Here is the situation facing the Riders: they are screwed. Just more of the high quality analysis you’ve come to expect from me.
Since people are still talking about playoff scenarios for some reason, I guess I’ll start there. Seems like a waste of time to me but I’m nothing if not topical. There are 3 scenarios for how this plays out, all based on how the Hamilton/Ottawa back to backs set goes.
Scenario 1 – Hamilton wins both.
Impossible to make the playoffs.
Scenario 2 – Hamilton and Ottawa split the games
Riders need to beat Calgary twice to make the playoffs. A.k.a impossible.
Scenario 3 – Ottawa wins both
Riders need to beat Calgary once. A.k.a next to impossible.
You may think I’m being a tad pessimistic but we have exactly one win in the past 2 months and we only got it because a team was forced into playing a combination of O’Connor and Pipkin. Amongst our 6 wins, the only one that is remotely legitimate is beating the Als. Otherwise we have only beat a bunch of non-playoff teams and BC’s back-ups. The team has been on steady decline since July. You don’t really think that suddenly now playing a team with a winning record that is chasing a home playoff game is the time we pull out of that tailspin? My honest hope is that Hamilton wins this coming week and we lose so that all doubt is removed and we can give Mason Fine and a couple back-ups the start in the final game. That is the best case scenario at this point.
That of course then gets to the question of how deep the knife will cut when the offseason officially hits and we need to look at changes? The answer to that question is deeply rooted in the concept of the “fall guy”. As Chris Carter will tell you, everyone needs a fall guy. And particularly in sports, people's ability to maintain employment when things don’t go well lies in whether they can pin the shortcomings on a fall guy or have to wear it themselves. So let’s take a look at what that might mean for the Riders.
Craig Reynolds – When things go bad in Riderville you can count on people calling for everyone to be fired from the hotdog vendor to the President. For a couple reasons, I don’t see Reynolds going anywhere. For one, his primary job is to make sure the Riders make money and they are. Other than hiring a GM, he has nothing to do with the on-field product. He also has many fall guys at his disposal. Odds are he survives.
Jeremy O’Day – Really mixed evaluation of O’Day’s 3 seasons as GM. On one hand he has brought in a lot of talent. Robertson, Lanier, Sankey, Moncrief, Dean, Milligan, J Clark, Baker, Morrow, Hickson, etc… On the other hand despite the fact that his pre-football ops career was entirely devoted to high level O-line play, he has failed to piece together a competent line for 2 seasons in a row. Now he has fall guys at his disposal. I also believe that a GM gets at least one chance to hire a head coach before becoming the fall guy. You could argue he hired Dickenson but based on the timing of Jones’ departure he was really the only viable option. Odds are good O’Day uses a coach as his fall guy and survives to hire a new one based on a full search.
Craig Dickenson – The shine is really coming off of his coaching record. His first season was great. His second season was really good. Coming into the season it seemed far fetched to think his job was in jeopardy. But the larger trend emerging is that the team has gotten worse in each season under his guidance. I really like Dickenson but he’s giving off real Danny Barret vibes: great guy, pretty good coach, but pretty good won’t get you to the Cup. Dickenson has only one fall guy at his disposal, Maas. His issue is that unlike O’Day, Maas is second OC and he already made McAdoo a fall guy. You usually don’t get too many chances to make a fall guy in the same role. Odds are good that Dickenson is the fall guy for the Riders in 2022.
Jason Maas – He has no fall guy, which is a not a great place to be. In consecutive season he has led the Riders offense to (checks notes) 7th best offense in the league. If he can somehow spin that into a contract extension he will become the second best negotiator in the world (second only to the guy that keeps getting Kirk Cousins massive extensions).