Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Riders vs Stampeders: Durant Returns

Thursday the Riders travel to Calgary for a meeting with the arch-rival Stampeders. This used to be a
fantastic annual tradition of the summer Calgary road trip but it has been essentially ended by a curious choice to never schedule Rider games in Calgary during the summer or in this case to schedule them on days that severely restrict the ability for out of towners to attend. I’m not sure whose idea it was to mess with a proven money maker but what do I know. There will still be a strong contingent of Rider fans and given the likelihood that Stamp fans will dress as empty seats or just leave early, our fans should have ample leg room.

The big news is of course that Darian Durant (you know, one of the 3 guys on our roster you still recognize) will be the starter. Given that we managed a measly FG last week, he will give a much needed boost to our offense. Our sad attempt at a run game will get yet another change as Kendial Lawrence will start this week. The hope there is that the change will spark both our run game and Lawrence as both have been just awful this year. Dan Clark is back giving a slight boost to our OL. Amazingly enough despite all our woes at OL the unit has given up the second least sacks in the league. Calgary has been playing good football but their defense has its vulnerabilities. They are only the 6th rank D and actually give up more passing yards than us. The key will of course be Durant. In his 2+ games he put up 6 TDs and 0 INTs. In the 2+ games since he went down we have just 2 offensive TDs.  But we can’t just expect to have him gunsling all day and have success. We need to support him with some semblance of a run game (I’ve given up on us having a strong one). Even swing passes and screens to get Lawrence involved. We need to slow down guys like Charleston Hughes (who always has big games against us). Also we can’t telegraph our passes and by that I mean we need to pick and choose when we toss to Roosevelt. Short passes to Bagg, Demski, Chambers will open up deep shots for Roosevelt.

Defensively praying for miracles tops my list of best strategies. The Stamps have the top scoring offense and have been held under 25 points just once this season. We counter with the worst defense in the league having never held a team under 29 points. It’s the equivalent of bringing a ham sandwich to a gun fight. While the big Messam train running wild on us is always a concern, any quasi competent OC will know that you need to attack us through the air. We can’t forget about Messam and his 5.9 yds/carry but Calgary just doesn’t seem to be overly committed to running. If you exclude his week 2 stomping over Winnipeg (who else?), Messam is averaging just 40 yds per game. Main focus will be containing McDaniel who is extremely underrated and the key cog in the Stamp O and taking away the big plays. Last week showed what Greg Wilson can do and that’s exactly what we can’t allow (but probably will). I think we need to change what we are doing schematically to help things. Let’s be honest we are terrible in pass coverage. Whether there are 5 or 9 in coverage we still struggle to defend. So why not dial up the pressure (since the extra guys in coverage are not making a difference)? Send more blitzers, force the ball out sooner, take some pressure off our DBs and give some support to our DL. It will probably lead to some big plays but it can’t be any worse than what’s been going on so far.

One last random note, Rene Paredes has missed a league high 6 converts making just 57 %. My bigger concern is keeping him from getting chances to kick converts but man… that is awful. 

I fully expect an extremely completive game if for no other reason than it is counter to logic. Last week we played like crap against a low end team so the Riders I know will logically go toe to toe with one of the top teams in the league. Durant gives us a chance in any game. But the fact remains they have the top scoring offense and we can’t stop a peewee team.  Expect it to come down to the wire but in the end we give up a long TD and…

Stamps by 10