Thursday, October 27, 2011

Riders vs. Ti-Cats: Last Chance To Witness The Carnage In Person

Saturday the 4-12 Riders play their final home game against the 8-8 Ti-Cats… the game will likely be a “technical” sellout but realistically the stadium will be 2/3 full at best and that could drop if the temperature does. Realistically a Saturday afternoon game, in late October where the home team hasn’t won in over a month and whose motivation for trying to break that streak is about on par with their motivation to come to my house and do my yard work for me on Sunday is a pretty tough sell. Now if they were to advertise the world’s greatest halftime show, Mascot Soccer, for Saturday it would no doubt be standing room only. However, given the effort that has been put in the halftime entertainment this year my guess is that we will be treated to an imagination halftime show.

If it can’t mascot soccer I would also be willing to accept this guy…

I actually heard that they planned on having a video tribute to the 2011 season at halftime but had to scrap the idea when they couldn’t find enough highlights to fill a commercial break, let alone the whole halftime break.  

Personally I’m excited for the game… mainly because of who will be starting at QB. It only took 4 separate injuries (you know and the whole general lack of production over the past month) for Ken Miller to decided to shut Durant down for the season. So that means that Ryan “I would be a good QB if it weren’t for those pesky DBs” Dinwiddie will get the start.

 Obviously I would be more excited if we were starting a competent QB or at least someone with potential (cough Bergquist cough) but at least with Dinwiddie playing I am guaranteed some entertainment most likely in the form of INTs. Also given Dinwiddie’s track record he’ll probably be replaced by halftime anyway. Hopefully by Bergquist but the way this team has been going it wouldn’t surprise me to see Durant (there must be some other part of his body that has yet to be injured by needlessly playing him).

Even though it’s coming too late for my liking, at least the Riders are finally starting to shut down some veterans for the year in favour of some newer guys. In addition to Durant, Andy Fantuz and Barrin Simpson are done for the year.  This means that after weeks and weeks of me practically begging for it, Chris Graham might actually get a shot in the middle. Will he light it up? I have no idea. But we will never know until we give him a shot. Hopefully we will get a chance to see if Freddie Barnes can do something other than run down defenders who pick off our QB… well actually with Dinwiddie starting; odds are good that Barnes will have to do that a few times too.

Other guys who we should really give a chance to see what they can do include Patrick Neufeld, Alex Krausnick-Groh, Eddie Russ, Tyron Brackenridge and Yvenson Bernard (wait we don’t run the ball so you can scratch that one).

I also wouldn’t mind seeing Freeman hit 100 tackles (he is 6 away), Getzlaf hit 1000 receiving yards (he is 83 away) and Wes Cates hit 1000 yards rushing… haha just kidding, at the pace Cates is on he might not get 1000 yards if the season was 40 games long. On a more serious note a kick return TD would be a nice season ending treat for the Mosaic faithful.

As with the past few weeks, our opponent’s care, we don’t ergo we will lose, likely by a lot. Further pouring salt in the wounds will be the fact that we will get to see 5 guys who the Riders let get away administer the beating… Chris Williams, Rey Williams, Marcus Thigpen, Carlo Thomas, Belton Johnson. We do so well at this whole player personnel thing. If you are wondering, I intentionally left Stevie Baggs out since at the price Hamilton is paying for him I think he is immensely overrated.

Hamilton by a lot. The good news is I expect a massive fireworks display at the end of the game since we haven’t been using any up for TD celebrations.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reggie Hunt Retires

Today Reggie Hunt signed a one day contract with the Riders and formally announced his retirement (though at the rate this team is going it wouldn't have surprised me to see us play him this weekend).

The Reaper was a menacing presence in the Riders' front seven for 6 great seasons. Nobody thought we could replace George White but Hunt certainly did that carving out an outstanding career as a Rider culminating in a Grey Cup win in 2007.

The one memory of Reaper that will foerver be etched in my mind is this hit on Jason Clermont

All the best on a great career Reggie.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: We Scored!

