I'll keep my thoughts on the game rather brief and get right to breaking down the 2018 roster. My thoughts... 1 - Derrick Moncrief is going to be a freakin' beast. 2 - That PAT attempt by Calgary's back-up kicker may be one of the worst I've ever seen. 3 - Anything else related to that game should be stricken from the record and never discussed again.
Good enough? Moving on.
Since preseason results don't matter anyway (yes I would feel a whole lot better if we had shown anything in that game but there are no bonus points for preseason performance) the more important thing to talk about today is the cuts and more importantly who is left. The easiest part of any coach's job is the cuts... and following Friday's performance I can see that being true for Jones.
I was expecting a relatively uneventful preseason this year. We had our core from last year and just needed a few tweaks here and there. Though I guess I should have know that with Chris Jones you should always expect change (the only exception is with respect to his wardrobe). With Bagg, Owens, Grant and Bond gone there was certainly a ton of chatter across the prairies.
Grant and Owens don't surprise me that much. Sure Grant had a great year but Grant is far from consistent and I think Holley could have put up similar stats in Grant's spot last season. We are big on Shaq Evans and Jordan Williams-Lambert so not surprising to see old vets who are 3rd WR at best now go. Bagg was a shock. From a purely numbers point of view, I get it. We were paying him a ton of money for a guy producing 300 yards and far from a key part of the O. Still it was a surprise. Bagg is the epitome of perseverance (if you don't know his full story from turning down a roster spot in 2007 to return to school through to becoming a sure fire Plaza of Honour member I suggest you go bone up on it... the story that is, please don't bone up on Rob Bagg). Going to miss him.
Bond was the biggest shock though. He was a prized offseason signing and expected to bring some nastiness and strength to our OL. He also got pretty much every starting rep since the beginning of camp. I can live with him getting beat out in camp but if you weren't convinced he was the starter then why wasn't someone else getting more starting reps? We essentially wasted all of training camp on building chemistry with an OL combination that won't play when it matters. Not great coaching in my opinion. Our OL is the #1 concern we have going into the season and while I could maybe buy that Bond is not the miracle cure, I certainly did not see anyone else on our roster who could fare any better.
The rest of the cuts were far from surprising. Adusei can't block (or even slightly impede opposing defenders), Daniels can't account for a 12th defender.The only other remote surprise was Rakim Cox.
So where does that leave our roster?
Well every is pooping their pants over our QB situation following the preseason game but I still have faith in Collaros, who will start Friday. Too early to panic here... Oh wait, this is Riderville... David Watford is the best QB since Rocky Butler and should definitely be starting!! (did I do that right?) Tre Mason should provide a nice change of pace from Messam at RB (until Thigpen returns). Carter, Roosevelt, Holley plus the new guys are still a good set of weapons.
O-line is still a massive concern. My guess is that Jarvis Harrison starts at guard... at least I pray that's the plan since we have zero Cdn depth if Bladek is pushed into a starting role. Our starting group is far from instilling confidence at this point and lord help us if our depth gets tested. This is the one area that I pray Jones knows what he's doing, despite outward appearances.
Defense will be our strength. The Hughes-Evans-Jefferson trio will wreak havoc. Having Steele as a starter helps our ratio. Love, love,love our D-Line. At LB I have been talking Moncrief up since he debuted last season and Friday you saw why. He is clearly lighter and faster than last season (remember when he ran out of gas trying to return that pick last season?). I expect a huge year from him. Love Equavoen. I'm willing to give Judge a chance. As a rotational guy Hurl is serviceable. Not super sold on our depth if Equavoen or Moncrief get hurt but won't worry about that now. Our secondary will be solid. Marshall is a solid addition. Butler is a stud and Gainey and old man Jovon will be fine. We aren't the strongest at safety but Edem and Brouilette won't likely hurt us.
Special teams suddenly became more interesting with news that Crapigna needs surgery and will not play this year. Losing a rock solid kicker like him is a big blow. Lauther had a great preseason which is now suddenly very important but he does not yet instill the confidence that Crapigna gave us. He put in the "In Ya" in Crapigna (patent pending on that motto). Still with Bartel punting and Christion Jones on returns we should still be solid on teams.
Overall, I think people's lofty expectations of the Riders this season have taken a bit of nosedive. But I still think they will be competitive in the West. Depth is certainly a concern but I do think we are starting 2018 stronger than we started 2017 and that season turned out OK eventually.
Behind our 4 import DB's we have Carter as a backup on the roster. Period. There is Ivory on PR/IR list as the only import DB. I thought I knew most of the Riders but Ivory who? At National receiver, & we may have to start 2, there's Bailey & Stanford with Radford along for the ride. The OL - wow. We'll be starting 2 rookies, one at the key LT position, with Clark who I kinda like all of a sudden given the alternatives, LaBatte & Coleman. Cofield plays LT if Vaughn goes down & is a huge drop. It is generally conceded everywhere except in Regina where a lot of the social media guys think we have a really deep team, that we have great depth. This comes from the delusion that if you have 46 healthy players & 10 more on PR you have depth. We have precious little quality on backups in most areas. Luckily, QB is not one of them as we have 2 that should be good. I do think Collaros will be good but there's no denying there is some risk there. It's only the first week but this should be interesting. Lastly, why does Jones keep getting free agents that never pan out? I can see why he went after Lemon, Capicciotti & Dennis but, regardless of the length of the contract, they're one & done if not before. Bond? You're going to give up on him because in training camp a rookie played equally well? What happened to the idea that rookies have to be clearly better to beat out a veteran? That's it. I'm out.
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