Fresh off a resounding win over the Ti-Cants, the Riders look to build on a strong start in their home opener when they take on the 1-0 Eskimos. We as fans should be excited. Not just because it’s our home opener… which is reason enough to get pumped up (unless you happen to sit in the endzone seats in which case for safety reasons I advise you contain your excitement). But we have a chance to witness something that hasn’t been seen around these parts in far too long… the Riders beat a west division team.
Sadly you have to go back to November 6th, 2010 for the last time we beat a west team in the regular season. Conveniently enough it was the Esks we beat.
The Riders come into the game after a solid performance on both sides of the ball in game 1. Obviously the “throw to Dressler on every play” game plan will need some adjusting as they will probably be waiting for it… so let’s go with the “throw it to Bagg on every play” plan instead. That’ll throw them for a loop.
Defensively they are pretty strong especially in the front 4. Marcus Howard may be the best pass rusher in the CFL. It will be a big test for our young OL to buy time for Durant. Esks’ front 7 in general is pretty good… they completely shut down Cory Boyd last week. That said their aggressiveness against the RB may be something we can exploit. If we try and establish Sheets early and get the D focusing on the RB it will open up play action later in the game (particularly passes in the 10-15 yard range when the LBs vacate) and should also lead to some running lanes for Durant if he decides to tuck and run. We will need to keep the defense off balance with a good mixture of runs/short passes and longer passes. One thing I noticed in game 1 is that our OL and receivers did a great job of downfield blocking which was a big reason those short passes to Dressler were so effective. If we can keep that up and turn short safe passes into long gains it will mean good things for our offense.
The Esks come into the game with a fair bit of hype of their own after downing the Argos. I for one am not buying the hype. Why you ask? Well… the Argos committed 118 yards in penalties, missed 2 FGs, had 2 turnovers and generally looked awful and still had a shot to win the game in the dying minutes. So forgive me for not buying the Edmonton is awesome hype. The narrowly beat a bad team, congratulations. Jyles has yet to throw for a passing TD. His repertoire is limited to 2 plays: checkdown or chuck it up deep for Carr or Bowman. I have always thought of Jyles as mildly more intelligent Michael Bishop. But then again that is like saying an amputee is mildly more mobile than a double amputee.
Based on what I saw of Jyles in game 1, we should be teaching our DBs to cover a really badly thrown corner route. That way while Fred Stamps is going where the corner route should be thrown to, our DB will be 5-10 yards away where it actually goes. Key for the D will be patience. If there was ever a match-up that suited a Richie Hall D this is it. Simply put Jyles is not a good QB. Adequate possibly, but not good. I’m quite confident that if we eliminate big plays and force him to repeatedly attempt to put together long drives, he will fail miserably.
I would also be sure to attack the edges of that Eskimo O-line be it with our DEs, some stunts of some blitzes. A few months ago the Esks were so deep at tackle that they could afford to give us Fulton for next to nothing. Then they had injuries and lawsuits ravage their depth and so they are not starting primo talent at tackle. Attack weaknesses.
I think this game will be very close until the midway point of the 3rd quarter when the Riders will take control.
Riders by 10.
Let’s get loud Rider fans and start off the season at Mosaic with a bang.