Saturday the 3-2 Argos come to town to tangle with the Riders. My hope is that after laying an egg in Calgary and basically sleeping through the first half, that the team will bounce back and actually play 60 minutes as opposed to spotting our opponents a 30 min and 3 score advantage (or completely giving up in the final minute 30 and blowing a 2 score lead like the Als). The game will feature the return of many familiar faces including former receivers Armanti Edwards and Jeff Fuller, president of the Chris Jones fan club (I assume) Shawn Lemon and last but not least a man whose impact on this team (both positive and negative) were so big that we will never forget his name around these parts… Corey Chamberlin.
Offensively we will be facing a very legit Toronto defense. The additions of guys like Ball, Woods, Laing and Sears has made for a very intimidating defense. That said, the Argos are coming off a short week and will be missing half their D-line starters (Butler and Laing). We need to set a physical tone early. As Corey Chamblin would say (or at least a vaguely recall him saying this while readily admitting I may have fabricated this memory): “Hit them in the mouth!” Our OL needs a bounce back game after an embarrassing first half last week and what better way to do it then to put them on the attack and run it down Toronto’s throat. Use Marshall early and often to wear down the defense. It may not pay off right away but the longer the game goes, the bigger the runs will get.
The following is not a paid advertisement by Duron Carter, but we need to get Duron the ball a lot more. I get that his presence is opening up opportunities for guys like Grant (and Kevin Glenn is a master of taking what the D gives him… even if occasionally what they give him is a chance to throw an INT) but Carter is way too talented to be used solely as a decoy. 16 receptions and 156 yards is criminally underusing him (though admittedly his numbers could be slightly higher if he caught more of his scarce targets). I’m not advocating forcing it into double coverage or blindly throwing streaks to him but any quasi-competent OC could draw up a few plays to move him around the field and get some favourable match-ups and meaningful use.
Toronto has the most takeaways in the league so another offensive key is not giving them that luxury and protecting the ball. We also need to keep Glenn upright. Toronto leads the league in sacks but the loss of Butler and Laing will have a big impact there. Attack early, be physical, control the ball and it could be a very good day for the offense.
Defensively we have to deal with a rejuvenated Ricky Ray. Now, for all the hype around the Trestman/Ray offense here’s the reality… the Argos are an offense that passes for a ton of yards and then kick a ton FGs. They are 3rd worst in terms of offensive points and an absolutely awful 29% in the redzone. So yeah our struggling secondary against the top passing attack is concerning but I see through the hype and see an offense that has its issues. One issue is an underperforming OL. They are giving up a lot of sacks and producing the lowest yards per rushing attempt. Our defensive front was embarrassed in Calgary so this is a great chance for them to bounce back. If Ray has time in the pocket, he will carve up our secondary so we need to get hits on him, or at a minimum get him moving. There will be a lot of pressure on our LBs (please don’t embarrass yourself again Sam Williams) as Ray loves to use his RBs for quick passes and let them run for extra yards. There will also be pressure on whoever is covering SJ Green. AJ Jefferson is a Rider in part due to being lit up by Green in Ottawa. Glad to hear Rodgers is expected back. We need to take away the big plays to Green. That will go a long way to continuing the Argos’ trend of settling for FGs instead of majors. If we can keep them settling for 3 then we have a solid chance in this game.
If we are being honest with ourselves here (something that is as foreign to many die hard rider fans as bathing is to Blue Bomber fans) we are a 1 win team whose lone win came against the only team in the standings worse than us, so cockiness should not be a thing for us at this point. That said when you factor in the home crowd and a beat up Argo roster on a short week, there is reason for optimism. We have the tools offensively (at least when they decide to show up) and while I have fairly limited confidence in our defense, a struggling Argo O-line, a short week and a thunderous home crowd do sway things somewhat to our favour. I honestly just hope the defense can play half decent and keep the Argos under 25 points and hope that our O can score enough to carry them.
If you are betting money on this game I would encourage you to bet on the Argos because admittedly that is the safer bet. But maybe its just because I have dipped into the Weisers a bit early this week but I’m going with my heart and staying the Riders will somehow steal a win in a very tight game.
Riders by a Crapigna field goal.