Riders 12 – Alouettes 41
To be fair I did advise you not to be on the Riders. I’m a little rusty on my French but I’m pretty sure that’s what the locals would refer to as Le Embarrassment or Le Ass Kicking. I guess I should know better than believe in blind hope and just accept that when it comes to playing in Montreal on a short week, the Riders have about as much chance of winning as Johnny Manziel has of doing film study.
This one doesn’t require a lot of analysis. We weren’t good enough. They were ready to play despite missing 3 of their best players. We were not. While the short week was definitely a factor, its not an excuse. Here’s the crazy thing. The Also took a too many men penalty on the first offensive play of the game! Then a no end penalty 3 plays later. And somehow we were less ready to play then them.
Defense looked gassed. They started slow but I thought started to settle in ok… not great but ok enough to hang in the game. But eventually the repeated failings of our offense took what little life there was out of our defense. Maas called a very good game plan for Caleb Evans… let him do as little as possible. Lots of runs and short passes that we struggled to slow down and the occasional shot, like the one to Mack. Defense did their best (well ok, not their best but they gave it the old college try) to keep it close in the first. The second half they just had nothing. This game yet again proved what a frustrating player Amari Henderson is. He had a nice tackle for a loss and an INT. But he then proceeded to screw up on the INT. I don’t mind him looking to see if there was a return lane but there damn sure wasn’t and he kinda waivered on whether to run it out or go down. He should have gone down. Running it out to the 5 was dumb. That play was like a microcosm of his career. Some really great stuff and some really not great stuff.
I hope everyone who has been calling for Jake Dolegala shuts up for a bit. This coaching staff has its share of bad decisions but they damn sure knew what they were doing when they determined Fine was our best chance to win. The second Fine tweaked his hammy, any remote chance we had of winning disappeared. Dolegala seems to excel at 3 passes. Deep into double coverage because he makes no attempt to look the safety off. Deep about 10 yards further than our receiver. And crossers that he throws just behind the receiver rather than hitting them in stride. It was not good. He has now managed to give up TDs in back to back weeks because he can’t hang onto the football. He had a pass knocked down at the line of scrimmage. He’s literally taller than anyone on the field, there should be a remote chance of that. Yes he may improve with more reps as Fine has. But I will tell you he is starting well behind were Fine did. I really hope whatever Fine did was minor. The problem is with a bye week on the horizon, unless Fine is 100% you probably rest him one more to make sure he’s healthy for the back half of the season. This was a barely good enough offense with Harris. This was a mostly not good enough offense with Fine. If you think it will suddenly get better with Dolegala go back and subject yourself to rewatching the game. (Edit: Clearly trading for Pipkin shows that Fine will not be playing soon. Backup punter for a QB with CFL experience is a good deal. But I remain steadfast in my belief that Pipkin is not good... as evidenced by the fact that he is only worth a backup global punter.)
If short yardage is our achilles heel, 2nd and 2 is not far behind it. We consistently call the worst plays in that situation. When we need two yards we seem to love to call sideways runs, slow developing shotgun runs, or screen passes to wide receivers. All of this have the ball going backwards or sideways. Not forwards. Why? What about a hook, or a timing out or a short slant. Something to actually move the ball in the direction of a first down.
I noticed that when we ran, we consistently ran Morrow a bit sideways to the right either going between the guard and tackle or tackle and extra blocker. Clearly Jeffrey saw something on film he wanted to exploit. Problem is, we went to the well too many times and Noel Thorpe pretty easily figured it out. When we finally changed things up and ran Morrow up the middle he got a decent gain.
Speaking of things I noticed schematically. Is it just me, or have we changed our return game? It really seems like Alford is trying to follow the wedge straight up the middle as a point of emphasis. It seems a change from his normal approach to roll left or right waiting for a block or a lane to develop. I don’t think Alford’s strength is trying to bust one through a crowd. Would it not make more sense to design return schemes that play to his strength?
It was a rough game to watch. I do think the short week played a factor or our defense. But coaches get paid to have the team ready to play and we were so not ready that Jason Maas and Caleb Evans made fools of us. That’s like having a toddler beat you in 90s trivia. Our next 3 games are against the 2 best teams in the West. Might want to stock up on your preferred mind-numbing agent.
Other random thoughts:
- I like Betrand-Hudon. He has no jukes, no spins. When he gets the ball he runs hard in a straight line forward. The few times he’s go the ball offensively or in the return game he’s done pretty well.
- Evan Johnson still sucks. I'm sure you are well aware of that but just felt the need to state the obvious.
- I still think that was PI on Bane. I would agree that most camera angles did not show enough clear evidence to overturn but the one angle seemed to clearly show his arm and body being twisted back. Usually when you see tugs like that its PI. Then again it is also a moving target from week to week.
- First play of the game our struggling kick coverage made an appearance. Can we fix that? We have a top tier punter but are wasting his talent most kicks because we can’t bring the returner down.