Riders 10 - Lions 42
I don't want to dwell on that monstrosity of a game anymore than I to. Even the most die hard of fans found that hard to watch and even harder to find a silver lining in it, other than maybe that we are glad that football games don't have 5 quarters. Its only preseason so let's not completely overreact. But still there are concerns heading into the season. I think the Lions are one the teams to beat this season and at this point it looks like we are showing up the West Division gun fight with a banana. Still its only preseason so let's not completely panic just yet.
I was going to do a section entitled "The Good" on the game but honestly, the only good was Tull looking like a beast. Even Antigha did fairly well. It renews some of my lost hope in a our non Jefferson Defensive ends. But I mean that was it for good. Our defense was scary bad. Our offense what utterly useless and those few times they weren't, penalties negated the play. We had 250 yards of offense and 150 yards of penalties. At one point we had as many turnovers as first downs. It's the type of game where you burn the tape and take a good stiff drink (or multiple as I did) and forget it ever happened. The highlights for me are the plays where Elimimian absolutely destroyed Stroshak and the play where Brandon Bridge took a helmet to the groin while hurdling a defender in a selfless attempt to make a rare positive play... only to have it all for naught due to penalty. I don't like see our players get knocked around but in a game as awful as that, any play that entertains me is a positive.
Onto the easiest part of any coach's job... the cuts (and honestly, after Friday it wasn't a very difficult job).
Only 3 releases surprised me: Jarriel King (because he was our primary import depth and potentially a starting guard), Dillon Grondin (because he was about the only true MLB type we had to back-up Muamba) and Mark Roberts (because he has a good camp and was a projected starter). There is a chance that Roberts and Butler may be brought back when healthy so have to wait and see there. The rest should come as no shock. Maybe Bryan Bennett but he made one good pass over 2 games so all the good practice in the world means diddly. I was very happy we kept Williams. I like what I have seen from him. I was sad to see Milhouse go... but that isn't really for football reasons.
There were some names I was surprised to see make the team. There was the Juniors Thebaud and Philogene, didn't see them cracking the roster. There was Mike Dubuisson... who I didn't see cracking any roster. I was also surprised that we kept all 4 of Newsome, Leonard, Tull and Antigha. At some point 1 or 2 of them will have to go (please be Leonard, please be Leonard).
So roster-wise where does that leave us? Receivers look real strong (something we knew all along). I like Marshall at RB. Assuming LaBatte and St John heal up I like our starting 5 as well as the OL depth we've assembled behind them. D-line is a question mark outside of Jefferson. There is potential on the inside as well as the other edge with Tull/Antigha but I want to see proof not potential. LBs will be fine... with the exception of the cover LB spot, which scares me. Williams looked awful and I really don't see a name on the roster that instills confidence at this point. Secondary is a big concern. We are certainly in a better spot than last year but unfortunately given that last year was an utter embarrassment early on in the secondary, while "only somewhat terrible" is technically an improvement, it is still a concern. I will add on a more positive note that our Canadian depth is better than last year. With the exception of Muamba, I see a viable back-up at every starting Cdn spot.
I won't lie and say am confident about the upcoming season but I do feel better than last season and we somehow salvaged 5 wins out of that mess (along with a couple games we really should have won). So let's see what this team can bring when the bullets start flying for real.