Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Flag On The Play

Riders 26 - Argos 30

What you are reading is actually the second version of my sentimonies. I had written a really good post but in true Rider fashion it was negated due to penalty so I had to re-write it and the end result was not as good as the first attempt.

The game was a lot like my love life: lots of excitement but ultimately ended in bitter disappointment. I was left with the same feelings after this game as the first time these two teams met. There was a lot of positive things that happened in that game. Unfortunately, as has been the theme this season, there was too many negative things that happened for all the good we did to be enough. Good teams find ways to win. I've seen many versions of the Riders pull out victories they had no business winning. The opposite is also true. Bad teams find ways to lose. This Rider team just keeps finding ways to lose games that they really should be winning. Toronto's defensive MVP was Rider penalties as it took double digit points off the board and resulted in close to 200 yards in Toronto's favour. A good team would have a hard time winning saddled with that kind of handicap... a bad team like us just had no chance.

Brett Smith looked impressive. He made mistakes like rookies are bound to do but he played his heart out on that field and really looked like he belonged under centre. He extended plays that had no business being extended and kept his eyes down field. He looked like a play maker. After enduring duds like Sunseri and Doege its nice to actually see a back-up come in and play like a pro. It was nice to see us spread the ball around and get guys like Williams and the Space Cowboy involved. It was also nice to see Getzlaf doing considerably less Getzlafing and more catching TDs like the top Canadian receiver he can be at times.

Special teams also gave us a good spark with both Demski and Miller. Admittedly the impact could have been great but, you know, flag on the play.

The defense... well yet again they played a decent game only to collapse late in the game. They allowed two 4th quarter TDs on long passes. We just can't defend the pass... which tends to be a problem in the CFL. We know that none of the Rider defense has a future career as a baker... because they couldn't produce a solitary turnover between all of them. (yes I know that is a bad attempt at humour. I swear I had funnier material in the version of this post that got called back due to penalty.) We did manage to nicely limit Whitaker's production but unfortunately we also pretty much let the Argos get big passing plays on us at will.

There's a lot I could also critic about our coaching but in the interest of not keeping you here all day, I will zero in on one decision that really irked me.

2:51 left in the game, down by 7, 3rd and 5 from the 20 yard line. Now option 1 is to gamble on 3rd down. If you make it great you can keep driving for the tying TD. Worst case scenario you miss it and need a defensive stop and a major score. Option 2 is to kick the FG. Best case scenario you make it and still need a defensive stop and major. We chose option 2 (and done similarly this year) and it made my blood boil. We literally gained absolutely nothing by kicking that FG. Look its not like McCallum is going to catch Passaglia in all-time scoring and since it does not help our odds of winning the game I think its a terrible decision.

The bye week is now upon us and odds are pretty good that chances are coming. I can't say who or how deep the cuts will go but we are a team missing a good chunk of our top players due to injury and starting our 3rd string QB yet neither of those factors were the reason we lost. We are so close yet so painfully far from being a winning team. In 2011 I was embarrassed at how bad we played. This year, the emotion I feel is disappointment (and likely some rye induced rage). We haven't yet proven we are good enough to beat another team... it makes it all the more tougher when you pile on all those penalties and have to overcome yourself as well. The penalty epidemic is getting worse, not improving. At this rate I'm convinced we will find a way to take a penalty and lose a game during the bye week.


Don Mitchell said...

Long time reader, first time poster here.

re: the 3rd down play; lets say the Argos stop the 3rd down play, get a big momentum shift and march down the field and at at minimum score a field goal. So now you have less time and you still have to score twice.

your option 2 has them score some points, they do not lose momentum and if your D makes a stop you get the ball back with some time to have a chance to score the winning points.

Now with hindsight this is what happened and we did have a chance at the win.
Also with hindsight, twice we scored TD's late and still lost the game! :(

BTW were you the first caller to the post game show? He was stoked!!!

Keep up the great work!

Skid said...

I, surprisingly, agree with the prophet on that third down call decision. Momentum is not all that important, I don't think, at that point in the game. If I'm on defence and the offence got stopped there I go out and say alright let's get a big stop and get a chance to win..... On flip side if they kick a field goal and the Argos go out, at about same position on the field, I as a defensive player go out with the identical mindset.

