Saturday, Stamp-toberfest shifts to Regina, as Round 2 takes place at Mosaic Stadium. The Riders will be looking to atone for the defeat last week and hoping the hometown crowd will give them a needed boost.
I could sum up my analysis of this game with 2 points. If the Riders wants to win they need to A) start playing defense before the 3rd drive and B) start playing offense before the 4th quarter. That’s it. That’s the recipe to success. /End blog post. Last week we spotted the Stamps a 14 point lead and scored just 7 points over the first 3 quarters and still had a chance to win, on the road. Our problems are many, but in spite of them we still have chances to win games. Imagine what we could do with a full 60 minutes out of both sides?
The talk of the week has been Fajardo’s post game comments. Look, dude got fired up after a loss. Anyone whose played team sports has had teammates be pissed in the moment and it works itself out over a post game drink. So I’m not too worried about it. At least he cares. I think the key point in his frustrations are less about the receivers and more about not feeling confident chucking it deep when you absolutely need a first down (let’s maybe try plays that do make our QB feel confident). One final point on this, to be fair, Fajardo also needs to throw up balls that give his receivers an actual 50/50 chance. A lot of the recent passes have been more like 45/45/10 balls with 2 defenders having a better shot at it that the receiver.
Okay onto the game…
Since we are talking offense already, let’s start there. One thing we desperately need to fix is our tendency to start as slow as if we were fielding 12 senior citizens who recently had hip replacements. We average 4.3 first quarter points and if you exclude that Game 1 explosion against BC the number is 2.9 points over the past 7 games. Less than a FG is what we average in the first quarter! Very difficult to win with that. We now have film on how Calgary is going to defend us, use that and come out with an aggressive attack. We need a first quarter TD to swing momentum to us and get the crowd engaged. As bad as his last game was, I’m going back to Lenius. He’s been reliable up until last week and as awesome as Schaefer-Baker is, pinning everything on him is not going to be helpful. We also need to keep getting Moore moving up field. He’s as good at avoiding the first tackle as anyone but the negative yard swing passes aren’t working. He’s a good receiver, use him accordingly. Powell has been delivering so don’t forget about him. But it’s going to start upfront. O-line has not been good enough. Lauderdale is practicing and the line seemed to suck less with him but even if he plays, I don’t think we can suddenly expect our line to suck less. That means helping them out with St John, Dupuis and Awachie in as extra blockers. Also let them run block more (Jefferson is a good run blocker but really struggling in pass protection of late). Moving Fajardo’s launch point with roll outs will help too.
Defensively we need to see two things. Start playing before spotting a 2 TD lead and tackle! Way too many missed tackles last week. A suggestion might be to try using your arms in the tackle attempt rather than assuming your shoulder is enough to get the job done (our DBs are really bad at that). I want to see Micah get another chance to put hits on Bo. I also really want to see Bo throw another pick because the crowd will be all over him. I’m fairly confident in our D. Last game if you exclude the first drive (where they were clearly not prepared) and the second drive (where our offense stupidly gifted Calgary the ball on our side of half) they allowed just 150 yards the rest of the game and that’s with a ton of missed tackles. Obviously Calgary will have some new wrinkles but if our D-line can be disruptive upfront again, then we should be ok.
If Calgary wins, they take the season series and are right back in the battle for second in the west. We win and we go up 3 games on them with 5 remaining. After the bye we have 4 of 5 on the road to finish the season. Can’t afford to waste a home game.
I could do without the last second dramatics… but unfortunately I think that’s something we are going to have to get used to. We don’t believe in style points or doing things the easy way. So, while I see us winning, I don’t see me enjoying the roller-coaster ride that leads to said win.
Riders by a Fajardo TD super late in the game. I have a feeling after showing his frustration, he’s going to take the team on his back and will us to victory to the tune of like 75+ yards rushing… I just hope he doesn’t break himself in the process.