Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Morning Sentimonies: We Are For Real

Riders 23 – BC 20

Any doubts about the 2012 Riders being a legitimate contender disappeared as the clock hit zero on Saturday at Mosaic. The Riders went toe to toe with the reigning champions and emerged as the only unbeaten team in the CFL. It was great to be reminded about just how electric Mosaic can be when the crowd gets rocking.

An unfortunate side effect of the electric atmosphere was having our first “wave on offense” incident this year. I quickly corrected it with a stern verbal warning to the people sitting around me. If you sit on the East side look up at the second deck next time the wave starts on offense. There will be a circle of people in section 206 that do not participate as it goes by.  The good people who sit by us are smart enough to heed the warnings of the prophet. It’s like the parting of the Red Sea (though I’m sure Moses used a few less threats and cursing).

As for the game… If you had told me going into the game that Jordan Sisco would be our leading receiver I would have shuddered and bet Prophet Jr.’s entire education fund on BC (this is why I shouldn’t gamble… or have signing authority over Prophet Jr.’s account). Somehow though, we made it work.

During the first couple of games, our refusal to stretch the field on offense bothered me. But the more I watch this team the more I’ve come to realize that its not that we can’t, we just haven’t had to so far. When your defense is playing this good and you can move the ball effectively with the short game, why take unnecessary risks? Just control the ball and you’ll control the game. Our offense doesn’t have to take the team on its shoulders they just need to execute and string together long drives (which they did on Saturday) and good things will happen.

Here’s an amazing stat to show you just how improved this team is :
In the first 3 games of 2011 we gave up 114 points and committed 12 turnovers
In the first 3 games of 2012 we have given up 37 points and committed 0, I repeat 0, turnovers!

Such a stark improvement as not been witnessed since Photoshop was introduced to the modeling world.

The offense was far from pretty but they made 2 and outs almost an endangered species and consistently moved the ball (even though the endzone was hard to reach). When you combine that with strong special teams play, you win the field position battle and in close games the team that wins the field position battle will most likely win it all.  I thought the O-line did a tremendous job. We only allowed 1 sack to a very dangerous D-line with our 2 starting guards not playing… whatever we are paying Coach Sweet is worth it.

I would like to thank Paul McCallum for his performance. He did more to benefit the Rider organization in one afternoon than he did in his last year as an actual Rider. There was the ridiculously poor decision making and even worse execution on that punt out of the endzone (seriously I think the losers they get to participate in the chip-shot field goal contest during breaks could kick it farther). There was his fist missed FG that we returned to midfield. And of course the highlight of them all: the 2nd missed FG which we returned for 6. Thanks Paul. For your efforts, a gift basket of manure will be delivered to your neighbours courtesy of Lions’ fans.

As for the kick return TD… I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. After going 5 years without one, I was begging to think that such things were imaginary like unicorns and French people with good personal hygiene.  Hopefully we don’t have to wait for the new stadium to see another.

Hats off to the D on another solid performance. We allowed just 20 points to an offense that had been averaging 36 points a game. We didn’t get any sacks but the pressure was still there and when you can still get pressure despite facing the best offensive tackles in the CFL then that’s an accomplishment. With the possible exception of the Calvillo/Richardson/Green/Whitaker show, we are not going to see another offense as potent as the Lions so this performance has to make feel good about the games to come.

Other random thoughts:
-       How awesome was it to see an RB who can run it down the opponent’s throat late in the game to kill the clock and secure victory?! The combination of our OL and Sheets make are run game damn intimidating. 
-       Not to nitpick but our decision to only dress 5 receivers was one of the few errors made by the coaches this year. It led to a scary situation where a Rob Bagg knee injury (which mercifully is apparently no that bad) necessitated a set of starting receivers including McHenry, Hill and Sisco. No secondary in the league will ever be intimidated by that.
-       How can you not love Kromah and Brackenridge!
-       Louis Rankin sure runs like a wussy for a big man. On that one kick return he slowed down so much in the face of BC cover teams that he pretty much stopped. Be a man!
-       Woodny Turenne had 9 tackles… that’s a very bad sign for a DB. He had better pull up his socks or the man he replaced may get a second chance.
-       All Craig Butler does is make plays.
-       When guys like Tim Brown and Arland Bruce become non-factors in a game, you know things are going pretty good.

Can’t say I saw this 3-0 start coming but I am loving every minute of it. There are bound to be some bumps along the way but its pretty clear that this is not just a team that will be fighting for a playoff spot… this is a team that will be fighting for first place.

Bring on the Stamps!


Ronbo the Riderfan said...

I'm looking forward to Labour Day and Winnipeg. It won't be much of a challenge but it will be sweet.

Govind said...

Are you or media consultant making the trip to Calgary?

Rider Prophet said...

Ronbo - Maybe by then Buck Pierce will maybe an ill-advised comeback attempt by then

Gov - Not sure about Media Consultant but unfortunately I just can`t swing it this year. Combination of it being a Thursday game and having a baby make it difficult.

Life was so much simpler when I was a childless drunk.

Govind said...

I resemble that last sentence

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