Riders 25 - Winnipeg 25
Sure we didn't win and sure it was a meaningless game but after the last 2 seasons, Riders fans we're so elated at not losing that I'm sure 9 months from now there will be a spike in births and children named Quinn.
It was great to get to my new seat and settle in for some long awaited football. Though the signs of the preseason were immediately all around me. It was preseason for the players who messed up the pre-game breakdown (half were off praying while the rest stood awkwardly at mid-field until they all gave up and went to the bench). It was preseason for the refs, who took literally 20 minutes to sort out a call... and still got it wrong even after a challenge. You can see the play here yourself. Not sure in what universe this wasn't no yards. Yes, it was a sloppy, slow moving, meaningless game... and I loved it.
On the field there were some very good things that happened and some concerning things. I won't dwell on the QBs since everyone has been talking endlessly about that. Simply put Bridge was good. He looked poised and impressed me with his ability to not force it and take what the D was giving. Bennett was awful, not sure if all the hype he was getting all week got to his head but he was brutal. Bennett will have to show something pretty impressive enxt week as I think Bridge is now the #2. Williams also showed me enough (albeit was a small sample size) that I want him kept around.
It concerning to lose both Labatte and St John at OL but it was a nice chance for that not to lead to mass panic and a line of useless back benchers who couldn't block my mom. Dyakowski is already proving his worth and stepped in seamlessly. Bladek got a rough welcome to the pros as he was victimized and a few plays. He's a raw rookie and just needs more time to develop.
At running back Cameron Marshall is looking good and not about to give up his starter spot. Allen had some good moments too but Marshall is the guy for me. I think LaFrance will have to wait for an injury for a chance to show he can start.
It was great seeing Roosevelt again. He's still got it. Duron Carter still has it as well... and by that I mean he is a ridiculously talented ass-hat. He almost got kicked out of a preseason game (can you imagine how embarrassing that would be, oh wait) because he was worked up and running his mouth. I guess as long as the TD's outway the asshattery (just made that word up) we'll have to learn to love him. I liked what I saw from Stoshak, Picton and Desmki. While there were flashes, I don't think guys like not the good Grant (Antwan), Reece and Mayo did enough to crack a very tough competition at WR.
Defense remains a concern for me. My opinion that Willie Jefferson represents our only hope at a tangible pass rush was reinforced as we got next to no pressure. No one really stood out in the secondary but they played very good in the first half in terms of giving up points so that's good. I saw a lot of guys in good position but either not make the play or rely on the receiver not to make the catch. I mean its good that they are there but it means sweet diddly if you don't make the play. We are certainly big and fast.
Despite the questions that remain on D, I do feel better about where we are at this season as compared to last after the game.
Other random thoughts:
- The coin toss ladies vintage Starter '95 Grey Cup jacket was just simply outstanding!
- If that was preseason noise levels, I am amped up for how rocking the stadium will be on July 1.
- I despise the game day hosts. They remind me about everything I hate about going to a game in Calgary. If I never hear either of them again it will be too soon.
- On teams, Gagne and Chevrier caught my eye a couple times.
- I notice Tevaughn Campbell in a negative way a couple times which surprised me as he looked to be taking the next step after finishing last year strong and having a good camp.
- Kacy Rodgers looks to have slimmed down and was the main guy I noticed in a positive way on defense.
- I won't lie, I was shocked that Chris Jones didn't needless challenge so play in a vain attempt to get a call overturned.
Campbell had a horrific sequence on the Bombers first series. PI and blown coverage
Interesting to see how they fare vs BC. BC should be a top club this year. Frankly I'm not sold on the Bombers. The defence handed Nichols the ball often - 7 most T/O in history. Result more often than not - FG's. They passed the first test. On to BC. Riders need a good start this year. With Mtl & Winnipeg there's a chance for that. After that they have BC twice & Calgary in next few games - that'll be tough.
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