Riders 13 – Stamps 25

After over 4 games without scoring a touchdown, I can’t believe that having a cripple scramble for the major was the play that ended that embarrassing drought. Sadly it was the best plan we managed to come up with over the past month. But as the joy (I guess you would call it) of seeing actually find the endzone started to dissipate, the rising belief that we were about to embark on another TD-less streak began to take hold.

It wasn’t just on offense that strange things broke droughts. Defensively we the interception machines known as Nick Graham and Mike McCullough stepped up and delivered turnovers… turnovers that we ultimately could not capitalize on but hey when you’re this bad you gotta take the positives when you can get them.

Man o man did Chris Jones ever call the perfect D against us. What do you do against a team that doesn’t run and is struggling at the QB position? Blitz like hell. Jones repeatedly sent more blitzters than we had blockers and the results were predictable… a struggling passing game, turnovers and our QB (you know the aforementioned cripple) getting creamed.

Defensively, Richie Hall obviously didn’t read my pre-game write up about Jon Cornish running all over us because that’s exactly what happened. Big shocker there.

Other random thoughts:
- You know that song “One of these things is not like the others”? Well that was Freddy Barnes on Friday. You could tell he actually cared. The hustle he showed in chasing down that sure TD that Durant served up was great to see. Since we don’t pass to new people I guess he just took it upon himself to earn his roster spot by others means. Good on him.

- As much as I hate seeing us lose, seeing Burris lose his starting spot is a real nice consolation prize. He’s still asserts that he is the reigning MOP if anyone cares to ask him.

- Only thing that would have been even sweeter is seeing a patented Dinwiddie pick.

- Would anyone else not be surprised if Miller started Durant this week despite broken foot, sprained ankle and now possible concussion? He need the reps people.

- Neal Hughes had a better rushing average than Wes Cates… just saying. Brandon West had a better average than both but we don’t run so all 3 better just concentrate on getting really good at chasing down defenders after offensive turnovers.

Only 2 more games of this gong show. I suggest bringing an MP3 player with that circus music to the game. Trust me it will make our onfield follies funny instead of maddening.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Riders vs. Stampeders: Will We Score?

The Riders have found a unique way to make sure fans keep watching there games. Normally a struggling team who has zero chance of making the playoffs would be an easy game to skip. But I will be glued to the TV tomorrow night. Not because I think it will be a good game and not because I particularly care about the outcome. No I will be watching on the off chance I get to witness an endangered species… the elusive Rider TD.

Even last game I found myself delaying my trips to the bathroom/concession whenever we had the ball. I didn’t actually think we were going to score a TD but I just couldn’t live with myself if by some fluky miracle we did score and I missed it. That would be like camping out for weeks to see the Loch Ness Monster and falling asleep when it swims by.

This will be the 4th time this year we play the Stamps and we have lost the first 3 by a combined score of 107-56… and that was when we supposedly “cared”.

The main storyline of this game revolves around QBs, more specifically Calgary’s smart decision to start their back-up and our idiotic decision to not do the same.

Let’s start with Calgary (since that one entertains me). Henry Burris has a long a storied history of collapsing at inopportune times… generally in the playoffs when playing thee Riders. This time however, he has outdone himself. He has played like garbage over the past few games and has managed to do something he’s yet to do in Calgary… lose his starting job. Coming into the season I considered Drew Tate to be the best back-up QB in the league (granted his “competition” included Jarious Jackson, Dalton Bell, Kerry Joseph and Ryan “I Suck So Bad They’d Rather Play a Cripple Than Me” Dinwiddie but still). He outplayed Burris and gives them the best chance to win plain and simple. All Burris can do now is hope Tate chokes and try and figure out how this latest development can be blamed on Rider fans.

While, Calgary’s QB situation makes me laugh… our QB situation makes me ram my head against a wall repeatedly.  In yet another sign that he may have become completely senile, Coach Miller has decided to start Durant broken foot and all despite the fact that this game is  meaningless. He claims it is needed to help Durant’s development.  So what Durant is lacking to be an elite QB is apparently experience playing on broken foot while throwing to receivers who no longer care.  The genius of Miller strikes again. I really wonder if there aren’t some performance incentives in contracts that Durant and other vets are trying to hit with some help from Miller. I just hope for Durant’s sake there are no incentives for TDs in his contract.

