Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Dickenson vs. Jones


With the Riders on a well-timed bye week I thought I’d take the opportunity to compare where new head coach Craig Dickenson is at as compared to where the man he replaced was at the same time last season. For the purposes of this analysis I’m going to go beyond the obvious things. You know, like the fact that Craig Dickenson awns more than one shirt and seems to not have a deathly aversion to open buttons. And other obvious things, like the fact that this year we actually just signed guys we actually wanted in the free agency and didn’t cut most of them before game 4. No, for this I dug into the stats and came up with the following.

After 8
2018
2019
Difference
% Change
Wins
4
5
+1

Offense
Points
191
224
+33
+17%
Offenisve TDs
9
21
+12
+133%
Passing Yards
1677
2071
+394
+23%
Rushing Yards
935
973
+38
+4%
Sacks allowed
10
12
+2
+20%
Turnovers
17
13
-4
-24%
Defense
Points allowed
202
183
-19
-9%
Passing Yds allowed
2071
1757
-314
-15%
Rushing Yds allowed
631
669
+38
+6%
Sacks
21
25
+4
+19%
Turnovers
20
7
-13
-65%
Special Teams
Punt Return Avg
11.3
9
-2
-20%
Opponent Punt Ret Avg
10.6
18.3
+8
+73%
Kickoff return avg
22.5
31.5
+9
+40%
Opponent Kickoff Ret Avg
20.4
17.6
-3
-14%
Net punt avg
33.7
34.8
+1
+3%
Penalties
63
78
+15
+24%
Players Dressed
55
62
+7
+13%


It’s actually a lot of positives, starting with the win column. For me the overall results are not surprising but the specific areas are.

Coming into the season I think we fully expected the O to suck, the D to be a question mark and the special teams to continue being strong. Well instead we got an O that is pretty strong, a D that still has some questions but is mostly good and a special teams that are an utter disappointment.

Let’s start with the O. I don’t think you need stats to tell you that they are infinitely better. 9 offensive TDs last year vs. 21 this season.  The contrast made me wonder if our O is actually good or just seems awesome compared to the garbage we endured last season. So I went back to 2017 when we also had a good offense.  We had 24 TDs through 8 games then so we are actually pretty comparable. It’s nice seeing the turnovers down and the O-line holding relatively steady (especially given the multiple personnel changes). People ask whether its all Fajardo or whether McAdoo has changed. I say it’s a bit of both. Obviously if you look at the offense when Glenn and Fajardo are under centre vs. pretty much any other QB its obvious that good things happen when McAdoo has faith in his QB and pretty much nothing happens but runs and hitches when he doesn’t. But Fajardo is certainly having an impact. I remember hearing Coach McAdoo say that every play he calls has someone going deep. It takes a QB willing to make that throw. Fajardo has no fear of the deep ball and is accurate when he does.

Defense is actually better in pretty much every category. Something that is probably a surprise given the departure of Chris Jones who was one of the best defensive minds in the game. What you are seeing under Shivers is something I predicted before the season… a far less sexy but more steady and reliable D. You aren’t seeing the game changing plays and piles of turnovers that Jones produced but you are seeing a D that is locking things down and not taking risks that lead to big play potential. It would be nice to see the turnovers go up but as we saw in the Montreal game, this D can step up when needed to take the pressure off an underperforming O.

Special teams is the unpleasant surprise. The only real positive has been kickoffs, though stats are a bit misleading there. Our kickoff returns are legitimately better thanks to Purifoy. Our coverage however… sure the returns are smaller but that’s mostly due to the fact that Ferraro has so little distance on his kickoffs that our cover teams can take like 3 steps and make a tackle. Punting is where things have all gone to hell. Returns are down slightly but our coverage has been awful. Look, you’ve heard me rant on Jon Ryan and his inability to kick outside the numbers. I don’t want to beat that dead horse too much more. I'll just say that a casual observer might think “hey our net punting is up by a yard with Ryan”. That is technically correct but this marginal increase in net punting comes at insanely high risks as we have already given up 8 big plays on kick returns compared to just 3 last season. I’d rather a slightly lower net and more reliable coverage than this “kick it like hell and hope for the best” strategy we are running. Honestly did not expect special teams to be the biggest concern in Dickenson’s first year coaching. Hope he gets that figured out.

