Even the most ardent Rider fan would admit that entering the fourth quarter last Friday against Ottawa, the Riders would be lucky to pull out a touchdown, never mind a win.
Ottawa had exposed the Riders incredible lack of run defense with William Powell rushing for a team record 187 yards but then something happened in the fourth quarter. The Riders got a punt return for a touchdown and then the Redblacks decided to let third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley throw the ball.
Ron Lancaster once taught us that if something is working, keep going with it until the other team makes you stop and try something else. Maybe Ottawa wanted to not seem like a one dimensional team by giving Powell the ball, but the Riders were not stopping him, and by giving the ball over to the Riders by bouncing it off the turf in some passes last seen at Sea World, Ottawa gave the Riders the game and thanks to former Bomber Quincy McDuffie muffing a punt and allowing the Riders to score a Rouge, the Riders are now staring the prospect of maybe heading to Winnipeg for the western semi-final.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
If points were awarded for style, along with wins, then maybe the Riders would have something to worry about. Instead they got two points that someone like say, Edmonton would have loved to have picked up, and now find themselves looking a bit better in the jockeying for playoff spots.
The two points should not blind anyone to the fact the Riders seem to have forgotten how to stop the run, something Calgary and Ottawa did rather well in the last two weeks, and this week face James Wilder of the Toronto Argonauts, who is putting together a nice string of rushing games of his own as Marc Trestman is opening up the playbook.
The Riders AC Leonard is going on the six game injury list after getting hurt against Ottawa. Which means what seems to be a porous defensive line is likely getting even more so. The other interesting thing was the lack of punch in the running game since Cameron Marshall went on the injury list. The Riders tried Kienan LaFrance and well, he did have a pretty good eastern final.
The Riders are trying Trent Richardson in practice this week and while he appears to be in great NFL shape, the book is open on whether he can handle the heavier cardio demands of the CFL. And maybe learn the playbook in time. But as the CFL makes its way to the October 11th trade deadline, there are perhaps some moves that will be made that will have an impact on the playoff race.
Hamilton and Edmonton started the ball rolling with Hamilton trading running back CJ Gable to Edmonton for two negotiation list offensive linemen. This is an interesting move as Hamilton seems to be shedding salary, perhaps prepping for free agency next year, and you have to wonder if say, Ted Laurent is perhaps on the trading block as Hamilton undergoes the June Jones makeover.
Edmonton with their rash of injuries could use a multi-purpose back in Gable as they try to stay somewhere between third and fourth in the CFL west. Edmonton will be interesting to watch because they had been trying to extend quarterback James Franklin, although he would probably be more interested in moving somewhere else to start.
Which raises the question of whether or not Edmonton would trade Mike Reilly, but Edmonton needs to conserve as many fans as possible for the long cruel winter that will soon be upon them. Reilly is a known quality at quarterback and it is unfair for Reilly to take a substantial blame in the Eskmos “free-falling” through the CFL West.
Edmonton may find it impossible to deal Franklin, who becomes a free agent in February, unless Franklin agrees to a new contract instead of hitting the open market. Why would Franklin want to do that when he will be in demand?
The fates of Zach Collaros and Darian Durant are also something to be pondered in this upcoming week. Johnny Manziel is not in the picture for Hamilton until next year, assuming he jumps through some hoops first to show he is not off the rails, and Collaros could use a change of scenery. That could be Toronto, it could be Montreal where Durant has apparently deposited the upfront money and slowly proving Chris Jones to be correct in his assessment.
Kavis Reed has to be on his last lap as GM/coach because after Montreal got blown out of the water by Hamilton, it seems Montreal has nothing left to do but try to rebuild and reload for next year. That may mean veterans like John Bowman may be available for a team looking for a late playoff run.
Shedding long time veterans would mean acknowledging the obvious in Montreal, but the ownership is not helping the cause by making incredibly dumb, if entertaining decisions. If Montreal wanted to send their veterans off right let them go to a contender and have a chance to get some playoff money this year.
