Riders 10 - Stamps 19
An eventful week in Riderville for all the wrong reasons came to an end Saturday with a predictable and fitting loss. While the game was competitive enough to keep the sold out crowd engaged and energized, in the end the temporary distraction of the game passed and we were left with the fact that things suck in Rider Nation.
Before I get to the game, I'm going to share my thoughts on Chris Jones. Look, the simple fact is that the guy is an asshole. Its not really a secret and we knew what we were getting into. He's here to win, not make friends. He's the CFL version of Bill Belichick. But here's the thing, people tolerate Belichick for one reason and one reason only... he wins. Jones however is not winning. So all his roster violations and whatever he said to Dickenson post game just look crazy at this point. Mike Kelly comes immediately to mind (though at least Jones was competent enough to pick Durant as his QB rather than LeFors, he also has not disparaged the widely used shotgun formation to my knowledge). Were this any team but us I personally would be mocking them until I was blue in the face. Do other teams do the kinds of roster gamesmanship we did? Absolutely, but we took it to such an extreme that the League had no choice but to do something.
My hope at this point is that this is Jones testing his limits as a GM. He did the same in first year as a head coach. He did some crazy things, was a general asshole but by year 2 he'd figured things out and won a lot of games with getting in trouble. Fingers crossed that its the same here.
On to the game...
In a twist that no one saw coming, it was the defense that showed up and carried this team while the offense was generally useless. The D played by far their best game of the year. They kept Calgary under 20 points and allowed just 1 TD. They also logged 2 sacks and 2 turnovers (to be fair one turnover game after an abysmal effort at stopping Messam but hey beggars can't be choosers at this point). They still aren't a very good unit overall but if they can play like that each week then we have legitimate shots at winning games. Otha Foster had a noticeably strong performance. While we ended up getting burned, I like that we blitzed on the big gain to Charboneau-Campeau late. I'd rather go down swinging. The much loathed 3 man rush was still there but not a ridiculously heavily used. I maintain a previous assertion that outside of Foster and Cox, I honestly don't believe any of our DBs would be starting on any other team (nor should they be starting for us... seriously 95 people in town and that is the best DBs we can find?). Still while it was about as pretty as a Hamilton Cheerleader, the D played good enough for us to win. Hopefully its a sign that 30+ points will no longer be the norm.
Offense was about as useful as the in stadium play clock (for those who watched on TV it did not work). We we're honestly lucky to get the 10 points we did. The TD would likely not have happened if Calgary knew how to stay onside. The FG came on a 54 yarder that we probably should not have attempted (though its nice to know our rookie kicker can do that... at least when he's not missing or Miloing). O-line got eaten alive for the first time I can recall this season. Receivers (especially Chambers and Stanford) forgot that a key part of their job is actually catching the ball. You saw Durant reach that point were he realized he had to do it all himself and started running. Don't get me wrong, I like when Durant runs but it needs to be a supplement to our offensive attack, not the only play that works. I like that Ricky Collins was more involved. I also like that Lawrence got 9 carries. OK check that I don't think that's near enough but I like that we actually ran 9 times because that's way more than normal. I bet if you ask McAdoo our offense problem was a lack of Brandon Bridge running random plays (still shocked that didn't happen). Ten points just won't cut it. We need to find ways to get the ball in the endzone and over that last few games that just hasn't been happening. One last note, with 2 minutes left on the clock, down 6 points,
attempting the FG instead of gambling is absolutely the wrong call.
Special Teams wasn't good either. Yet again we gave up big returns and yet again there were no running lanes for our returners... though someone should tell our returners that if our blockers suck and there is no lane, running directly into the back of the blockers is not going to help anything.
While we appear somewhat of a train wreck off the field, the good news is that we are playing competitive football on the field. We are just making too many mistakes at this point to overcome our talent deficiencies and win games.