Riders 17 – Stamps 23
There was a huge sense of deja vu watching the game on Saturday. It played out almost the exact same as the week before. Defense started out struggling but eventually shut it down and did their job. Offense was MIA for the bulk of the game and showed up super late in the game to make for a dramatic finish. But this time around we proved that is not a sustainable plan. We are not a good enough team for the defense to take the first quarter off or the offense to take most of the game off and expect to win. Calgary is not a great team as was without their best 2 receivers and we let them off the hook.
Jason Shivers seems to be really good at in game adjustments and his D consistently adjusts to lock things down. He’s not been doing great at game prep though as 2 games in a row we’ve come out super flat and put us in an early hole. I don’t want to rag too much on the D too much. The allowed 9 points over the final 3 quarters, forced 2 turnovers and had 3 sacks. They gave us a chance to win as they usually do. The sad thing is their performance could have been even better if not for their early game nap, more untimely penalties and way too many missed tackles. So many time we had a body on the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage only to give up 7 yards because we couldn’t secure the tackle. Nick Marshall needs to be benched pure and simple. Look he has one skill: coverage. He can’t tackle in the open field to save his soul, or even attempt to use his arms when tackling. Add to that the fact that he gets beat more than he should and most infuriatingly consistently takes stupid penalties. The definition of 2021 Marshall was on the first drive, he got beat, gave up 32 yards and added an idiotic penalty on top of that. At this point his negatives outweigh the positives and maybe some time on the bench would smarten him up.
As for our offense, I got asked after the game whether its Maas or Fajardo that’s the issue and I’ve been thinking on that one for a while. The honest answer is that its both. Actually there’s a third factor… our O-line is not very good (Jefferson has been awful in the last 2). Better protection up front would make both Maas and Fajardo look a lot better. Here’s my case for why its Maas. Really weird play calling decisions. Going for its on 3rd and 2 early was a bad decision. Just punt it and help out your D. But if you are going to go for it on 3rd and 2 from your own end why on earth would you call the one play that we suck more than anything at?! We suck at the deep ball. Take 5 yards and keep the drive going. Yes Moore was open and yes Cody made the right read but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a terrible call. Another thing I hated was that Kyran Moore (our best receiver) was reduced to not running routes beyond the line of scrimmage for the majority of the game. You noticed instantly the boost it gave us when Moore actually started running real routes and picking up yards. Use your playmakers to make plays not stand there waiting to get hit on the world’s most obvious swing passes. I didn’t like the bomb to Louis either. We had time on the clock and the play that is least likely to succeed for us this season is a long bomb (especially when its into double coverage). It just doesn’t make sense that we spend all game on the high percentage plays and then get risky at the exact moment we should not.
As for Fajardo, he’s a tough SOB but I’m guess he’s nicked up way worse than he’s letting on and its affecting his play. He’s also making some bad reads and forcing balls where there is obviously too much coverage. He’s also just plain missing guys. I said I hate the 3rd down gamble to Moore but it was there and Cody missed it. He also managed a time count on the first play of a possession change, that’s rookie mistakes. Also didn’t help him that Brayden Lenius’ head was somewhere in a different timezone. I like Lenius and bad games happen but it was obvious to everyone but Maas and Cody that it was a waste of a play to target him late in the game. The only positives on O were Powell (he got a healthy workload and made the most of it) and Baker. What more can you say about this kid?
Speaking of positives… Brett F’N Lauther!! Dude has shook off an early season slump to be back to automatic on his kicks and those onside kicks were a thing of beauty. His placement was great and he read the kick coverage perfect to identify that the dribble up the middle was open. He also sacrificed his body to ensure he made the play. We got 99 problems but a kicker ain’t one.
The frustrating thing is that despite all the issues I just listed, that was a winnable game. We aren’t a bad team but we are reminding me a lot of the Barrett era Riders of late. Good enough to hang with anyone but too inconsistent for sustained success.
Other random thoughts:
- I would much prefer he didn’t do it but that hit by Fajardo to prevent an INT was an earthquake! Can you imagine having to be that defender in the film room watching you get decleated by a QB?
- Not sure what Jamal Morrow was thinking on that missed FG return. Thought about conceding (which he should have) and then just briskly jogged out to offer himself up to the defenders.
- Still can't believe Rob Black used the term "unmolested". How is that in your vocabulary?