Rider Review – Week 4: When it rains, it pours

ughIt was a dark and stormy night at Mosaic…

While it may not be your typical scary movie, in football terms, the start to the Riders’ 2015 season has been nothing other than a horror story.

The Riders’ lost their starting QB in Week 1, and since then, things have simply snowballed.

Every game results in a serious injury to a key player, and every week brings a new controversy.

This week, DB Tristan Jackson hobbled off the field after a horse collar tackle brought him down.  And Coach Chamblin stood up to his detractors, possibly in an attempt to take some of the pressure off of his team.

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The result?  Another loss.

Football is a funny game.  It’s a game of inches.  A game of strategy.  And at times, a 60 minute game that comes down to one or two plays.

The proof?  Through Week 4, the Riders are 0-4.  But they’ve only lost those four games by a combined 12 points.  In comparison, the Stampeders are 3-1, but they’ve only won their three games by a combined 7 points.

The Riders’ losing streak continues to summon comparisons to the 2011 season, but that season was not so much a horror story as a sad story as the team gave up on its coach.  The barrage of injuries to key personnel and the small scale of the losses is what differentiates 2015 from 2011.

The good news for the Riders, though, is that some players will get healthy and return, and there are 14 games left.  In other words, the Riders have a chance to change their story from one of horror to one of redemption.

THINGS THAT WORKED

1. Running game: Once again, the RB tag team of Jerome Messam and Anthony Allen amassed over 100 yards of rushing.

2. Second down conversions: While the offence was not as in sync as we’ve come to expect over the last couple of games, it was certainly resilient.  The Riders continue to lead the league in second down conversions, and this game more than likely extended that lead.

3. Jerome Messam: While most of the focus has been on his league-leading rushing statistics, his ability to catch the ball is just as impressive.  He added 75 yards to his receiving total, and combined with his rushing yards, he leagues the CFL in combined yards.

4. Weston Dressler: Another 100 yards game.  Need I say more?

5. Jamel Richardson: He doesn’t get a lot of touches per game, but when called upon thus far this season, he’s answered.

6. Stopping the big play: The Riders’ defence generally made BC march the ball down the field, as opposed to the previous week when big plays did them in.  The defence also made a big stop near the end of the game, giving the Riders a chance to win.  Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.

THINGS THAT DIDN’T

1. Run defence: For the love of all things Green and White, why oh why oh WHY did someone not spy Travis Lulay when he continually ran for big gains??  Because the Riders always love to contribute to CFL history, they helped Lulay rack up 105 rushing yards, a career best for him.

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2. Pass rush: See each of the previous weeks for my comments on this issue, because I don’t feel like repeating myself for the umpteenth time.

3. Energy: The Riders looked like ‘The Walking Dead’ out on the field.  Maybe it was the weather.  Or maybe it was the losing streak looming over their heads, but the Riders showed very little spark.

4. Penalties: The amount of offensive penalties are absolutely killing drives and costing the Riders valuable points.  Hell, even Weston Dressler got a penalty this week!  I continue to be stunned, amazed and perplexed by CFL Command Centre’s interpretation of the new illegal contact rules and its inconsistency.

OFFENSIVE STAR: #33 – JEROME MESSAM, RB

He put up nearly 140 combined yards on Friday night, even after sustaining a vicious, but clean, hit that made him slow to get up.  His average yards per carry is 7.7, which is ridiculous.  If he stays healthy, he’ll be in line for the Riders’ MOP nomination.

DEFENSIVE STAR: #50 – JAKE DOUGHTY

This is solely based on statistics: 6 tackles and one forced fumble.  He led the team in tackles and he always seemed to be around the football.

SPECIAL TEAMS STAR: #38 – TRISTAN JACKSON, DB

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This is more of an honourary award, because TJ looked like he was going to have a good game before being brought down by that rookie BC kicker whose name I refuse to mention.  Get well soon, TJ.

NEXT UP: vs. HAMILTON.  I thought the Riders’ record against the Kitty Cats at Taylor Field was far worse than it actually is.  That being said, Hamilton is a weird team: they win when you’re sure they’re going to lose, and lose when they should win.  I expect another close game, as the Ti-Cats will be a little cranky after losing to the Als last week.

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