Monday, July 1, 2024

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Uh Oh

Usually bye weeks are a positive thing. You anticipate the players getting some rest and relaxation and emerging healthier than when they entered. Well the Riders emerged from the bye week with a bang… and not in the good way.

Trevor Harris was moved to the 6-game injured list and Rider fans (known for their calmness and rationality) took it about as well as expected.

Look, we already knew that July was going to be a lot tougher than June even with Harris. The schedule makers served us up a very friendly start to the season, full of teams that couldn’t win if their lives depended on it (combined record of June opponents 0-8). July features road games against the top teams in each division, a Thursday match against a pretty good Argo team… and mixed in there is another team that couldn’t buy a win (combined record of July opponents 9-6). Pre-Harris injury I was thinking 2-2 in July would be a realistic outcome.

But suddenly we face one of the toughest parts of our schedule without our most important player. Defense has been playing some solid football (in spurts) but the strength of this team through 3 games has been the passing attack and its ability to average 30 points per game. I think Harris would have struggled to keep up that pace as the quality of competition increased. Shea Patterson has about as much chance of doing it as Chris Streveler has of becoming renowned for his throwing mechanics and the accuracy of his passes. 

I do like that we are at least being smart with Harris. He could play if we let him. When faced with the same situation 2 years ago with Fajardo we let him try and limp his way through it and it went about as well as you’d expect. Its early in the season and we are currently 3-0 so no need to push Harris. Let him heal up for when it matters. If we run him into the ground now we can expect the “finishing the season on an 8 game losing skid” streak to continue. While the timelines for recovery are unknown, the fact that we signed essentially a practice roster QB instead of a “veteran” like Fine, Pipkin, etc… tells me that this is not expected to be a longterm thing (at least that’s what I keep telling myself to maintain my state of denial). 

Now, I am not ready to write off Shea Patterson or this team yet, but realistically we need to lower our expectations while he’s at QB. I will be interested to see if he looks better with the benefit of a week practicing to be the starter and a game plan built around him. But even me, a guy who dresses in a robe and sees the world through rye hazed glasses has figured out that Patterson loves to roll right more than Cody loved spinning left. Take away his first read and he will panic and try to use his legs to buy time but always moving towards his right. If I have figured that out then D-Coordinators who do this for a living will be licking their chops. Hopefully Mueller can design a game plan that suits his strengths and keeps him away from predictable bad habits. The one thing I will say about Patterson is that despite his habits, he is not reckless with the ball. He didn’t force turnovers and that will be important. 

But it can’t all be on Patterson. Mueller has been doing a great job with Harris and those receivers, now he needs to earn his money and elevate Patterson. The run game needs to step up. A vet like Harris who can make quick reads can compensate for a one-dimensional offensive attack. If defenses don’t have to respect the run, Patterson will be in trouble. If we can keep the momentum from last game where Ouelette finally got going it opens up a lot for Patterson both in terms of passing and him using his legs. Defense also needs to step up and play a full game… and not just come causally strolling in in the 4th expecting that will be enough. Harris was putting up 30 per game. That will not be happening any time soon. So winning will require the defense keeping things close. 

Mace’s team has shown its ability to overcome adversity so far. That will be put to the ultimate test in the coming weeks.

No comments: