Sunday, August 28, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Potential Award Winners

Since the Riders are coming off a bye and there really isn’t anything new to talk about I had every intention of doing today’s post on the year end award categories and which Riders were the front runners. That idea pretty much fell flat when I tried to come up with an honest answer to who is our top Canadian and our top Special Teams player are given that “not applicable” is not an option.

So since the Riders’ chance of winning any actual awards ranks somewhere below the Blue Jays chance of making the post season, I decided a new approach was needed. At the recommendation of Mrs Prophet, I decided instead to invent a bunch of awards that the Riders actually deserve.

So without further adieu, allow me to present the inaugural Rider Prophet midseason Rider awards for outstanding achievement in the field of futility.

The Nathan Hoffart Memorial Award
Awarded to the Canadian receivers who most exemplifies the qualities of a high draft pick to accomplish nothing and eventually find his way permanently onto the injured reserve.

Winner: Jordan Sisco

The Loch Ness Monster Award
Awarded to the Rider player who according to myth exists but few people ever see and whose existence is actually in great doubt.

Winner: RJ Roberts, who never existed on the Riders’ roster until just before the Toronto game though he had allegedly been in town for months. Complicating matters was the fact that Roberts got hurt early in that game and has not been seen or heard from since... maybe he never really existed?

The Money For Nothing Award
Awarded to the player whose tenure with the team seems inversely proportional to his actually contributions to the team.

Winner: Aaron Fairooz, who is midway through his second season with the team despite the fact that the only thing he appears to be good for is making sure Ivan Gutfriend’s skills don’t get rusty.

The Going Out Of His Way To Avoid Regina Award
Awarded to the player who takes increasingly farfetched and irrational steps to avoid signing with the team who drafted him.

Winner: Matt O’Donnell, who tried to live out his hoop dreams by trying out for the Boston Celtics and then further lowered himself by trying out for the Toronto Raptors (evidently he didn’t know that they only like people who come from Europe). Then once his hoop dreams faded he made another desperate attempt at avoiding the Riders by signing with the Cincinnati Bengals. Honestly the Celtics have a better chance at winning the Super Bowl that then Bengals.

The New Coke Award
Awarded to the player who is arrives with off the charts hype only to become a massive flop.

Winner: Terrence Nunn.

The Just Because I Can Hatred Award
Awarded out of spite to the player who tops the Rider Prophet’s Hatred list.

Winner: Ryan Dinwiddie... my blog my rules, he sucks!

The Jason Armstead Wannabe Award
Awarded to the player who tries to set the record for most teams played for in the same season.

Winner: Luc Mullinder, he’s on team #3. With a little more effort he can knock off the remaining East Division teams. Maybe he should try waving a gun at his girlfriend, that always seemed to work for Armstead.

The Walking Billboard Award
Awarded to the player who manages to turn a back-up spot into a tremendous advertising opportunity.

Winner: Jason Clermont, from a football standpoint, his return to Saskatchewan has been pretty disappointing but from an entrepreneurial standpoint it’s been a resounding success. Every token catch he makes translates into new real estate customers.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bye Week: At Least We Can’t Lose

This week the Riders have a bye week and that means that even as bad as this team has been they couldn’t possibly find a way to lose.

By now the firings of Berry and Marshall have been analyzed, debated and argued to death. There are clearly divided factions of those for and against the firings and at this point neither side is going to be persuaded to change their mind… no matter how wrong and misguided the pro-Berry/Marshall faction is :)

I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the Riders’ chain of command is extremely screwed but unfortunately that will have to wait until the offseason to sort out. Don’t worry I’m told a formal recommendation has been submitted by Coach Miller to Brendan Taman who will then have to get Jeremy O’Day to initial the proposal before it is forwarded to VP Miller. VP Miller will then route it through an outsourcing conglomerate in the Philippines who in turn send it back to Miller to take to Hopson who will run it by a consulting firm and his astrologist and that astrologist will tuck it under Miller’s pillow during nap time and if Miller wakes up and sees his shadow upon emerging from his office with the proposal we will have 6 more years of convoluted management.  

