Friday, June 16, 2023

Riders vs. Bombers: Short Term Pain, Long Term Gain

Friday night the Riders have their home opener as the arch-rival Bombers are in town. The Riders will be looking to remain undefeated in 2023… a goal which has similar odds of success as my goal to have Scarlett Johansson answer my call.  

The Riders’ marketing team has pulled out all the stops to attract new fans to the stadium for this home opener. From a Kim Mitchell concert, to hats for dads, to… well that’s it. The Riders’ plan to attract new fans is curiously to cater almost exclusively to their existing core demographic. Bold strategy cotton.

As much as I would love to open the season by finally beating the Bombers at home, I don’t see it happening. Look, we were in tough with a fully healthy roster. We just came off narrowly beating a not very good team and have to play on 4 days rest while the Bombers have had 6. But the injury bug has beaten us like we owe it money. Blake torn his pec. Marshall and Walker are out. Moncrief isn’t quite ready to return and of course Harris is banged up and may not play. That combination of awful news turns a likely loss into “this could get ugly”.

As much I don’t like the thought of serving up Fine to the Bombers, I think it’s the smart move for the long term benefit. Remember last year when we kept letting a very crippled Cody Fajardo play and he never got fully healthy? That went well for us. If resting Harris for one game means he will be good to go for the rest of the season then let’s be smart for once. With that said watch us trot him out and run a naked bootleg on a meaningless play again and get fully crippled.

Here's how I see this game going. Defense will keep the game close for the first half keeping us in a game we have no business being in. They will wear down in the second half and it will slowly turn into a bloodbath. It’s a shame because I think the Riders could beat the Bombers but not on a short week and not this banged up.

This will be a good measuring stick for our D-line. It’s one thing to look ferocious against the Elks but if they can be as disruptive against a much better line and QB then look out. That O-line is not dominant as it once was but it’s still pretty good. Lanier, Robertson and co will need to step up. It will be important to keep Collaros in the pocket. He’s damn-near Mahomes-like with the plays he makes on the run at times. Keep him in the pocket and pressure him. On a short week I would be looking to pound Olivera at us if I was O’Shea. Look for a heavy dose of that particularly in the second half. I want to see Dalke continue to lay big hits and make people think twice about coming over the middle. Also wouldn not be opposed to him recreating the Butler/Pierce hit on Collaros (but maybe we save that for Labour Day). I’m curious to see how Williams will do replacing Marshall. He looked really good in the preseason but that’s like saying I’m dominant at Madden when its on rookie mode.

We get a slight break offensively as Jeffcoat is out. We still need to deal with Willie Jefferson which is a scary prospect with our line. The Winnipeg D-line has been slowly declining from the their super dominant days (they were second last in sacks last season) but they are still good enough to cause us issues. I’m assuming Mason Fine plays but either way this would be a great time to lean on that run game we spent all offseason hyping. We have the RBs to do it but our O-line was awful at run blocking last game until the 4th quarter. Part of that admittedly was Edmonton sending a lot of pressure but run blocking needs to be better. We need to get a blocker past the d-line and onto Bighill or he will shut that run down quickly. Receivers are getting thin quickly. We already have no Walker, Lenius or Schaefer. That’s 3 of our top 4 receivers. We need Wieneke to step up and be a #1. He’s the guy for the foreseeable future. The only guys I saw “step up” last game were Bane and Emilus. I’d be willing to lean on them a bit more. Preseason showed us that Mason Fine loves Mitch Picton. With TDs likely to be scarce I see Picton being the guy to punch one in.

Is it possible that Fine channels his inner Rocky Butler and we emerge with an improbable win? Yes. Is it probable? About as probable a thunderstorm is Regina that doesn’t result multiple cars stuck under the Albert St. overpass.

I’m looking forward to the return of regular season football to Mosaic and I will be cheering until I can no longer speak but I am expecting a loss.

One of these days we will witness us beat the Bombers at home again. Maybe we just need to revive the 11 Years That’s Enough song (if you don’t know what that is, for the love of god google it) and update it be about our home losing streak to the Bombers. 4 years that’s enough.

Bombers by 17.


pantsonfire said...

The Riders play on 4 days rest.
That's not enough to pass this test.
The short week's gonna take a toll.
The Bombers on this day will roll.

Harris isn't healthy. I don't think 17 but a loss nonetheless.

Jeff Hansen said...

no need to google, I've already got it going in my head

Eleven (ELEVEN) Years (YEARS) That's enough (THAT'S ENOUGH)

I'm sure I haven't heard it once since 1988.

Anonymous said...

Blake gone for the season and Derrel Walker out 6 weeks. Harris won't play and should not either. Ouch what a way to start the season. Meanwhile Bombers hace virtually no injuries once again