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.