Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Not Again!

Riders 34 – Ti-Cats 35

Now do you people see the dangers of the wave on offense?!? People started it on Saturday and looked what happened: Durant fumbles. I keep telling you people but only the few people sitting directly around me seem to heed my words (mainly because I think they are scared of me). Since verbal beration doesn’t seem to be working, I think I will have to ramp up my efforts. Next time the wave starts on offense, someone is getting shanked to make an example of them and every time it goes around, one more person will get shanked. This will continue until you people learn your lesson… or there is no one left to participate in the wave. Consider yourselves warned!

Looking to avenge a late collapse in Calgary and prove that they had learned their lesson, the Riders went out and … managed an even bigger 4th quarter collapse and proved only that they are getting better at these late game collapses.

This team could be 5 and 0. Notice how I saw could instead of should… because the Riders damn sure don’t deserve to be undefeated based on their performance over the past 2 weeks. In the wake of this most recent collapse, blame was being hurled fast and furiously. Thing is, this was yet again a total team effort in the collapse. Everyone played a role so to single any person out would be useless. This is by no means an exhaustive list but here’s a few of the reasons we get to spend the bye week in bitterness.

- The offense did a lot of stuff I didn’t like but fact is they put up 34 points. That should be more than enough to win. They put up 38 the week before which should have been more than enough. In the first 3 wins the defense only allowed 37 points total. They have allowed 41 and 35 in the past 2 games. You don’t win when your defense can’t hold the opponent under 30 (unless you are playing the Riders of course and give them a cushy lead in the 4th quarter). Chamblin Hall better get this figured out fast!

- The Crossing Route: The natural enemy of the Richie Hall defense. Over a decade in this damn league and every time a crossing route is run against us Richie Hall is up in the booth going “Well, what the heck is that new fangled play?”

- Nick Graham. The guy is junk. We already established that he was completely incapable of covering Chris Williams in Game 1 yet we went right back to it in game 2 stupidly thinking the results would be different. Why did we refuse to make adjustments to counter it rather than just let them keep doing it? If James Patrick is really our best cover man then why not try bumping him to corner to eliminate Williams and move Butler to safety? You are allowed to make adjustments.

- Chris Milo. The guy is money from 50 but pretty much anywhere else it’s a crapshoot. 2 misses on the day (and 6 misses on the year). This simply won’t cut it. He either needs to improve or we need to find a more reliable placekicker. The positive here is that it is developing a market the “Another Miss For Milo!” T-Shirts I planned on making a year ago.

- Durant. He’s so frustrating to watch because he will make great reads and plays and then follow up a boneheaded one that makes you think Michael Bishop has briefly tapped his earpiece. If he could eliminate those boneheaded plays, the sky is the limit for the guy but he just keeps shooting himself in the foot. Hard to fault a guy who puts up 30 points in back to back weeks but its just frustrating because he could be even better.

- Coaches get in on the blame here too. Their play calling and refusal to make adjustments played as big a part in the collapse as the onfield mistakes.

- Offensive play calling. Remember how I said Hamilton had the WORST run D in the league and that Sheets was in for a big day? Well evidently the Riders thought that trying to take advantage of that would be too obvious and completely shied away from it. Especially in the second half when we had a lead to protect. Guess how many carries Sheets had in the 3rd quarter? 2. Guess how many carries Sheets had in the 4th quarter? One! One F*$%& carry! And it went for 8 yards! That is beyond stupid! Run the damn ball!!!!!!!! We refused to run the ball on first down so we were continually in 2nd and long with the backfield empty allowing Hamilton’s pass rush to pin their ears back and let loose (the same thing happened in Calgary).