So the early results for Dickenson have been mostly positive. For me, the big question will be how he does down the stretch. Chris Jones was notorious for terrible starts to the season but then playing great football down the stretch. If Dickenson can likewise have this team peak late in the season good things will be in store.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Who Might the Riders Have Their Eye On Down South


I had a request from a reader to do a post about which potential NFL cuts the Riders would have their eye on. Given that I have like 3.5 readers I should probably make an effort to pander to them. If you are one of the other 2.5 readers and have an idea for a post feel free to send it my way. Better yet, feel free to write out the post in its entirety and send it my way so I can steal the credit. That fits a lot better with my usual effort levels.

So NFL training camps are in full swing which means that soon a lot of people are going to be cut. CFL GMs will be scouring these cuts to see if they can find guys to bolster their roster for this year or bring in to develop with an eye for next year. Here are some names that the Riders may be keeping an eye on.

Obviously #1 on the list is WR Jordan Williams-Lambert (currently with the Bears). He is the first beneficiary of the newly reinstated option year. So if he does not stick down south, he comes back to the Riders. Receiver isn’t a huge need at this point but for a guy with his skillset, you find a spot for him. Most likely that would be by bumping out Arceneaux. Usually a concern with WRs coming back from the NFL is that they bulk up but Lambert played at 228 last year and did just fine so that likely isn’t a concern. I’d put odds he comes back around 60%.

Two other names on our watch list are past draft picks DL David Oneymata (Saints) and TE Anthony Auclair (Bucs). Oneymata is not coming north any time soon and Auclair is unlikely at least this year. But both would be boosts to our Cdn talent if by some miracle they did shake loose.

In terms of need, obviously right now, some D-line depth would be nice.  There aren’t many former CFL D-linemen down south. The list is essentially James Vaughters (Bears) and Jake Ceresna (Giants). I would put odds of Vaughters coming back higher than Ceresna as a CFL DT is typically more similar to an NFL one than a DE is (though as I type this I just saw him force a fumble in preseason). But I doubt either ultimately end up here. Ceresna would command good $$ and we already have lots invested at DT. A more realistic name to watch is DL Sterling Shippy (Colts) who was just released as one of the names on our neg list.

Another category of course is former Riders. Sam Eguavoen (Dolphins) obviously tops the list but dude is pushing for a starting job on that D and is quite frankly too talented not to stick for at least one season. LB Brian Peters (FA) is still out there. LB is not a huge area of need but he would be a nice depth add. The one name I’m surprised hasn’t surfaced here is Kacy Rogers. He went to the Jets then the AAF and is now a free agent. LJ McCray is doing a decent job at corner (certainly not the trainwreck Means was) but Rogers would be an impact add in the secondary.

Other “big names” on the radar would be guys like Brett Jones (Vikings). It would be a great story to bring him home but I think he sticks in the NFL and if he comes north there would be a huge bidding war that I don’t think we have the money to win. Defensively guys like Dexter McCoil (FA), Jameer Thurman (Bears), Shaq Richardson (FA), Deon Lacey (Bills) and Kenny Laddler (Giants) would be worth watching. Offensively its Duke Williams (Bills) and Diontae Spencer (Steelers) but don’t expect us to pursue either.

