Riders 29 - Stamps 37
It seemed ironic to me that after months of literally begging for rain, we finally got it and a whole lot more on the one day where we all didn't want it. To protest Mother Nature's lack of understanding I ran my car for 7 unnecessary hours yesterday while punching a squirrel (I'm kidding, don't phone animal rights on me). Once we got past the hail storm it was actually a pretty decent night for football. It was great to be back in Mosaic. Back amongst the usual cast of characters in the stands. Back cheering my lungs out. Back getting increasingly gouged for booze. As a younger lad I used to smuggle in booze to get drunk. At the rate prices are increasing I may start smuggling in booze just so I can casually sip on a drink or two without taking out a second mortgage.
I'll start with my thoughts on the game and then get into my thoughts on the easiest part of any coaches job... the cuts.
Quarterbacking was good. Durant sailed a couple passes and was late throwing both the long pass to Bagg and the TD to Getzlaf. Both receivers made the catch but it was a lot closer than it should have been. Overall though Durant looked ready to go come next week. Glenn looked very sharp. I really noticed a lot of different motions and misdirections in our O. I like that a lot. There were often receivers wide open on leakouts (which will help once teams dial up the blitzing in the regular season). We even added a pitch inside. I love all those new wrinkles and I guarantee that's only the tip of the iceberg.
We are likely going to use both Messam and Allen at RB but the sense I get is Allen will end up getting the bulk of the carries. That is based purely on gut feel. The Space Cowboy even managed to play himself off the cut list. Dressler and Bagg looked in midseason form. As did Jamel Richardson and by that I mean he looked utterly useless. Hardin, Roosevelt and Williams all made nice catches. Not to get on the "let's completely over-hype Demski like he walks on water" train but this kid is gonna be good. We will get a taste of his talent in year one but just like Fantuz's coming out party wasn't until year 2, Demski's year 2 is gonna be where his stock sky-rockets.
Defensively, Alex Hall was a monster. Just causing chaos all night. I can't wait until both him and Chick are terrorising QBs simultaneously. Oh and if you want to double them, George will be coming straight down main street. D-line will once again be a big strength, I love that we actually seem to have a couple useful linebackers instead of erroneously putting all our eggs in the basket of a solitary linebacker who couldn't tell the difference between the B gap and the store the Gap. Both Clark and Knox look solid and I see both of them seeing the field this year.
Chris Milo locked up the starting kicking job by hitting 2 big kicks in the first half. I no longer assume the worst when he lines up. Fear not people Odd Year Milo is back and he is awesome. Early certainly left some room for doubt with his kicking. He wasn't bad but I expected him to be far and away the best kickoff/punt guy and he was not.
Overall a good game. We were winning until the 4th when a parade of the future unemployed took the field and lost the game.
Saturday the cuts came down and for the most part they were obvious: Doughty and Steward (outplayed by Knox and Clark), Carter (good lord was he bad), Singletary (tough D-line to crack), O'Neil (out-kicked by Milo, out-punted by Early plus we couldn't afford the maintenance costs of his beard) the list goes on and on. It really was the easiest part of any coaches job.
However, I damn near blew a gasket when I read that we pretty much cut every young receiver on the roster including the most outrageous of all Alex Pierzchalski (or Alex Perogy as we had dubbed him to simplify our lives). Gone Hardin, Roosevelt, Perogy and Carroll. Now I don't think any of them were the next superstar receiver but they all showed me something. Fact is our receivers are old and outside of Demski and Williams we have no up and comers. I think keeping useless Richardson and his bum knees over Roosevelt and/or Hardin (who by the way does need to develop further) is a mistake. But the decision to let Perogy go (after already cutting Anthony and Carroll) is mind boggling. Fact we start 2 Canadian receivers. Fact, 1 was hurt most of last year. Fact, the other has a history of major knee injuries. We need more depth than just Demski if we hope to survive a whole season. Our only other depth WR is Scott McHenry who is on the 6 game. I just don't get the logic. Apparently we offered Perogy a PR spot but he declined and is now likely to sign in Ottawa (I guess they can think of a use for a young, developing 6'5 Canadian). I guess keeping 2 long-snappers ranks ahead of build depth behind Canadian starters on our priority list.
I would put our starters up there with the top teams in the league but I have serious concerns about our Canadian depth. Unless our plan is to take advantage of the current lack of drug testing and pump our Canadians full of steroids to create superhumans impervious to pain, I'm just not sure about our current direction.
One last note. Sad to see Woldu go. He's a stand-up guy and a strong special teams player but I get the decision to try someone younger and slightly cheaper in his place.
