The contrast between what this two game set with the Stamps was supposed to be and what is actually is could not be more stark. When the schedule came out this was supposed to be the Riders and Stamps renewing their rivalry, Fajardo vs. Bo to decide the top end of the West division standings. What we are actually getting is Fine vs. Maier in the Riders sad last gasps in the season before missing out on the playoffs for the first time in 6 years.
I must say I’m sick of people calling this “the most important game in the Riders season”. The playoff ship has sailed away and left us struggling to tread water in its wake. If we wanted to be in the playoff picture the games against Edmonton and Hamilton were the most important and we blew both those chances. We are not making the playoffs and the sooner people start accepting that the better things will be.
Hell of a start to the week with Cody getting a “vet day” on the first day of practice. It was so painfully obvious that Cody had been benched that even a CFL official couldn’t miss that call. Why Dickenson chose to lie only to change his tune the very next day I don’t know. But it certainly fits the narrative of the clown show this season has been. Does Fine give us a better chance to win? Probably not. But we have seen all there is to see from Cody this year and he ain’t going to win this game. So why not let Fine have a chance and see if he can rise to the challenge? At worst we find out if Fine has progressed enough to bring back in 2023.
I will say this, as much as I believe the divorce from Fajardo is necessary (for both sides) I still feel Fajardo can be a good QB… just not on this team, with this coaching staff and this O-line. Simply put the organization failed Cody. They failed to give him an OC that put him in a position to succeed and improve his skillset. They failed to give him even a mildly competent OL. They failed him by letting him play when he displayed all the mobility of current day George Reed. Certainly Cody bears responsibility in this as his play just hasn’t been great but the brunt of this falls on the organization. They could have made this work but failed to.
Ok, drama aside there is actually a football game to be played. So let’s talk about that…
Defensively there are 2 things you need to be concerned about with Calgary. First is, they run better than anyone in the league. Carey is a force and Logan is no slouch. Both average over 6 yards per carry. Want to be beat the Stamps, you gotta slow down that running attack. There is a chance we get Lanier back (which would give us a massive boost in the front 4). Other thing you gotta be concerned about is Malik Henry. He is what makes their passing attack work. When he’s out, you notice a marked drop in production. Calgary has allowed a league low 15 sacks on the year (we’ve almost done that in a game) so it won’t be easy getting pressure on Maier. Honestly this is the chance to pull out any crazy schemes Shivers has been sitting on. We’ve got nothing to lose so throw something different at Maier and see if he cracks. Expect Marshall to bite on any chance at a pick. I bet he finishes with an INT and a long TD allowed.
Offensively, let’s be honest. This is going to get ugly. No one has more sacks than the Calgary D. We are on a mission to set the all-time record for sacks allowed. We allowed 7 sacks to Hamilton who is 7th in the league in sacks. I can tell you things won’t get better in this one. We do get Jamal Morrow back. While its too little too late it will be nice to see him back out there. Early in the season he was leading the league in combined yards. We will need him. I should clarify, we should give him a massive workload but we all know he will start strong and get 2 carries after the first quarter ends. I found this stat surprising, but no one allows more yards through the air than Calgary. So they can be passed on. Last time Fine got meaningful action he threw exclusively to McInnis, Jones and Harty (bold choices). Hopefully with the benefit of a week of practicing as the starter his priorities re-align. McInnis and Harty won’t play so maybe that forces the issue. You want to look good as a QB? Throw to Baker. He’ll make you look better than you should. Kyran Moore is another guy I’d lean on. I’d say Shaq too but he’s been struggling. He’s also quite clearly a Cody guy so who knows how this will go for him. At a minimum if I can see Fine looked poised and move well in the pocket that’s something. Our offense is useless so the bar is set pretty low for Mr. Fine. Pretty much anything positive is just a bonus at this point.
We aren’t winning. This is a meaningful game against a good team. The only positive that will come out of this is that the playoffs (which have realistically been a pipe dream for many weeks now) will officially be unattainable. Then we can stop pretending and focus on starting to make moves to improve this team for next year.
Stamps by a lot.
By the way, if you are wondering if this Saturday will the final time the Riders disappoint this season, don’t forget that they still haven’t announced the halftime show. Plenty more opportunities to disappoint are yet to come.