After getting embarrassed out west, the Riders will get another crack at the Lions, this time on home turf. If you were a big enough sucker for punishment to watch all of the last game, you have little reason to be hopeful for the encore. I mean even the schedule makers are against us as the Sunday night start time precludes most of us from even drinking this one pretty. There is only one thing that is prevent me from limiting today’s analysis to “We’re screwed” and ending it right there. That thing that provides me a shred of hope (that in true Rider fashion is likely to be smashed to smithereens come Sunday) is that the Riders are a completely different team at home.
Well I guess I should qualify that last statement… the Riders’ Offense is completely different at home. The defense is what it is regardless of location and what it is, isn’t all that great… but more on that later. It’s pretty obvious that all hopes in this game rest on our offense. I put the odds of our defense grinding out a close, low scoring victory right up there with the odds of the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl, I mean sure I suppose it could technically happen but... On the road our offense couldn’t find the endzone if they were placed right beside it and pushed in its general direction. They are averaging 13.7 points on the road (a figure that drops to 8.7 if you exclude the 2 garbage time TDs from Bridge). But at home, they seem to be drawn to the endzone like an O-lineman to an all you can eat buffet. 38.3 points per game at home and never less than 37 points over our 3 home games. BC’s Defense is certainly better than the previous 3 we faced at Mosaic but as I said, there is hope in this fact.
So how do we move from theory to reality in terms of a potent offense? Three pretty basic steps. #1 Keep Glenn upright. With Dan Clark out it seems that we are moving to 3 imports with Dennis moving to guard and Campbell taking over at tackle (We can debate the status of Canadian OL depth another time). We need them to step up and actually give Glenn some time. Also, if they aren’t giving them time, our OC needs try a foreign concept called adjusting and roll Glenn out to move his launch point. Or try some screens/swing passes. #2 Run the ball. I have probably written this phrase more than anything else over the past year and half. By now you would think I would have resigned myself to the fact that it is futile but I guess I’m stubborn. Our offense works best when Marshall is chewing up the yards. When he gets the minuscule 5 carries he got last week, our offense becomes 1 dimensional and predictable. #3 Stretch the field I am admittedly not the biggest Brandon Bridge cheerleader but I’ll give him credit for being smart enough to realize that throwing it deep to your playmakers once in a while is a good idea. If all you are going to do is 8 yard passes (especially on 2nd and 10) then we might as well save Roosevelt and Carter’s salary because they aren’t needed here. The famous Kevin Glenn dink and dunk only works if you occasionally stretch the field to back the defense off. I think we need 28 points minimum from our offense to have a fighting chance in this.
As for the defense… well just try not to embarrass yourselves too much. As painful as it was to watch them last week, at least they managed to force a lot of FGs. I hate being this negative but I realistically think that's the best we can hope for. Jennings will be back and I guarantee they will want to showcase what the combo of his arm and Chris Williams’ speed can do. I think we need to do 2 things to give us a chance given that my assumption is we will be giving up a lot of passing yards. First we need to not be such wussy babies in the trenches. BC’s O-line is not that good. It’s one of their few weaknesses. Rather than making them look like all-stars by sending 3 or 4 to go hug them gently for a bit, let’s attack them and expose the weakness. Minter is out which means we likely go with an all Canadian interior, not that it matters much as our interior overall is mediocre at best (certainly an issue). We need pressure on Jennings and we need him to have to throw quick. If he has time, his receivers will obliterate us. The second thing we need to do is not get bullied on the ground. This certainly starts up front but as a unit the 200 rush yards we gave up last week is an embarrassment even by our low standards. We need to plug that up.
I am maintaining my conviction that until the Riders prove otherwise, unless they are playing an East team at Mosaic then bet against them. I would love if they defied expectations. If our offense is as potent as it has been at home then I think we have a legitimate chance. But I won’t go as far as to predict victory. Possible is not probable.
BC by 10…. But the good news is I expect a first half TD from the Riders so that’s progress.
This will be the game that truly reveals who the Riders are this year. Our first matchup against a true top tier team at home. Win this and there is hope. I refuse to say lose this and there is no hope but we will very clearly be facing a huge mountain to climb.
We now have a better idea of who the Riders can be this season. Hope they can find a way to show this side of them against Edmonton in a couple weeks.
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