With the exception of Lambert and then possibly Shippy (great name by the way) and Rogers I expect us to be pretty quiet in terms of “name” players come cut time. Though I have been wrong before. I’m married, so my wife would refer to that as “every day”.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Two Sweetest Words In The English Language


Riders 17 – Alouettes 10

I’ve seen a lot of weird wins over the years. I’ve seen ugly wins, wins we probably didn’t deserve, wins we did deserve but did our best to try and give away, wins that leave you not feeling all that great. Friday was a new one for me. I mean, we won… but it was hard to feel real great about. Player of the game goes to Zeus (the god of lightning, not the guy who wrestled Hulk Hogan in No Holds Barred, just so we're clear) as lightning ended the game with just over a quarter to play.

Look I get that there needs to be a rule about when to call games and that inevitably someone won't like that rule. I don’t know what the right time is but 60 mins seems way too short. Given that they have to wait 30 mins after lightning strike, essentially any storm over 30 mins ends it. But don’t just yell at “stupid Ambrosie” or the “bush league CFL”, this was a provision jointly negotiated with the players so they are equally to blame. Also, clearly if the roles had been switched and the Riders had lost there would have been wide-spread riots in the prairies. But don’t pretend for a second that all the non-Rider fans currently crying foul would not have been laughing their asses off and enjoying our pain had we lost. We are all hypocritical and self-interested, some of us are just honest about it.

But enough about the weather, complaining too much makes us seem like Grandpa Simpson



The game itself, was essentially 3 good, plays. The Riders made 2 while the Als only made one so we won. Well, I guess you could throw in the fact that our kicker can actually split the uprights on a somewhat regular basis as another key to victory (man Bede is erratic).

Let’s start on defense, as they literally won the game for us, scoring not one but 2 TDs on essentially the same play. The first one with Moncrief gave me flashbacks to Jackie Mitchell killing Dave Dickenson. I was already coming out of my chair when he came off the edge. I barely saw the TD because I was screaming so hard at the hit. Then Judge thought he should get in on the action and did it to Shiltz. The hit wasn’t as devastating but the end result was just as sweet… though Charleston Hughes’ slow mo runs to the endzone always cause a bit of anxiety as to whether he’ll get there before a defender gets him or his lungs give out. TDs aside, the D did their job. Allowed only 4 points, held Jeremiah Johnson to 3.8 yards per carry. Hell the only thing they didn’t seem to have an answer for was the offensive juggernaut known as Spencer Moore. Let me reiterate though that Antonio Pipkin is not good (like at all) … and Matt Shiltz is only slightly better. Still with a depleted front 4, the D did a good job of stepping up and helping out a struggling rest of the team.

Offense was a grind. Pre-game I listened to an interview with Fajardo where he said Montreal drops a lot to take away the deep stuff, forces you short and rallies well to the ball. Turns out the kid knows what he’s talking about. Lots of dink and dunk. But Cody showed good patience. Leaned heavy on his veteran in Roosevelt to find the space and most importantly, protected the ball. One thing I did not like was how little we ran. I get that Montreal was scheming to limit the run so adjusting to take the passes they give you makes sense but at some point you gotta feed your star back the ball. Anything less that 10 touches for Powell, especially in a game like this, is unacceptable. Still by virtue of not turning the ball over… and not letting our QB get repeatedly drilled on LB blitzes, the O did just enough to get by. By the way, I totally called the token catch for Manny.

Special teams is awful. Well I guess I should specify that our punting is awful. The rest seems to be fairly adequate. It starts with everyone’s damn hero, Jon Ryan. When the best thing I can say about the highest paid punter in the league is that “at least this game some of his punts went in the direction of the sidelines” that’s a problem. At least twice this game he send line drives to the middle of the field. One resulted in a 42 yard return. While you are all wetting your pants over his distance and his hang time, I’m focusing on the fact that only about half his punts go outside the hashmarks. Again, highest paid punter in the league should be at least somewhat consistent. In fairness to mister Ryan, our coverage has also been awful. I really don’t understand how Dickenson is letting this happen. This is his specialty. Hopefully the bye week can been used to sort that out.

