Riders 17 – Als 25
Sunday we were outcoached and outplayed and sadly still had a chance to leave Montreal with a victory. Headline: Als Manhandle Riders’ Willy.
The Als came in with a tremendous game plan... and by that I mean they evidently planned on the Riders’ D never having heard of Brandon Whitaker. The D got utterly embarrassed on the first 2 drives. Honestly they might as well have stayed on the bench and conserved their energy and time on the clock because they offered zero resistance. The good news though, is that they rallied and played tremendous ball for the rest of the game. They really held Calvillo in check (and tried to cripple a couple of the Als for good measure). It would be nice if it didn’t take the D 2 TDs to figure things out (same thing happened against Calgary) but to their credit they at least seem to be able to recover. They need to stop taking idiotic penalties though. On one drive we had the Als stopped on 2nd down twice in a row and took stupid penalties to extend the drive. We simply can’t afford to do that against an offense that good.
Our offense was about as I expected with Willy... it struggled. Willy is rookie, our line is vulnerable to pressure (in particular Neufeld who looks like a boy among men out there), Trestman is too good of a coach not to clue into the fact that he should send pressure early and often. Willy did alright and certainly didn’t panic but he is slow on his reads and extremely indecisive when the first look isn’t there. Once again though I have to call out Bob Dyce for a weak game plan. He was clearly trying to keep things simple and short to make it easy for Willy but he made it way too simple and gave the advantage to the Als D in the process. For one, we refuse to move the QB. Willy was always in the exact same spot so the constant pressure the Als were sending always knew exactly where to go. They never had to think or slow down. Help the poor kid out and get him away from the pressure with some rollouts or pitches or screens. Also, given that every pass was short, the D could cheat up which made the windows Willy had to throw extremely small because the D was never stretched. Willy wasn’t exactly accurate on his passes to begin with (lots of throws were behind the receiver) and that made his life even harder (Als D makes things harder for Willy). Why do we refuse to take shots downfield?!?!? It stretches the D out and opens up the underneath stuff we are in love with, we might actually catch it or we might draw a penalty. But Dyce seems religiously opposed to any pass traveling over 20 yards. Willy is young, not retarded. Show some faith him in to take a shot here and there.
Maybe the latest mediocre performance will finally put this, Willy should be starting over Durant stuff to bed. I’m not writing the kid off and with some more development he could be something special but for the here and now Durant gives us the best chance to win.
Also, we have the worst offense when it comes to driving the field in under a minute. Case in point, end of the first half. We have the ball, 30 seconds on the clock and a long way to go. What do we do? Run for minimal gain. Of course, that makes sense. It gets small yardage and doesn’t stop the clock. We only need to squeeze 36 of those into 30 seconds to get into FG range, So we take a timeout to sort out play 2... and proceed to try a misguided shovel pass. We honestly should have just knelt if that is the crap we were going to try and run.
Memo to Sandro DeAngelis: Nobody likes you. We only tolerate you because you make field goals. If you stop making field goals, we will stop tolerating you and you will be back to unemployed. Seriously, is he doing home renos again or something?
In the end, we were not going to win a shootout with the Als and our back-up QB (not to mention an offensive plan that is the equivalent of bringing a banana to a gun fight). So we needed to play solid in every phase of the game to grind out a victory. Instead we turned the ball over, missed FGs, allowed the Als to get up early and took a ton of penalties. That’s way too many mistakes against a talented team. We played well enough to give me hope going forward but not to win on Sunday.
Other random thoughts:
- Mick Williams is awesome. Two deflections on FGs now!
- How nasty did that hit on Bratton’s knee look?
- Taj Smith is clearly not strong enough to survive contact like that.
- Part of me was hoping we’d get 6 more safeties and win that way. There was a point in the game where next to the “cripple them all” strategy it was our next best option.