After two solid wins against western opponents, the Riders kick off a 3 game set against the East Thursday in Toronto against the defending champs. I’m currently cursing Toronto’s complete apathy towards the only sports team that actually good for forcing me to work on a post this early in the week. I assumed a Thursday game meant the Blue Jays had the weekend booked… wrong. This time around the Argos get bumped to a Thursday for nothing. They’d rather the Rogers centre sit empty. Maybe they pre-emptively booked it for a Stanley Cup party during the 2nd period of the Leafs’ game 7.
Remember the good old days when a breakdown of the Argos revolved around how shitty their QB was? Well those days are behind us Ray is back and looking very comfortable in the Milanovich offense. Helps having the league’s top receiver and reigning MOP at your disposal. Not to mention a reliable RB that can run, catch and block and an OL that has allowed just one sack. It’s no secret that Ray likes short quick passes and will make use of a number of different receivers. Overall the O looks good, but BC showed the blueprint last week of how to beat them…play very physical and make life difficult for Ray up front. In this regard I think we match-up better than we did last season. Our front 4 can bring the pressure and our DBs can be very physical. If we can eliminate the big play to Owens and limit the runs and dumps to Kackert, it will force Ray to beat us repeatedly short with other receivers (hopefully under a lot of duress from Chick and Co.). Ray is a good QB and will make plays but overall I have confidence in our D to keep them to a minimum.
Offensively we get to face one of the top 2 D Coordinators in the league in Chris Jones… fortunately this time we come armed with a damn good OC to counter. I went backed a checked out of curiosity and last season Cortez’s O put up 36, 30, 31 and 40 points when facing Chris Jones. Admittedly the Ticats lost 3 of those games but the point is Cortez knows how to be productive against Jones.
After the last 2 weeks I was going to say that stopping Sheets would be Jones’ top concern but based on production, Dressler and Getzlaf can’t be ignored. And therein lies the beauty of this O… you can’t just stop us by eliminating one player. In addition to the 3 above, Taj Smith is making plays, so is McHenry and Durant can always run. There is also talk of Simon maybe playing (but put me in the I’ll believe it when I see it camp). It’s early in the season but the Argos have so far allowed the most yards passing and second most rushing… so they are vulnerable. More so than last week I think we will need to rely on all of our weapons to get production. Matt Black took over at safety with the retirement of Jordan Younger, he’s not a bad player but lacking starting experience. I would look for us to test him with some deep stuff over the middle to loosen things up underneath for Sheets.
In week 1 we saw the Riders get out to a quick start on both sides of the ball. In week 2, we saw them stumble out of the gates but make adjustments to close out strong. What gives me confidence in this team is that we are finding different ways to win. Not sure what Thursday has in store and I’m sure it'll be a close game but I think we will find a way to emerge with our 3rd win.
Riders by 10
As a side note, I just we don’t get any Khalif Mitchell hyjinx. You know he’s going to go off at some point, I just hope it’s against someone else. Our OL doesn’t need elbow re-alignments and we already have a guy to handle the “hand gestures mistaken as throat slashes” role.