struggling offense. And sure our mistake prone QB may be victimized by the top team at creating INTs. And... wait... I'm not sure where I'm going with this one.

All pessimism aside I do think this is a winnable game and here's why...
- Burris has thrown as many INTs as Durant and our defense has been playing well so there will be turnovers. Patrick already has 2 INTs from Burris and this year and I expect that to increase.

- They key to stopping the Stamps is eliminate Reynolds and keep Burris in the pocket and other than last game our run defense has been doing very well.

- With the exception of Edmonton, the Stamps really haven't blow anybody out and we are as good or better than any team they have faced so far. they are no as invicible as their record suggests.

- Rob Maver sucks. Both on the football field... and likely off given the tendencies of some of the Stamp players (no that there's anything wrong with that).

- With Dorsey and Rodriguez out of the picture we now have competent kick returners and a receiver willing to fight for a ball. We have also sent a message that failure we no longer be tolerated.

Most importantly if you look our record this year you will see that we play like crap on the road (what? we do.) and play just good enough to win at home. We have yet to lose at Mosaic so hopefully the soldout stands will give the team the boost they need to break out of this rut and start playing like the elite team they should be. Another way for fans to help would be to run Doug Berry and Jim Daley over with a car on their way to the stadium. Not that I encourage vehicular assault... but let's just say if it were to happen I wouldn't be heart broken.

Clearly my mind says that the Stamps should win this game. But my heart is holding out the slightest hope that the Riders have another dramatic victory that almost sends me into cardiac arrest in them.

While I still feel that we have a chance to win and that the game will be way closer than most are predicting. I still say...

Stamps by 7

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


It may have taken one of the most embarrassing losses in some time to open their eyes but the Riders have finally realized what I and most sane people have known for sometime... Rodriguez and Dorsey are junk and don’t belong on our roster.

Rodriguez was cut and Dorsey was placed on the 9-game IR with “a finger and hamstring injury” at least that’s what their official reason is. But that’s only because mental retardation is not an acceptable reason for placing someone on the 9-game (which explains how Michael Bishop kept getting medically cleared to play). I probably would have just benched Rodriguez since part of his problem was Berry’s idiotic plan to have him run nothing but short routes. However, fact remains that he was lazy and a pussy. He won’t make any kind of effort for balls that don’t hit him directly in his palms (unlike Man in the Bush who goes out of his way to ensure balls... umm nevermind), he’s scared to get hit and he doesn’t block worth a crap so maybe its best at the end of the day to just part ways with him despite his obvious physical assets and replace him with someone who will actually play with 100% effort.

While we still have a lot of concerns that need addressing (such as our O-line and our offensive playcalling) this is at least a sign that the GM/coaches are taking action instead of being satisfied with the status quo.

Word is that we will be signing Ryan Grice-Mullen who is fresh off a failed attempt to crack the Miami Dolphins roster. You might remember him as the guy that Jamie Boreham turned into a human ferris wheel. He is extremely fast but has very questionable hands. Based on how things have been going I can only assume that Doug Berry will attempt to turn him into our new possession receiver.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: I Got A Lot Of Problems With You People

Riders 2 – Bombers 31

Last year we thoroughly embarrassed the Bombers in the Banjo Bowl. This year they returned the favour. I would have liked to open this post with a joke about how the Riders must have missed their plane and sent a bunch of other random people in their place. I’d like to… but I can’t. There was no mistaking that the team on the field on Sunday was the Riders. There was our useless O-line, our mistake prone QB, our atrocious return game and our second rate coaching staff. Oh yes, those were the Riders no doubt. As sad as that is to admit.

The loss was so embarrassing and infuriating that I’ll have to write my thoughts in point form rather than make an attempt to form them in paragraphs.
- The fact that Dominique Dorsey is still on our active roster is an embarrassment. He contributes absolutely nothing to the team and in many cases actually harms the team with his repeated idiocy. Dorsey’s job is to field kicks and advance them up the field… currently he is doing neither of those. It would be kinda like continuing to employee a carpenter who can’t measure and isn’t really good with saws. What exactly are you paying him for then?

