What a week for Rider Nation! We are riding a 5 game win streak, its time for the annual Labour Day Classic and we get Weston freakin' Dressler back! Life is pretty good.Well at least its good for everyone who didn't invest in a #7 Doege jersey... which is everyone except Doege's mom. Sorry Mrs. Doege.
The Riders have won the last 9 Labour Day games. It was a winning streak that began the year we opted to bench Nealon Green in favour of Marcus Crandell. It still ranks up there as one of the happiest Rider moments of my life (this is how much I hated Nealon). One thing that is nice about this year's match-up is that for the first time since 2007, there is actually some legitimate build up to this one. Ever since '07 (one of the most epic Labour Day games ever), the Bombers have usually been an embarrassment coming into the game (generally finding new ways to define embarrassing. Remember 52-0?). The only exception was in '11 when we were embarrassing and they were good... but we ended up embarrassing them anyway. The good news is that the fact that the Bombers are actually winning games should coax a few more Bomber fans to come to the game (well technically due to their poor hygiene its actually a bad thing for public health but it does make the atmosphere that the game more exciting... just bring some isogel).
Last time we played, we beat them without scoring an offensive TD... can you imagine the score if we can get our offense going again?
I said it last time and I'll say it again, the Winnipeg OL is brutal. They allow the most sacks and Winnipeg has a League worst 4.2 yd avg gain per rush. It is the most glaring hole on that team and one that the league's most sack happy D-line is ready to exploit again. I imagine this time around they will at least make an attempt to slow down John Chick (key word being attempt). That should make life easy on the rest of our D-lineman. Another weakness of the Bomber O is the turnovers... they are aplenty. Poor run game (Grigsby has talent but is not consistently productive) + Poor pass protection (did I mention the OL sucks) + young QB = Turnovers. Its not rocket science. Nick Moore may play this time around which certainly helps the pass game but overall I have full faith in our D to smother them. Bombers average over 25 points per game but only 14 points per game against West opponents.
Offensively all the talk will be about Dressler and while I expect him to be involved he is not going to be the miracle cure to our pass game all by himself. Sounds like Durant will play which is good, as good as Tino did in relief, Durant is still our best chance to win. Look for us to run early... run late... generally just run lots. Winnipeg allows over 110 yards per game and we will surpass that (maybe even in one half). For how important the run is I like having 2 RBs (or maybe even 3 in the off chance both Allen and Messam dress) to rotate in. Bomber safety Leggett is quickly developing into a playmaker so when we do decide to pass we need to be wary of him. I see Getzlaf in for a busy day and Taj too. Dressler and Getz will pull attention inside leaving room for big plays to Taj. I don't expect anything as dramatic as the Joseph sneak in '07 but look for Durant to use his legs 2-3 times when we really need the yards. Don't expect an offensive onslaught but we will score a few offensive TDs.
Honestly my biggest worry heading into the game is giving up a big play on special teams. Happened in BC, happened against Montreal. Between our D and our run game we can grind out victories if we limit these big plays. Stoudemire has established himself as a great retrurner (wonder if we are having second thoughts about keeping Marshay Green and cutting Stoudemire). My issue is not that we suck on coverage. My issue is how our depth is being testsd. We get Hurl back which is huge but we have already lost Hughes, Moore, Regimbald and McHenry (honestly never thought I'd see the day where losing Regimbald was noteworthy). We need a solid outing from whoever we cobble together on teams. Will also need another big game from Milo.
Simply put, we don't lose Labour Day. We win when we are favoured, we win when we have no business winning, we win with Michael Bishop (or at least in spite of him). There's just something about Labour Day. Add in the boost that Weston gives us and you have a recipe for a happy ending. I don't think their offense is better than our defense. Provided we get even a mediocre performance from our O we will win.
Riders by 14
Headline: Happy Ending Ensues When Riders Beat Their Own Willy
(You didn't think I'd do a whole Labour Day post without as least one Willy joke did you?)