Normally during the bye week, the Riders are riding a wave of success and I just get to sit back, relax and make fun the crappier teams in the league. Hell since I’ve been prophesising for the Riders, they’ve never entered the bye week with less than 4 wins. But this year our team is a long way from 4 wins and in a cruel twist of fate is one of those crappier teams in the league that I would normally make fun of.

Rather than go on and on about the problems with the Riders, I decided instead to look at each the 5 things Coach Miller needs to address if he is to have any chance at turning us back into a half decent team (hell at this point I’d settle for an eighth decent).

1 – Mental Preparation – I think this is the biggest area where Miller can have an impact. Just by watching this team you can tell that the time they should spend preparing and getting mentally focused is spent watching shows that lower their IQ like Afganistanimation or Jersey Shore. We used to be a team that was disciplined and came firing out of the gates (admittedly we then hit cruise control for until the 4th quarter but that’s beside the point). Now we take penalties all the time and come out of the gates flatter than an anorexic girl’s chest. We are currently averaging 3 points per 1st quarter. We are also averaging 2 points per 3rd quarter. So pretty much anytime the coaches got to speak with the players for an extended period of time was followed by 15 minutes of functional retardation.  We are falling behind way to early due to our crappy starts. Miller needs to above all else get this team focused and mentally prepared.

2 – Kicking – For a team that auditioned a total of 5 kickers in camp we have certainly found ourselves in one hell of a mess. Our options are now Injured Congi, Injured Johnson and Crappy Milo. It’s to the point where we may need to seriously investigate whether the CFL rule books contains a clause that states horses aren’t allowed to play in the league. Whether its getting Milo’s head on straight so he stops making me yell “Another Miss For Milo!!!” or slips Congi and Eddie some steroids to get them back quickly, Miller needs to get this phase working. We are a crappy team who is going to need every point we can get if we are going to win.

3 – No More Excuses – The 2011 Rider season has been filled with more excuses then Man in the Bush’s love making attempts. That needs to stop. Every single individual needs to take responsibility for their contribution to the team. I don’t care which players are gone and which players are hurt. I just care about the players that are on the field and that they give 100% every play. Miller needs to instil that sense of responsibility and accountability back into the players. 

4 – Defense – The “assume your defensive backs can provide blanket coverage from the base position of the 15 yard cushion for the 3 minutes it will take your ineffective pass rush to reach the QB” strategy is clearly not working. We need to tighten up all aspects of our defense and that might require a change in play calling (god forbid Richie Hall adapt his style).

5 – Shuffle the Roster – At long last we saw a shred of accountability be introduced when Sean Lucas was benched last week. We need more of this. If guys aren’t getting the job done don’t be afraid to plug in a new guys… what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like they can do worse. Sit Nick Graham down and give Russ a shot. Let’s see what Dallas Baker can do (it certainly can’t be worse than Nunn). If the people on the field can’t get the job done then try new people.

The task facing Miller and the players is massive…but not impossible.

One last thing I feel the need to mention. A few weeks ago I wrote that with the release of Cetoute we were lacking a “token drafted Canadian receiver who occupied the IR” and that “unless Jordan Sisco suddenly develops a chronic lower body injury we have no one to fill that role” … well turns out Sisco will be filling that role after all its just it happens to be due to a wrist injury as opposed to a lower body injury. It really makes me think I should be careful what I type because it tends to come true… then again I could always try and harness this power for my own evil intentions… Ryan Dinwiddie will be the latest Rider to fall victim to a home renovation related injury. (fingers crossed)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Check This Out!

You need to check this out. I just discovered a rare porn video featuring the lesbian escapades of Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox and Katy Perry.

Check it out here
Just kidding. As you know by now the link is to my 4th and final article for the Sports Interaction Blog contest. I just figured I get more hits this way. Seriously though check it out. Most visitors by the end of the month wins the prize.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: For Once Good Things Come From Losing

Riders 18 – Argos 24

The Riders officially hit rock bottom on Thursday when they lost in embarrassing fashion to the lowly Argos (the only team left in the league that we even had a remote chance of competing with). With the bye week looming, jobs on the line and the team backed into a corner they responded with a whopping 1 point through the first 3 quarters of football. One point!!! We didn’t find the endzone until the Argo defense got so bored that it quit covering Chris Getzlaf and Durant threw a pass so easy that not even butter fingers could screw it up and that was with just 7 minutes left in the game. That said it all right there about the state of our team… all the heart and relentless effort that once defined our team is gone.

