Riders 7 - Ti-Cats 53
Given the shear magnitude of the beat down that the Riders endured on Saturday it made me wonder of I had accidentally tuned into UFC instead of CFL. The fact is, I would need thesaurus' in 4 different languages to come up with enough ways to describe just how awful we played that game. Instead of going through that effort, I will just defer to a classic Homer Simpson description: They were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. We had roughly 2 positive plays that game. One was taken away by the football gods (a double deflection to Fantuz for a TD? What are the odds?). The other was taken away BS CFL Challenge rules that are quickly ruining the Canadian game.
I know its a rebuilding year and I know our Grey Cup chances were even more non-existent than those of non-Asian countries in table tennis but the mounting loses are getting harder to swallow. Its not just that we are losing... in many cases that shouldn't come as a surprise... its how we are losing. We got embarrassed. Didn't even look like we belonged on the same field as Hamilton.
Though it gets harder with each passing week, I do think that in the long run Jones will turn this team into a winner. But in the short-term... he is making things way harder on himself than it needs to be. He inherited a team that was thin on actual talent (and then proceeded to cut much of the talent that was left) and the talent we do have on the roster has been hit hard by injury. Those are our realities and no one is going to feel sorry for us because of them. This is mostly out of Jones' control but the problem is of the things in Jones control he keeps doing some really questionable things that only make things harder on an already tough situation.
Rather than attempt to analyze that disaster of a game, I will go through some of the issues I see that were on full display in Hamilton.
1) Roster Instability
Here's some numbers for you. In 8 games we have dressed: 7 different QBs, 11 WRs, 13 DLs and 16 different DBs. (I intentionally left out OL where injuries have forced our hand). 14 people who have dressed for a game for us this season are no longer with the team. You wonder why there are missed assignments, mental errors and a lack of chemistry? Maybe its because the roster is never the same. We are taking the approach that if you throw enough crap at a wall, something will stick (we then wonder why it stinks). I get that we are continually on the look for talent but at some point you need to commit to a core group and ride with them. You think it helps Durant to have a new set of receivers to throw to each week? Do you think that continually inserting new players we airlifted in will improve our pass coverage? There will undoubtedly be a couple roster changes week to week but the current churn we are going through is only making things worse.
2) Getting Too Cute on Defense
Generally when teams are struggling, a good way to help as a coach is to get back to basics. Simplify things, let the team master that and then ramp up the complexity. We are taking the opposite approach and increasing the level of weirdness. Did you see that play where Newsome got beat by Banks for a TD? Did you have the same thought as me... how in the hell did that seem like a good coverage to call?!?!? We couldn't generate a pass rush to save our souls yet Jones is committed to having Newsome and Cappy spend the bulk of their time dropping into coverage. (Gee I wonder why we have no sacks?). When used sparingly it can be great, like when Hamilton dropped Tracy into coverage and picked off Durant. It worked because Durant didn't expect it. With us, the only place you can be sure not to find our pass rushers is actually rushing the passer. We still rush 3 despite it being a proven fact that despite 9 guys in coverage a minimum of 1 receiver will still get wide open. I know Jones is a master of the unconventional but we gotta get back to basics until the D actual starts executing.
3) Whatever the Hell McAdoo is Doing
I would like to go on record as saying I called the Brandon Bridge offensive play the day he was signed. I don't know what he thinks he's accomplishing with these QB cameos. Everyone knows it will be a run (including the hotdog vendors) and will probably be poorly executed. It worked in Edmonton because there was continuity at QB. Franklin and Lynch were with the team long term and well positioned to step in. We fly in a new QB each week and still think its a good idea to let them take a snap. Spend less time working on stupid trick plays and more time working on an offense that is clearly struggling to do much of late. I liked his offense in Edmonton. Lots of motion, misdirection and options that were just different enough to break defensive tendencies. Been very underwhelmed so far in that regard. Also, if we are not going to actually use our RBs why not just convert them to DE to see if they can muster a sack? Maybe if we just rename our RBs as "back-up QBs" McAdoo will give them more touches?
Getting a win will be tough... continuing to do the misguided things listed above only increases the factors working against us. We don't have the allstar roster that Jones had in Edmonton so coaching the exact same way is not going to work.
Other random thoughts:
- I was actually pleasantly surprised on special teams. Cover teams were good and we even set up a return
- I know I can't call Caleb Holley a pussy anymore since its not politically correct so he's whatever the PC version of that word is these days. He's brand new and trying to earn a roster spot and stepped out of bounds rather than fight for extra yards that may have turned into a TD. He showed nice hands but was soft as can be.
- Durant admittedly had a terrible day, no denying that but he's not got much of a supporting cast working around him.