Monday, April 29, 2024

Monday Morning Hold Your Horses

With the draft going down tomorrow I am going to reserve my Sentimonies until Wednesday morning so I can opine on how we fared in the draft.

Check back Wednesday for thoughts, reactions, analysis and probably a heathy dose of outrage. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

Monday Morning Sentimonies: CFL Draft Preview

The CFL Daft goes down next week. That includes both the Canadian Draft (aka what we actually mean when we talk about “the draft”) and the Global Draft. I am a supporter of the global initiative and yes, last year’s global draft did net us one hell of a punter (Korsak) but let’s be honest, the care factor for the Global Draft is on par with that of how much you care about the one-man Broadway show I am writing about myself.  

For the second year in a row the Riders will select 3rd because once again they were only out-sucked by Edmonton and Ottawa.

Picks: 8 picks, first selection is 3rd Overall

Potential Pipeline: DL David Oneymata (Atlanta/Never coming to the CFL), DL Neville Gallimore (Miami), OL Sidy Sow (New England), DL Tavius Robinson (Baltimore)

Current Strengths:

Biggest Canadian strength is at receiver. A healthy Schefer-Baker. Emilus fresh off a breakout season. Add in Lenius (who hopefully has all his crap luck with freak injuries behind him) and Picton and that is a damn impressive group. I also think that Bertrand-Hudon could be a valuable contributor with a slightly bigger role in the run game (man I’m slowly turning into this generation’s equivalent of the old Szarka radicals I used to mock).

On the defensive side of the ball we have some legit starters in Dalke and newly signed Auclair. Korte-Moore’s stock as an impact player is rising. I think AJ Allen is another guy whose stock is rising. Add in depth players like Dabire, the Herdmans, the Oneykas and the (solitary) Lokombo and Ford.

On special teams Hus and Lauther are among the best in the league at their respective spots. It’s a luxury you take for granted when you almost don’t notice your snapper.

Seems weird to talk about our utter embarrassment of an OL in the strength section but hear me out. Godber was a solid addition last year. Ferland is good. Adding Sceviour is huge. Blake still has game. Fry and Zerr are there for depth. The pieces are slowing coming into place to maybe, finally, not suck. Losing Bandy is not a loss. Look, I know he was 24 and had lots of room to continue developing but O’Day has always been high on him and I never saw anything more than an emergency fill-in in him. One of the biggest moves we made was mercifully finally cutting ties with Evan Johnson. Addition by subtraction.

Current Needs:

Our O-line has been an utter embarrassment for 2 years. Any chance we have of crawling out of the CFL basement and back into relevance and respectability lies with being able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Sceviour was a nice add but if we think one solitary player is going to suddenly make that line awesome, good luck. (In saying that I know that Hardrick at one tackle will help a lot but I’m focusing on Canadians for now). We need to keep building until that line is rock solid and stacked with depth... neither is true at this point. 

Defensively we are thin on depth. Particularly at DL and to a lesser extent LB. We have a couple top end names but if they go down (and let’s face it, injuries will happen) things get dicey pretty quick at every position except safety (where we have Dalke, Ford, Lokombo, etc…). Assuming we plan to start Auclair, ask yourself you backs him up?


Every year I say O’day should draft and OL and every year he doesn’t. This year will be no different, for 2 reasons. One we added Sceviour and Zerr in the offseason and arguably have our best depth at OL since 2019 (obviously the bar for that is very low but still). Two, reportedly it’s a deeper draft for OL. So in theory there will be a good OL waiting in the second round… or third. We SHOULD draft an OL at #3, but we won’t.

In 5 years as GM, O’Day has used a first round pick on an OL exactly once (Mattland Riley, retired after dressing in 1 game) and a 2nd round pick also once (Zach Fry, dressed in only 4 games since being drafted 2 years ago). Two top 18 picks in 5 years used on OL... What a weird coincidence that our OL has been so terrible.

So we will once again not be draft an OL in the first round. I expect that for the second year in a row we will focus on the defence in round 1. Either DL Daniel Okpoko or LB Geoffrey Cantin-Arku would be a fit.