I won’t get too much into the details of the game since a) it was garbage and b) I have far more important matters to get to. But here are a few random thoughts on the game:

- For the second week in a row Efrem Hill has been upgraded based on his performance. He goes from The Cognitively Challenged Rabbit to Efrem the Rabbit of Sub Par Intelligence.

- Finally, finally, finally we held Sean Lucas accountable for his horrendous play over the past 2 years. I’m not really of fan of having JP play that spot but at this point anyone is better than Lucas. He had better find a way of getting hurt fast because otherwise his employment may be in jeopardy. Good riddance I say.

- When Greg Marshall emphatically challenged that 3rd down spot I have no clue what he was looking at because West wasn’t even close to the first down. Also the play call on that one was just ridiculous. Maybe Marshall and Berry should go back and watch that play if they ever wonder why they are currently unemployed.

- As Chris Milo was busy missing FGs like it was going out of style I was busy designing a new line of T-Shirts that said “Another Miss For Milo!” on them. Then he had to go and actually make one and completely ruin my sales projections. Can’t he do anything right?

- The most obvious sign that change was needed with this team… the insane amount of penalties we took. Last year we were the least penalized team in the league… this year we are the most penalized and padded our comfortable lead by adding 11 more on Thursday. Plain and simple this team is not focused or disciplined.

- Has anyone else realized just how awful the Riders are at the first offensive play of the game? Through 8 games we have either lost yards or lost possession on 5 of our first plays (2 sacks, 1 INT and 2 fumbles). Evidently preparation is not our strong point… though I’m not sure what is at this point.

In the end it was another crappy game to add the growing list of them… this time however some good finally came of it as the Riders finally showed they had the stones to hold people accountable for the horrendous state of our once great Riders.

I figured all along that Doug Berry was done as soon as the bye week hit. His fate was sealed long before Thursday and we just had to wait for the convenience of a 2 week break to make the move. Our offense is not just the worst in the league… it accomplished this dubious distinction in embarrassing fashion. Berry showed no ability to adjust his calls to the talent at his disposal. His offense sucked and in a production based business that’s how it goes.

The decision to fire Marshall came a surprise me… a very pleasant surprise but a surprise nonetheless. I never liked Marshall and thought he was a terrible hire in the first place but I assumed that he would be given a full year before Hopson and Miller would do anything to him. They are the ones who hired him so I figured they’d give him a fairly long leash in year 1. Evidently not. I do find it ironic that after having such faith in Marshall that they turned away some very talented coaching candidates (and no I’m not talking about Hall and Berry) that Hopson and Miller would so quickly dismiss him.

As surprising as the move was it was still absolutely necessary. The problems with our team were so obvious that a blind earthworm in a third world country without television could see them.  For whatever reason, the second that Marshall stepped onto the sidelines the team changed. Our effort levels plummeted, our penalties skyrocketed… it was as if they quit trying. Sure Marshall inherited a bit less talent than Miller had at his disposal but Marshall did less with the talent he had than previous coached have done with way less talent on the roster.  Instead of having players overachieve as was the norm under Miller and Austin before him, Marshall had players underachieve.

I could go on and on about why Marshall was a poor HC and why the numerous other teams who passed on him might have been onto something, but here’s about the simplest way I can sum things up. Marshall by his own admission was not a motivator. He wasn’t involved much in the offense and left that to Berry. He was a defensive minded coach and his defense was absolutely awful. So tell me, if he didn’t motivate players, didn’t deal with the offense and sucked with the defense, what exactly were we paying him for? The honour of the presence of his moustache on the sidelines?

For those of you wondering why we didn’t fire Richie Hall despite the fact that his defense has been easier to score on than no-legged soccer goalie… it’s purely because you can’t fire everyone midseason. It was a numbers game and Hall turned out to be low enough on firing priority list to earn a reprieve until the off-season.

