The past couple weeks have been packed with huge announcements by the Riders (and no I’m not talking about the re-signing of Scott McHenry). We made a surprising but awesome move in adding George Cortez as OC. We also made a less surprising (at least if you know Taman) yet incredibly risky move in adding Geroy Simon to the receiving core.
Regardless of where you stand on the moves, the bottom line is we now should be set on offense. We have a franchise QB, an electric RB, an OC who might actually attempt a pass over 7 yards, the same OL as last year (which in my opinion is only four fifths a good thing) and now another receiving threat other than Dressler (despite not liking how much we are paying him, I do assume Simon can at least catch). We should be set on that side of the ball.
But for all the focus we have been putting on offensive, we should probably think about doing something on defense. I mean at this point we are only slightly ahead of the yet to be terribly named Ottawa team. We are solid at DT with Shologan, Alford and Mitch Williams. A healthy Kromah should once again lock down his outside LB spot. We are committed to Butler at safety. We have a lot of options at CB (Maze, Turenne, Collins, Harris, Jackson)… the spots are wide open but I’m assuming we can find 2 guys from that group. Hell I’d just be happy if it wasn’t a different set of guys each week like last year.
Problem is that is about all we have figured out. For those of you keeping track at home a) I’m curious what scoring system you’ve invented and b) that leaves the Riders’ D only the small task of addressing Defensive End, Middle Linebacker, Cover Linebacker and both half backs… sadly that pretty much is a list of the toughest defensive positions to address in the CFL. Let’s look at each group a bit closer
Defensive End – I love Tearrius George but we still need to find 2 more guys to platoon in our DE rotation. Willis is off blindly chasing NFL ambitions that won’t materialize. Will we sign him back? Maybe, but no guarantees. We finally got a full year out of Hawkins (well 14 games, but by his standards we’ll count it) but it was very underwhelming. Even if Willis does re-sign we still need to bring in some guys to help here because last year proved that a Willis/Hawkins/George combo just isn’t good enough (certainly an improvement over the previous season but more is needed)
MLB – I honestly have no clue what we are doing here. I’m assuming the Shomari experiment has been stricken from the record but do we just hand Lobendahn the job? He played well but not well enough to be the uncontested started. Is Hurl ready? I doubt it but we may try. And that right there is our entire list of options. Lord I hope there is more on the way. Maybe we should call Mo Lloyd again J… not that he’d trust a contract from us anymore.
Cover LB – Brackenridge remains unsigned. I imagine he wants to wait until free agency to see what his value is before committing to us. He is too damn talented to let slip away. It’s even scarier considering we do not have a backup plan at all if he goes… unless you consider Graig Newman a back-up plan.
Half Backs – Continuing the theme of “things that concern me given that we have no back-up plan”, we currently have no half backs… none. McKenzie and Russ are unsigned and we don’t really have any reliable options on the roster. Maze can play inside in a pinch but I don’t consider him as a starter at the spot. For the love of god do not let Collins play inside!!! I think it’s pretty much a guarantee one of Russ/McKenzie re-sign but unless we get both back we have a tough spot to fill. It’s a sad world when you have 7 DB Coaches but no HBs.
There’s still plenty of time before training camp in June to address these issue so here’s hoping after blowing his load on offense in January, Taman still has enough left in the tank to piece together a competent defense. George Cortez may be an offensive mastermind but we saw firsthand the limits of that offensive when no paired with a remotely capable defensive unit.
Jason “Savio” Vega – signed with New England
Odell Willis – worked out for Tampa Bay
CFL Ins and Outs
In: Greg Marshall, Doug Sams (hired as DC and OC)
Marshall and Kavis Reed will make a perfect pair. Reed never stops screaming like a madman and Marshal doesn’t believe it’s his job to motivate people.
In: DB James Patrick (free agent signing)
In: WR Darvin Adams, DL Mohammed Marah (free agent signing)
Out: DL Ron Flemons (released)
Out: DL Jason Vega (signed with New England)
In: DL Junior Turner (contract extension)