The TSN turning point was the injury to Tristan Jackson. He was killing Hamilton on the returns and playing well at corner. When he went down our return game suffered a bit (Sanders did ok but he’s no T-Jax) but our secondary went to hell. I already told you how awful Graham is, well after that we had to pair him with Woldu and about the nicest thing I can say about Woldu is that he wasn’t our worst CB. He rarely missed a tackle but he was always playing 15 yards off so he also rarely disrupted a completion. The Woldu/Graham pairing was one of the worst combinations at CB I’ve seen in a long time. I mean seriously they were garbage. James Johnson would be an update at this point (you have no idea how much I died inside upon writing that). Jackson, Russ and Turenne need to get healthy over the bye so we can get back to fielding a secondary with a hope in hell of stopping somebody.

We still have a winning record and still have a share of first so overall the season is still exceeding my expectations but you can’t help but be frustrated at a team that pissed away wins in 2 consecutive weeks. Hopefully the bye week will allow the team to get healthy and mentally focused for the rest of the season. If we can just play like we did in the first 3 quarters all the time we will be a formidable opponent.

Other random observations (including some of the positives from the game):
-       Saw some good things out of the offense early. The retarded rabbit was getting involved. Sanders was being mixed in and that TD pass to Taj Smith was just a beauty read.
-       Brackenridge once again did a great job keeping Fantuz in check.
-       Jeffers-Harris has some worked to do. Noticed that Durant was continually giving him onfield directions. Also, I’m still not sure how he lost him helmet on his first catch. Must be getting equipment pointers from Jon Cornish.
-       Evidently I should not have made fun of B Boudreaux in my pre-game post. He responded with 2 sacks.
-       I thought once again our kick cover teams did a great job. Williams was held in check.
-       Getzlaf is picking a hell of a time to break out his inconsistent hands again.
-       On that last missed FG, what the hell were our players thinking just letting the returner stand there and let the clock wind down?!? Get your heads in the game!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Are You Smarter Than A Baby - Week 5 Results

Tough week in the pool overall... especially for me. While the rest of the Prophet household put up 2 point weeks, I put up a nice big goose egg. It's sad when a contest you devised ends up causing you public humiliation. Oh well.

Only 2 people managed better than Prophet Jr's 2 point week (i really should have listened when he went with Winnipeg).

Overall 4 people (inlcuing Mrs Prophet) are doing better than the Baby on the season and in contention for the grand prize. 6 people are doing better than Step-Prophet and the in contention for second prize.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Riders vs. Ti-Cats: Heeeennnnryyyy

It’s a good thing I am a chronic procrastinator because this article would have looked completely different had I started drafting it partway through Thursday night. The Riders were well on their way to 4-0 and the Ti-Cats well they were fairly unimpressive through 3 weeks, it was shaping up to be a very favourable match-up. Then we went and choked like George W on a pretzel and Hamilton went out and lit up the Alouettes… all of a sudden this game starts to worry me a bit.

One thing I want to clear up about the game is Andy Fantuz. People keep asking what kind of reception we will give him. Read my lips (or at least figuratively speaking since this is via the interweb): I don’t care about Fantuz. He’s just another opposing player. I have no reason to hate him. If we are going to collectively hate on Fantuz then we better also plan on verbally berating Brendan Labatte when he comes out of the tunnel because they both did the exact same thing. I certainly hope Fantuz accomplishes nothing on Saturday but I won’t expend any more energy than normal to boo him… I have to save my breath for people I actually have reason to hate such as Henry Burris and the people responsible for the wave on offense.

Our offense is a bit of an anomaly to me, it’s producing 30 points per game (and did enough that we should have won last week) so on one hand I’m not worried about them. That said, at the risk of giving away the secret to our offense, any D-Coordinator by now who does not triple Sheets, Dressler and Getzlaf is an idiot! No one else on our offense is even relevant. Unless that changes things will get harder with each passing week for the Riders. Unless our big plan this week is to have Jock Sanders and Dressler switch jerseys and hope no one notices.

