Ask not for whom the bell tolls because the Riders practise is closed

July 26, 2017 - 10:23am

One of the interesting games this weekend will be the Toronto/Saskatchewan game on Saturday pitting Marc Trestman against Chris Jones. Trestman and Argo GM Jim Popp got a late start to their season and somehow have the Argos in first place.

Chris Jones, granted more power than any other figure in Rider history, is in the second year of his reign and the Riders are 1-3 and last place in the west. If the Riders lose against Toronto, it may spark a downward spiral for the team who have two games against BC, then Winnipeg and could have only one win by the Banjo Bowl if they don’t get their act together.

A downward spiral will prompt questions of whether the Riders should fire Jones, but by giving Jones all the power, it makes how the Riders proceed an interesting experience, especially if they have to pay out Jones to sit on the sidelines.

The Riders 27-10 loss to Calgary was not entirely unexpected, but the flat way the Riders came out in the first half was baffling. While Jones supporters like to point out Jones did not have much talent to work with when he took over, while he has filled the roster with projects and places great store in what are called measurables, there is an intangible that has yet to show up on the field – intelligence.

A show of intelligence would have maybe stopped Duron Carter from crossing over midfield and provoking a fight from a Calgary Stampeder. Maybe Carter wanted to throw Calgary off their game, but considering how they folded, spindled and mutilated Kevin Glenn, it appears Calgary was not listening to Carter.

Intelligence might have helped the teams’ defensive backfield who, when playing man defense, steal a peak at the quarterback instead of focusing on the man they are supposed to cover. The result is a receiver getting free, catching a ball and making it look ridiculously easy.

Intelligence would have helped deal with a Calgary offense designed to get contact from defensive backs and get a response that would not attract challenge flags on meaningless contact so Calgary could move the ball that way if they couldn’t get a first down the traditional way.

It could be argued that while Calgary won the first half, the Riders at least got a draw in the second half, but unfortunately the games are made of two halves and they count the total score.

So the Riders are facing a situation where if they are going to make the playoffs, they need to finish ahead of Winnipeg for fourth and hope for a crossover to the eastern conference. On paper it is not an impossible task, especially with Toronto coming into town on a short week with injuries on the defense and looking to use a new running back.

The Riders then have two games with BC, then another bye week so they can work on their tans, then go to Edmonton and then have a couple of games against Winnipeg. For the Riders to have any shot, a split with BC and a sweep of Winnipeg is essential. Of course beating Toronto would help things a lot.

But before we get there, let’s see what Thursday has with Montreal at Winnipeg. Montreal plays well at home, not so good on the road, while Winnipeg doesn’t have a good record at home with the loudest fans in the CFL.

Montreal is coming off a loss in Ottawa where Darian Durant threw two interceptions and Montreal looked awful in the first half before making it interesting before Ottawa got their first, and so far only, win of the season.

Winnipeg is coming off an entertaining loss to BC  that should have been a win, but Travis Lulay is playing out of this world, even throwing interceptions against the ballhawks in the Bomber backfield.

Darian Durant plays pretty well in Winnipeg, unless he is getting injured, so Montreal should be competitive in this game. But Winnipeg will be looking to get back into the western race and this will be a pretty tight game. So Winnipeg should win 27-26, but considering their record in Dollarama Field, don`t be surprised in Montreal plays spoiler.

Then what should be the big game of the week is Friday when BC goes to Edmonton against the undefeated Eskimos. Edmonton won the first game between the two through some last minute heroics by Mike Reilly who is setting out his MVP credentials in hostile BC Place.

This will be the third game for Lulay who while throwing for big yardage and leading BC to a come from behind win, also has been throwing some inopportune interceptions that may be the result of not seeing regular playing time for over a year.

For Edmonton to win, some pressure from their defensive line would go a long way against a BC offensive line that is probably the weak link on the team.  However Edmonton had some problems with Hamilton, who probably are not imploding as much as one might think, and if Edmonton is unable to get its offense untracked quicker, they might find themselves behind the eight ball against the Lions who have enjoyed winning on the road. So let`s use the popular 27-26 score for BC and see where that gets us.

Then we have Toronto coming to Saskatchewan, fresh off of a win against Ottawa on Monday.  That was an entertaining game even though Toronto lost three members of their defense in that game. Not sure how many they get  back, but the interesting thing was the defense played the schemes that former Rider Head Coach Cory Chamblin has installed.

Compare that to Chris Jones and his emphasis on players relying on their athleticism instead  of maybe knowing how to play better. The question is whether Jones is failing to coach or maybe his players are just not capable of understanding how to play.

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