Friday, September 10, 2021

Riders vs. Bombers: Banjo Bowl 2021

Normally I’m a pretty upbeat guy. My highs aren’t too high. My lows aren’t too low. But this week will be a bit of an exception. If you are looking for positivity you are in the wrong place. I don’t often say this… at least in years where we have a respectable roster… but we are screwed. 

It’s not that I don’t think we can beat Winnipeg. It’s not that I don’t think we are a good team. We are good, good enough to beat Winnipeg. Some day. But if you think that coming off a loss on Labour Day, in our first road game of the year with a depleted defensive backfield is that day then I would love to know what you are ingesting… it certainly can’t be legal or cheap.

Quick history lesson for you. We do not do well in the Banjo Bowl as a general rule. We have lost 4 of the last 5 Banjo Bowl. 3 of those loses were by 15 points or more. We don’t just struggle in Winnipeg… we tend to suck. Maybe the Manitoba air has the same effect on us as it has on its residents.

So we have a game/location we do not do well of in the best of times… and this is hardly the best of times. 2 rookie tackles who have yet to have to deal with crowd noise. An offense lacking anything resembling a run game or deep ball. Last week at least we had the defense help keep the game more respectable than it should have been but now we potentially lose both starting halfbacks. Pick your reason for concern because they are ample.

But let’s pretend for a second that I were optimistic about our chances. Let’s discuss how we would go about it.

Let’s start on the defense because based on last game they are our Obi-Wan Kenobi (if you get that reference I very much respect your nerdiness). Sounds like we will get Micah back which is great. Our line did OK last week without him but we need disruptive, not just OK. After some initial problems we actually managed to clamp down the run game not bad last week. Micah should help that even more. The issue comes in trying to play pass coverage without both starting HB. I don’t know Richie Hall personally but I will assume he’s smart enough to attack that. That will place even more importance on our line getting pressure. Inexperienced secondary and QB time in the pocket is a recipe for curse words and remotes through TVs.

Offensively this is a big test. We’ve been punched in the mouth. Question is, can we punch back or will we just lie there as they kick us in the crotch while the fans plead “stop, stop, they are already dead”? I can’t imagine Fajardo having a game that bad again. Do I expect him to suddenly start carving up the Bombers? No. But I have faith that he can must some offense (please Cody don’t shatter my blind faith). Had we had even “some” offense last week, we could have realistically won, so every bit helps.

What would really help is a run game. Any run game. Even the rip off Wish version of a run game. That’s the Bombers weakness and we need to attack. Lots of talk about how Toronto showed the blue print of how to beat the bombers… run. That’s true but you need to look a bit deeper for the full story. See the Argos’ RBs actually had pretty much the same amount of yards in the loss to Winnipeg the week before. But 2 things differentiated it. 1 – was the amount of carries 14 in the loss vs. 22 in the win (for the record our RBs have topped 14 carries just once this season). 2 - (and what I think is most important) – is when the carries occurred. In their 4 wins here were the number of second half RB carries against the Bombers: 2, 7, 4, 3. When the Argos won it was 14 and that wasn’t because they were nursing a big lead. They just actually stayed committed to running for the full game, while most teams just give up trying in the second half. We have a very bad habit of that. In our 4 games, RBs have had 6 or less second half carries in 3 of them. Wanna not have Jefferson and Jeffcoat being a major factor? Don’t let them tee off on your QB by only passing. We knew all along that the short passing game that worked so good early would need to evolve to stay effective. Well now is that time Mr. Maas. Chuck a Gatorade cooler, curse someone out and get to work.

In a game we are likely to struggle in, it would be a hell of a time for Morrow to get a return TD. Its going to take a big momentum changing play like that for us to emerge from Winnipeg with more than just the stench of Manitoba.

I see the game going this way. Offense plays a bit better, defense plays a bit worse. In the end the result is about the same, a 2 TD loss. We have the talent to pull off the upset but I don’t see it happening in this one. Too much working against us. I will honestly settle for the moral victory of seeing our offense not play like complete and utter garbage. And by “settle” I mean I will curse at the top of my lungs for 3 hours and then when I calm down later appreciate the moral victory.

Better days are coming, but we need a bit more patience.

Bombers by 14


Anonymous said...

Boy, you nailed it. No run game coupled with no deep threat to keep D's honest & slow down the rush. In the LDC the Bombers played tight on all the short stuff & immediately shut it down (see YAC per completion for all receivers). You have to commit to the run & hope Powell can do something with that. Add in a splash of Cody, but not too much.
With Evans gone, there goes our deep ball threat. We have 2 - TWO - completions of 30 & 31 yds to Lenius all year to at least register in the 30 yd category. With all the spreading around of the ball by Maas what happened to training camp hypes (1) McRoberts - one start (2) the new improved, healthy, veteran of our National corps, Harty? 4 games ZERO targets. Ferland has 1 target which also matches much hyped Jana, 2 games.
Rider Rumblings 88 topic this week - "Is the Offensive arsenal depleted?" The point is made that the Rider import receivers don't stack up. Not surprising. I have stated in other columns going into 2021 that the imports on hand beyond Evans, Moore & Williams-Lambert had ZERO CFL appearances. Never really replaced the experience lost with Roosevelt, Arcenaux & Thigpen who took up 32.8% of team targets in 2019. The injured Evans took up another 20%. That's asking a lot for the neophytes to take up. And who are they? McRoberts & Louis are the only 2 options who have hit the field. Not great. At some point we have to see what McRoberts, the all world PR player, has, no? Is he the real deal or Terence Nunn? Find out.
This is a big game. I expect BC to win this week & IF the Elks beat Calgary there's a 3 way tie for 2nd. The possibility exists that two double losers of Labor Day will meet @ Mosiac next game & that would be a huge game for both followed up with a game @ BC before the 3 game tilt with, what might be, a desperate Calgary club. Two of them in Calgary where we traditionally don't do well.
So - big game for sure. Lose the season set & the Bombers effectively have left us behind barring an errant knock on the noggin to Collaros. Fingers crossed, RP.

Anonymous said...

For good measure, now Leonard is out 2 games. Yikes

Govind said...

I understand the nerd reference. Normally I would look at your score and say "I find your lack of faith disturbing" However in this case I have to disagree. You know things are in bad shape in Riderville when Prophet makes a rare error. Buck Pierce will be calling plays for the Bomber O and not Richie Hall. ALthough if things are going really bad for the Riders maybe the Bombers will decide to have fun in the 4th quarter and switch coordinator responsibilities.

Rider Prophet said...

Anon 1 - When we had "the big 3" (Evans, Moore, JWL) we were fine. But Evans being out and JWL being constantly nicked up has left us with one decent import WR... that's a problem. Harty was clearly brought in to play teams and provide depth (and no more). Its telling that Picton and Schaefer-Baker are getting reps ahead of him.

Anon 2 - Yikes is an understatement

Gov - That may be the most polite way ever to tell me I screwed up. Haha. As a sign of how bad it is, it took me a minute to figure out what you were talking about haha.