Overall it was somewhat of a let down in terms of a win but it was a win. The only 2 plays the Als made where punt returns. Their offense was doing nothing. Hell their offense was actively trying to lose the game. Their D was limiting us but not getting any turnovers. We were the better team so there is no need to apologize for the win.

With 5 wins we are right in the mix with the top teams in the west and getting a much needed bye to rest up.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Riders vs. Alouettes: Le Road Trip


Friday night the Riders roll into Montreal looking for their 4th straight win. They will face what has to be the surprised team of 2019 in the mysteriously not awful Alouettes. Apparently all that was needed for them to emerge from their 4 year slump was to fire their head coach after the preseason and fire their GM after they finally started winning. Had they stumbled upon this knowledge years ago, who knows where they might be now.

Despite being a train wreck for a number of years now, Montreal remains a tough place to win for the Riders. They are 2-5 in their last 7 trips to La Belle Provence having been beaten by double digit margins 3 times. When you look at the state of the Alouettes over that timeframe it becomes apparent that there must be more than football talent at play here. Possibly some kind of off field distraction. I can’t think of any potential distractions in Montreal, in the evening, that would tempt young men… particular men who have been enduring the infamous Regina social scene for 2+ months. Let’s just say if I was Jeremy O’Day I would offer the plays a deal: Don’t leave the hotel Thursday night, win Friday and the first round is on me Friday night. Can you write off a lap dance as a business expense or would that count against the cap as a player bonus?

2019 is quickly becoming a year of injuries. Pretty much every team has dealt with injuries to top players (especially QBs). The top teams in the standings come November may not be the best teams on paper but rather the teams that are best able to overcome their injuries. This will be on full display Friday. For the Riders, pretty much our entire D-line is on IR. Shaq Evans is questionable. Brett Lauther is still out (why is it our kickers always follow up a great year with injury? Same thing happened to Crapigna). For the Alouettes, Vernon Adams is out and so is William Stanback. Those 2 account for 10 of the 16 offensive TDs Montreal have scored. This game will come down to which depth players can step up and which coaches put their depth players in the best position to be successful with their schemes.

A big reason behind Montreal recent return to relevancy has been their defense. We knew coming into the season that they had the talent on paper: Muamba, Loffler, Campbell, Evans, Ackie. The question was did they have a coach who could get them playing to their potential. There were rampant doubts about Bob Slowik given that his only CFL experience was a guest coaching spot in 2018. Well it took him a while but he proved many wrong. Here are the yards allowed by the D starting from Game 1 through to last week: 607, 526, 436, 365, 320, 241. Notice a trend? Add to the steadily improving yardage, 18 turnovers (leading to the second most points off turnovers in the league). This is a physical unit that has playmakers. Their main weakness is their front 4. They have just 5 sacks (by far the worst in the league) and allow 5.2 yards per rush (3rd worst). That’s where our attack needs to start. Establish the run with Powell (with some Thiggy mixed in) and take the physicality to them. Their secondary is very good. In addition to the guys previously mentioned, Greg Reid is playing some solid ball. That leaves CB Ryan Carter as the place I would focus my attention when passing. Possibility of no Shaq hurts (last year I would have laughed if you told me I’d be typing that) but Stafford can be a deep threat even on a limited playbook. Roosevelt, Moore and Manny will have to step up. Oh, who am I kidding? Moore and Roosevelt will have to step up and Manny will get his token catch. Fajardo needs to be smart with the ball and not create turnovers and smart with his body and not take unnecessary hits. Muamba has a bit of a history with hits on QBs that lead to fines. We need Cody healthy come November and limiting the hits now will go a long way in that regard. Hell the way our injuries have been piling up, just getting to the bye week would be a victory.