For those of you wondering why we didn’t fire Taman… it’s because it would have zero impact at this point. A GM’s (or whatever weird subjugated version of one that Taman is) work is done in the off-season. It’s not like if we fired Taman and hired a new GM that this new person would suddenly airlift in a new army of recruits who could play instantly and save our season. Our bizarre chain of command in Football Operations will wait until the off-season to be sorted out. 

So now old man Miller steps back on to the sidelines to try and salvage the season. While I’m not sure he will be the miracle cure some people are expecting, given that we currently rank last in pretty much every statistical category that is tracked (including a couple they had to invent just to capture our awfulness) it’s not like he can do worse.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Check Out My Article

Please check out my 3rd entry to the Sports Interaction Blog contest. Most visitors over the 4 weeks wins the cash prize.

As for my sentimonies on the most recent failures of the Riders, that will have to wait a few days. Fortunately I'm out of town for a friend's wedding... the toonie bar should be a good means of drowning my sorrows.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Riders vs. Argos: Battle of Division Basement Dwellers

Thursday the 1-6 Riders Travel to Toronto to take on the 1-6 Argos. I jokes a couple weeks ago about how hard it must have been for TSN to hype the lowly Riders/Lions game... well this week their task isn’t much easier. Not only do they have to hype a match featuring 2 of the worst teams in the League, they get the added bonus of it being a Thursday game.

It’s nothing new that the Argos get stuck with crappy times for their home games but who they got bumped for this time is pretty telling of their overall importance in the Toronto sporting world. Yes the Argos can’t get a weekend timeslot this weekend because the ever important Ontario Varsity Football League Finals are going on. That’s right pro football taking a back seat to amateur... though to be fair in this case Rogers Centre probably made the right call. I bet the quality of football will be higher at the Varsity event.

I’m not really sure what to expect from this game. Logically since this is the 2 worst defenses in the league one would expect a high scoring game. But then again this is also 2 worst offenses so that’s not likely to happen. At least we are evenly matched... kinda like 2 Special Olympic wrestlers squaring off.

The Argos’ offense pretty much the same as last year... i.e. it would be non-existent if they didn’t have an RB in the lineup. Here’s an interesting stat courtesy of Dave Naylor... the Argos are on pace to finish without a 1,000-yard receiver for the fourth time in five seasons  The only Argo to eclipse the mark since the 2006 season is Arland Bruce in 2008. That’s pretty sad and pretty telling about the Argos’ ability through the air... at least until the Richie Hall brand Ultra-Soft defense turns them into bona fide stars. Compounding their poor passing attack is their propensity (big word for this blog) for turning the ball over. They lead the League in giveaways. Of course we have the least takeaways in the League so whether we will be able to take advantage of that is a debatable point.

Unlike like last year where the Argo defense carried the team, this year they have been a liability. They struggle in pass D, give up a ton of points and have the least sacks in the league despite a line featuring Foley, Flemons, Huntley and Wroten. They have been hurt by injuries to LBs Kevin Eiben and Jason Pottinger. Though Pottinger is putting off the doctor recommended knee surgery in the hopes of playing again this season. I’m sure that will turn out well for him.

Defensively the Riders need to eliminate Cory Boyd. That might prove difficult since that involves actually tackling on first contact but you can always hope. If we can limit him all we have to deal with is Cleo Lemon and a cast of mediocre receivers. Based on last week I’m not sure our D could cover the varsity teams that will play Saturday but I’m hopeful they’ll bounce back against a far weaker opponent. I would stack the line in order to limit Boyd and force Lemon to throw. I’ll add a small proviso there that Sean Lucas be one of the guys rushing since if we need to rely on him covering somebody we might as well just go mark the 6 points on the score sheet.

Offensively I would say just keep up with what worked last game... a strong run game (though we now have to rely on West and Foord for that), using Efrem Hill (who based on last game has been upgraded to Efrem the Cognitively Challenged Rabbit) in the slot to move the sticks and take pressure of Dressler, and moving Durant around. He doesn’t even need to take off and run lots just move the pocket and allow plays to open up downfield. Also our defense does a good enough job of allowing our opponents to score so there is no need for the O to help them out in that regard.

