The Riders will return to the practice field this week after a bye week. Ahead lays a difficult set of 4 games in 5 weeks to end the regular season. In Winnipeg, in Hamilton, bye, Calgary, at Calgary. The crossover is still very much in play. Staying in the west is quickly trending towards a pipe dream. Hell, with the level of play we’ve come to expect over the past 2 months, the very real possibility of missing the postseason entirely for the first time since 2016 is not really a surprise to anyone.
With a merciful reprieve from having a the results of a Rider game to curse about, I spent the bye week thinking about where the team is at and what the issues seem to be.
I kept coming back to one word: Leadership.
I’m not talking about the GM and the coaches and the formal leadership (don’t get me wrong, there are issues there but that’s not what’s been bugging me). I’m talking about the guys in the locker room, the informal leaders. I struggled putting my finger on the issue but then it became crystal clear the moment I asked this question: Who are the leaders on this team? I honestly don’t know the answer.
I think back to previous teams and you could point to guy like Durant, Dressler, Makowsky, LaBatte, Eddie Davis, Hunt, Schultz, Elimimian and you knew they were recognized leaders. Then I look at this team and honestly I can’t tell you who the leaders are. In theory it should be Fajardo but I don’t get the sense he runs that locker room. I don’t think he’s hated but I don’t think he’s one of those guys that when he speaks everyone listens… especially the defensive guys (who may honestly resent anything associated with the offense at this point). So if not him then who? The only natural leader would be Clark and he’s not on the field. So maybe Evans and Moore?? Honestly, tell me who the offensive leader is?
the defense (who seems to have it more together as a unit), who’s the
guy? The only guys who seems universally respected is Hughes. Anytime he makes
an impact play the whole team just to seems to raise the energy level. He has the respect of the group. The LB group
(Dean, Moncrief, Sankey) I think would be core the leadership but are they the
kind of leaders that the whole team listens to? Or are they only leaders within
The only other leader I see on the team is Lauther. And while I have the utmost respect for Lauther and I believe the team does too, if we are relying on a kicker to be a leader on a struggling team then we’re in trouble.
are who we are at this point. There are no reinforcements coming. There are no
coaching changes coming. The ability to salvage some shred of hope out of what left
of this season lies more with what the leaders in the locker room step up and
do than it does with anything Dickenson can do.
Who will be our Shane Falco? Our Bobby Boucher? Our Mox?