- The way our line is blocking, they wouldn’t stand up to most peewee teams. Joel Bell can’t get healthy soon enough because if we don’t make some adjustments there teams will continue exploit that glaring weakness.

- Though it’s hard to fault Durant when his line can’t block, he is still making bad decisions. Shovel passes to Cates even though he has 3 defenders draped all over him. Passes into double coverage. Not seeing open receivers. He just looks lost out there.

- Somebody tell me why we aren’t using Fantuz?!? The guy caught 5 passes all for 1st downs and was open for many more but we refused to throw to him. Did he sleep with Durant’s woman? Is Berry still bitter over Fantuz scoring the TD that lost his team the ’07 Cup? Why are we ignoring a talented possession receiver?

- Rodriguez. Well the good news for him was that given Dorsey’s epic failures, Rodriguez’s didn’t look as bad by comparison.

- We were thoroughly out-coached. Winnipeg clearly had a game plan on both sides of the ball and we did not, nor could we adjust to theirs. The biggest example of getting out-coached was when we gambled on 3rd and 2. Winnipeg saw what we were about to do, called a timeout and adjusted their defense accordingly. Despite this we still ran the same play (the one the Bombers were expecting) and surprise surprise it failed. Our coaches continually show an inability to adjust.

- Lance Frazier better be taking James Patrick out for a nice supper to atone for costing him 2 INTs (though admittedly the second call on Frazier was pretty weak)

- Man oh man did Szarka get nailed on that one! Fortunately for Szarka he’s used to fighting off power tools so a big hit was nothing he couldn’t take.

- Here’s a sign of how bad things got during the game… at one point I was reduced to actually wishing we’d put Dinwiddie in.

- Of course then he came in a bounced 2 short passes off the ground and I was reminded of how much I hate him and I smartened up and promptly began calling for Cole Bergquist to get a shot.

- We are terrible on the road. Aside from beating a really bad BC team we have had zero success outside of Mosaic.

- Matt Dunnigan is the greatest colour commentator ever. Him calling that Montreal/Hamilton game made my weekend. He’s so damn entertaining. The best was how excited he got about that fight only to later go on about how that isn’t CFL football.

For me the most concerning thing isn’t that we had a bad game, that will happen from time to time in a competitive league. The most concerning thing the shortcomings of our coaches and GM that this is exposing. Repeated failure to win on the road points to a lack of preparation on the part of the coaches. There is no accountability for players such as Dorsey, Rodriguez and Goodspeed, they are simple allowed to go on sucking without fear of ever being replaced. And along our O-line even if we wanted to we can’t make a change because we have no alternatives Bell is hurt and Smith well the man is like the Jesse Lumsden of the O-line. Don’t you think somebody should maybe be bringing in some other recruits to try and address our issues? You know, like our GM. Isn’t that his job? Is there seriously no O-lineman on the face of this earth that can suck less than our tackles have been?

I’m not about to write off the season because there is too much talent on this team and all good teams will struggle at some point. We struggled in ’07 we struggled in ’09. But I’d be lying if I said I’m not concerned about the weaknesses that are developing and our GM/coaches unwillingness or inability to address them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

National Post Again

Once again Matt Brown from Fantas-eh and I were invited to be part of the National Post's panel for a mid season review.

Check it out here...

You'll note that based on his performance in the preseason predictions (such as picking Calvin McCarty as the favourite to win Canadian Of The Year), Chris Schultz has been replaced as TSN's rep by Milt Stegall. A wise move by the Post.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Banjo Bowl VII

*Note: I was going to post an explanation of what Roman numerals were in case any Manitobans were reading since that is clearly well beyond what is covered in their education system. Then I realized that since Manitoban school systems only teach the first 6 letters of the alphabet they wouldn’t recognize VII as letters either. So instead I’ll just go with something a bit more in line with their intellectual capacities to keep them entertained….

