While our history is full of games such as this, the idea of a battle for last place is something we haven’t been subject to for many years. We’ve had battles for first place and battles for home playoff games but battles for last… why those were about as frequent as discount liquor night at Taylor Field. But sadly that is what we are in for Friday when the 1-4 Riders travel to BC to take on the winless Lions.
I’m really curious to see the TSN pre-game promo for this game. Normally they do a pretty good montage hyping the game and telling viewers all the reasons this will be an exciting game. For this game though, the producers will certain have to bust their brains to hype it.
“Welcome to Friday Night Football where the Riders will battle the Lions in an epic showdown to prove who sucks the least. It’s the team that doesn’t run vs. the team that can’t pass. The league’s worst defense vs. the league’s worst offense. Something has gotta give. Stay tuned as we take you Empire Field for all the turnovers, ineptness and futility that you can handle!”
Seriously I’m pretty sure the only way they could further decrease the quality of this game would be to somehow make this a 3-way battler and include the Argos.
Wally Buono may be the winningest coach in CFL history but over the past 3 years his success has been in a massive nosedive. This has led to another distinction for Buono, he is now the losingest coach in CFL history. You know that whole Brett Favre-style “own every record even the bad ones approach”… though I would hope that Buono hasn’t texted pictures of his junk. You have to look no further than the status of his roster to see the signs that Buono is slipping.
Traditionally Buono was a talented drafter and consistently had elite Canadian talent (he’s had 5 of the past 7 top Canadians). Recently his drafting has been falling into question. His top pick from ’08 was recently cut for performance reasons, his top pick from ’09 has had zero impact so far and his top pick from last year was just selected in the 1st round of the NFL draft. Traditionally Buono has been a top notch recruiter (he’s had an amazing 7 of the past 10 top Rookies). This year he has been reduced to picking up other teams’ scraps (JR Ruffin, Kamau Imcompleterson, Jerome Dennis, Tad Kornegay and most recently Runako Reth aka the receiver formerly known as Arland Bruce). Might be time for Wally to start considering retirement… before David Braley starts contemplating it for him.
The Lions pass game is similar to ours… struggling. They really have no one to blame but themselves as they decided the start the season with only one starting receiver who had ever caught a pass in the CFL. Simon is still performing at a high level but (much like Dressler) without other capable receivers to take the pressure off of him he is facing a lot of double coverage. Shawn Gore is also emerging as a reliable target. Of course he could be doing that for the Riders but in our infinite wisdom we decided to draft Jordan Sisco instead (a move I curse every time Gore makes a reception). Their O-line is somewhat vulnerable as their depth has been depleted to the point where they had to get Kelly Bates (who is their O-line coach) to put on the pads again (yikes). As I mentioned before, their run game is the worst in the league… mainly because they simply didn’t run the ball at all for the first 3 games of the year. They finally got their run game going last week with Tim Brown carrying the ball. He is a talented runner and a dangerous returner that we need to be mindful of on defense and kick coverage. His speed and shiftiness remind me a lot of Yonus Davis… which I can only assume means he’s dealing a ridiculous amount of ecstasy in his spare time.
To win this game and avoid becoming the official laughingstock of the league it’s going to take solid play on both sides of the ball regardless of the fact that BC has yet to win. Defense has come a long way since the start for the season and have had good showings in the past 2 games. That needs to continue. Lulay is young and prone to mistakes so some pressure from our front 7 will go a long way to forcing him into bad decisions. Our secondary managed to hold its own against Richardson/Bratton/Green and Rambo/Bryant/Lewis so they should be up to the task of covering Simon/Gore/a bunch of people who couldn’t catch a pass if their life depended on it and would probably fit in great as Rider receivers. BC likes the swing pass to the RB so our LBs will need to stay on their toes and take that read away. Lulay is hardly a precision passer so if we can limit the big plays and contain Tim Brown when he gets the ball, I don’t see the Lions putting up too many points.
Problem is that even if we manage to stymie the BC offense, our embarrassing excuse for an offense will need to do something in order for us to win this game. Cates is out again so it will be up to Charles and maybe even West to carry the load. BC is allowing over 120 rushing yards per game (worst in the league) so we should look to attack that. My only concern is the combination of Charles’ butter fingers and Elimimian who hits like a truck. Odds are good we see a fumble at some point result from that. BC has had a different line-up in the secondary every game… this week is no exception as Tad Kornegay will start at half for them. Tad is a versatile guy but HB is the one position that made me cringe when he lined up there. I would attack that… particularly with short passes. Get the receiver the ball in front of Tad and make him make the tackle… or more likely the diving shoulder that we should be able to bounce off of and turn upfield (of course this all requires our receiver to actually catch the ball first). The Lions D have allowed more passing yards than anyone so this is the ideal match-up for our struggling pass game. It’s like the league schedule makers paid for a prostitute for us and by virtue of showing up we should score… sadly given our struggles even that isn’t a guarantee. If we can get Durant on the move and get some catches from our receivers we should be good… but that’s a big if.
In true Rider form, I expect them to start slow and scare the crap out of us by trailing BC late in the game. That said in the end they will pull it out
Riders by a Durant rushing TD… okay okay wishful thinking… we’ll go with Riders by a Getzalf receiving TD…. You’re right, wishful thinking again… Riders by an errant pass that tips off a defender into Dresslers hands for a TD. That’s more like it.