I’d like to think we will see some extended playing times for up and comers like Freddie Barnes (who I’m excited to see play), Chris Graham (for god’s sake play him!), and Neufield/Krausnick-Groh (unless we think our ancient O-line will be like a wine and get better with age). Sadly I expect none of this the way Miller is going. He will play the new guys sparingly, if at all and will let our vets go out and lose and give it the old college try (i.e. playing with great effort but sucking in the process).

At least when we played Dinwiddie, I had something I could laugh about and take enjoyment in. Now the only thing I’ll have to look forward too is the shots of Henry pouting on the bench.
Cornish will run all over us and unless Jerrell Freeman somehow gets his hands on the ball we will not score a TD. 

Patience my friends... each embarrassing loss brings us closer to the major changes over the offseason that we require.

Addressing Stupid Rumours

There is a rumour floating around that the Riders have been pursuing Kent Austin to be our next GM/Coach and it has got some people excited. We call those people idiots as this is simply not going to happen.

Actually the call this a stupid rumour is incorrect. I have no doubt that the Riders may try to attract Kent Austin. So in that sense the rumour is technically true. But just because we’ve been pursuing doesn’t mean that anything will actually happen. It would be like me “pursuing” Megan Fox to be my girlfriend. I can pursue all I want… it ain’t gonna happen.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Morning Sentimonies: And That's The End of that Chapter

Riders 18 - BC 29

Remember that time the Riders scored a TD? ... me neither.
Sunday put the final nail in the coffin  of the Riders playoffs hopes… even they realistically ended weeks ago. And realistically its probably for the best. I mean, I’m pretty sure you would have to go way back before the League approved the forward pass to find a team that had any postseason success without scoring a TD.

The only mildly comforting team was at least see the Riders play a competitive game for once… I mean as competitive as you can be without finding the end zone.  Defense turned in their second straight good performance. Sure they sucked in the 4th quarter but it’s hard to blame them. I would have given up too if my offense hadn’t found pay dirt since mid September.

If that was our best effort… these last 3 games could be as enjoyable as a colonoscopy.

Random thoughts on the game:
- Quick trivia: Can you remember who scored the last Rider TD? … It was Chris McKenzie on a pick 6. Last offensive TD was Weston Dressler on a run. Those were the days.

- Every time Miller or Taman as asked about a roster move or playing back-ups they always mention salary cap pressures… then we go out and activate Ernie Wheelright off the 9-game IR early meaning we have to eat a few games of his salary. It juts makes no sense.

- Why is it that when we can even handle the simple things we keep adding more ridiculous and complex plays? Like the 3rd and 1 shotgun direct snap to Hughes after we run around confused for a bit. That might be okay to try on 2nd and 1... But you should never ever ever go shotgun on 3rd and short… let alone a trick shotgun play.

- Milo for MVP? … No seriously.

- Actually hands down our MOP is Jerrell Freeman. The man is an absolute treat to watch and does absolutely everything well. I think we should give him a series at QB just to see what he can do. What’s the worst that could happen?

- Ever notice how at the end of every season Wes Cates seems to step it up…  he’s smart enough to know he needs to impress enough to get a job next year,

- Great seeing Rasovich, Saunders and Holmes again. I have great memories of all 3.

- Did you see how many fireworks we set off for the Plaza Inductees? We had to use them up somehow since we don’t  have any TDs to set them off for anymore.

- I live how despite the fact that the fans finally voted for a new 4th quarter stretch song, the cheerleaders still did the exact same routine.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Riders vs. BC: This Won't Be Pretty

You'll have to forgive my lack of a post this week. I've been busy redoing the flooring it my kitchen, hallway and porches. As much as value you my readers, I value having a functioning kitchen a lot more. Please don't take it personally but unless you plan on bringing breakfast or lunch tomorrow, I had better get back to work.

