Sorry for the lack of posting over the last couple weeks. I’ve been on a well deserved vacation… ok the “well deserved” part may be up for debate. Fortunately, during my absence its not like there were any notable happenings. You know like 4 blown achilles or people allowed in the stands at Mosaic for the first time in 2 years or a provincial controversy over Spitz not being allowed at Rider games anymore. Yep it was certainly a quiet couple of weeks.
But the vacation is over and its time to get to work. The season starts a week from Friday (holy crap!) and that means I’m going to have to remember how to write game previews and post-game analysis with all the intelligent commentary and irreverent humour you have come to expect over the years. Much like the football we will be watching, expect the first couple weeks of regular blogging to be sloppy and error-filled… that is to say more sloppy and error-filled than usual.
The question I get the most often (aside from “Is that smell coming from you?) is: How do you think the Riders will do this year? That’s a complicated question because honestly, after 2 years off, no one knows how any team is going to do… other than the RedBlacks, they will do terrible. It’s a crapshoot. Some stars will probably look like they haven’t missed a beat, and others may look like they forgot how not to suck. Looking specifically at the West, any team could realistically win it and any team could realistically lose it.
So following a string of retirements and achilles injuries (seriously, 1 I get it happens; 2 freak accident; 3 why are you still doing this?!?; 4 mother of god how did continuing seem like a good idea… but I digress) how do the Riders look?
There’s a lot to like: Offensive weapons look strong. Fajardo running a competent OC’s playbook (and not whatever the hell McAdoo used to run) should be great. He’s got his core stars returning too with Powell, Evans and Moore. We will be running 2 Canadian WRs and have great depth there. If Lenius/McInnis or Harty can step up we are looking good (with Jana, Picton and Schaefer-Baker waiting in the wings). The issue with the offense is the Line that holds it all together. One rookie tackle (Assuming Vaughn is healed by Game 1) and a new mix in the interior does not exactly instill confidence. I think our starting 5 will be OK but the depth is a serious concern all the sudden. So we are an injury away (or a slow healing Vaughn) from Fajardo getting the old Mike Reilly treatment.
Defensively, the secondary will be strong. I don’t even mind the D-line. I liked them a whole lot better with Bishop and Geter but a line featuring Micah and Leonard should be okay. Plus guys like Marino sound promising (at least as promising as you can be when not playing against another team). Certainly not a top end D-line yet, but capable. The big question mark is at linebacker. I just don’t know what to expect there. The loss of Dean is massive. Try and remember the last dominant D without a rock solid middle linebacker. I think we have guys with tons of potential but when the bullets start flying for real is when we will actually know what we have.
So at this point I would put us firmly in the race for the top of the west but no longer the leading contender as of right now. Can’t wait until Aug 6th so we can see it for real.