Defensively we get lucky for the second week in a row with a team missing their QB and top offensive weapon. Now the back-up RB is Jeremiah Johnson who has 30 TDs over the past 4 seasons so he’s no slouch (though he is a downgrade from Stanback). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if a team is missing all but 1 starting D-linemen you should run… a lot. Expect a heavy dose of Johnson. They are the #1 rushing team and I don’t expect that to change. That will also help mask the fact that Antonio Pipkin is not very good. I have never understood the hype on this guy. Career completion % of just over 50%. 4 passing TDs as compared to 8 INTs. He had 2 decent games and then defenses got film on him and he hasn’t done much since. Coming into camp I was surprised that Pipkin was viewed as the unquestioned guy over Adams but then again that didn’t even make the list of top things that were weird in Montreal. Do what you need to limit the run and force Pipkin to throw to win… I honestly don’t think he can do it.  With our tackles hurting, Elimimian will need to step and have a big game to help them out in the middle. One thing Montreal does really well is protect the ball. They have turned the ball over a league low 8 times. Ball control, strong running and defense is how they have been winning. They have the 2nd least passing yards and a league low 60% completion rate. We will likely need to send some blitzes to get pressure so there will be additional pressure on the secondary but if we can limit the run and get pressure Pipkin we’ve got a good chance. 

Montreal allows the most punt return yards and as last week showed are susceptible to big returns. In a game where we are depleted and on the road, winning the special teams battle would be a huge boost.

I saw this as being a tough game even before I got to page 2 of our injury list. Generally speaking we have been winning the battle in the trenches and while we should be OK on offense, its going to be a grind on D (Henry and Dabire don’t scare anyone). I’m envisioning a game very much like the Hamilton one. Very close, we’ll go through an extended part of the game where we just quit playing and a narrow victory that is best described as ugly... or since the game will be played in Quebec, laid. 

Riders by a William Powell TD in the final 2 minutes… then start the bye week off in style and put it on O’Day’s tab!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Raging Farjardon


Riders 24 – Ti-Cats 19

Many words have been used to describe the Riders’ win on Thursday: gritty, gut check, statement win, etc… One word that has not been used is pretty. That game was a whole lot of ugly. Back in the day I would have commented that it was as pretty as a Hamilton Cheerleader, but clearly I’m above such immature commentary (pause for reader laughter). I’ll just say that more attractive things reside in a Regina strip club… you know, so I’ve been told.

I’ve summarized the game this way: the first half was decent football, the 3rd quarter was among the worst football I’ve witnessed in a while (at least until I got home and watched highlights of the Bombers’ collapse in Toronto) but the team managed to dig deep in the 4th quarter and will themselves to a much needed win. While I would have preferred a less stressful, less curse word inducing, more visually appealing victory, all that matters is we got the win… our first win over a non-BC or Toronto team.

Offense was really weird to watch. They played really well in the first half. Our first few plays were outstanding play calling and execution. But the problem was that although we were controlling and moving the ball we managed to get very little to show for it on the scoreboard. We did enough to put us in the lead but should have done a lot more. Then the offense just shut er down and took a nap through the 3rd quarter and into the 4th. As per Rob Vanstone, the Riders had 1 first down and 37 yards in the 3rd quarter. That left our depleted defense exhausted and mostly useless and saw our lead evaporate. But you all know how it ended. Fajardo led a 40 yard drive for a FG to put us in striking distance then came back with a gutsy QB run for a TD to secure the game with 24 seconds left and give us all Fajardons. Shaq Evans had another huge day. Those crossers to him were open all day and Fajardo was deadly accurate in those tosses.  Honestly probably could have exploited that more. O-line turned in another decent performance against a strong Hamilton front 4. After that game winning TD, Cody Fajardo reached legendary status in Saskatchewan. He could legitimately show up at any door and ask to be intimate with anyone's significant other and no one would object. I just hope he enjoys the love-in because this is Saskatchewan and he is one bad series away from being run out of town.