I own't leave you high a dry though so here are my abbreviated thoughts on the game:

BC hasn't lost in 7 games... we haven't scored a touchdown in almost that long. That alone should tell you all you need to know.  I've given up hoping for a win and am now just hoping that a defender tips an errant pass to one of our receivers for a fluke TD. We can't score one by trying so we're left hoping for a fluke.

For reasons I will never understand Durant (broken foot and all) is starting. While I will never question Durant's heart I have to winder why his foot was too bad to start last week but good enough to come in at half and be good enough ever since. Either he is too hurt to play period or he should have been starting last week. Plus it's not like the offense was firing on all cylinders even when he was in.

BC by a lot... hell if they manage to score a TD we might as well just forfeit.... I'm kidding... only mostly.

See you in stands

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Three Changes I Would Like To See

Now that the Riders’ 2011 season is effectively over, the next 4 games are essentially all about an extended trial run for next year. We need to use them to evaluate the players in order to determine who will be part of the team’s plans for next year. That will necessitate some changes to the game day roster.

Thing is people have gotten somewhat crazy (not that Rider fans would ever do that) with the changes they are calling for. Bench all the starters, play all the back-ups, 9-game any veterans, trade whatever you can and cut anyone left standing. Look, I’m all for maximizing the opportunity we have over the next 4 games to evaluate talent but we need to take a rational approach to this… it’s a sad state of affairs when I have to be the rational one.

There are a few minor things like the ratio, the salary cap and the fact that we need to have at least 46 active players that limit how many back-ups we can insert in the line-up. Not only that, but if you really want to get a good evaluation of someone they need to be lining up with a least a few starters. I mean what are the odds a QB will do well if we play nothing but rookie receivers? Or how will you know how good your new DE is if you play him alongside 3 rookies who don’t play well? We need to keep playing at least some starters if we hope to get a solid evaluation of someone’s performance.

With that in mind I have come up with a list of the top 3 changes I would like to see over the past 3 games that are easily accomplished within our current roster constraints

1 – QB – I would split the remaining 4 games evenly between Dinwiddie and Bergquist (whether they each get one half per game or 2 full games a piece). We need to see what Bergquist can do after 3 years learning the trade. Time to find out if he’s grown enough to earn another year or if we should cut our loses and find a new project at QB.

As for Dinwiddie. Yes even I, an unabashed Dinwiddie hater think we need to give him a chance. One game is not enough to make a full judgement on someone. I still think Dinwiddie will never amount to anything but I’m so confident in his crapiness that I’m willing to let him prove it on the field.

(**Note: I wrote this QB stuff before I found out that Durant will likely be starting this week. That said I still stand by what I wrote***)

2 – Patrick Neufield at tackle – We can’t replace the whole O-line at once (without completely leaving our QBs out to dry) but to me, tackle should be our priority. It is one of the most critical positions, the hardest to find quality Canadians and one we are currently struggling at. Neufield has had training camp in 2010 and a full season in 2011 with some limited in game action. Let’s see if Neufield can hold his own out there with the starters. Lord knows our current tackles can’t.

3 – Start Chris Graham – It’s painfully obvious that Barrin Simpson is done. We have a promising LB in Graham so hand him the reigns and see how he fares. If he does well then we’re good, if not then I guess we have one more item on our To-Do list over the offseason.

While there a numerous other changes I would like to see and players I think should be evaluated, these are the most important in my opinion and the easiest to accomplish since all these players are already on our 46 man roster.

Honourable Mentions include:
- Getting Freddy Barnes some action. I like his hands… and I mean that in the manliest way possible.

- Giving Alexander Kraunsnick-Groh some time at centre. Parenteau has done little to solidify his status as our centre so I wouldn’t mind seeing what the young guy can do.

- Mixing up the secondary. Nick Graham has struggled, Chris McKenzie is extremely inconsistent, James Patrick isn’t playing as well at HB as he did at safety or LB. That’s a lot of question marks heading into next year. Would like to see what guys like Russ and Brackenridge can do.