Saturday the 2-1 Riders look to avenge a thorough ass kicking when the 1-2 Alouettes come to town. The Riders will be looking to show that last week was just a one off. The Alouettes will be looking to do the exact opposite. Harlequin is playing halftime so you just know that will attract all the demographics that the team needs to grow the fan base and not just further target the old white man demographic.
We should find out pretty quickly how much of last week’s “performance” can be attributed to a road game on a short week and how much of it can be attributed to larger issues. I tend to be an optimist in this instance and think that some much needed rest will fix much of the utter crap we saw last week. Most… but certainly not all.
Defense is where I have some faith. Despite the offense and special teams actively working against them they allowed 1 long TD on a busted play and other than that just 5 FGs. Give them some rest and they should be fine. Als will get Wieneke back this week so we will not be able to focus our effort solely on Lewis this time around. Als didn’t run on us in a short week so I don’t see that changing this time around. Harris did carve through us with 72% accuracy… and in true Trevor Harris fashion managed to turn that into just 1 TD and many FGs. Need to turn up the pressure early on Harris and do what we can to limit Geno Lewis. On a short week the D allowed just 23 points, no reason not to expect that to dip below 20.
Now under normal circumstances a defense allowing under 20 would give you insanely good odds of winning. Well this is the Riders and we never do things the easy way. More than one practice will help some of the coordination of the O-line… but Bandy was the least of our issues at OL last game. Short week doesn’t account for the suck factor, that’s what is referred to as a pre-existing condition. I would hope that at a minimum the interior of the line stabilizes a bit. Na’Ty Rodgers remains an absolute liability at tackle and Vaughn is not yet playing where he was in 2019. I would honestly settle just for the line not letting Sewell saunter through at will without even slowing him down. The way the game went last week certainly dictated very little running. Assuming we can make it through the opening kickoff without giving the Als an insurmountable lead we need to lean heavy on the run. Even if its not getting a ton of yards early we need to stay committed. Second and 7 is better than second and praying Fajardo isn’t dead.
I’m somewhat concerned about our passing attack (a shocking statement I know). I’ve talked a lot about how you can tell Shaq is Cody’s guy. A large part of the resurgence of our deep passing game has been to Shaq. So losing him from an already struggling pass game is not ideal. To me this is where Duke has to step up and earn every penny of his overly inflated contract. He’s paid to be THE guy and we need to lean on him and he needs to produce accordingly. Obviously Baker becomes the #2 guy but we really need a strong #3 option to make this work. Maybe Prall can step up, maybe its Jones or Aristilde (aka new-Roosevelt). Duke and Baker will attract attention and we need people who can find the space that is created by that. Also need Maas to earn his keep. Duke will draw double coverage so use motion to try and create some 1 on 1 chances for him. Try getting some crossers or timing outs going to limit how long our crap O-line has to block. If there was ever a time to pump fake a WR screen and take a deep shot this is it. (Side note: to my knowledge we pumped faked the screen once last season only to end up checking down to a swing pass). Also its pretty apparent that we need FBs and extra OL to assist with pass blocking. We could have all the open receivers in the world and it won’t matter if Cody has 0.5 seconds before finding himself under a pile of Alouettes.
Special Teams can’t suck. You need at least 2 phases to be good to win and lord knows we are not counting on the offense. At a minimum better kick coverage and less crappy punting is needed. A big return would be a bonus but I’ll settle for not actively working against us.
A rested team and a home crowd helps balance the scales but I would not say we enter this game with any kind of advantage. Given that ugly wins seems to be the only wins we are interested in, odds are this will be ugly. Defense will keep the score low, offense will do the same. We’ll need to mount some kind of comeback, most likely sparked by a defensive turnover. But somehow, some way, the Riders find a way to steal a win.
Riders by a Lauther FG.