Wednesday, December 4, 2019

McAdoo or McAdon’t


Since the season ended, the biggest topic of conversation in Riderville has centered on our Offensive Coordinator and his future. It’s second only to “how’s the weather?” in terms of prairie conversation starters. I was going to wait until my usual Monday Sentimonies to opine on this topic but the way my luck goes it will all be sorted out by then and the post would be irrelevant. Chances are just as good that I’m wasting my only material for Monday too early. Not sure I can win… I’m a lot like the RedBlacks that way.

Look, I get the desire for a change at OC. We just missed the Grey Cup because we couldn’t score a solitary TD despite multiple trips to the redzone. This after a 2018 season where we almost set a record for futility in offensive scoring… and this is a franchise with a storied history of futility so that’s saying something. Over his 4 year tenure in with the Riders I have been among the most vocal of McAdoo's critics (he won the award for Most Insulted Sports Figure in 2017). So you would expect me to be leading the charge on this crusade and have the shiniest and pointiest pitchfork in hand.

Not so fast…

Is McAdoo the best OC out there? Lord no! But he’s also not the worst. One look at BC, Toronto and Ottawa this year tells you the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. So if you accept my premise that McAdoo is a mid-tier OC then it stands to reason that the only reason you look to make a change is if you think you can upgrade. For all his failings (and there are many) its apparent that when McAdoo has a QB he trusts (Glenn, Fajardo) the offense opens up and when he doesn’t (Collaros, Bridge, Watford, Harker) he reverts to flipping a coin – heads we run up the middle, tails it’s a hitch screen. He reminds me a lot of George Cortez in that regards. Runs a top tier offense with Durant. Appears to pretty much pack it in when forced to try and win with bottom feeding QBs.

So if it’s an upgrade at OC we want. Who is out there? For me there are just 4 names that come to mind: LaPolice, Condell, Maas and Elizondo. And we can already whittle that list down as Condell isn’t leaving Hamilton and Elizondo keeps ending up with employers who don’t allow him to talk to anyone. So we are down to LaPo and Maas.

LaPo is in the mix for a couple Head Coaching searches and I don’t see him leaving Winnipeg unless its for a promo. It’s no secret that O’Day is a big supporter of LaPo so there is certainly a chance we could pry him away but I would say unlikely as it requires 2 teams passing on him as a Head Coach and LaPo deciding he wants to move. As for Maas, he’s a free agent and BC has already been chatting with him. Ottawa would be stupid not to but then Ottawa isn’t exactly the shining example of intelligence lately. We don’t have the connections to him that BC has so I would say odds aren’t great he winds up here either. Also the irony of want to can a guy for failing to produce a TD only to want to replace him with the League’s biggest FG enthusiast is not lost on me. Maas is a good OC but there’s still some irony there.

The other thing to consider is the impact on the team, both to the coaches and the players. The core of this coaching group has been together since Edmonton and some go back to when Chris Jones was in Toronto. They have been a loyal unit and canning one of the core members may have a ripple effect. That’s not a reason not to make a change but something you certainly need to consider when doing so. Also, continuity is underrated. This season was supposed to be the first one since 2014 where we had the same OC and starting QB as the previous year… that lasted 3 plays. We have a chance again for this year. We just found our new start QB and forcing him into a new offensive system has its drawbacks. 

So if we can somehow land a LaPo or Maas then by all means go for it. But given the odds of that panning out I think we choose continuity over change for change sake.

Never thought I’d be reduced to writing in defense of McAdoo.  

Monday, December 2, 2019

12th Annual Rider Prophet Awards


For the last dozen years, each December we have honoured the best and worst (mostly worst) of the CFL season. My vision has always been to eventually turn the awards into a live event, but given that none of the nominees a) know they were nominated and b) would be willing to attend in person, the live event would pretty much just be me in front of a microphone in an empty getting progressively drunker and unrulier… in other words it would be better than half the crap currently on TV.

This year’s award winners get a gift basket containing a selection of items damaged during Jason Maas’ head coaching tenure and totally legal supplements personally chosen by Andrew Harris.   

Let’s get to the awards.

Best Player Name
All in all it was a pretty terrible year for names in the CFL. Nothing really stood out in a hilarious way. So instead I’m awarding this year’s best name to a global player by the name of Guillermo Villalobos. I just loved this name Guillermo. Said with the proper Hispanic inflection it is about 95% effective as effective as lemon gin.

