So Much for 2014

September 27, 2014 - 12:38pm

That giant thump you all felt around 11 pm Friday night was the sound of the bottom falling out of the Saskatchewan Roughriders 2014 season.

The 24-0 beat down in Edmonton showed the Riders have no quarterbacks and has likely started the clock running on the return of Henry Burris to salvage something from this season.

There are so many problems with that last paragraph, so let’s start with Burris. If you watched the Ottawa Montreal game before the Rider Edmonton bout, you saw Henry Burris come apart like a cheap suit which begs the question of whether Henry would do any better here.

Not likely is how the majority of Rider Nation, nursing hangovers and cursing the CFL for ruining their weekend by having this game as the second of a Friday night slate, feel.

But there is still a season yet to be played out and Rider fans may have to make a choice between viewing the Ottawa game as the high point of the season, or watching the Riders slide to 9-9 and maybe crossing over to the Eastern Playoffs.

As long as we finish ahead or tied with Winnipeg, that is the likeliest scenario. This morning John Chick posted on Facebook a few lines saying yeah, we took a shot to the mouth, but we’ll regroup and come back. I love John Chick, but I don’t share his optimism.

Neither Tino Sunseri nor Adam Doegge did anything to warrant any confidence in their ability to beat a good team. But our defence sucked in a new and amazing fashion. John White’s 36 yard touchdown run showed the Riders still do not have the run stopping middle linebacker that every team needs to make a difference and between White and Mike Reilly, Edmonton did not need to pass because the Riders didn’t know how to tackle.

The Riders are no strangers to a running game, once having possession of one about three games ago. But injuries to other Canadians and I suspect Jerome Messam have rendered the Riders three headed monster into a glorified moppet and I can’t believe for the second straight year, Chris Best is once again the most important member of this offense.

Best is out with an arm injury and his absence last year sparked a Rider dive in the standings. A year later and Best has another injury, and we see the same result. When Darian Durant went out, the common thinking was that with a running game the Riders could muddle through until the quarterbacks felt more confident.

But when you cannot run the ball, and you cannot pass the ball, there is no offense. Edmonton dominated our offensive line and some of the unlikely victims included Ben Heenan, the former number one draft pick. Dan Clark has been filling in for Best and does well on the novelty plays where the fat offensive lineman goes out to snag a pass, but he lacks the viciousness that Best brings to the line and which apparently no one else has.

Best is on the six game injured list, but is apparently still sporting a cast on his arm, so his return to the roster is hypothetical. If the Riders don’t have the bodies or the talent to fill that position and kick the running game up a notch, then say hello to 2011 when a field goal was a welcome sign of offensive competence.

On defence, Chad Kilgore was talked up by coaches and a few fans and since slipping into the middle line-backer position, has not distinguished himself in any way. It’s hard to tell on the television but when you don’t show up at the scene making a tackle, you are screwed.
On the plus side, the Riders signing of Chad Rempel seemed to work out for the punting game, which might have been the offensive highlight of the evening.

It would be easy to put the blame on the game calling for this fiasco, but it ignores the fact that deer in the headlights seldom move out of the way unless it is at the last minute and that can either result in a collision or not. Sunseri looked good last year, quick release and everything, but in training camp and in the exhibition games, he was having a problem making the quick reads.

The Riders should know that no quarterback goes through a 18 game schedule with no scrapes, and should have kept or found someone with a bit more experience. What we are seeing now is painful in its trial and error experience and I don’t care if Calgary is missing to defensive tackles, next week they will feast on the Riders.

So the magic date is October 15, which is the trade deadline. If the Riders don’t show any improvement and lose the next two games, there might be tremendous pressure to trade for Henry to take the pressure off and prevent fans from rioting. Note that the Riders play in Montreal October 13 for the retirement of Anthony Calvillio’s number. I don’t think Montreal will roll over for us.

The Riders had a short week and concentrated on mental work, to try to save the legs of the players. But it is obvious from the wrong angles being taken on tackles that the mental work went for naught.

If there is any hope, it lies in the posting by Chick saying the Riders will rebound. Right now, it’s about it.

I’m going to skip the predictions until later, because this is written Saturday morning. But with last night feeling like the Rider season has gone into a death spiral, we can’t be the only people who feel that way.

 

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