Riders 24 - Eskimos 35
Saturday night it was a tale of two games. The first lasted 15 minutes and 30 seconds and saw the lowly Riders who are generally extremely slow starters hang 21 points on the supposed best defense in the league on route to an improbably big early lead. The second lasted the rest of the game and saw the top team in the west pound the bottom feeding Riders 32 to 3 on route to a predictable win. I'm not really sure how to explain that first part. Some running theories include being transported to Bizzaro World or the Eskimos sporting us a lead to at least make the game fair. In reality, I think it was a case of the Esks taking this game too lightly (can you blame them?) and the Riders getting uncharacteristically aggressive early to take advantage. I mean the end result was still a loss but at least we had stuff to cheer about. Lowered expectations indeed.
The game definitely made clear to me how this team was hampered this season by boneheaded decisions regarding the roster. Just watch Roosevelt play and tell me he should have been stuck behind Taj Smith and Jamel Richardson. He's a playmaker who would likely have a lot more plays to his name had we actually put some faith in him earlier in the year. Also, in a surprising turn of events Keenan MacDougall is not a useless sack of garbage. He's certainly no all-star yet but I actually noticed him out there and noticed him make plays. He was far from perfect but even Ray Charles would be able to see that MacDougall is miles ahead of Webster. It was a very pleasant surprise, though it made me wonder if MacDougall just brutal in practice or are our coaches just oblivious to talent? Frustrating to see that we have underutilized the talent we have (not like we have enough of it to waste it).
Brett Smith certainly looked like he progressed from his ugly first start against the Esks. He looked more comfortable and a bit more decisive. That slant to Smith for the TD was picture perfect. Still room for him to keep growing but the visible progression is encouraging. As for Price, he certainly started off with a bang. He looked shaky at times, made some mistakes and generally looked like a rookie. That said, he showed me enough to want to see more. I think he belongs on the field. I never put too much stock in a QB's first game. Some starts start hot and go to hell when defenses have the benefit of game film. Other start off shaky and continually improve. The second game is always more telling and I'm looking forward to Price's second game.
I liked what I saw from the RBs. Allen averaged over 7 yards per rush (you think he's happy for the chance to be the unquestioned guy?) I also liked the spark I saw from Spann. He's a thick guy (no chance that one gets taken out of context).
I wish I had something positive to say about our defense... but I already talked about MacDougall. I guess I could add that Marcus White caught my eye a few times. Other than that it was the sorry excuse for pass coverage that we have grown accustomed to. I think 2016 will bring good thing for Hollins. Green is a frustrating player to watch because he'll make some plays and then turn around and shy away from contact and miss a tackle or botch his coverage. The good news for Green is that he was from from the most embarrassing one out there. Far, far, far. That distinction goes to he Junior Mertile, whose complete unwillingness to even make a movement in the direction of Bowman on that long TD earned him internet infamy...
Good luck explaining that one to the coaches when going through game film.
Other random thoughts:
- That Bagg TD where we made a stupid play call, the exchange was awkward, he dropped it and we still scored pretty much summed up our season perfectly in one play.
- Where was this aggressive shot taking offense when the games mattered?
- There was a ridiculous amount of fireworks set off at the start of the game. Pretty sure that was all the fireworks we had intended to set off when we scored TDs but ended up stockpiling all year.
- Its nice when a kicker just quietly does his job with no drama.
- I wonder how nervous Eskimo fans were getting watching that first quarter? I also wonder how many players Chris Jones would have murdered if his team didn't pick up their level of play?