After lasting through some very good defense in the Esks and Lions, the Ti-Cats should seem like a cake walk by comparison (by the way I have never got that saying, its not easier to walk with cake, or on it for that matter). They just aren’t very good (hell they couldn’t even figure out to stop the short pass to Dressler 10 times in a row last time). Their D-line may be the worst in the CFL at this point. They are dead last in sacks with a meager 4 and their most intimidating pass rusher is a fat white old guy who coaches the Anaheim Ducks… what’s that? Oh, wrong B Boudreaux.  My bad. But quite frankly Bruce Boudreau would probably be just as intimidating a pass rusher at this point. As always they have outstanding LBs. Best trio in the league. But then you move back to the secondary and about the nicest thing you can say is that they aren’t as bad as the D-line. Outside of Tisdale none of them worry me.

Hamilton is giving up 33 points per game and (this next stat has me licking my lips) has the worst run defense by far, giving up over 140 yards per game! I would run Sheets at them all day. Sheets performed well against the Stamps who have the best run D… he is in for a big game. Basically if we can replicate last week’s offensive performance (minus the last 10 minutes) we will be fine. I don’t expect the 40 we hung on them last time but so far the Ti-Cats look like they would have difficultly keeping a European football team under 30 points.

Defense certainly has their work cut out for them but I don’t think it’s near as big a task as some are making it out to be. Sure the Ti-Cats just hung 39 on their last opponent, but Montreal’s defense is somewhere between awful and non-existent. All the awful things I just finished saying about the Ti-Cats’ D would be considered compliments at this point if I was saying them about the Als’ D. So take the result with a grain of salt.

Our 2 biggest problems are the fact that Chris Williams and Chevon Walker can score from any point on the field (unless Williams happens to forget he is no longer playing on an American field and stops running 10 yards too early). Now Williams is legitimately good… hopefully we have a better defensive strategy than the “let Nick Graham run 5 yards behind him on every play” one we used in game 1. I have confidence in our coverage teams to keep him in check on returns (Go Canadian Hair Force!). As for Walker, I think he is ridiculously over hyped. As I said, he can legitimately score from anywhere on the field but outside of his 2 highlight reel TDs he has been extremely unspectacular as an every down back. He may be a threat to score on every play but the 97% of plays where he doesn’t run for 100 his threat is minimal. Play smart, maintain lanes and don’t give him space and he will become a non-factor. We’ve handled superior backs in Cornish and Harris. Also, if we get up early everyone knows Burris will stop handing the ball off anyway. Problem solved.

I could Chris Williams this post and just quit trying here even though I still have a few lines to go… but that might end up with me throwing up in front of a TV camera so I better just push through to the finish.

Of course I haven’t talked about the other big 2 on the Ti-Cats O: Avon Cobourne and Daryl Stephenson.  Kidding, clearly its Fantuz and Boooris. Both are coming off big games (but again against a really crappy defense). I assume we will stick Brackenridge in Fantuz’s hip pocket all night. Worked well in Game 1. As with every time we face Burris, the key is getting to him. Because when he’s off his game it doesn’t matter how good his receivers are. We need big pressure from the front 4 and contact on Burris early and often. Maybe we can get a good hit from behind on him, and unclasp his bra. That will surely throw off his balance and affect his throws.

Unlike the season opener we will not be blowing the Ti-Cats out but I still think we should beat them. We have fairly evenly matched offensive (despite what the hype in the media might lead you to believe) and we have a good defense and they have a bad one. For me it’s that simple

Riders by 10

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are You Smarter Than A Baby – Week 5

Here are the Prophet Family picks for week 5.

Prophet Jr. – Winnipeg, Montreal, Saskatchewan, BC
Step-Prophet – Edmonton, Toronto, Saskatchewan, BC
Rider Prophet – Edmonton, Montreal, Saskatchewan, Calgary
Mrs. Prophet – Edmonton, Toronto, Saskatchewan, BC

And new addition to the Prophet family picks: Momma Prophet - Edmonton, Montreal, Saskatchewan, BC

I’ll admit that I find Prophet Jr.’s choice of Winnipeg a bit concerning… but then again I thought the same thing about his Edmonton pick last week and look how that turned out.