Defense started the game strong. Picked off Evan’s first pass (clearly he had committed to a deep shot first play and didn’t bother reading the coverage because that receiver was never open and Purifoy had it the whole way). They allowed just 2 FGs in the first half. That’s where things go downhill. The combination of a short week, injuries to Zach and Micah and absolutely zero offensive support led to an embarrassing 3rd quarter. Evans picked the D apart.  102 of the 279 yards we allowed came in that 3rd quarter. But I give that unit credit because they dug deep in the 4th when it mattered. I really noticed the Ti-Cats making a point of picking on Judge in pass coverage. They ran numerous plays where he ended up in pass coverage and they took advantage. Hopefully both Zach and Micah aren’t out long term because that would a huge hit to a unit that is starting to hit its stride.

Special teams was yet again a mixed bag. We got some big returns (like Moore in the 4th quarter). Cover teams did a good job of containing the dangerous Ti-Cat returners (provided you ignore that one play where one Hamilton blocker knocked 2 Riders on their ass… that was a bit embarrassing). Ferraro made all his kicks.  This brings me to Jon Ryan. The good news was that he had is usual one great punt. The bad news is he seems oblivious to the concept of directional punting. I don’t know if he’s incapable of kicking outside the numbers or if our coaches are telling him to do it but every kick goes to the middle of the field. There’s barely even an attempt to direct it within an area code of the sideline. I don’t get it.

Part way through the 3rd quarter I was pretty much resigned to the fact that short weeks and back-up QBs were our kryptonite. Fortunately the Riders managed to grit out a hard fought comeback win. Good teams find ways to win when they aren’t playing their best and now that we’ve knocked of a legitimate team (I get it was without Masoli and Banks but that D is very good) we’re back in the conversation of good teams. Hell thanks to Winnipeg doing Winnipeg things we are 2 points out of first all of the sudden. I will be interesting to see what shape we are in health wise when practice resumes this week. We may need all 8 days to get rested for Montreal.

Other random thoughts:
·        I love how they’ve given up on the 13th Man Flag unveiling working.
·        The cheer team sucks. I miss the old ones that did flips and shit and would be perfectly OK if the current cheer team was replaced by that dance crew.
·        Definitely some coaching errors by Dickenson in that game. Lots was made of him not using his timeout at the end of the first half. As cool as it was to see Fajardo execute a quick kick, why in the hell would you not let Ryan do that? Kicking it too far for rouges is his thing. Lastly, I did not like the call to punt out of our endzone into the wind.
·        Weekly reminder that the Rider Stomp is not a thing
·        If you want to show your love for Cody head on over to the Rider Prophet Store and get your “I’ve Got A Fajardon” Shirt. Now available with #SprinkleOfJesus  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Riders vs. Ti-Cats: Opportunity Knocks


Thursday is what we call a measuring stick game for the Riders. After back to back games of beating up on a team that seems destined to dwell in the CFL basement much like their QB is destined to dwell on the turf, the Riders now have to face a credible opponent. Are we legit contenders or just a team capable of bullying the weaker teams? We will soon find out.

Hamilton is arguable the best team in he CFL having knocked off 3 west teams including Winnipeg who on paper was the best team… and they managed to do so without their #1 QB. I’ll admit that I was in the “the Ti-Cats are only good as compared to other East teams” boat but the last few weeks had me thinking they might but good but objective standards as well. But while the Riders come with a question of whether they can hang with actual good teams, the Ti-Cats come in with a big question as well… can they keep up their winning ways without Jeremiah Masoli?

Most objective people would look at a QB making is first start on the road and think, advantage other team. Anyone who has been a Rider fan for any length of time has developed a healthy fear of new QBs. We are like a performance enchancing drug that only works on opposing back-up QBs. Hell we did it just 4 weeks ago with Nick Arbuckle. Between Dane Evans looking competent in limited action (hell there were some Rider fans already plotting how we could poach him this coming offseason based on his preseason play) and the Riders’ track record against unproven QBs, there is real reason to think this game will be anything but a pushover. One school of thought on Evans would see the Riders with the advantage as they can game plan specifically for him with film to help (something Winnipeg could not do). The other school is that the Ti-Cats have an advantage as they have a chance to build an offensive specifically for Evans that there won’t necessarily be film on. We’ll see which side takes the most advantage.

