Friday, September 15, 2023

Riders vs. Elks: Home Sweet Home

Okay so we’ve established that when it comes to playing on the road, we are as useful as the photo radar cameras on Ring Road with the faulty batteries. Or Aaron Rogers’ achilles (pick your preferred loosely topical simile). But that’s next week’s problem. For now we are back home. How much of a difference does that make? On the road we are 2-4 and score an average of 14 points per game. At home, we are 4-2 and score an average of 27 points per game. Now its worth noting that of our 4 home wins we have won by margins of 1, 2 5 and 2. So we don’t exactly dominate at home but we definitely play much better and seem to find ways to eke out victories while taking years off my life. Why the last time the Elks visited Mosaic, we won because Edmonton conceded a game winning kick single. Watched a ton of Rider games, that was a new one even for me.

But the thing is, this is a very different team this time around. For reasons no one can explain, Tre Ford sat doing nothing while the Elks when 0-8. I’m not a football coach, but I would have to assume there was some evidence that Ford was a superior QB to Cornelius and Doege. Then again their offensive resurgence did coincide with McAdoo being removed as OC… just saying.

A look at the stats and standings might tell you this is a game the Riders should win easily. But you really have to ignore the stats from the first 8 games and look at what the Elks have done with Ford at the helm:

-        3-2 record (same as the Riders over that stretch)

-        26.4 offensive points per game (would be 3rd in the CFL)

-        395.8 offensive yards per game (would be 2nd in the CFL)

-        16 TDs in 5 games with Ford, vs. just 11 in the previous 8 games

-        7 sacks allowed on Ford, vs. 22 in the previous 8 games

-        9 turnovers vs. 22 in the previous 8 games

-        As many 30+ yard completions from Ford as all previous 8 games

-        D is allowing 25.2 points per game (would be 5th in the CFL)

-        Before Ford, RB Kevin Brown was averaging 4.7 yards per carry, now… 5.9

If you think you can take this team lightly based on its record then you are likely qualified to help design the coaching game plan for the next Riders’ road game.

Ford is legit. He’s still got some flaws to his game but a couple stats jump out at me. 23% of his drives end in TDs. That is 3rd only to Collaros and Kelly. He completes 57% of his deep balls. That’s 10% more than Collaros (you may recall how Collaros recently shredded our secondary). He’s also insanely fast and about as easy to bring down as the greased up deaf guy on Family Guy. How bad did this guy have to be in practice for no one in on that Elks coaching staff to think maybe he might not be a craptastic as Cornelius? Did he forget to send Jones a Christmas card? Or sleep with his mother?

Defense needs a rebound game. Getting Robertson back is timely because it starts up front. Not likely to get a lot of sacks and you almost need to slow rush Ford. You want to hurry his throws but if you come in too aggressively he will use his speed to blow by you. Controlled rush that aims to keep him contained. I don’t want to see any of those stupid stunts or overload formations we saw in Winnipeg. Play nice simple contain and plug those gaps. We also need to slow down Kevin Brown. He’s going to be running angry so we need to hit back angrier. Also, we need to be mindful that the Elks don’t care and are trying everything no matter how crazy. AC Leonard has a TD. Kyran Moore has thrown for one. Weird stuff is going to happen and I’m not just talking about awkward urinal conversations when I use the bathroom. Secondary needs to be assignment sounds… not whatever the hell they were doing last week. Not exactly helping my confidence to have Williams out with injury (secondary struggled even with our starters) but at least Trumaine Washington has CFL experience. Keep it in front of you, don’t give up deep shots.

Offense should be well rested for this one since they quit playing after the first drive in Winnipeg. Never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad Evan Johnson is back. Big O-line news is that Blake will suit up for the first time this season. He’s a versatile and reliable vet that we desperately need. Still not sure whether he’s backing up just to ease him in, or whether he’s just listed as a backup and will play. Either way I am glad to see him. With guys like Ceresna and Leonard, Edmonton will be bringing the pressure. We need to not let Jake get killed. Speaking of Jake be nice if we could see more of the guy that had people planning for his eventual induction to the Plaza of Honour and less like a guy Chris Jones would have put ahead of Tre Ford on the depth chart. As much as I think our D will have a bounce back game, with Ford running the O, the Elks are gonna score. We ain’t winning 13-12 this time around. Offense has gotta find that endzone. We tried emphasizing getting Baker going last game and I’d like to see that continue. We don’t need to force it because Emilus, Bane and Jones are capable of spreading the load but we are going to need to establish “the guy” going down the stretch. We still don’t have one and Baker needs to be that guy. Edmonton has the worst run D in the league so that would be a good place to start our attack. Morrow needs a heavy workload and if we want to establish ourselves as the more physical team I would even give Betrand-Hudon some early carries, dude is a north-south freight train.

Some people are saying if we don’t win big then we are in trouble. I honestly don’t care how we win. A one point win that is uglier than a porta potty at Craven is fine by me. May I remind you that we have never won a game by more than 5 points this season. I doubt we are about to start now. We only lose by wide margins, wins come narrowly. Just win, beggars can’t be choosers.

I want to see us come out with the same energy we saw in the BC game after the last embarrassing road loss. Be more physical. Don’t make mistakes. Start hot so Edmonton has to play chase. 

Could Edmonton beat us? Yup. Will they? I don’t see it. Home game, we get some bodies back we didn’t have in Winnipeg and its not exactly like Edmonton is great on the road. Just 1 win on the road and they have scored a total of just 87 road points… for comparison we go out of our way to lose badly on the road and have 86 road points.

Riders by a Dean Faithful missed FG that Alford has to run out of the endzone to preserve the victory… because, that’s about how the season has gone.

Get loud Rider Fans… if we are too quiet the team might mistake it for a road game.

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