Be sure to get your picks in before kickoff on Thursday.

If you are not already entered in the contest, time is running out but you can still get in on the baby-related gambling and the chance at a cash prize. Fire me an email with your picks and we will get you all set up.

Don’t forget about the Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Bonus. The pot seems to keep growing a bit each week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning Sentimonies: So Close

Riders 38 – Stamps 41 (OT)

Dear Riders: You make my baby cry. Well technically you make on field mistakes that make me yell and swear which in turn makes the boy cry. But in this day and age of no one taking personal responsibility for anything I am blaming you. Please by more considerate toward babies nest time you decide to go out and suck. Won’t someone think of the children!

Okay let me preface this post with the following disclaimer. As mad as I was on Thursday, I am not in the doom and gloom, fire/replace everyone faction that seemed to have quickly formed. For god sakes we are 3-1and in first place. Even a diehard Rider fan like me has to admit we are doing way better than expected this early. It sucks to lose the way we did but fact is we weren’t going to go undefeated. So am I pissed about the game? Yes. But overall am i still happy with the season so far? Yes.

This loss reminds me a lot of the ’07 loss to Edmonton where we were up 20 something to nothing at half and managed to lose by not scoring in the 2nd half. Austin turned that crap game into a learning moment and the season turned out okay from there. I’m hoping Chamblain will do the same.

It’s too bad that you don’t get partial credit in the win column because the Riders put in most of a great game on Thursday. We had a big lead, Calgary was coming unglued, taking penalties, getting their best lineman kicked out, losing their long snapper to injury... I mean short of flying in Michael Bishop during the 4th quarter stretch I’m not sure what else they could have done to aid our cause. Then in what I can only describe as the most ill timed act of charity we decided to start helping the Stamps out so we wouldn’t make them look too bad.

Huclack sailed a snap high enough that we are facing fines from Canada’s aviation regulators for failing to file the appropriate flight plans prior to taking off. It’s the first bad snap I can recall in Huclack’s 3 years here. Durant threw a pick. Now the fact that he threw one didn’t really bother me. It happens and Durant deserves huge props for going this long without one. But the timing could not have been worse. Dressler dropped a deep one (which is surprising). Getzlaf had a couple drop (which is not, just took him a while to remember that he is still Chris Getzlaf).

All that considered, this one is on the defense. There is no way 38 points is not enough to win a football game (unless you are relying on Montreal’s horrific defense). By the end we weren’t even really playing defense so much as laying there and letting them do what they wanted to us (I hope we at least got a nice supper out of the deal). We were super effective at eliminating Cornish but that was about the extent of it. Bad coverage. Bad match-ups (on the Taylor TD, Kromah was the guy covering... that is a terrible match-up no wonder they scored). Russ has been playing good but you can’t tell me he is the glue that holds that unit together (at least I pray that is not the case). The worst was the textbook Richie Hall “softer than dinner at and old folks home” defense late in the game.

As I said the game made me mad but at the end of the day we are still in a good spot and hopefully with a longer practice week the team can get physically and mentally refreshed and ready to defend our home turf. It’s a home game so my baby will get a reprieve from the yelling.

Other random thoughts on the game
-       Efrem Hill almost got himself upgraded to mentally challenged rabbit based on his efforts to score a TD. Unfortunately in this performance based business: no TD, no upgrade.
-       Nice to see us open up the playbook and stretch the field.
-       We need to find an offensive weapon not named Dressler, Getzlaf or Sheets cause right now that’s all we have.
-       On that Hughes TD, Shologan was open... just keep that in the back of your mind for later.
-       I wonder what Tearrius George was saying in the trenches because he sure got the Stamps mad at him
Milo got leg!