With so little time left, a chance to win your first game and the chance to make a huge play should be all that factors into a defensive players mindset at that point....besides the defence has shown an inability to make stops when it matters so why not try and tie from a point that close anyway when you have been moving the ball anyway???

Try for td, worst case you give up ball deeper in their end and you try to get a turnover (yeah right) or a two and out and get another shot at the tie.... Makes wayyyy more sense and the 3pts is completely irrelevant in every possible way (certainly won't help in a tiebreaker scenario).

My two sense!!

Skot Kortje said...

That certainly was an ugly game to watch. It was comical at Rogers Center, where the stadium announcer was even starting to sound cynical and weary with having to say "flag on the play" after every down. The people in the crowd were celebrating when there wasn't a flag. Nevertheless, it's all on the players. I have faith that this situation will be corrected yet.

I really believe our Riders can go on a winning streak after the break. Don't be surprised if they are tied with Edmonton in 2nd place with 12 points by the end of September. I also can't see either Winnipeg or BC mustering more than 4 wins by then, either. Believe it or not, the season is not over yet for the 2015 Riders. This team can move the ball, and the D is going to smarten up. The signs are there. No need to talk about throwing in the towel yet, like some media people suggest.

In my mind, being a fan is often about fantasy. This year's fantasy: the young gun Smith guides us to the playoffs, but suffers an unfortunate injury in the Western final. To the rescue is Kevin Glenn. This is his time! Why not? :)

As for the third down the game I was very much in disagreement with the field goal attempt. But now I agree with the posting of Don Mitchell, above. The coach made the right decision.

Rider Prophet said...

Don - Haha no I was not the caller. I avoid call-in shows...particularly after loses. i was drowning my sorrows at a wedding toonie bar.

Skid - Why did you have to preface your comment with "surprisingly"? :)

Skot - I admire your optimism. It's true that without Willy the Bombers are in trouble. I was with you on BC not being good (as the only team they had beaten was us) until they took down Edmonton. While I think you're right, we may see a winning streak this season, I think it's too little too late at this point. We are 3 games away from a playoff spot, have already lost the season series to one of the teams we are chasing and haven't won yet. Realistically 8-10 is what you'd need to get to to be in the playoff picture and that would require going 8-3 down the stretch. I would seriously love it if your vision became a reality though.

As for the FG, this may be scenario where we have to agree to disagree (except Skid, he knows I'm always right).

PS - I love how we are discussing Riders and haven't been dragged down into the "fire everyone" hysteria that currently afflicts large parts of Rider Nation

Skot Kortje said...

I'd have to say that your blog is the most enjoyable Rider read I've found thanks to your humour and intelligent writing. Probably your audience is equally positive and astute, as well.

On my positivism, I look at the upcoming schedule till the end of September:

Calgary at Saskatchewan: Calgary is not that good this year. They've proven to be very beatable. After the bye week, this is surely a chance for our desperate squad to get a win. A must win.

Saskatchewan at Ottawa: The new confidence Brett Smith has, in particular, will shine here, as will the D after the win. Ottawa is improved, but I think they hit the skids in September. A very winnable away game.

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan: This is going to be the highlight of the season. Wish I could be there!

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg: Tougher game, but same result. I don't think the Bombers win another game for a long time.

Ottawa at Saskatchewan: I'm thinking Henry is going to be back to his old ways. Why not another victory? The D will start to shine!

Montreal at Saskatchewan: this is the most questionable game. But surely Glenn is back by then, and the pride and confidence of our men shines through.

Why can't this scenario play through? 6 games, 6 wins. The Bombers will be 3-10 by then, and looking at the Lions schedule I expect they are at 4-8. There're not that good. As for the Evil Empire... It's possible the football gods won't be so generous to them. They have a tougher schedule over the period and possibly will only come out with two more wins. They'd have a game in hand on the Riders, but the same 6 wins.

It's a long season, they say. But this scenario - Riders winning streak (highly possible when you consider the nature of our losing streak), Winnipeg tanking (highly possible), BC floundering (possible), and Ottawa tanking (maybe less possible, but hey, we're talking about Burris!) - leaves the Riders in an excellent position going into the final 5 games. A tougher schedule in October, but destiny in their hands.

My belief is that the universe is upside down right now for the Riders. They're not as bad as their record, and if there was a true CFL Power Ranking based on stats, they would not be at the bottom. They've beaten themselves in every game, save the Edmonton one.

OK, Rider Prophet, have a good week off!