Friday, October 28, 2016

Riders vs. Lions: The Finale

Over a century worth of history and memories all comes down to this… one finale game at Taylor Field (this of course assumes we ignore the Rams playoff game, which we will for simplicity and dramatic effect). I imagine fans will be in one of 3 categories on Saturday: the emotional ones sad to say goodbye to a place that has been a huge part of their lives; the pragmatic ones who can’t wait for this dump to be torn down and get to our fancy new digs; and those so drunk they are only loosely aware there’s a football game at all let alone one of sentimental importance. I will likely be more so in the first group (with a hint of group 3) though I certainly won’t be crying. I can’t however rule out the outside chance dust gets in my eye or someone cuts an onion.

While much of what is written this week will focus on the sentimental aspect of the game, I will focus on the game itself. I already did my trip down (check it out here) memory lane and others will surely write more eloquent/factual/grammatically correct tribute. I share the mix of excitement/sad to see it go feeling that most have but would like to see one more quality game of football before it’s all said and done.

I see this as a measuring stick game. BC is one of the top teams in the league and how we fare against them will be very telling in terms of how far we’ve come in our rebuild. On the surface you have to be mildly concerned about the match-up. I mean we just played like ass against a team that didn’t care. BC is in contention for a home playoff game so they care a great deal. If we come out like we did last week fans may petition for the second half to be cancelled and move straight from halftime to final ceremony.

Unlike the last 2 teams we played, BC actually has an offense. A good one at that. #2 in points scored, #1 run game. Arceneaux among the best in the league and Burnham has been playing unreal of late. Also there’s not a throw that Jennings can’t make. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on our secondary. Hopefully Cox is back. We will need to generate pressure from our front 4 and not just Jefferson… would be nice if someone else did something. Our LBs will also need to be active to limit the run game. Jennings is an electric QB but he’s young and prone to mistakes. Best chance of success will come by forcing him to throw lots and under duress.

Offensively we need to come out aggressive (like we did against Toronto and Hamilton). BC has a good defense overall but that secondary is not nearly as effective without Yell and Lee. There are favourable match-ups to be had if we are willing to test them. In saying that passing the ball requires actual pass protection from the OL… of late asking them to pass block seems to be akin to asking them to solve complex calculus questions by with an abacus. Rather than assume they will just turn off the suck switch why not help them out with a consistent ground game, some TE sets for more blocking and quick hooks/swing passes to get the ball out quick? Rolling Darian out would also help limit the pressure. BC is 2nd worst in turnovers forced so the risk in being aggressive is minimal plus it’s not like we have anything to lose.

Anyone with any sense of logic would pick the Lions in this one. But if there’s one thing that Taylor Field has brought us over the years its games that defy logic (that and probably a lot of babies resulting from post game “celebarations” ). I’m going in expecting a loss and just hoping we are competitive but I would love if the old field could give us one more magic moment. I’m talking a come from behind victory that leaves the crowd thundering and shakes what’s left of the supporting structure in the stadium (possibly getting a head start on demolition). So for one last time at that dingy old dump we’ve come to love, logic be damned!

Riders by a Tyler Crapigna field goal

PS -  For old time sake can we get a huge "Get off the field Wally!" from the crowd for the last time at Taylor Field?

One final bold prediction: When they announce the starting line-up on Saturday, expect to hear something like this “and your starting QB for this game and for next year at new Mosaic Stadium the newly re-signed Darian Durant!”

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