Monday, August 7, 2023

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Fine > Crum

Riders 26 – RedBlacks 24

The final words of my pre-game post were as follows:

By some miracle I see us escaping with an ugly, ugly win.

Riders by a Lauther FG.

Much like sex panther, 60% of the time I’m right, every time.

That game left me with two equal, but opposing feelings. On one hand, we deserved to win that game because we were consistently the better team. We outplayed Ottawa. On the other hand, we deserved to lose that game since, despite being the better team we repeatedly make very dumb mistakes as if we were actively trying to lose. If you take away 4 plays. That game was total domination Riders.  But you add those 4 plays in and the game quickly became about as ugly as the offspring love child of two ugly carnies.

At this point the rest of the team should be carrying the defense everywhere they go. Locker room, supper, bathroom, anywhere they want. Because on the field, all the defense has been doing for 3 weeks is carrying the rest of the team. What a performance yet again, led by Lanier! They made Dustin Crum look like exactly what he is, an unseasoned rookie. Most impressive for me was the fact that we held him to 21 rush yards. You could tell we were consciously pass rushing not for sacks, but to keep him in the pocket. But between the coverage holding up on the backend and our D-line being ferocious, we got sacks anyway. The D allowed just 8 first half points and did not allow a TD. Were it not for the offense's repeated efforts to keep Ottawa in this game, would have smothered them completely. I said it pre-game, Crum can’t read coverage and panics when he can’t run. Shivers exploited that perfectly. Man was Moncrief amped up for this one. The timing on some of his blitzes were so perfect I was worried he jumped offside. 

Let’s start with the good on offense. I mean we did win so we can dwell on the good stuff. Fine still has his issues and needs to improve but the one thing I see from him is that he reads a defense. He is not a one read and panic guy (as so many young QBs are). I guarantee there were exactly zero plays where Sterns was the primary read but he found him 7 times because he went threw his progressions and found open man. What a debut by Sterns by the way. He displayed a great sense of when to sit down in a zone, read the blitz well and fought for extra yards. But back to Fine. He looked pretty good. That TD pass to Bane was picture perfect touch on the ball. He also made a lot better decisions when facing pressure from the D-line than he made in the previous 2 games. He started using his legs a bit more which certainly helped. Hell the dude even pitched in with some receiving yards. I don’t agree with a lot of the decisions Dickenson makes but being patient and letting Fine develop is one that appears to be a good one. Other positives were Emilus making a beautiful high point grab, Wieneke making a couple tough grabs over the middle and even Morrow doing pretty good for facing the #1 run D in the CFL. Too many drives are stalling once we get to midfield but there are signs that we are improving. 

Really our only achilles heel appears to be short yardage. In a league where we are granted 1 yard of free space and line up a QB whose arms are 3 feet long, we cannot get 6 inches if our life depended on it. Its embarrassing. I have more faith in the structural integrity of the midway rides than I do in our short yardage. Its not even enough that we are routinely stuffed. We’ve upped our game and have added somehow giving up TDs to our list of accomplishments. I haven’t seen short yardage this bad since Brandon Bridge. We fixed that issue with Nick Marshall and honest to god at this point I think we need to consider that again. Not sure even he can compensate for the zero push our line gets but we need to try something. Its been an issue all season. 

Special teams continues to be a concern. Lauther seems to have worked through his issues and is back to being rock solid. I would trust him more with a 54 yarder with the game on the line than a 30 yarder in the second quarter but I digress. Korsac is an insanely talented punter. I have not seen a rookie with this good of ball placement in a long time. Outside of those 2 though… yikes. Blocking appears to be a foreign concept on returns. I know Alford is amazing playmaker but I’m sure a block or two would be appreciated every now and then. And coverage… Korsac consistently punts the ball exactly where it needs to be along the sidelines and 2-3 times per game we fail to tackle the returner in what should be a routine stop. Every year under Dickenson we seem to go through this midseason special teams slump.

In the end what I saw Sunday was a defense that continues to play at a very high level and an offense that is progressing. They still have issues and are far from being able to hang with the top offenses in the league but they are at least trending in the right direction bit by bit. A better team than Ottawa likely makes us pay for the many mistakes we made but the Riders absolutely needed a win and they found a way to get one. That's all you can ask for.

Other random thoughts:

-        Starting to notice AJ Allen more and more as time goes by. He’s turning into a solid depth player that can make the odd play when called upon.

-        What in the world was Betrand-Hudon thinking when he jumped in front of Alford to field that kick? I can appreciate his excitement at the opportunity to finally contribute but maybe let the reigning Special Teams player of the year handle that one when you almost have to push him out of the way to get the ball.

-        We scored on the first drive of both halves. Can’t even imagine the last time we did that.

-        Tevin Jones looked mentally checked out. Just did not appear to have his head in the game.

-        The sheep escaping and running all over the field was the best halftime show I’ve seen in literally 2 years at Mosaic. Was hoping for a scenario where both teams had to jointly try and coral a bunch of wayward sheep before the game could continue.



Govind said...

I felt sort of bad for laughing at the guy chasing the sheep who was athletically clearly not up to the challenge. I did a frame by frame on my rewatch re. Moncrief. Wow Ottawa must have been tipping off their snap count cause he timed it perfectly You've been on a roll this year, not just getting the winner but how as well.

pantsonfire said...

Yup. Been on a roll for sure. I wouldn't have given us much chance with Lauther lining up for a 54 yarder but he was money. Lauther has been up 1 year, down the next. Down again last year. This year - don't know what to make of him but that was a positive sign.