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.

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