But enough talk about the preseason.... we are just 5 days away from the 2015 season kicking off for real. Saturday can't come soon enough!
Rider fans seem to be most upset about Richardson making the roster over the rookies Roosevelt and Hardin, and about the Alex Pierzchalski cut. But wasn't it last year that a crew of new receivers caused the offense problems? It wasn't all on Tino or Joseph or the disappointing Oline performance in 2014. Our receiving core did not make things easy. I'd put my money on Richardson. If he stays healthy he'll make some big time catches and bail out Durant enough times to make us forget about the training camp fodder. As for AP, I think his situation has everything to do with just how good and versatile Demski is, and what is happening on the Dline as far as nationals go. Connop did well enough, so they needed to fill behind him with Agbaje, who played himself on the roster, too. Also, Steinhauer is an important member of teams and is needed if Ainsworth has to pull extra Dline duty for some reason. I'm pretty sure they were hoping AP would be staying on the practice roster, but he's figuring he deserves more. The CFL is a cozy business for nationals who fit the complicated ratio chess match, but it's tough for those that don't. For now, we trust in Taman and Chamblin. Let's just see what we get. If they fail...
I agree with you on most points. The ratio is a numbers game and Pierzchalski was just on the wrong side of the cutoff line. Demski is better than him and if we are only going with 1 back-up Cdn WR on the roster, Demski gets it no argument. I still think its a bit odd that we start 1 Cdn DL and need 4 on the roster but start 2 WRs and need only 3 on the roster. If Getz and Bagg stay healthy then we likely don't even think back to this decision. But Pierzchalksi is just another name in a growing list of high draft picks that we have let walk. Tough to build your depth if you can't keep those guys around.
Last year our issues at receiver were huge. None of them had a clue how to call a blitz (cough Eron Riley cough) or adjust a route. But we aren't lacking vet receivers (unlike last year when Getz was hurt and Dressler missed half the season). Taj is the "young guy" amongst our recivers and he's 31 and entering his 4th year. Not saying we need a house cleaning but I really think Richardson will prove to be a wasted use of a space. 1 newere WR amongst 4 vets should be doable.
I think if we were lucky enough to have Rider Prophet as GM, your concerns about an aging receiving corp would be met by the highest standard of expectations for the Riders. Taman already said "we are in the business of winning, not developing quarterbacks", and I'm sure the same thought went into the tough decisions that had to be made around the receivers. Personally, I wish Chamblin had a higher standard of winning, since he seems to be ready with all kinds of excuses when the Riders lose. What's wrong with expecting to go 18-0??? As a Rider fan of some 45 years, I think I can say I've witnessed enough heart-breaking losses! It seems the current Calgary regime has a higher standard of winning than we do - that kills me now as much as when the Evil Empire dominated back in the 70s and 80s! Chamblin keeps saying "we're all professionals" and 'we can't expect to go undefeated" in reference to the other team beating the Riders. That seems kind of lame to me, and certainly doesn't do us fans any justice. I mean, how do the Riders manage to lose at Mosaic when they get such heart and soul from the home crowd? Grey Cups are nice, but winning in Mosaic 11 times a year would be just as sweet. Also, often the team performs very poorly when they come out east (especially in Montreal, and sometimes here in Toronto). I'm still pissed about the loss at Rogers Center last year...any Rider fan who witnessed that saw the most lack luster "hey, look at the CN Tower!" performance you could imagine. The team got back on track the next week, but that game really showed something about the player's standard of performance and some lousy coaching.
I don't think Rider Prophet is really concerned about the crew of high draftees that have been let go or "slipped way". You would be the first to acknowledge they were either not good enough (Sisco!!, McKoy!!, Williams!!, Hurl(?)) or were all-star material that decided they wanted to play closer to home. Maybe Pierzchalski is the next Fantuz, but in terms of the here and now, Demski and the D-line players are clearly a better bet. As for the future need for Canadian depth on the Riders roster, I'm betting on two things: the new stadium and the high standard of winning and Rider Nation support will attract plenty of quality players who want to perform in front of an audience that lives and breathes the Roughriders brand and is passionate about CFL football. I reside in Toronto - trust me, this city does not care about the CFL. The new owners have a dream about changing that, but I'll believe it when I see it. The second bet on the future: the return to Saskatchewan of Heenan, Brett Wilson, Brett Boyko, and Addison Richards - and any other great Saskatchewan football player that wants to fulfill their childhood dream of playing in front of the best fans in the world! :)
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