Sunday the 6-3 Riders take on the 2-7 Bombers in the Banjo Bowl. Many Rider fans will be making the trip to Winnipeg for the annual Labour Day rematch and the Banjo Bowl is pretty much the only conceivable reason why anyone would willingly travel to Winnipeg.

This will be the 7th annual Banjo Bowl with both sides having won 3 games a piece, and the Riders winning the last 2 (in both cases due to the play of Michael Bishop).

We came into Labour Day heavily favoured but struggled our way to a narrow victory. There were some things we did consistently well, some successes we can build on, some things glaring weaknesses that need to be improved and some things that I have just come to accept we will be futile at.

Things We Do Well

Defense as a whole – They have been playing great football for a number of games now. Hopefully James Patrick is healthy enough to play because he is a real leader in that secondary. It would be nice to get a bit more pressure on the QB given their porous OL but overall I’m very happy with our defense of late… well with the exception of Omarr Morgan, who, unless he learns to tackle again, will find his way back on to my hatred list.

Kick Coverage – the combination of Eddie Johnson being simply outstanding on his kicks and some great downfield coverage from Jones, Stewart, Patrick and Freeman has led to very limited returns by our opponents.

Successes We Can Build On

Red Zone– after hitting rock bottom a while back, our success in red zone has grown by leaps and bounds. Cates has a nose for the endzone when he gets close and has been getting some great blocking.

Fantuuuz – This guy should be our go to guy when we need a 1st down. He is too talented not to be a focal point of our O but has disappeared of late. Not sure how you forget who he is, his face is on cereal box for pete sakes. Last game we seemed to discover him again and it led to good things. He got 5 looks last game (only one of them before the 4th quarter). They ended up in gains of 33, 8, 13 10 and the 5th look was nearly a TD. Hopefully this will lead to Berry and Durant looking 83’s way a lot more.

Sustained Drives – the 4th quarter drive Durant put together for a TD was a thing of beauty. It was a great mix of runs and medium passes that chewed up the field quickly and effectively. We have gotten away from this type of methodical attack so with any luck that drive will be the first of many just like it.

Glaring Weaknesses

Pass Protection – Our line gave Durant absolutely zero time to do anything. I know Winnipeg has a very talented font 4 but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to block successfully at least occasionally. Our tackles in particular need to step up their play since they managed to make Charles Thomas look like he would be an improvement at times. Doug Berry should also make an attempt to help them out from time to time. Here’s a genius idea: if you notice that your line can’t block the defenders why not stop calling plays that take a while to develop and instead throw some quick hitters at them or screens to take some of the pressure off your OL. You need to adapt your play calls to what the defense is doing not just keep calling the same plays in the blind hope that one of these times it just might work.

Things That I Have Just Come To Accept We Will Be Futile At

Return Game – I’m to the point with our return game that I’ll just go ahead and assume our returns will be terrible. Quite frankly I’d be satisfied if Dorsey caught the ball, fell forward and we didn’t take any holding penalties. Seems crazy to pay a guy 6 figures to turtle but it’s a monumental improvement over paying him 6 figures to fumble or lose yards. Jim Daley is an idiot and Dorsey is such a monumental failure that it would have been better to use the money we are paying him to try and resurrect the corpse of Chris Farley… it would have about the same net affect on our return game but at least we’d be entertained.

I expect another very close game. Jyles is a better QB than most give him credit for and despite their record the Bombers have a fair bit of talent on their roster so we are in for a fight. That said at the end of the day we are a 6-3 team and they are a 2-7 team that has lost 5 straight. Simply put we are a better team.

Riders by a Darian Durant rushing TD.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday Update

It’s been a busy few days since Labour Day so let’s get you caught up on what’s going on.

