The Riders are hoping to exit the bye will with the same excitement as when they entered. I’ll admit I feel slightly less better about the BC win after seeing what Hamilton did to them, but at this point we should just enjoy the wins when they come and not ask too many questions. It's kinda like a fast food burger... delicious, just don't starting asking about the ingredients.
But one question the Riders need to start seriously pondering is whether or not to extend the GM and Head Coach.
Both are on the final year of their current deals, in a “prove it” situation. A 5-5 record doesn’t exactly offer a definitive answer either way but we can’t afford to wait too much longer to make a decision. In particular, we need to make a call right away on the GM. The head coach can (and probably will) wait until the end of the season. But you can’t have a lame duck GM. Your GM needs to be planning for next year and beyond already. You can’t have a GM whose contract expires at the end of the season and expect him to do that. If your boss refused to guarantee your employment beyond 3 months from now but then told you to spend all your effort planning a big company event in 8 months, how hard are you really working on that? You need to commit to a GM.
That brings us to the question of whether Jeremy O’Day warrants a further commitment. I may not always be a fan of everything O’Day does and I don’t think he’s the best GM in the league but I do think he earned an extension.
His job is to bring in talent and he’s done that. #1 need coming into the season was a QB. He delivered. Hell he delivered enough depth at QB that we have won games with 3 different QBs. He brought in receivers. He built a strong defense that prominently features guys he recruited: Lanier, Robertson, Christmas, Brown, Reavis, Clark, Milligan, Williams. He’s added solid free agents to build the talent and leadership of this team: Micah, Dean, Alford. He’s even done pretty good with the Canadians he’s drafted: Schaefer-Baker, Emilus, Dalke, Dabire, Korte-Moore.
His major knock has always been his inability to build a good O-line. By no means do I think our line is great this season but I do think it’s improved. Godber and Kelly are solid additions. He tried with guys like Blake, Hawkins and Tucker but injuries got in the way. Even Council and Lofton (our 3rd and 4th string options at OT) are serviceable and way better than the trainwrecks we fielded there last year.
My only remaining knocks on O’Day at this point are his questionable belief that Evan Johnson is still good and his reluctance to make drafting OL a priority. He kept telling us that Fry would be this immensely talented player… he has yet to even beat out Bandy for the 6th OL job.
Overall when we look at what’s holding this team back at this point, its injuries and coaching… not a lack of talent. So while he’s far from perfect, I support extending O’Day as GM. We could do a lot worse. If it was me running the team I would have had the deal done and signed off weeks ago. My guess is that they have verbally agreed behind the scenes but for optics sake, are waiting until the end of the season to make it official.
As for Dickenson, he’s got 8 games plus playoffs left to make his case. I would not extend him if I had to make a decision today. You could argue that a 5-5 record when you look at the injuries we’ve been through on offense, is pretty good. And it is. But my knock on Dickenson continues to his ongoing and repeated coaching errors. He’s one of the worst time clock managers I’ve seen and in his fourth season of coaching still seems to be baffled at how to effectively use timeouts. He kicks when he should gamble. He gambles when he should kick. No sure how much latitude he has given rookie OC Kelly Jeffries but there have been some bad play calls there at key times. Special Teams (his calling in life) goes through a yearly midseason downturn for reason. Injuries (especially at QB) are a big factor on the season but in a lot of games coaching decisions made things harder for us, not easier.
Now, if I start seeing the intensity we saw in the BM game for frequency down the stretch then I think Dickenson has a chance to save his job. But currently he’s about as much of a sure thing as our short yardage plays this season.