Friday, July 3, 2015

Riders vs. Argos: Pack Extra Bubble Wrap

The past few days in Riderville have been so surreal it’s like being in a dream… actually a nightmare. We lost our start QB for a full year before we even hit halftime. We lost 3 Canadians and an import starter in that same game. Then just for icing on the cake, just days later we announced that we were bringing back Paul McCallum. Even if I had taken the strongest mind-alerting drugs available I could not have scripted a scenario so ridiculous.  Yet this is our reality. At the rate we are going I’m expecting Danny Barrett to be added to our coaching staff and a midseason trade to bring Henry Burris back to Saskatchewan. The only thing remotely positive to say about all of this is that it may somehow result in a Frontlyne reunion concert.

But amongst all this craziness there is a football game going down on Sunday so let’s try and focus on that.

The Argos roll into town fresh off a huge upset over the Eskimos. Trevor Harris was razor sharp. The concerns regarding Toronto’s defense were allayed (at least for now). Only thing that really went wrong for them was an injury to reigning top special teams player Swayze Waters. Prior to the season I had this penciled in as a very winnable game… based on how Week 1 went for both teams I am no longer as confident in that.

Offensively, as much as Durant is irreplaceable I still think we will be OK under Glenn. We get Dressler back this week which will help. Our O-line played well last week but they will face a much harder test in the combo of Foley and Okpalaugo (not to mention Cleyon Laing who pretty much ended Mike Reilly’s season last week… for god sake sacrifice the body to keep him away from Glenn!!). We need to help them out by remaining committed to the run with Messam and Allen as well as getting the ball out quickly (luckily that is what Kevin Glenn loves to do). Outside of the front 4, I’m not convinced the Argos D is as good as they showed last week. We now have the advantage of game film on the new Casey Creehan-led D so I expect we will find some holes Edmonton did not. Three of the starters in that secondary are rookie players. Admittedly that Jefferson guy looks pretty good but I would be willing to test that group with our veteran receivers. We don’t need an air show but go long enough to keep the DBs honest and leave room for the run and underneath passes that I think will be our bread and butter.

Defensively, provided we can A) field a team with sufficient Canadians and B) tackle, we have a chance. Unfortunately based on what I saw last week, neither is a guarantee. Sounds like Akwasi Antwi may be at MLB with Regimbald and Kangkongolo swapping in. We are so desperate that we may even be seriously considering repurposing Milo as a MLB. That does not instill confidence but honestly it would be hard to be much worse than what Telvion Clark did last week. Getting Brackenridge back will be a boost but he is not a miracle cure. I always hate playing Owens and Durie because they can turn any pass no matter how seemingly innocent into a big gain. The answer to that problem is sound tackling… hence why I have some concern about our D this week. Our front 4 will be awesome as usual (Edmonton got 3 sacks last week, we can easily match that). Even if they don’t get to the QB, Chick and Hall should force Harris into making quicker decisions. Brandon Whitaker proved to be a big part of his new team’s plans and we need to limit that. Whitaker can run and catch so whoever our LBs are they better be ready in both phases. I fully expect our tackling to be improved this week. For 1, they would literally have to piggy back the Argo players for more yards to be worse than last week. For 2, Chamblin seems like he is starting to get mad enough to start doing some hitting of his own if things don’t improve.

I expect our offense to put up 25 points. I have faith in most of our defense but the loss of Emry looms huge and for ratio reasons guys like Antwi, Regimbald and Michael Carter may need to see the field and that scares me. Honestly this game could hinge on whether Telvion Clark plays like he did in the preseason or whether he plays like he did last week. If he can be a strong presence in the middle I think our D will be able to keep the Argos under 25. If he is a liability then I honestly don’t see us winning.

We will be testing the limits of our depth. I have been lamenting the lack of said depth for a while so as much as I hate to do this, I have to say…

Argos by 6 

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