For the third Thursday in a row the Riders play football. I like Thursday football but would just prefer my team not be in it every single week. It really hampers my ability to drink away my sorrows. This time they are in Ottawa still looking for their first win of 2019. Ottawa is riding high after knocking off Calgary at McMahon in Week 1. I still don’t really understand how that happened.
Thursday the Cody Fajardo era begins… err I mean the Cody Fajardo featuring Isaac Harker era… err I mean the McAdoo will flip a coin to see which QB comes out which series era. Fajardo will start but I imagine will be on a short leash. He’ll need to prove that last week’s happy feet, errant passes performance was just a one off and that with a full week of prep he will come out and perform better. As much as I like Harker and his potential I would actually prefer if Fajardo played competently enough to keep Harker’s involvement minimal. Noel Thorpe consistently fields top notch defenses and the prospect of a rookie QB going against that now that there is pro game film of him is intimidating. The game plan remains the same, run early, often and again even when it doesn’t make sense. Powell is the workhorse but I would like to see us get Thiggy some more touches, whether its handoffs or short passes to him in space. Ottawa’s secondary is talent laden but their front 7 is nothing special. Not that they are bad, but nothing for us to fear. Need to find ways to get Roosevelt more involved. He’s a reliable vet that the young QBs can lean on. RedBlacks held Calgary to 22 offensive points. Bo Levi Mitchell is a slightly better QB than the combination we have so if we can get 20 points in this game it will be a big accomplishment.
Defensively, after watching the Ottawa game last week, it appears the key to the game is not letting Dominique Davis get to 4 picks. Three is fine but that fourth one apparently sparks the comeback. It will start with limiting Mossis Madu. He’s been an underrated but productive back for many years. Last week Ottawa gave him 30 touches and he produced 140 total yards. We need to shut that down and put all the pressure on Davis. He never gives up but I’d like to think our D can make him pay dearly. I say we get 2 turnovers minimum. Their group of receivers is not all that impressive RJ Harris is their leading guy and Caleb Holley is #2. Holley was an OK WR here but if our secondary can’t contain him then I have grossly overestimated them. Obviously Sinopoli is still there and good but he’s becoming more a possession WR. Shut down Madu. Get a strong pass rush to make Davis uncomfortable and force mistakes in the pass game. That’s our recipe for success.
We need to win 2 out of 3 phases to win the game and since we ain’t winning offense that mean special teams suddenly become very important. Lewis Ward doesn’t miss (except when it comes to minimum height requirements for amusement park rides) so Lauther better up his game. Richie Leone is arguably the best punter in the CFL so Jon Ryan had better up his game. We need to flip the script from last week and have a big return go in our favour and our coverage be solid. Christion Jones looked rusty last week but I’m predicting a breakout performance for him. Maybe not a TD but a big long game changing return.
On paper you have a team that already has their starting QB and both starting guards on the six game IR on the road facing a team that just beat the best team in the league on their own turf (something that rarely happens). Logic says the RedBlacks should win quite easily. But the Riders are built to win in spite of their offensive production and their talent on D gives them a chance to do that. The Riders are also a team that seem to start performing about the time everyone has given up on them. I say they play better than expected and squeeze out a low scoring win.
Riders by a Brett Lauther FG from 45 yards out (it'll be one of his 5 FGs on the day).
For the love of god let this game break the streak of our QBs getting headshoted and the calls betting botched! Three in a row is enough. One more headshot and I say we go full WWE and arm our blockers with metal chairs to defend our QB.