Well after riding a wave of happiness and rejoicing for the better part of the season, the Riders were sure knocked back down to earth with a week of non-stop bad news. First we lost in embarrassing fashion to a terrible football team, then we lost Rey Williams to a season ending ACL tear, then of course there was all yesterday’s hoopla (believe that it the first time I’ve ever used that word here) surrounding the charges against Dwight Anderson and Taj Smith. Honestly we were a drug problem and a telethon away from hitting for the bad news in Riderville cycle.
But boo freakin’ hoo!! Every team in this league has faced adversity and now it’s our turn. No one is going to feel sorry for us nor should we feel sorry for ourselves. Calgary has a ton on injuries, they are powering through. Montreal and Toronto have lost a future hall of fame QB for the year and Montreal has been through a coach and they are fighting through. Edmonton… nah they are just generally a gong show so bad example. So all our highly regarded coaches and veterans whose signings were trumpeted better be earning their keep this week by getting this team to tune out all the BS that is swirling and focusing on the only thing that matters: beating the Argos on Saturday.
The game may be just what this team needs. It’s a rare night game so you know the crowd will be jacked up. It’s a home game so the team should be jacked up. The Argos are a formidable opponent but one that is beatable if we play our game. It’s also the 10th anniversary of Estonia joining the European Union… so there’s that. The more you know.
Priority #1 will be getting our supposed top offense back into high gear. Last time we met it was the Taj Smith and Kory Sheets show. As of writing this I have no clue if Smith plays but the fact remains that the Argos are an aggressive team that are susceptible to the big play but also built to make big defensive plays of their own. They give up a ton of yards (most passing and second most rushing) but have the 3rd stingiest defense in terms of scoring. That’s why I feel Sheets will be so key this game. The Argos are content given up small chunks of yards and tightening up in the redzone. Few teams have the commitment to the run game to take advantage of that or a RB that has the skill to make them pay. We have both. If Chris Jones is half the defensive genius we think he is you can bet he will be bringing pressure all night long. Now the Argos don’t have the strength along the DL that the Bombers did but they are alright and very strong at LB. We need to come ready to counter the pressure. Quick dumps to the hot route (isn’t this why we signed Simon?), deep bombs to wideouts to loosen things up… a screen or some other short pass to Sheets. Anything to slow down the pressure and give Durant time to think. Part of that assumes the OL puts on their big boy pants again but I think they’ll respond with a good showing. I expect an overall bounce back game from the O.
Defensively we will need to contend with someone new manning the middle. Early indications are McCullough, Ferri and Peters will be called on though I expect Ferri and McCullough to get the bulk of the work given their experience. The good news is that the Argos have a dreadful run game. The Kack attack (still can’t believe he willingly uses that term, just sounds wrong) will be back which may help. But overall they just aren’t really committed to running. Collaros can throw and has good protection up front. They may not have Owens but guys like Barnes, Inman and Jackie Chiles can all make plays. (PS I realize his real name is John Chiles but Jackie just entertains me more. It just fits better… like a glove). Collaros has shown a great ability to escape pressure so if our rushers do break through they need to not go all Adam Bighill and embarrass themselves. He is still an inexperienced QB, take away what little run they have, make life miserable for him in the pocket and he will screw up. D played great last game so no reason to expect they won’t come to play again.
Toronto has been ridiculously inconsistent. At times their D looks scary, at times useless. At times Collaros and the O are explosive, at times as impotent as an old man. If the Riders can tune out the distractions and execute their game we have a great chance to make them look like the crappy versions of themselves. Let’s cheer loud and give them the boost needed to come out firing on all cylinders.
Riders by a late Kory Sheets TD (this will be close and stressful)
Don’t forget that its Purolator Tackle Hunger day so bring a donation for the Food Bank. Be generous, it’s a good cause. See you in the stands.