However things turn out, it will be an interesting week for many reasons. Hamilton added quarterback coach Dan Morrison , who worked with former Rider Neg List wonder QB Colt Brennan (great name) and Hamilton quarterback Timmy Chang at the University of Hawaii. It seems Jones is getting his staff into place for next season, which means the rest of this season is an extended training camp, unless Hamilton gets lucky and gets on a roll.
If Hamilton makes more changes, it makes things even more interesting for the game Friday against Winnipeg, who are filling in the cracks in Dollarama Field in preparation for the western semi-final. This is an interesting game for Winnipeg who with a win and losses by the Riders, Edmonton and what the hell, BC, would clinch second spot.
The Bombers are three games ahead of the Riders and Edmonton and now face the Calgary condundrum – whether to go all out for wins which could lead to valuable players being injured for no good reason with such a healthy lead in the standings, or playing backups and losing the momentum which is as much psychological as anything for Winnipeg, a team and city not known for psychological health.
If Hamilton sheds more players to try to clinch that first overall pick, then it gets easier for Winnipeg. Look for players to make appearances in the first half and one way or another sit out the second half as Hamilton tries to showcase potential trade subjects. Winnipeg wins this one 34-25.
The Riders go to Toronto and last year the Riders won their only complete game against Toronto which was the high point of a four game winning streak that then turned into a three game losing streak to end the season. The Riders demonstrated their lack of run defense while their offense managed to cobble together enough to barely top Ottawa which does not bode well against Toronto and a much better rushing game.
The Riders could unveil Trent Richardson and Naaman Roosevelt was practicing with the team along with Chad Owens, so the Riders may have options to put some pep into their offense. Richardson will be starting against Toronto, which will be interesting, considering how Gable did against Toronto with 157 yards.
The first game between these teams was close and there is no reason to think this one should be any different. The interesting thing is which defensive coordinator will best be able to stop the other teams’ running game. I am going to think the Riders have the slightly better chance – 28-27.
Then Ottawa goes to BC as BC tries to salvage their season and Ottawa looks for some sort of redemption after probably giving their season away in the loss against the Riders. This time though Ryan Lindley won’t be passing like the seals in Sea World, that duty now falls on Trevor Harris, and that note you are hearing is the air of desperation in Redblack ranks, especially since they are hosting the Grey Cup this year.
BC on the other hand is coming off a bye week and needs to win to keep pace in the race for fourth to third since let’s admit it, there is going to be a crossover team and one of BC, Edmonton or the Riders are not going to be it. BC seems to have tinkered with their offensive line, which is the reason why they seem to have circled down the drain until now. Jon Jennings maybe has used the bye week to see a good sports psychologist, but if he hasn’t, then let’s say Ottawa continues a trend of either winning or losing by not a big margin – especially in this case with an eastern team going to the west coast and facing a second game out west. If Ottawa is going to make any kind of move towards a playoff spot, they need to win this one 27-26.
Finally we have the mother of all dumpster fires, the wackiest set of headphones in the western conference in Jason (No) Maas versus Kavis (Consequences) Reed. Kavis is leaving it up to everyone else to ponder the post season future of Reed and the Als, which is more fun than watching Montreal’s defense run up the white flag and Darian Durant challenge Ryan Lindley’s record for bouncing balls off the turf.
If Kavis was serious, he would think about renting some veterans out so they could get a shot at playoff cash and perhaps end their careers on a winning note. In return, he could stockpile some Canadian draft picks which is something Montreal desperately needs and this would give him the green light to play backups to see if there is any reason to invite them back to next year’s training camp, assuming Reed is in anyway, shape or form involved.
Edmonton has lost six games in a row and the question has to be asked, do they have it in them to lose seven in a row? The question is of course they do, but they are playing Montreal and this is a game you think Edmonton should lose, unless Edmonton rolls into town thinking this game is already won and get trapped like Calgary did against Montreal at the start of the year.
Naah, can’t see it. Edmonton 28-19 in a dumpster fire that rivals the Simpson’s Springfield tire fire for crimes against nature.
Please cue up Tom Pett's Free Fallin'
Join the Discussion
We are happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules: Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. See full commenting rules.