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)