Kelly Bates was traded to Edmonton for a 6th Round Draft Pick in 2014. Bates is just another shinning example of the superior roster management skills of Brendan Taman. First he signs an O-lineman who is old, hasn’t played in over a year and quite frankly no longer good enough to be a starter on our team… and given the sad state or our line that’s a pretty bad reflection on Bates. So at best it was a depth move that provided insurance down the stretch. Then just as we are getting to the stretch part of the season we trade him away. Meaning that at the end of the day the signing of Bates was completely useless. Now that part is hardly surprising since I knew that from day 1. I am somewhat concerned about the return we got for him. While I realize that based on the criticism I made of Bates above the guy is definitely not going to garner top dollar in a trade. In most cases we would actually have to pay people to take him off our hands. But when you are trading with a team with no GM who is in need of an O-lineman you’d think you could muster better than a 6th rounder 4 years from now. Hell a roll of tape would have been better since that actually provides value to the team sometime in the foreseeable future.

The provincial government announced that they have reached a deal to purchase the CP rail yards in downtown Regina which just happens to be the site of the proposed new stadium. The province still insists that no decision has been made on whether to proceed with the project. Riiiggghhht. So first they appoint a minister in charge of the proposed stadium and then they buy the land where the proposed stadium would go but they still aren’t sure if they will build it. At this rate I expect the next announcement to be "we are purchasing a large quantity of steel and concrete, I'm sure we'll find a use for it somewhere." Followed closely by the Premier returning from one of his business trips with a retractable roof fit for the proposed stadium because he found it on sale and you just never know when you might need a retractable roof”.

Word out of Winnipeg is that the Bombers are interested in signing Jesse Lumsden. I guess with Pierce now on the shelf indefinitely they need someone to fill the role of “band-aid who isn’t durable enough to finish a game if his life depended on it”. Now word yet on this might adversely affect the Canadian bobsledding team in the upcoming season.

Lastly, this week I was invited to join the guys from on their weekly podcast. Now I am not what you would call “techno-savvy”. Most days I’m amazed that I am able to use this interweb thingy to post my thoughts. So when the Green is the Colour guys approached me to do a “podcast” using “skype” they might as well have been speaking to me in freaky deeky Dutch.

Fortunately they were willing to put up with my techno-ignorance and to my surprise I managed to figure it all out. A big thanks to them for having me on. I had a great time.

If you want to check out the podcast you can check it out here…

I would also encourage you to check out the rest of their site.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday Morning Senitmonies: Well… We Won

Riders 27 – Bombers 23

Much like the Labour Day Classic has become a yearly tradition, the Bombers losing on labour day is becoming a yearly tradition as well. Sunday the Bombers dropped their 6th straight Classic. While many Labour Day games were truly deserving of the term “classic”, it would have been more accurate to call this one the Labour Day Adequate Performance or the Labour Day Marginally Better Than The Worst Team in the East.

For the second week in a row, I thought our defense turned in a great performance. We kept both Terrence Edwards and Fred Reid in check which I said would be key to winning. We get give up some big yards to Bowman but quite frankly I think we (Winnipeg coaching staff included) were all shocked when he didn’t drop those passes. Barrin Simpson played like a man possessed (and likely sent the game film to Mike Kelly for good measure). Patrick continues to be a game changing safety (though he got a nifty assist on his pick. Hopefully he is not too hurt because it would be a big loss to have him out. The D-line didn’t get as much pressure as I thought they would but I still think they had a good outing overall.

Is anyone at all shocked that Buck Pierce got hurt again? To me the only surprising thing is that it took so long to happen. We actually had an injury pool going up in my section. Head and knee were popular choices. I went with shoulder. Turns out we were all wrong and Pierce managed to hurt a new part of his body. (I swear if Pierce manages to crawl back onto the field at some point I am either taking his hip or his duodenum since those are pretty much the only things he has left to hurt).

