Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Morning Senitmonies: What’s Left?

After a flurry of activity last week, we are likely headed for a lull in terms of CFL news. There may be few signings here there but overall things will be pretty quiet until E-Camp in March and the Draft in May. When you combine that with the fact that NFL is over, NHL playoff haven’t started and March Madness is still a ways away, this is one of the worst stretches for sports fans. I like curling as much as the next guy but it’s kinda sad when the most exciting highlights on Sports Centre are essentially glorified housework.

So unfortunately for the next little while you will be stuck with my random commentary which will likely become less and less based in actual football matters with each passing day. Don’t be surprised when 3 weeks from now you are reading about what I ate for supper or the ridiculous things that people actually purchase such as pet strollers or curtains that don’t actually block any light (consider yourself warned).

For today though, we will stick to a couple football matters.

The first is the 2012 CFL Schedule. It came out last week and almost instantly people began complaining about it. Now I agree that the schedule is far from ideal from a fan’s perspective in terms of the Riders but we really have no one to blame but ourselves for this. You see, Rider fans have developed a reputation over the past few years. Any game, any time, if the Riders are playing we will be there. Hell we could probably sell out at 4am game in a rare and secluded Caribbean island on a Tuesday. The CFL has wisely caught onto this trend and decided that they don’t need to worry about giving the premium timeslots on the calendar to the Riders. Attendance and ratings will be solid regardless of when we play so it’s just plain smart business to give us the less desirable times and give the premium times to games and teams where it might actually boost attendance/ratings. Yes it’s like being punished for being too devoted to our team but that’s the way it goes.

Second thing I’d like to touch on is what the Riders still need to accomplish before the season starts. This was inspired by some reader comments. There has been much hype and excitement surrounding the Riders based on the coaching staff we assembled and the additions of Labatte and Picard to boost our O-line.

Don’t get me wrong I’m excited about our upcoming season and so far happy with the moves we have made but we still have a long long way to go. Looking at this objectively, we are a team with a completely unproven head coach and aside from the upgrades at OL have either new/unproven guys or status quo at every position. Given that our starting point was worst team in the CFL, we are still a far cry from being able to be cocky or start praising the virtues of Brendan Taman. 

O-line and coaching improvements are great but there are a number of things we still need to address:

D-Line – Essentially we still have the same craptastic D-line as last year. And yet again we are crossing our fingers on Hawkins’ being able to play. Unless you assume that David Veikune or Boooooooooooo Robinson are the second coming of Cam Wake, we still need a lot of work here.

Receivers – Again we are in the exact same point as last year: No Fantuz, crossing our fingers on Rob Bagg being able to play, and no established #2 receiver to take pressure of Dressler and keep Getzlaf where he can actually be useful. The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results so I would hope some changes are coming here.

Linebackers – We need a new starting 3. Granted that 2 of our 3 last year were awful so the bar for improvement is set low but still. As of right now I see us assuming that Kye Stewart and Chris Graham are the answer and doing lord knows what with Sean Lucas’ spot (which is essentially what we did even when Lucas was still manning the spot). I’m a big Stewart fan and like Graham’s potential but just handing them the roles without making them fend off some solid competitions in camp is foolish.

Canadians – This one is purely a numbers thing. So far we have lost Fantuz, Makowsky, Gauthier, Parenteau, Foord, Congi, Hudson, and Tamon George and not re-signed Bell and Mitchell. All we have added is Labatte, Picard, Woldu Newman, Bodnar and Solomon which equals a net loss of 4 Canadians from the roster (probably more when you consider that odds are 1 or 2 of the last 3 won’t make the team). Regardless of who they are or what position they play, we need more Canadian as we are seriously low on Canadian depth.

CFL Ins and Outs

In: QB Levi Brown (free agent signing)
Quick clarification, we signed the white QB who spent time with the Buffalo Bills  not the black 325 pound offensive tackle that was drafted 5th overall in 2005 by the Arizona Cardinals. Regardless of his talent level he’s currently penciled in at #3 on the depth chart purely by default. The fact that he wasn’t good enough for the lowly Bills is somewhat concerning.

In: DL Aaron Hunt, LB Mark Restilli (free agent signing)

In: P Burke Dales (free agent signing)


Anonymous said...

Isn't there anything else to do or talk about in Regina? Agribition must just be around the corner.

Anonymous said...

Wow - think you woke on the wrong side of the bed. Yes, there aren't any guarantees with prospects, but at least there are some fresh changes.
They will need to bring in more fresh faces and continue to do so, something the previous regime neglected to do. There is the need for competition in training in camp and beyond.
I disagree with your assessment of non-imports. They have got rid of some, but how many of them were contributing?

Rider Prophet said...

Anon 1 - Haha no Agribition is too far away. I suppose we could talk about the Farm Progress show.

Anon 2 - I agree that the fresh changes are a good no arguments there. I just keep hearing from a lot of people the Riders have improved by leaps and bounds over last year and I don't but it. Lots of potential but too early to get over confident. We are at the same point we were last offseason.

As for the Canadians, as i said its purely a numebrs thing more than it is a contributor thing. Fact is you need 20 Canadians on your game day roster and as of right now we barely have that many Canadians total and of the ones we do have I guarantee and hand full of them won't make the roster. I don't care who they are or what they do but we do need more Canadians.

Anonymous said...

Re the schedule - like you mentioned,the support the Riders enjoy makes for some crappy schedule spots but from my perspective the Riders preference for Weekend afternoon home games (to make it easier for fans in the province to commute to games) sucks too. As an out of province fan , I can't devote 3 hours of a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to sit and watch football. I have a wife and 2 small kids. Evening Games would be great - but I have to record games and watch at night.


Rider Prophet said...

Pat - I realize that the schedule is an impossible task. You will never make everyone happy since there is such a mix of fans old and young, in and out of town. All with different preferences. I know that the reason for a lot of afternoon games is out of towners. Which is fine by me.

The one i really don't like are the 5pm Sunday games. I don't mind afternoon Sunday games (ala NFL) but evening games kinda suck for everyone its makes for a late day for travelers especially but non-travelers as well.

The Wednesday pre-season game also sucks. But what can you do?

Rider-in-Etown said...

As a male in my 20's I think you could have a comical post about this Canadian Lingerie Football Team. I'm living in Edmonton and I'm already receiving the heat, now that Regina apparently is receiving the team. The least you can do, is give us a scouting report (If Mrs. Prophet allows it).

Rider Prophet said...

Rider-in-Etown - Believe me, a post about the LFL coming to Regina absolutely requires a post.

A scouting report would be awesome! I could call it "Prophet's Perky Prospects and Useless Boobs"!!

Anonymous said...

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