Riders 9 – Bombers 33
I’m not sure that game could have gone much worse short of Craig Dickenson being arrested because he pulled down his pants and started helicoptering the crowd. I expected a lopsided loss, we got a lopsided loss but it seems that the football gods determined that wasn’t enough pain for Rider fans (who have actually built up a fairly high tolerance for pain over decades of suffering) and piled a whole bunch more great news on top of that.
Oddly enough, in some ways I feel better coming out of that game than I did coming out of Labour Day. On Sunday the team showed me something. Which was a stark increase over the nothing they showed on Labour Day. Offense still isn’t good enough but they remembered that running is a legal play and actually went toe to toe with the best team in the CFL for the first half. And the defense… I don’t think I’ve ever been this impressed by a 33 point outing. When you consider that we were already down 3 starters coming into the game and then lost another 4 throughout the game, their performance through the first 3 quarters is nothing short of incredible. Despite all odds (and being an injury away from seeing how Jon Ryan looked at safety) they kept us in that game for 3 quarters. Everything kinda went to hell in the 4th but really, is that at all surprising? So I don’t like the outcome but I saw enough heart and effort in that game to give me hope that better games are coming our way soon.
Offensively we started out pretty good… or at least as good as an offense can be without scoring a TD for the better part of a calendar month. Powell was fed the ball early and often with great result. We carried the ball 7 times in the second half… that’s unheard of for us. Fajardo was making better reads and moving the ball. For all the talk of McRoberts vs. Louis I think we need to be focusing more on Schaefer-Baker because he’s shown me more than both those guys combined. O-line even occasionally did their job. The running helped but go back and look at that long pass to Lenius and see what Fajardo can do when he gets time. Now the bad was of course that the endzone continues to elude us. Starting the wonder if Jason Maas has some sort of traumatic childhood memory related to the endzone because he sure seems to avoid it. O-line had their moments but were nowhere near consistent and it seemed to get worse as the game wore on. We are also clearly lacking Shaq. Moore is a great receiver and I like Lenius, Baker and Lambert when he’s healthy but none of them are a true #1. Last year Shaq was a guy Fajardo leaned on when we needed a play. We don’t have that this year and its showing. I think we have a lot of #2 WRs but no #1s. And then we have Jake Harty who drops his only target in 4 years. I hope Fajardo is ok because our offense has barely been competent with him playing. No offense to Harker but this endzone drought could stretch a while if Cody is out.
Defensively as I said, what was left of those defenders deserve huge props, as does Jason Shivers. Realistically the whole game should have looked like the 4th quarter but they held their own for three quarters. So there’s not much I can criticize when your essentially fielding your scout team D. But its me and I’m bitter so there will be some criticism. I was a big preseason hyper of Blace Brown. But with every passing game he keeps getting exposed more and more as a liability and he’s trending towards my hate list. Also, Marshall is a great cover guy but he is a terrible tackler. He can’t play halfback as he looked lost out there when he wasn’t locked up on a specific receiver. Mak Henry was apparently trying for the high score in the game of going offside. He’s a great rotation guy along the line in terms of his strength but he cannot go a game without taking 15 yards in penalties minimum. At some point you gotta sit him until he stops being a liability.
I will almost always defend the refs. They have an insanely difficult job and most of the time they get it right. But it’s becoming a regular occurrence that they do something so wild that even I (one their biggest supporters… except Bradbury, I hate that guy) have to chime in. Inconsistency is what bugs me more than anything. I will not argue that both Hendy and Romero deserved to be tossed. Bone headed, selfish play by both. But a ref had a front row seat to Andrew Harris ripping off a guy’s helmet while throwing him to the ground, knew it was bad enough to warrant a flag but didn’t eject him. C’mon Man! It was so blatantly a bad call that Glen Suitor called them out and he will try to explain away even the most egregious reffing errors. While not nearly as rage inducing, the non-PI call on the pass the Louis also bugs me from a consistency point of view. I think it was PI but it was borderline enough that you could probably argue a non-PI call… except for the fact that multiple times I have seen stuff way less blatant be called (anyone who watched the Cal/Edm game saw evidence of that). It was the one time in my life I wished Bradbury was reffing, he woulda called it. Be consistently good, be consistently bad. I don’t care but be consistent.
Lots of doom and gloom in Riderville following 2 losses where we did our part and social distanced from the endzone. So where does this leave us? I think these last 2 games showed that Winnipeg is the top team in the CFL and we aren’t yet good enough to hang with them for a full game. We’re closer than the scores in the games might indicate but we are not there yet. But I still think we are a good team. Above the below and below the upper (and right now the only upper is Winnipeg). In theory Toronto is a big test game but for me that depends on how many starters we get back. A depleted roster might extend our misery a bit longer. But when healthy I still think we are a good team.
Other random thoughts:
Do you get the feeling that we are cursed? Like I’m getting some serious 2018 vibes where in theory we have a good roster but life just keeps hitting us like a football to the groin?
Was anyone else ready to put their fist through their TV when the announcers kept going on and on about the band and the choir. We are already suffering enough, that ridiculous exchange that never seemed to end was just piling on.
3 of the 4 kickers to play the Riders this season have done their best to kick their way out of a job.
It continues to bother me to no end that after years of faithful devotion to the walking injury that was Zach Collaros he now exists as this shining beacon of perfect health who exists only to spite us and its our QB that's getting hurt.