A lot of hype is being made of Chris Jones returning to Saskatchewan… and I don’t get it. I have no ill will towards Jones. He inherited a god awful football team and turned us into consistent contenders. Sure he broke a few rules and sure he didn’t give a crap whether people liked him (which never sits will in Riderville) but he did his job and won a lot of games. We also can’t be mad that he left because a) he has literally done it in everyplace he’s even been (screw those high school kids) and b) he arrived here because we convinced him to bolt from Edmonton.
Much like when he arrived here in 2016, he has inherited a roster devoid of talent. The hilarious thing to me is that he just copied and pasted his rebuild plan from Saskatchewan and hopes that 6 years later it still works. Gainey, Henry, Elam, Holley, Arceneaux, Mrabure, general disregard for any QB on the roster, Duron at CB… it’s like déjà vu. It has me convinced we are a week or 2 away from uncovering a pre-practice squad and Edmonton attempting to sign Greg Hardy.
The key in this one will be not getting cocky. Look, I get it, Edmonton’s first game was so sad it almost made you feel bad for laughing at it. But I never read too much into the first game of the season. I still think Edmonton is a bad team… but maybe not that bad. And sure we ended up handily beating a stronger opponent but we only put in about half a game worth of effort on O so now is not the time for overconfidence.
Let’s start on defense. Each week my love for Coach Shivers grows… we are only a few weeks away from things becoming creepy. I actually think Edmonton might have a better OL than Hamilton. That said, I don’t think they are great and the bar to be better than Hamilton is low. I do expect another strong game from our DL. If BC’s line can get 4 sacks then we can get more. Derel Walker is out (and I honestly can’t remember the last time he was actually good) so Lawler is really the only receiver we need to worry about. I would like to think that we can handle the aged ghosts of Riders receivers past (Manny, Holley). Can’t let the run game with Wilder be a factor but I think our LBs combined with McAdoo’s general aversion to good offense will handle that issue. Its McAdoo so expect any QB on the roster to randomly get in a for a play (which was always super effective when he did it here). I expect another strong performance from the D heavy on sacks and turnovers.
Offensively we need more second half goodness and less first half “best sleep aid there is”. Duke is 50/50. He could likely play since he’s tough as nails but early in the season it may be wise to be cautious. Shaq and Baker can carry the load with spot help from Prall and McInnis. Would love to see a stronger run game. Outside of Ceresna, the Elks don’t have near the talent on the D-line that Hamilton D. Our line held their own against a good D-line. This game will be a great chance for them to step up a prove that be more than adequate. I look at that Elks roster and honestly outside of Ceresna, Gainey may legitimately be their next best defender. I love and respect the hell out of Gainey but at this point if he’s the best anything other than defender who attended Appalachian State then it’s not good. Jones will eventually get that D up to his standards but he just doesn’t have the talent yet. If Cody is just smart with the ball and limits mistakes then we should easily put up more points than whatever our D will allow. In all honesty the only points I expect our D to surrender are Marshall biting on another short route and allowing an easy TD.
We need to show up and play but we are a better team at this point so we should win provided we put in the effort and don’t just coast in there expecting them to hand us the victory.
Riders by 14.
Side note: do you think Jones gets new black shirts everywhere he goes? Or does he just ask them to remove the old logo and iron on the new logo to his existing shirts?