Our offense looked better than last week… but not by much. Our O-line got embarrassed thoroughly but Winnipeg’s front 7. I know the Bombers have a good pass rush but I’m sure 5 garden gnomes would have given Durant more time than our line did since there’s a chance the DLs might trip on them. Dan Goodspeed has been playing like absolute crap. I’m convinced that Joel Bell must have slept with one of the coaches wives… well given the age of our coaches, daughters in probably more appropriate, because I can’t think of another reason not to get him back in the line-up.

Our run game struggled. Part of that was the aforementioned poor play of our O-line. The other part was our refusal to run anywhere but straight up the middle. Doug Berry is evidently not aware that you can run off tackle. The good news is that Durant was able (well more like forced ) to use his legs effectively. That long drive late in the game was exactly what we’ve all been expecting from our offense. Not sure why it took them this long to figure it out.

As for special teams... Eddie Johnson and our cover team very good, Dorsey and our return game bad. The good news is that I’ve gotten so used to it that it’s as hard to take as it used to be. I wasn’t aware that fumbling important kicks that completely change the momentum of the game was in the job description of a kick returner who is making 6 figures (though with Taman running the show anything is possible). Dorsey you suck. Do us all a favour and twist your ankle or something.

Overall it was a step in the right direction offensively and a strong game defensively. We need to improve in a number of areas but for now we are back in the win column and that’s all that really matters.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Labour Day Classic 2010

It is time for one of the most anticipated long weekends of the year… Labour Day (Canada’s most ironic holiday). Not only is this weekend the final send-off to summer it is also a weekend of great football rivalries. The Esks and Stamps will renew the battle of Alberta. The Argos and Ti-Cats will renew the battle of Ontario. The Lions and Als will renew the battle of 2 teams who have no rivals and play each other purely by default. And of course the Riders play the Bombers in the most storied Labour Day clash of them all.

Since 1949, the Riders have won 28 out of the 45 meetings. In fact the Bombers have only won the Labour Day Classic 5 times in the previous 2 decades and that’s pretty sad because, let’s face it, there have been some pretty terrible Rider teams over the past 2 decades.

I love how Rider fans are starting to panic and Bomber fans are getting cocky based solely on the Riders poor performance in Edmonton. Last time I checked we were still 5-3 and they are a lowly 2-6. Might I remind you about last year…

In 2009 (you know the year we made it to the Grey Cup), we were 4-4 heading (worse off than this year) into Labour Day and the Bombers were 3-5 (better off than this year). That’s right, despite overhauling their front office and coaching staff and re-jigging their roster the Bombers have managed to be even crappier than they were with Mike Kelly running the show. You know, the obnoxious guy who spied on other teams, denounced the shot-gun formation, tried to sign Pacman Jones, willing played Michael Bishop, had to use white boards to call in plays and fielded the worst offense seen in many a year. So go ahead and beak us about one bad game Bomber fans but the fact remains that last year’s team was one of the biggest embarrassments in your franchise’s history and thus far you have managed to do worse this year. Congratulations! You must be as proud as you are those rare times when your children manage to graduate elementary school before they are of legal drinking age.

This year’s version of the clash will be made all the more interesting by that fact that over the off-season the 2 teams pretty much swapped their coaching staffs and a few players as well. They got LaPolice, Reed, Baressi, and Jyles. We got Taman, Berry, Dyce, Dinwiddie, Goodspeed and Simpson. I’d like to say we got the better end of the deal but since we are stuck with Taman and Dinwiddie it’s a wash a best.

The Bombers have had a lot of injury problems this year and I’m starting to think that Paul LaPolice is to blame. Think about it… in the 3 years that LaPo was on our staff we suffered more broken legs and freak injuries than has ever been seen before now that he’s gone we have been (knock on wood) pretty healthy overall. The Bombers though have had a lengthy injury list ever since LaPo showed up. Coincidence?