It’s really tough to say what’s going to happen. Both teams have piss poor offenses that have shown flashes and both teams have defenses that are capable of making plays but just haven’t been doing it all that often. Part of me could see the Riders coming up flat before the bye week and mailing it in (and part of me wouldn’t mind seeing that since it would surely precipitate some coaching changes).

But the other part of me (most likely the delusional lifelong Rider fan part of me) believes there is just enough heart left in the players to pull out a much needed victory. Were it not for that pick 6, the Riders could have ended up beating the Stamps despite an atrocious defensive showing. Argos are a worse team than the Stamps so if we can tighten up even slightly on defense (I know that’s asking a lot) then maybe, just maybe...

Riders by a Weston Dressler TD

Even if we win I still think we will fire someone over the bye week. It’s sad when I’m looking more forward to the bye week then the game.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Well Now I’m Confused

Riders 35 – Stamps 45

So turns out Taman/Miller were right… Luc Mullinder was the problem with our offense and getting rid of him had the intended effect of jumpstarting our offense. Unfortunately Mullinder was apparently the only thing holding our D together so while his departure benefited us on one side of the ball, it hurt us dramatically on the other. Behold the awesome power of Mullinder!

Through 6 games I was pretty sure I had it figured out. Our defense was nothing special but had developed into something at least respectable over the last few games. Our offense was clearly the problem. It all seemed so simple… then Friday came along and screwed everything up.

If you had told me before the game that we were going to score 35 points (all on offense) I would have been pretty confident in a victory for us… I also would have called you a boldfaced liar but that’s beside the point. For the first time all season, our offense finally decided to show up and not embarrass themselves…well we did have 3 turnovers but I mean embarrass ourselves by Rider standards. We committed to the run, we discovered a receiver who is tall enough to go on the big boy rides at the fair who could actually catch and we showed some creativity. Basically we did everything that I had assumed by now were against the Doug Berry rules of offense. I can honestly say that for the first time this year I was happy with our offense.

Sadly the Welcome Back party for our offense was ruined by our defense. Had they sucked this bad any other week we barely would have noticed… but this week all we needed was an average performance and they shit the bed. Is it really too much to ask to hold your opponents to 4 TDs or less? Well in the Marshall/Hall world of defensive planning, apparently so. To be fair I doubt many teams would have game planned around Jabari Arthur being the focal point of the Stamps’ attack but still holding them under 30 shouldn’t have been that hard.

Apparently our defensive plan was to assume that Dickenson and Hufnagel had never seen game film of our not-so revolutionary soft zone scheme. Shockingly they were not surprised to see the same coverage we run every game nor were they confused by its simplicity. I realize their punter is pretty good but I don’t think it was necessary to game plan defensively to keep Burke Dales on the sidelines until close to half time.   Though it’s amazing how easy that is to accomplish when your secondary is constantly in prevent and nobody knows how to tackle.

Sean Lucas was at his peak level of crapiness… yet again. Good lord if we shipped out Kornegay and Mullinder for being paid too much for their level of play, Sean Lucas should have been cut 8 times already. He is awful!! Might as well bring back Chunky Adams and line him up in Lucas’ spot since I bet Chunky would actually have a better chance of covering his guy. Lance Frazier also had an awful game as well as Barrin Simpson who either couldn’t make the tackle or had to wait until his 2nd or 3rd attempt on the same guy.

Clearly there are issues with our coaching staff… most notably Greg Marshall who through 7 games has been an absolute failure. I guess all those teams who passed on him for head coach knew what they were doing. But anyone expecting coaching changes will have to wait at least one more week. We have a super short week due to playing on Thursday and the bye week is up after that. The bye week is the most logical time for a change in coaching since you have 2 weeks to sort everything out. So we are stuck with this mess for at least one more game.

Other Random thoughts…
-        Though it apparently does exist I have never once heard of “Accidental pass interference” before. I have also never heard of requiring video review to sort out a penalty. Ridiculous. The again I guess the refs have hardly set a high bar for themselves this year.

-       Drew Tate got at least 6 feet off the ground while celebrating a TD he had nothing to do with. I guess when you have accomplished nothing in your career so far you need to take pleasure in the accomplishments of others. When you can be seamlessly replaced by Michael Bishop it speaks volumes about how useful you currently are.

-       How many more TDs could Charles have scored before vomiting?