Saturday the Riders are in Montreal to take on the Alouettes. The Riders are 3-5 in their last 8 trips to La Belle Provence. I’m hoping Covid restrictions will deter the “temptations of the night” that may have played a factor in our struggles there.
At first glance these teams would appear even matched as they both have a 6-4 record. But let me point out that 4 of Montreal’s wins came against Edmonton and Ottawa (3 times). So while the Riders boast a 6-0 record against teams not named Bombers or Stampeders. The Als boast a 2-4 record against teams that aren’t dumpster fires. I’m not saying we can take the Als lightly. I’m just giving you some context because the numbers overinflate how good they are in my opinion. Montreal gets to play Ottawa 4 times this year. If you can’t lead the lowly east division with 4 out of 14 games against the RedBlacks then your fans should get to pelt you with tomatoes while serenading you with boos.
Defensively the game will pit the Riders’ #1 Run D versus the Als’ #1 rushing attack. Stanback is a beast. In the 8 games he’s played he’s got under 80 yards just twice. Priority #1 is slowing him down. Yeah Montreal has a passing attack (which I’ll get to in a second) but if we let Stanback run all over us then we are in trouble. Limit him and we have a chance. The Als have a decent O-line but we handled Calgary’s pretty good and they are better than the Als. So limit the run game and it comes down to Matt Schiltz under pressure beating us. Were it not for the last game I would have openly mocked the prospect of Schiltz as a starter (as I did when we faced him in 2019). But he looked pretty good against the Argos. Not an all-star (completed 67% of his passes for just over 200 yards) but competent. He has the #1 and 3 receivers in the CFL in Lewis and Weineke (who also leads the CFL with 8 TDs) so we can’t discount them. What we need to do is take away the deep shot (something we have admittedly struggled at). Schiltz is a decent long ball thrower. But if you can take that away, he is the worst QB in the CFL on completion % for passes 10-19 yards… like worse then anything Ottawa has fielded. If he has the run and the deep ball he can do damage. Make him string lengthy drives together using his arm that’s advantage us. Montreal does lead the league in offensive points and net yards, and us much as it seems wrong to write, I think they are a more explosive offense then we faced in Calgary. But again to be bring context the numbers, the Als have only topped 30 points once when playing a not last place team.
Offensively we can’t rest on the laurels of last game. Sure it felt good to find the endzone twice but 20 points is hardly output worth being proud of, particularly when facing a team that can actually put points up. It would be nice if the o-line wasn’t a complete embarrassment. The Als lead the CFL in sacks, though I feel that’s a misleading stat because 17 of their 38 sacks came against Ottawa. If we apply my rule that stats against Ottawa count half then they really are only #3. Still they can get after the Qb… and we can certainly let them. Ackie likes to blitz a lot from the LB spot. We gotta run the ball. Powell had 2 first half carries last week and that’s ridiculous. This will be game 2 for Shaq so look for him to play a bigger role. I think Duke will be a 2-3 catch a game guy but they will be important catches. Still need Lenius and Moore to utilize the space that Shaq and Duke give them. Montreal has some decent talent on D. The place to attack them is the middle. Their MLB and Safety stand out on the depth chart as not being the most experienced or renowned. Run the ball, move Cody around to help the OL and most importantly score. We tend to have a down week after scoring multiple TDs and we can’t do that this week and expect to win.
Special teams could factor in this game. On the positive side, Montreal allows the 3rd most punt return yards, and 2nd most kick return yards. After playing a smothering Calgary’s cover teams, this may be our best chance to break a big one. On the other side we will have a new punter in Kaare Vedvik (side note: Roy Shivers would have killed for a punter like Vedvik… for obvious reasons). Ryan’s absence also means a new holder on FGs. Hopefully that doesn’t impact things.
Riders by a lightning strike. Is it too soon to make that joke?
Seriously, this is going be a tough game in a place we tend to struggle. I really want to laugh off Matt Schiltz but this is just the kind of game we would make him look like a star. Since it seems to be working for us, let’s stick with the really ugly, rage inducing, roundabout, last second path to victory.
Riders by a Moore TD.