Winnipeg’s biggest concern coming into this game is the status of their QBs. Jyles is nursing tender ribs (mmmm tender ribs) and Buck Pierce is… well he’s Buck Pierce i.e. coming back from injury too soon and only 1 hit away from either the injured list or the obituaries. All signs point to Pierce starting which means that the over-under for Jyles being forced into action is set at the midway point of the 2nd quarter (I’ll take the under). Compounding their QB issues is the poor play of their O-line. I have been mocking the embarrassing BC O-line a lot of late but Winnipeg’s has given up just as many sacks. It must be reassuring to Lapo to have to line up 2 hurt QBs behind a line that would likely lose to a bunch of kindergartens in a game of red rover. Though that might not be a fair match-up in Manitoba since the average age of kindergartens is somewhere in the teens.

Other issues facing the Bombers include being the 2nd most penalized team in the league, being a -7 in the turnover ratio and a defense that gets scored on as often as an attractive barnyard animal in Manitoba, averaging over 30 points allowed per game.

For all Winnipeg’s futility and problems they actually have a few things going for them. Terrence Edwards has been on fire this year hauling in 7 TDs already. Phillip Hunt leads the league with 7 sacks. Mike Renaud is the top punter in the league. Jovon Johnson remains one of the most exciting players to watch in the CFL with 2 TDs off punt returns on one more on a pick 6. Problem is that as good as these 4 are playing, the rest of the team is doing their best to be counterproductive.

For the Riders, this is a chance for a bounce back game. The defense had a solid outing last game (with the exception of Sean Lucas who has gone from one of the best cover LBs in the league to one of the best LBs to miss his coverage and be forced to make the tackle after the fact). The offense was embarrassingly futile last game but I’m not too worried. They had a bad game but they will regain their form.

The key to the game offensively is to get back to what we do best, a balanced attack with sustained drives and maintaining possession 9for god sake maintain possession!). Bomber fans are trying to make fun of the fact that Durant currently has a really low completion % and has thrown a league high amount of picks but I guarantee they would gladly swap one of there crappy QBs for Double D given the chance. Bombers have a strong pass rush and stop the run fairly effectively so our O-line will have to step up and have a solid game. If we can buy Durant some time and he can get back into a rhythm with his receivers (particularly those not named Prechae) we should be able to hang a lot of points on them.

Defensively the keys are to stop the run… that includes the QB. Jyles and Pierce have managed over 400 yds rushing so far and while I expect LaPo to be a bit reluctant to run QBs who aren’t 100%, it’s still something we need to contain. We also need to have tight coverage on Edwards. I would say we need to also cover Adarius Bowman but his catching abilities seem to decline proportional to how wide open he is, so its probably best to just let him run free while balls bounce off him like he was retarded kid in a game of dodgeball. Also LaPo is still clinging to his misguided belief that based on his past success with Bagg and Getzlaf, he can turn any Canadian receiver into an all-star so expect a lot of passes to go towards Brock Ralph… he won’t actually catch them but they will be in his direction.

Only other key to the game is ensuring that Barrin Simpson is not allowed anywhere near the coin toss. Winnipeg made that mistake last year and it didn’t turn out well for them.

The Riders always step up big time on Labour Day so I expect them to come out strong in front a wild sold out crowd and have a huge bounce back game. The Riders have yet to lose at home and the Bombers have yet to win on the road. Expect both streaks to continue.

Riders by 14.

Just a reminder that as intense as our rivalry is with the Bombers, for us fans, it’s all in good fun. Most of the Bomber fans I have met over the years have been great people and we’ve had a lot of fun beaking back and forth. There’s no need to be rude or nasty. So let’s be gracious hosts and treat them like family. Just be forewarned that to Manitobans being treated like family is a sign that you want to date them (it’s a cultural thing) so don’t be surprised if they take it the wrong way.

I’ll end this post as I end every Labour Day post… with a joke. But I will warn you it’s not work safe, it’s not appropriate for children under the age of 16 and should definitely not be read by my mother…

How do you keep a Blue Bomber from masturbating?

You paint his dick green and white and he won't beat it for years!