Riders 18 - RedBlacks 17
If you thought the Hamilton win was ugly (and it was) then Friday's nail biter certainly set a new bar in that department. I mean that was so ugly that even putting a bag over its head can't make you feel any good. But here's the point I'd like to focus on... We Won! I will devote many words to detailing all my problems with that game but that is all secondary to the fact that we won. Sure it was ugly but somehow some way we overcame a ton of terrible play and a 17 point deficit on the road. Good teams find way to win and we did just that. So let's focus on the winning part. You can bet there will be a lot more adversity in our future and winning ugly will likely be a necessity again. I'm glad we are showing that we have that ability.
I am very torn on what to say about our defense following that game. I mean they did hold our opponents under 20 points for the 3rd straight game. That is impressive and has been needed giving the sudden disappearance of our offense. That said, I thought our defensive game plan was pure idiocy and despite the end result we allowed Ryan freakin' Lindley and a back-up O-line to achieve way more than they should have. Generally as a defense you try and take away the opponents strength and force them to beat you with something they aren't as good at. In this case, literally the only thing Ottawa had going for them coming into this game was Powell. But instead of stacking the line to stop the run and sending a ton of pressure at the inexperienced QB/OL we ran that %&D%&ing 3 man rush all night. That played right into to Ottawa's hand. I don't get it. Finally in the 4th we started sending some pressure and low and behold, we locked the RedBlacks down. It should not have taken that long to make that adjustment. At no point did someone say: "That Powell guy is kinda good. Maybe we should stop him"? As I said, if a D holds then under 20 then its a job well done but we could have easily cut that in half with a quasi-logical game plan.
As for our offense, someone needs to kick them in the ass... all of them, to wake them up. They have been utter crap for the 7 straight quarters. Essentially accomplishing nothing from the second half of the Hamilton game until the 4th quarter on Friday. I get that Roosevelt is a big loss and we are also down Demski and Bailey but come one figure something out. LaFrance only had 6 carries through the first 3 quarters but why bother trying to establish the run to help your struggling pass game? I know some of it is on the players to execute but 7 straight quarters of futility means that maybe McAdoo needs to adjust his game plan and find something that will work. Maybe try getting that Rob Bagg guy involved a bit more, he seems to be alright at catching (though in saying that Bagg is essentially the new Szarka i.e. the token white Canadian we all want to see be the focal point of the offense). I'm glad that we've reached a point where we no longer need to rely on our O to win us games but 1 offensive TD won't win many games.
The saviour of the game is no doubt Christion Jones. That punt return TD (he bulk of which was just effort on his part) was undoubtedly the spark that saved the game for us. Without that we are likely lamenting losing to Ryan freakin' Lindley. He is so dangerous on returns and I'm glad to have him healthy for the late season push to the playoffs.
At the end of the day I could care less if we won by 1 rouge, won by scoring nothing but rouges or won because the game had to be called because all the footballs were gone. Winning is the #1 concern and the Riders managed that on Friday and now sit in 3rd place.
Other Random thoughts:
- The call on the Bakari Grant fumble was brutal. Even though it benefited us it was clearly a fumble. That man needs to lose the sleeves, he has ball security issues and I think the sleeves play a big roll in that.
- Kick coverage is once again doing a good job. Having Glenn Love back and Jeff Knox has given them a big boost.
- While Holley really didn't step up as expected, I wouldn't mind seeing more of the other Grant (aka Antwane).
Just have to make this comment ... I watched the Jones punt return at least ten times after the game - it was that good. Jones has an incredible ability to change direction and accelerate. But what really had me watching that return over and over was the RedBlacks' Antoine Pruneau. Despite having a running style of a school boy, Pruneau showed exceptional speed and endurance. Remember, he was a RedBlacks gunner on the punt and had already sprinted 40 yards to Jones when he caught the ball. Then Pruneau is stationary behind Jones as the returner is turning on his jets, and then had to bubble around Riders blockers downfield. That he almost caught up to Jones, well - respect, man. Not a Rider, but full cred for that effort.
Make that 9 straight Qtrs - last half Hamiton, Calgary & 1st 3 in Ottawa - 2 + 4+ 3. But I digress. Allowing 358 rushing yards last 2 games - brutal. The same old 3 man rush. LaFrance on our side is clearly not the answer. Career 4 yd/carry rusher. A lot of money spent on him that could have been used elsewhere. As the weather changes, focus generally changes to the rush. If the offence doesn't pick it up, Argos will bury us. Trestman team has Argos on 3 game streak, better home record than Riders with way less fan support, & a guy in Wilder who has the ability to put up big numbers. You think Trestman hasn't noticed our difficulty stopping the run? I have said it since Jones got here - our biggest need is DT. The other thing is this - we have 11 games in a row to the finish line since our final bye. Are we mentally, as well as physically, ready to handle that? You mentioned the last 3 games offensive futility - are we showing the strain of the schedule? Are Glenn & Carter's injuries worse than stated? How long is Roosevelt out? Halfway through this stretch, are we in for more injuries? This can turn quickly - ask Edmonton. But they are getting healthier & adding some big pieces for the stretch run, 3 of which - Walker, Grymes & Waters are pretty fresh. Last thing - Bakari Grant. He was good early this year but his career with Hamilton & Calgary has been marked by drops & fumbles, often at key times. You need only to go back to the Grey Cup game last year to see evidence of this. Stamp fans were glad to see the end of him. He's resorting to the "mean" in his career. The lack of a run game since Marshall left, the inability to stop the run, are things that could come back to haunt us big time.
Skot - Had to go back and watch that punt just to focus on Pruneau. Great observation
Anon - Thank you for pointing out my awful math. You are correct 9 quarters. The injury to Nick James cannot be understated. We have desperately needed a DT as you say. He looks like he could be that guy, if he gets back on the field. The schedule could be wearing on us. We did add healthy bodies like Knox, Foster (minus his injury haha), Bouka and Brouilette. You are bang on about the run. On both sides of the ball our success hinges on it
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