In the second round I think we look to add an OL… maybe replace the word “think” with “pray with all my being.

The good news is that outside of his almost religious opposition to draft the position that he made a living doing, O’Day is a pretty good drafter. Particularly in the late rounds. He has found the following lare round gems:

-        2019 – Charbel Dabire (5th round)

-        2020 – Kian Schaefer-Baker (4th Round)

-        2022 – Jayden Dalke (6th round)

-        2023 – Thomas Bertrand-Hudon (4th round)

I expect O’Day to land another good one late.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Remembering Hopson

Last week we bid farewell to an important figure in Rider history. Former president Jim Hopson passed away. Ever since his passing many wonderful things have been written and many wonderful memories have been shared about the impact Hopson had on the team and on the people he interacted with. I won’t pretend that my words will add anything that hasn’t already been said but I do want to add my perspective on what he meant to Rider history.

The defining impact of Hopson will be the resetting of expectations when it comes to the Riders. Prior to his arrival the prevailing attitude was that we should just be happy we have a team at all. Their survival was at risk year to year so if the team sucked for decades at a time then we were all taught to just be happy they didn’t fold. We thought it was fine that we had only 2 championships ever. We thought it was fine that we had no jumbotron. We thought it was fine that it was not cool to wear Rider gear unless your goal in life was mockery and physical beatings. We were lovable losers… with heavy emphasis on the losers.

Until Hopson’s leadership that all changed. Now he didn’t do it all himself (and he would be the first one to admit that). But change of the magnitude that took place requires strong leadership with a clear vision and relentless pursuit of that vision. Hopson brought that. Old Mosaic was brought out of the stone ages and into the 80s (being only 20 years behind was a big step forward) and eventually replaced completely. We brought in GMs, coaches and players that expected greatness. We won games. Seats filled up. We won as many championships under his tenure as in the 90 previous years. Merchandise flew off the shelves. We put a logo on anything and everything and people were proud to display it. We went from the CFL’s equivalent of a lovable but unemployed and mooching uncle to the benchmark of excellence. 

And its not like it was all roses and sunshine for Hopson. Sure the timing of the ’07 Cup probably accelerated everything but let’s not forget that in his tenure involved some rocky moments. He had to make the tough call to fire Roy Shivers. He had to deal with Shiver’s replacement having to be put on administrative leave while he dealt with legal issues stemming from alleged inappropriate conduct with a babysitter. There were 4 head coaches during his tenure. There was brawl on Dewdney ave involving players. But despite all this, the expectations and accomplishments of the team continued to rise. On top of the successes, I think most telling is all the stories coming out about how much people respected Hopson as a person. 

His impact on the franchise will never be forgotten… unlike Andrew Harris’ quest to find the person responsible for tainting his supplements.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Monday Morning Sentimonies: You Can’t Get Fooled Again

For the love of god, please check the date on the calendar before reading anything today. In the immortal words of George W Bush “There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.” So don’t get fooled again. 

If you see a headline saying “Trevor Harris Traded” or “Competition for #1 QB Spot now a surprise battle between Drew Willy and Tino Sunseri” just ignore it. 

If you see a headline saying “Schaefer-Baker Retires To Pursue Career As A Bovine Doula” don’t retweet it. 

If you see a headline saying “Riders Sell Hat for 150% more than the same hat is sold for other teams”… well that one is probably accurate. Same as if you see a headline “Rider Prophet Named World’s Greatest Sex Machine.” 

While you generally should not believe most of what you read on the internet (this site included) any day this is the day you definitely should not believe it. No the Riders aren’t changing their colours to blue and gold. No the league is not adopting a 5th down to get ahead of the curve. No Tom Brady is not coming out of retirement to finally throw for a Montreal sports team. No Pilsner intake has not been scientifically determined to be correlated with intelligence. And No, Rider Prophet did not get drunk and expose himself to bus full of seniors on a bingo tour (only part of that headline is correct but I’m not telling you which part). 

Let’s just try and keep our cool for one day. Please.