Riders 17 – Esks 1
Regardless of the fact that the home opener had all the entertainment value of a PBS telethon, the Riders won and moved to 2 and 0. We won 5 games last year people… we are hardly in a position to start insisting on style points to go along with our victories.
The lack of anything resembling an offense on either side actually overshadowed an outstanding defensive effort. In 2 games the Riders have not allowed a passing TD and only allowed 1 solitary rushing TD (which was the 90 yard run by Walker) other than that they have been lights out. It is no coincidence that our improved defensive play coincides with the rediscovery of the long lost pass rush. A good push up front changes everything. Willis and Hawkins were playing like men possessed (in Willis’ case possibly by alcohol… sorry I couldn’t resist). They bring much needed energy and enthusiasm to whole team and just created havoc up front for the Esks. A pick, a fumble recovery, 6 sacks and a lot more hits on the QB… that’s a damn good night’s work for the D!
While I don’t want to diminish the strong play of our D, quite frankly even a mediocre defense would have looked like all-stars against the Esks. I mean they didn’t even come close to anything resembling an offensive attack. They couldn’t even handle the routine task of snapping the ball to the QB without it bouncing off the centre’s ass and into the hands of Hawkins. Someone should submit that clip to America’s Funniest Home Videos. Give that man the $10,000! Tillman might as well go ahead and trade Fred Stamps because his QBs are unable to get him the ball. Tillman could pay me league minimum to run routes that the ball will come nowhere near instead of paying Stamps’ 6 figure salary to be a glorified jogger. Actually maybe Tillman should bring in Terrence Nunn and James Robinson. Neither of them ever ran the right route so maybe the combination of them not running the right route and Jyles/Joseph not throwing to the right spot will inadvertently result in a passing attack. I have never been so confident that a 6 -1 lead would hold with almost 10 minutes left on the clock. Hopefully this will be the only time ever that 6 points (2 of which came on a safety) constitutes an insurmountable lead.
I would like to take this opportunity to officially start the “Bring In Michael Bishop to Edmonton” campaign. Fingers crossed!
I thought Turenne had a decent debut; Nick Graham might as well get comfy on the bench for next week. I also notice David Veikune a lot during the game. Tons of hustle when he subbed in on D as well as on special teams where he always seemed to be in the mix. I think he earned himself another week on the game day roster.
Our offense was a whole lot of crap until late in the 4th. I had to laugh when our first offensive play was a swing pass to Dressler (and somehow it worked, doesn’t anyone watch film any more?). Now admittedly part of our offensive struggles were due to the fact that Edmonton has a very good D. Their front 7 in particular are very solid. They took advantage of us playing 2 second string guards and 2 inexperienced tackles, shut down the run game and got tons of pressure on Durant. That said our offense still should have been able to do something… anything. I know it’s tough to do when you don’t get much time but we didn’t really try to stretch the field which allowed the D to cheat up on all the short outs we were running. We will need to do a better job of adjusting to the defense if we expect this win streak to continue. But I guess when the D is playing that well, just not turning the ball over is good enough (which by the way, we haven’t done yet).
Fortunately late in the 4th Sheets erupted for more offense on one play than we saw all game. I also love the “when all else fails just make Dressler do it” philosophy. By the end it was kick returns, passes and handoffs… I was actually waiting to see him get a couple reps at QB. Thing is it works. It’s like he has super midget powers or something.
It may have been uglier than but I would be willing to suffer through 16 more games like that as long as we win. My liver may disagree because I would have to start drinking the game pretty but it’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make for the good of the team.
Next up is BC in a battle for sole possession of first place. And anyone who claims they saw that coming are most likely lying.