Previous Winners: Armegedon Draughns, Rakeem Cox, Akawasi Owusu-Ansah, Lirim Hajrullahu, SirVincent Rogers, Drew Willy, Bear Woods, Solomon Elimimian, Craphonso Thorpe, Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha

Quote of the Year
In week 8 of the CFL, the Riders won a close game at Mosaic over the Ti-Cats thanks in large part to late game heroics by Cody Fajardo. While his onfield play had endeared him to the province, the post game interview he gave following that game catapulted him to legendary status and ensured no less than 15% of the babies born in the coming months will be named Cody. It was the speech where “sprinkle of Jesus” was born.

 

Honourable mention to Brett Lauther for saying that his plan for dealing with 4 missed kicks was to "drink a lot of beers, go to sleep and wake up and pretend it didn't happen.

Previous Winners: Dave Dickenson, Kavis Reed/Jacques Chapdelaine, Greg Quick, Solomon Elimimian, Ed Hervey, Joe Mack, Henry Burris, Eddie Johnson, Jason Clermont, Mike Abou-Mechrek x2

Play of the Year
This year's play of the year didn't occur on the field. A rain delay during the Riders/Argos game and a heavy dose of Pilsner led to some great antics with the TSN Panel and Milt Stegall in particular. It was a moment that really captured the prairie spirit: Storm ruined our plan so we just got drunk and did stupid stuff to pass the time.


Botched Call of the Year
The play I’m choosing to honour wasn’t actually botched. It was technically the correct call by the rules. But it gets special honour a) because its such an obscure rule that I doubt anyone but Al Bradbury knew it even existed and b) because the explanation made Andre Proulx look like a skilled orator by comparison.

I’m talking of course about The Card rule. Jon Ryan successfully executed a fake kick with a completion to Kienan LaFrance for a first down. But to loosely paraphrase Bradbury, he was an eligible player, playing an ineligible position, on an even numbered Sunday, during the vernal equinox, (plus about 4 conditions I’m sure I missed) therefore… Card Rule, repeat 3rd down.

What’s crazy is that the Card Rule came up again like 2 weeks later. From unknown infraction to award winner. It’s been quite the year for the Card Rule.  

The Commercial I Didn’t Get Sick of Seeing Even Though TSN Made Me Watch It 54,297 Times Award
The winning commercial is hilarious and gets bonus points because I’m surprised it got past the censors.

                    





Most Insulted Sports Figure
Early in the season it looked like Solomon Means would run away with this award… fitting because “run away” seemed to be what he did when tasked with covering somebody. But when he got benched a new front runner emerged… our beloved punter.

Look, I realize that in Saskatchewan, talking ill of Jon Ryan is a crime akin to talking ill of perogies, or farming. So let me preface this by saying, Jon Ryan is a talented punter. He had a great NFL career and he does great things in the community. With all that said, the fact remains he was an average at best punter this season despite being the highest paid. 

I probably wouldn’t have had such a big issue with him if his tires weren’t continually being pumped by the local media and fans. Kicking it farther than anyone isn’t a particularly useful skill if you have no ability to direct it somewhere other than the middle of the field or completely outkick your coverage in the process. While stats would show that he wouldn’t crack the top 4 punters in the league this year, evidently any stat that doesn’t attest to his greatness is made up.

My tireless crusade against the hype machine made Ryan the most insulted sports figure this season.

Previous Winners: Brandon Bridge, Steve McAdoo, The Riders Secondary, Any Rider QB not named Durant, Pat Neufeld, Chris Getzlaf, Ryan Dinwiddie, Jim Daley, Michael Bishop x 2, Marcel Bellefeuille

Fans’ Choice Douche-Bag of the Year
You the fans have spoken in record numbers. We almost doubled the previous record for total votes for this award. We also set a record for write in votes, almost all of which went to Brandon Banks. This was also the closest the award has ever been. A solitary vote separated the winner from second place. One vote!

With 38.7% of the votes (edging out Andrew Harris)…Simoni Lawrence is your Fans’ Choice Douchebag of the Year.

No doubt the hit on Collaros on the 3rd play of the season was what was the deciding factor for most of you but despite his claims that “he’s not a dirty player” he was fined on 2 more occasions for dirty play. Once for twisting a guy’s leg and once for another head shot. The fact that he was only suspended once is more of a sign of how insanely toothless the CFL discipline process is rather than how not awful Lawrence is.

I’m rather conflicted about Lawrence. On hand we should probably thank him because without him we don’t discover Fajardo. On the other hand, he inadvertently set in motion a series of events that led to Winnipeg winning the Grey Cup. That alone makes him a douchebag around here.

Previous Winners: Jason Maas x2, Cory Chamblin, Chris Jones, Jon Cornish x2, Henry Burris, Dwight Anderson, Mike Kelly, Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy