Riders 9 – BC 19
I’m back. Seven days fishing up north was a great way to disconnect and unwind from the loss of our franchise QB. I arrived back in town at 4pm yesterday… just in time to be reminded of the misery that currently is the Riders. Great timing.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I that was a much better game than I was expecting. Given how not great of a game it was, it tells you how low my expectations were. We were going to lose that game, if you thought any differently then I would recommend against you operating heavy machinery. But it was far less of an ass kicking than I expected. Obviously the Adams injury likely played a roll in that. Holy hell are starting QBs cursed this year. And still, defying all logic, Collaros is the shining example of health. How?
Not a lot of positives in Riderville these days so I am going to take a rare opportunity to acknowledge a big time positive. I have been very critical of our defense this season. So I was pumped to finally see them show up to play to the level we’ve grown accustomed to. Noticeably the effort level was way up. Micah and Robertson were leading the charge there. Our pass rush has been more useless than the CFL stat system over the past few weeks (Ok I take that back, that's too harsh a criticism, nothing is that bad). But dammit they stepped up in this one! 4 sacks (after just 7 over out previous 5 games) and big time disruption in the trenches. It’s amazing how much better your secondary looks when they don’t have to cover for huge chunks of time on each play. Run D was rock solid. We are going to need our D to salvage this season and this game gave me the first glimmer of hope that they can still deliver. They did enough to keep us in a game we had no business being in (which is becoming Shivers' calling card as the Riders DC).
Offense is another story. I’m trying to be fair here and remember that our 6 game injured list is 3 players away from containing our entire starting offense (and I thought for a minute that low hit on Morrow might add him to the mix). You can expect struggles when you are relying on your 2nd, 3rd and 4th stringers to carry the load. But for one thing, our offense wasn’t great when we had more actual starters. We have a total of 10 offensive TDs over 6 games. I still don’t completely understand what happened in Week 2 against Winnipeg when we put up 3 TDs but that appears to be an anomaly. So we are down to 7 TDs over the other 5 games. One of those came from an interception returned to the 1 yard line and one was the hail Mary that bounced to Jones. So 5 legit TDs over 5 games and only 1 game where the offense produced 2 legit TDs in the same game. Its tough to win in the CFL when you can only produce 2 TDs, let alone struggling to produce a solitary one.
While I can forgive mistakes made by inexperienced players (like Fine) what really bugs me is how our coaching is holding back an already struggling unit. For all his offseason talk, Kelly Jeffries is as about as effective at establishing a run game as Jason Maas was and at least Jason Maas didn’t try. Jeffries is trying but we get no push in run blocking whatsoever. We also run a dumb times, like 2nd and long. That may be a great change of pace play to catch a team off guard but not when you can’t run block worth a damn. Then its just a wasted play.
But more than a lack of anything resembling a run game what bothers me is the brutal decision making. For example, gambling on a 3rd and 2. Not a terrible football call normally but a) we are anything but automatic in short yardage. Getting stuffed is almost a weekly occurrence. And b) if you are going to gamble for god sake don’t do a shotgun run that requires you to now advance the ball 5 additional yards when you know you struggle to get 1!! Another example was the clock management at the end of the game. Down 10 you need to 2 scores and there are 2 ways to get it. Kick the FG quick to conserve clock for your defense and second drive or push for the TD first to make it so you only need a FG on your second drive. We combined the worst elements of both strategies. I honestly don’t hate taking the FG first but then take it early and conserve the clock. Don’t gamble on 3rd down and kill the clock only to settle for a FG. With how much time we were eating up on that drive and how many short plays we were running you had to push for the TD in that situation. The second we gambled the FG should have been out the window. But the continuing poor game management of Dickenson popped up yet again.
Fine struggled but I do think you need to keeping rolling with him at this point at least for a couple weeks to see if he improves.
I was pleased with the effort the Riders put up in a tough road game but in the end, the better team won. Nice to see the defense show up but the short term isn’t looking great for the Riders.
Other random thoughts:
- Amari Henderson is a polarizing player. Sometimes he makes plays that make you think he’ll be a starting HB for a while and sometimes he gets lost in coverage. If he could ever up his consistency he’d be a hell of a player.
- Someone please create a “Should I Challenge” decision making flowchart for Craig Dickenson. The only thing that needs to be on the page is “Do I (Craig Dickenson) think I should challenge this play?” If so, “NO do not challenge. You never ever win a challenge.” Whether or not you think that was roughing the passer (I think it was marginal at best), there was 0% chance that was being overturned.
- On the flip side, was there not a blatant headshot on Fine later in the game? The one that knocked his helmet off. I have no clue what video review can or can’t fix from the booth (seems to change week to week and only hurt the Riders when used) but could that not have been booth reviewed? Player safety seems a better use of booth reviews than some of the things its been used for in the past.