Riders 19 – Argos 24
The good news about waiting until today to do up this post is that between a big delicious meal and the Als stomping the Stamps, most of the anger I had following our game has dissipated... most... not all.
I am not one that ever takes loses very well. That said, I find loses where we get outplayed easier to take than loses where we get out-coached. Unfortunately Saturday was the later. The only redeeming thing is that all 3 phases of the game contributed equally to the loss.
Offensively, we didn’t bother showing up until the Argos had a double digit lead. Now I realize that this may have just been an attempt to level the playing field with an inferior opponent but while it is admirable sportsmanship it is just plain idiotic for a professional football that is supposed to be trying to make a run at first place. To their credit the offense did calw their way back into the game but it was only really because of a turnover that our special teams managed deep in Argo territory. All day the offense just failed to start clicking. Durant reminds me a lot of Kerry Joseph... his passing game goes to crap when he loses his mobility. Durant’s best games come when he is able to move around and take off when needed. I don’t know whether he couldn’t or just wouldn’t run to be cautious but Durant might as well have been in a wheel chair for as much as he moved around. Struggling to get 200 yards passing and serving up 2 INTs to the worst secondary in the league is as embarrassing as failing to get past second base with a hooker that you’ve already paid for. Of course most teams would be able to compensate for a struggling pass game and immobile QB by running the ball. But of course we have no use for a ground game and really only keep Cates around to pick up blitzes and run in TDs from 3 yards or less so that wasn’t an option for us. Obviously Toronto made adjustments to limit our receivers... and obviously our coaches didn’t bother making adjustments of their own.
Only 2 positives on O for me were Fantuz turning in another strong performance and Neal Hughes getting some love.
Defensively, we were tasked with the relatively simple task of stopping an offensive playbook that contains nothing but pictures of Cory Boyd on every page. Yet for some reason we looked shocked every time he got the ball... which was almost every play. I know he is an elite back but when you know he’s getting the ball you should be able to contain him somewhat. Not only were we not covering Boyd, we also decided to leave Copeland wide open at key times. I guess our D was more concerned about the scoring machine that is Spencer Watt. Just take a look at the Argos’ final drive. Our D needed a stop to give us a chance to win. Instead we let this happen...
1/10-T35 (2:37) C. BOYD Run (19 yds), Tackle: D. FRANCIS
1/10-T54 (2:15) C. BOYD Run (8 yds), Tackle: S. LUCAS
2/2-S48 (1:52) C. BOYD Run (8 yds), Tackle: D. FRANCIS
1/10-S40 (1:28) C. BOYD Run (3 yds), Tackle: D. FRANCIS
2/7-S37 (1:04) C. LEMON Run (11 yds), Tackle: S. LUCAS
1/10-S26 (00:59) C. BOYD Run (2 yds), Tackle: B. SIMPSON
2/8-S24 (00:38) C. BOYD Run (4 yds), Tackle: S. LUCAS
Notice a pattern? Our D sure didn’t. To be fair our D did force some turnovers and held the Argos to less than 20 points all while receiving no support from the O but they could have and should have done even better.
This brings me to Special Teams. I would have to learn 3 more languages in order for my vocabulary to contain enough swear words to adequately describe this group. Blocked FG – check. Non-existent returns - check (well there was one but a penalty ensured that fluke was stricken from the records). Getting fooled by 2 fake punts in the same quarter – check. Actually given that was all that went wrong it may be one of Jim Daley’s better games. Our specials teams are consistently a liability and have been ever since Daley’s hiring (which is second only to bringing in Michael Bishop in terms of the dumbest and most inept person signed by the team in the past 5 years).
Admittedly the fake knee was a ballsy call that you likely wouldn’t game plan for. That said when you see Byron Parker running the wrong way that should maybe alert you to something. The second fake in the 4th quarter though was nothing short of pure retardation. Everyone in the stadium knew that they were not going to punt on 3rd and short. Everyone that is but our coaches and players who got that deer in the headlights look when the ball didn’t go to the punter.
So to summarize: our defensive coaches could not handle Cory Boyd, our special teams coach continued his string of ineptitude and our offensive coaches could not adjust to the Argos D and Durant’s lack of mobility. This all lead to the first Rider loss at Mosaic in over a year.
Now BC’s unbelievable collapse clinched us a home playoff game and Calgary’s embarrassing outing kept us in the running for first so the loss is by no means apocalyptic. But the fact remains that this was a very winnable game and it’s an opportunity lost.
The Riders had better get things figured out quickly because we have a first place showdown on the horizon and we can ill afford another uninspired performance... by our players or our coaches.