Saturday the Argos come to town for what will be the final home game of 2012... and it will be a chilly one. It’s a good thing most of our seats our covered by season tickets because trying to market a cold game, that doesn’t mean a whole lot against the Argos can’t be easy. I mean if the Riders will willing to give the fans what they want: mascot soccer at halftime then it would surely be packed. But I have been pitching for years and I’m convinced Helen Keller will hear me before Jim Hopson.
The story of this game will be which Riders team decides to show up. The one that won 5 of 6 and beat the best in west or the one we’ve seen the last 2 weeks doesn’t look like they could beat anyone. The cynic in me expects the latter as there isn’t a whole lot on the line here (we are in the playoffs either way). The stupidly optimistic fan in me still likes to think the teams actually cares enough to play strong for their fans. That said the stupidly optimistic fan has been burned a lot more than the cynic this year... and in general. I feel a spouse who keeps returning to an abusive relationship.
What’s sad about this game is we actually have a better record than the Argos but thanks to dreadfully awful level of play in the east, we might yet finish 4th and the Argos are all but assured 2nd and a home playoff game. I mean short of pulling a Tanya Harding on Calvillo there’s not much more the league can do to get Braley’s Argos into the cup... not that anyone is Toronto would care. They are too busy enjoying the Maple Leafs’ first non-sucking season in years.
As for the game, it will be a lot different that our first meeting since Ricky Ray and Chad Kackert will be playing. I don’t want to say Jarious Jackson is awful but this akin to an Olympian competing in the actual Olympics instead of the special ones. Actually Kackert worries me. Ray likes short throws to him and Montreal has repeatedly shown how vulnerable we are to that. Based on the last Toronto game I saw I expect to see a lot of Kackert and a lot of deep shots. Then again if a decade of facing Richie Hall defense has taught Ricky Ray anything he would run a ton of crossing routes. I just hope we learn from last week an actually game plan to cover their best receiver.
As with always the key will be disrupting Ray with pressure and hits. If he has time he will carve us up. If Joseph can do it, the prospect of Ray is scary. Time for the bounce back game that should have came last week. Their O-line isn’t all that good so we should be able to generate pressure. If the LBs can contain Kackert and the DBs eliminate Owens and the big play we should be in good shape.
Offensively, I say run, run run. The Argos have a good secondary and generate a ton of INTs but their run D is the second worst in the league. Cold weather + bad run D should = a heavy dose of Sheets. That said I’d be lying if I said I was confident that Dyce would figure that out. Obviously Dressler is phenom so lean on him but we will need a few other weapons to step up to keep the opportunistic Argo secondary from keying on Dressler. I’m still leery of Taj Smith but he seems to be playing well lately. Now that we’ve discovered McHenry is able to run more than just the out he is developing into a reliable outlet. If we believed in using our receivers’ height to our advantage I would recommend the deep ball along the sidelines to Carr but since Bob Dyce believes that the depth of a receiver’s route is inversely related to their height I won’t bother. The Argos are for some reason fundamentally opposed to sacks so our O-line should be up to the challenge.
It would be easy for the Riders to mail this in, but I just have to believe they will come out fired up for one last time at Mosaic and play some inspired ball. I see Ray throwing for a lot on us with Kackert leading the way in receptions but at the end of the day I think the D will finally generate some turnovers (that hopefully won’t get negated by BS penalties) and the O (led by a powerful running game) will capitalize.
Riders by a Kory Sheets TD.
See you in the stands. Cheer loud, it will help you stay warm... I also recommend whiskey poured very strong.