Despite the fact that the Riders weren't playing, the division semi-finals were actually very entertaining to watch... unless of course you were a Bomber or Ti-Cat fan. The good news is that much like Rider fans, years of disappointment and heartbreak have well prepared them for coping with Sunday's results. This morning I will touch a bit on my playoff thoughts and then I'll get into some thoughts on the negotiations with Durant. (This is the point of the article where most Rider fans will just start skimming until they see Durant mentioned again).
Both games were amazingly similar in that they started out looking like they were going to be absolute pummelings and actually turned into very exciting games to watch. Out East, I was actually very surprised at how close the Ti-Cats made it. I mean, their top receiver was a guy named Tyms (which it turns out is not just a clever marketing ploy by Tim Horton's field). A healthy Ti-Cat roster I think would have won but the Ti-Cat trainers got more work this season than the Riders' seamstress. They did manage to contain Bowman and Walker... though they mainly accomplished that by letting White have his way with them (bold strategy).
Durant... just kidding, continue skimming those of you just here for Rider news. Out West, all the talk will be about the 61 yard FG attempt (which was a terribly stupid call for the record) but I think the bigger talk should be about how the Bombers managed to piss away the 19 point lead they had and where their offense went in the second half (after a monstrous start). I'll be the first to admit that the Bombers and Matt Nichols in particular greatly exceeded my expectations for them. Kinda sad to see them lose since I want neither the Stamps nor Buono to win next week... but then I remember its the Bombers and screw them (As a Rider/Viking fan if I can't be happy... and I most certainly am not... no one can).
Okay Durant talk for real now. I have been asked a lot this past week what I make of the apparent breakdown in negotiations. I maintain that its just both sides posturing for bargaining strength and that a deal is still likely but I've definitely downgraded by outlook from probable to mildly concerned... and the closer we get to February (still plenty of time) the greater that downgrade will be. Maybe I'm an eternal optimist but after committing to Durant, coming off major injury, in a clear rebuild year with zero expectations I can't imagine Jones is crazy enough to turn around and hand the reigns to an unproven QB in a year where winning is expected, Durant is mostly healthy and there are zero... I repeat zero other alternatives. If we choose to pass on Durant then the next most viable options are Burris and Glenn (why not just throw Nealon and Butler in there too?). Durant is currently our best option and that's why I think a deal will get done. By the way, in terms of who has the upper hand in bargaining, its clearly Durant. He has at least one viable alternative (likely Montreal... possibly Toronto), the Riders have many other options, none of which can be described as viable.
I'd also like to address the rampant discussion on Jonathan Franklin. First of all clearly we are interested (we just can't say so publicly because that's overt tampering and only idiots get caught doing that when round-a-bout tampering is so easy). That said, Edmonton is not just going to give him away for free... unless Ed Hervey succumbs to some kind of head injury in the near future. Many have brought up the speculated deal where Edmonton wanted Josiah St John and our first round pick for Franklin. For one, given St John's subpar (and like always 1-2 seconds delayed) play the price has likely gone up. Second, gutting your Cdn O-line depth is a terrible strategy. I don't care if you acquire Bo Levi 2.0 he won't make a lick of difference if he's always on his back because your line is utter garbage. A top tier OL and a mediocre QB will win you more games than a garbage OL and top tier QB. I'm not saying don't investigate the availability of Franklin, I'm just saying if the cost is our ability to build OL depth then I'd pass.
As I said, I still think a deal gets done with Durant. Just keep in mind that the decision makers tend not to put much weight in what I think.