The Riders host the 6-4 RedBlacks in a Saturday night showdown. The last times these 2 teams faced we got embarrassed and a high profile questionable coaching decision led to certain people being axed. The good news is I’m fairly certain that Bob Dyce won’t do something so epically wrong that he jeopardizes his employment. The bad news is that I’m not all that hopeful the game itself will have much of a different ending.
Let me first address the QB situation. I support the decision to start Glenn… with one major caveat that I will get to. Dyce laid his case out pretty simply: the team wants to win and Glenn gives us the best chance. I agree. Go back and look at our offense under Glenn as compared to Smith. This isn’t just a slight upgrade. 29 points and 467 yards of offense per game under Glenn as compared to 20 points per game and 276 yards under Smith. I get the desire to get Smith more experience so he can develop but we want a winning culture and culture isn’t just something you turn on and off. I also think that Glenn will help with the develop of our younger receivers and O-line so there are always trade-offs. My caveat is: Smith needs to get back on the field later in the season. I also am adamant that if Keith Price doesn’t get at least a half of football at some point this season its idiocy.
Onto the game…
Defensively the big concern has to be stopping Jeremiah Johnson. If you had read my preseason fantasy analysis you would know that I was touting him as the best RB in Ottawa all along. Their run game has taken a huge step forward now that they have committed to him. He steam rolled us last time and now leads the CFL in rushing TDs. We need to stop him to have any chance in the game. Ottawa also has the #2 passing attack in the CFL, led oddly enough by Brad Sinopli (didn’t see that one coming). Last week our defense exploded in the first half before slowly regressing to their old selves (largely due to the lack of any kind of offensive support). If they can dial up that kind of performance early again we all know that Burris is prone to epic meltdowns (and fist pumping towards the sky when they happen). As much as I have no faith in our pass defense, our best chance of victory is Burris having to rely on his arm. I would love to see Chick and Hall all over him like they were last week on Nichols. Here’s hoping we didn’t use up our monthly quota of turnovers last week.
Offensively, Glenn obviously gives our pass game a boost. Unfortunately as he has not recently converted to O-line to my knowledge, he does not address the biggest match-up issue I see in this game. No team has allowed more sacks than the Riders. No team has more sacks than Ottawa and they just added Shawn Lemon. That points to a good night for Purolator Tackle Hunger but a bad night for the Riders (honestly surprised Glenn didn’t fake being still hurt for one more week). Glenn’s quick release should help alleviate some of that pressure (provided Chapdelaine manages to call an offense that doesn’t play into the defense’s strengths). But overall the RedBlack D is an underrated unit. They are #2 in net yards allowed and #2 against the run. They are also allowing a league low 59% completion rate to opposing QBs (pretty impressive).
Even if our O-line comes out with a better effort (which they damn well better), they will need some help. That means leaning heavy on the run game and letting Glenn get the ball out quickly when he passes (good news is that’s his calling card… you know that and eventually being turfed by every team in the league). Ottawa has a good secondary so I will look to get favourable match-ups on their LBs inside either with Messam or our slots. One thing we can’t do is keep on this torrid pace of offensive penalties. We have taken 72 of them this season… 12 more than the next closest team. We aren’t good enough to beat other teams let alone overcome our own screw-ups and beat a team on top of that.
The harsh reality is that we have a solitary win this season and only because Kyle Walters and Mike O’Shea inexplicably feel Brian Brohm is employable. Ottawa is better on both sides of the ball than Winnipeg (to be fair most teams are), so I don’t really see much that gives me hope here. We have a home crowd and Glenn working in our favour but all that means to me is that while we will lose, it just won’t be as embarrassing as the trip to Ottawa was.
RedBlacks by 14
Side note: based on how uplifting and happy my writing has been of late, I’ve been thinking about getting into the motivational speaking business. Anyone interested in hearing my inspiring message of “this will suck but not as much as the last time” is encouraged to drop me a line.