Offensively Hamilton will be a depleted unit. Masoli is done for the year and on top of that Brandon Banks and Darius Ciraco will not play. That removes the leagues leading receiver who is responsible for 6 TDs already and a very good starting guard from an offense already missing their #1 QB. Defense has to pounce on this opportunity. Ti-Cats have one of the better O-lines in the league so our front 4 will have their work cut out for them in getting to Evans (though the absence of Ciraco creates an opportunity to line up Micah on the relatively inexperienced Kay Okafor). For all the good things about Hamilton, their rushing attack is actually not very good. #6 rush attack overall. The injury to Sean Thomas-Erlington really hurt them here. Best way to make life difficult on a young QB is eliminate the run and force him to throw to win. This would be a good game to mix in some real blitzes with ones where we show blitz and drop a lot into coverage to confuse Evans. Even without Banks we can’t lose focus and need to avoid giving up the big plays. Forcing long drives should eventually lead to Evans mistakes… and hopefully turnovers, though those seem to be harder to come by this year than offensive TDs were last year.

Defensively Hamilton is pretty solid. 3rd in points allowed, 3rd in turnovers, 3rd in sacks (despite not having their numbers inflated yet by playing BC). I would put their front 4 up there in terms of the best in the league (though no Adrian Tracy is a loss for them). Ja’Gared Davis is a top 3 DE in the CFL, a fact that will always bother me since the Riders traded his neg rights away in 2016 for Philip Sims (the QB that looked like an O-lineman)… not that I’m bitter and dwell on things too long. This well be a far more difficult test for our OL than the Lions (though I think the only thing easier than blocking the Lions D-line would be blocking garden gnomes). One weakness the Ti-Cats do have is run stopping. They allow the 3rd most rush yards, 2nd most rush TDs and a League worst 5.8 yards per rush. Don’t gotta be Vince Lombardi to figure out that maybe we should run, a lot. That will have the added benefit of slowing down a strong pass rush. We will need to be patient as well. Hamilton has only allowed 6 deep passes this season. So while we can’t shy away from stretching the field, we need to balance that with smart underneath passes. Fajardo should be oozing confidence after the Riders traded Collaros and made him the unquestioned leader of the team. (I still like Collaros and honestly wish things had turned out better but I think this is for the best). It took 6 turnovers for the Ti-Cats to beat the Bombers last week. Their defense will be looking to carry an offense that may struggle so we can’t help them in that regard by turning the ball over. Work some crossers to Evans and Moore. Use Roosevelt as the safety valve and I would test a deep ball to Arceneaux.

If you look at offensive TDs scored and offensive TDs allowed the Riders are actually 1 better than the Ti-cats in both categories. The main difference between their 5-1 record and our 3-3 record has been the 5 Defensive and ST TDs they scored and 13 more turnovers than us they have. So by simply not giving up big returns and not turning the ball over (or heaven forbid, forcing our own turnovers) we level the playing field immensely. I have faith in our ability to control the ball. I have less faith in our kick coverage.

Much like we did in BC, we need to come out and set the tone early. Make things uncomfortable for Dane Evans and get the crowd into it.  Don’t let him get his confidence going. The only thing giving me a bit of concern about the game is the short week. I’m having Calgary flashbacks. That said it’s a short week for Hamilton plus a traveling week for them. Add in their injury depletion and this is a game we can and should win.  Will it be a domination? No. Will there be times where we make Dane Evans look like the second coming of Doug Flutie? Probably. The over under on me cursing loudly is set at 7.5, should you take the over? Yes.  But in the end…

Riders by a Marcus Thigpen TD.

Side note: Just to be safe can we not run any QB draws until the 2nd or 3rd drive?