Riders 15 - Stamps 35
If I was to estimate how far along Chris Jones is in his rebuilding process I would say half to 3 quarters. My reason for saying that is that the Riders (with the exception of that dreadful Montreal game) seem to be able to be a competitive team for a maximum of 2-3 quarters at this point before things go off the rails. Take Thursday for example. The Riders were within one score for most of the game. Were it not for Mark hitting the uprights and Bagg fumbling, we very well could have been leading that game at halftime. Then of course the 4th quarter hit and things went to all to hell. Week in week out, we are seeing signs that this can be a competitive team but currently we just don't have the ability to finish.
Offensively the problem is the 3rd quarter. The Riders have scored 3 or less 3rd quarter points in all but one game (that one just happened to be the Ottawa game we won. Go figure). Whatever we are doing in the locker room at half time (nothing would be my guess at this point) needs to change. Defensively the 4th is becoming painful to watch. We give up an average of 12 fourth quarter points. Given that offensively we only average 8 second half points this becomes problematic.
Having Durant back did give the offense some life. Calgary clearly schemed to eliminate Roosevelt but I like how we adjusted and took the deep shots to Bagg that were left as a result. Other than that I'm not big on a lot of what we are doing on O. Broken record alert but "Run the damn ball!" To start the 3rd we ran three times in a row for gains of 8, 4 and 18. I was thinking "great! here we go". We ran just 2 more times the entire game and a grand total of 7 rushing attempts on the day. Meanwhile Messam was fed the ball 17 times and was a big part of why our offense barely touched the field in the 4th. Our offense is way too 1 dimensional. The other thing I hate... no despise... no detest with every once of my being is the idiotic decisions to randomly insert the back-up QB for a play. They have never worked... ever. Yet we insist on continually running them rather than letting a certain fairly capable starting QB just keep doing his thing. Overall offense moved the ball good early but was forced to settled for FGs instead of majors. They were flat in the 3rd (a recurring theme) and just didn't get the ball in the 4th because our defense is awful.
And with that I'll move to commenting on our defense. They are awful (just because its obvious doesn't make it any less true)... but here's the thing: Even though they weren't playing good in the first three quarters, we still were in the game. That gives me hope that if we can improve even moderately on defense, some very good things will happen with this team. That's the good news. The bad new is that watching our secondary, even competent play is a ways away yet. They couldn't cover a piece of toast in peanut butter. My hope their remains that Derrius Brooks returns and gives them a boost and that we generally replace most of our secondary by next year. Yet again we failed to register a sack... I know people actually covering receivers helps the defenders have time to get to the QB but we routinely get so little pressure that our pass rush will soon be endorsed by Tom Brady. If we are not going to cover receivers anyway we might as well continue to dial up the pressure.
This was yet another game that gave me hope. We were competitive with one of the top teams for most of the game. We did some good things in all three phases of the game. They may not have made us proud but they did make us less ashamed. We need to work on keeping up that level play through a full game though and not just letting off the intensity in the second half. I think we will raise our game to another level in the rematch.
Other random thoughts:
- How about Johnny Mark? For a guy who was probably playing X-box when we called him, he kicked damn good on no notice. He hit 3 good FGs and just slightly Miloed his first.
- Speaking a big debuts, was Ivan Brown ever pumped up to be on the field. Noticed his hustle and effort a few times (including the opening kick). Hopefully that becomes contagious with the rest of the team