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.
I have to say your analysis is pretty spot on at this point.Riders have had the most adversity other then edm thus far.This will be another strange season like 2019 but 4 games shorter and obviously a month behind.But it’s more how you finish as bombers proved that year. Not to compare to them,but it’s allowed this 1 time.
Since that’s all they’ve done for the last 3 decades.Something tells me that all that yapping and brow beating will bite them in the end. And sometimes a bit of adversity can give you an edge when games really matter.
For the record. IMO AC's excuse doesn't hold any water. You should know when you refuse to take the test, urine trouble.
The Good - Don't have to play Winnipeg again till playoffs. The D, if it stays away from suspensions & injuries, should be fine.
The Bad - Offence scoring 4.8 pts/game on passing. Maas offence on full display. Marching down field but settling for FG's too often. Same criticism as on last 2 stops. How do you fix the offence? Right now, I don't have the answers & I'm not sure the coaches do either.
The Ugly - Penalties - up to 600 minutes in 5 games. That pace would surpass Edmonton's worst total in 2019 over 18 games. Has to stop.
How fast does Chris Jones get the D up to speed in TO? Argos, with Jones on board on deck. Glen Young & Josh Bell let go. Rumour has it they weren't vaccinated, against policy for MLSE. Should be a REALLY fun week in Regina with CJ on the sidelines, I expect.
Down The Stretch In The West
After LD doubleheader - what next?
Winnipeg - My pick MOP so far - Collaros. My pick D MOP so far - Jefferson. Separating from pack. Best in CFL to date.
Saskatchewan - Injuries don't help. 1 TD vs Ottawa in last 3 games. Maas offence predictable. Arrow pointing down.
BC - momentum after Ottawa doubleheader. Played well vs Riders w/o healthy Reilly. Beat Stamps @ McMahon. Maybe 2nd best in West now.
Calgary - Got their mojo back. Maybe best receivers in league right now. Team to watch. Arrow definitely up.
Elks - could write a book. Loads of talent but...something amiss. Lots of talk of "culture" & "brotherhood". All so very kumbaya. Is a "conscious uncoupling" in the offing?
Oops. Jones will be in protocol so no sightings this time.
Last thought on the Bombers. Streaks are pretty common as can be seen very recently.
2017 - Elks start 7-0. Finish 12-6
Stamps start 13-1-1. Lose last 3 & Grey Cup
2018 - Riders start 4-4, then go 9-2
Stamps start 3-4, then go 7-1
2019 - Riders start 1-3, then go 9-1
Elks start 6-3, finish 8-10.
Bombers were 2-4 heading into playoffs. Hamilton was 6-0 going into playoffs & had beaten Bombers twice, incl. 33-13 @ IG Field in Wk 16.
I don't see Bombers going 12-2 0r 11-3. They didn't make many changes but Streveler, Rose & Sayles, & Medlock are big losses. I don't like their chances if a game comes down to making a FG late. Their kicking is awful. I see 7 teams still trying to figure things out. Well - 8, but Ottawa is a write-off even if they are only 1 win behind 3 other teams. Give it a couple of more weeks before I start awarding the top spot to the Bombers. But, they DO look good right now.
anon - It's pretty clear (even before the suspension was extended) that AC did bad. There's only one reason to refuse a drug test. Friday's post will be a lot about our woeful offense and penalty problems. The defense is not outstanding but good enough to win with so far
Pants - The Harris injury drastically changes things in the West. Also I agree, something is "off" there. I think its ELizondo
Anon 2 - Winnipeg is winning because they have the best lines. But they are beatable. Hell one TD on Labour day and its a very different story. We hung with them for half of Banjo Bowl with half a team. Right now they are the best but not invincible.
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