Riders 27 – Bombers 45
We all know that I expected us to lose. So the outcome of the game was not a big surprise. It was exactly like I said it would be, close until half and then slowly slips away. But which particular side of the ball let us down was more surprising than Kim Mitchell taking liberties with the timing of a song people want to sing along to (seriously Kim, that’s not the song to take creative liberties with). In a surprising role reversal, the offense did their job and the defense came up shorter than Peter Dinklage’s belt line.
I think (or at least I really want to believe) that a lot of what we saw on defense was a result of playing on 4 days rest. D-line had no push. Secondary’s coverage was porous. Jeremy Clark had the worst game I have ever see him play as a Rider. Not sure I have been more disappointed in a DB’s performance since the days of James Johnson. You would have assumed that Williams (who was filling in for Marshall) would have been the weak link but he did alright all things considered. Certainly a high effort player. It did not help things that Dalke was not able to play for most of the game. A reminder that Lokombo was a second overall pick and Dalke was a 5th round afterthought. Would we have won the game with more rest? Probably not, if I’m being honest. But I think we will see a much better effort out of the defense when they get a full week rest.
I will add that no less than 3 times I saw Hardrick move early. Ref somehow didn’t see it even though it was early even by Ray Elgaard standards. I was amazed to finally see Winnipeg get a holding call. Their line gets away with a lot.
It’s amazing to watch Trevor Harris play QB and then reflect on what we thought starting QB caliber play was the past 2 years. He was far from perfect and still needs to limit his mistakes but god damn were some of those passes beautiful! Deep balls that were dropped just over coverage and hit receivers in the hands (as opposed to blindly chucking it and praying the WR can bail you out). Keeping eyes down field and stepping up into the pocket (instead of spinning left and turtling). He had a hell of a game. In normal circumstances 27 points (particularly by recent Rider standards) should be enough to win. Once again Emilus and Bane were the guys stepping up. This week we added Tevin Jones to that list. Curious if someone watched closely enough to see if Wieneke is invisible because he’s drawing the bulk of the defense's attention or if he’s just a non-factor for the most part? There is hope for a passing attack on the prairies.
What is not making people hopeful is the run game. You know, the one we spent all offseason insisting would be a focus. Well the reason we aren’t making it a focus is because we suck at it. Last year our crap OL could not pass block to save their soul but the could run block. This year it somehow switched and we are mildly competent at the more difficult pass blocking and utterly useless at run blocking. No push, no holes. It’s a struggle. Maybe the anticipated return of Jerald Hawkins can help… otherwise there’s not really much to do other than hope the current group suddenly stops sucking.
Speaking of sucking. Craig Dickenson has many good qualities as a head coach but he remains one of the worst at managing a clock that I have ever seen. The decision to kick a FG from the 12 yard line with 7 minutes left down 14 points is inexcusable incompetence. It literally decreased our odds of victory. You still needed 2 TDs and gave them better starting field position then if you gambled and didn’t get it on 3rd. There was no way to justify that call. Then on the next drive the play calling was brutal. I don’t care if it worked, a WR screen was a dumb call at that point in the game. It was followed by some short looks and Harris running as opposed to at least throwing it and hoping for a phantom PI call. We just looked completely mentally checked out by the fourth. Again, maybe the short week was a factor but we are not a good enough team to overcome self-inflicted wounds like poor coaching decisions at this point.
A loss is a loss, but I honestly thought we played better than I was expecting. Particularly on offense. Hopefully a full week’s rest will refresh this team and lead to better effort in Calgary.
Other random thoughts:
- Not taking anything away from the amazing effort by Grant on that kick return TD (or the repeated failures of our team to make a tackle when presented the opportunity) but I honestly don’t know what is and isn’t challengeable anymore. Not saying the call was wrong but there is a weird line between what isn’t challengeable and should be and what is.
- Home opener started on a strong note on the second deck. Only half the tills were open for both food and booze leading to long lines and the booze station did not have the card system working so it was exact cash only. Meaning your options for a drink were to wait in an extremely long food line for an overpriced draft beer or wait in line to pay $10 cash for a $9.50 drink. I definitely spent less money than I normally would have.
- On a positive note, the camera actually came up to the second deck for probably only the second time ever. I have been calling for this for years. Get everyone involved in being see on the big screen not just those in the first few rows of the first deck. If you were at the game you would have been lucky enough to see me and my made for internet blogging good looks show up on the MaxTron.
- Speaking of the MaxTron, the Kiss Cam had an outstanding night. First they showed just a dude sitting by himself and then all of the sudden a lady who was clearly crouching down beside him suddenly appeared looking quite embarrassed. I’m not going to allege what she may or may not have been doing down there but a less mature person than me might infer she was engaging in fellatio. Then the camera person just went for it and put two young ladies up on the screen to see if they cave. They ultimately did not but props to the camera person for giving it the old college try.