Rider Review – Week 3: Deja Vu

lossIt might have been a new week on the schedule, but for the Riders, it might as well have been a repeat of last week.

For the second week in a row, we did not watch the Riders lose this game.

Instead, we watched them give it away yet again.

A glutton for punishment, I re-watched the last 2:21 minutes of the game, and while there were bad penalties, a controversial review of a third down gamble and missed tackles galore, I could not help but think that there was one thing, and one thing only, that should be blamed for the loss of a ten point lead and eventually the game:

Coaching.hoo

For whatever reason, the Riders aren’t being put in position to win.

Last week, it was poor time management.  This week, it was poor decision-making.

Instead of punting the ball away and forcing the Lions to march down the field to kick a field goal to tie while being up three points with 1:00 left in the 4th quarter, Coach Chamblin decided to send in the short yardage team on 3rd and 1/2 a yard.

The result?  The Riders couldn’t convert, and BC was already nearly in field goal territory.

Next, the Riders declined an illegal procedure penalty.  Instead of putting the Lions at 1st and 15, it was 2nd and 10.

A short pass and a field goal later, the game was tied and going into overtime.

Or was it?  The Riders still had 12 seconds to possibly get into field goal position to try and win the game in regulation.

Instead, the Riders knelt down successfully (as Jim Daley, the White Zombie, would say) and forewent any chance of putting the game away.

In the ensuing mini-game, it was 3rd and a few inches and Coach Chamblin vacillated between going for it and kicking a field goal.

He went with a field goal, and the Lions won by scoring a touchdown a few plays later.hoooooo

Two weeks in a row, the Riders have led going into the final minute of the football game.  And two weeks in a row, they’ve not only lost those leads, but the games themselves.

A pattern is emerging – and the pattern shows that the coaches have a lot of work left to do.

Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t.

THINGS THAT WORKED

1. Weston Dressler: Possibly motivated by team mate Ryan Smith’s coming out party last week, Dressler had his best game in quite some time with 9 catches for 122 yards and two TDs.  After spending most of last year with the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s good to have Dressler back with the team on a permanent basis.

2. Running game: Apparently I know nothing (although this should be rather apparent if you read my predictions every week and then look at the actual results).  Here I thought the Riders would be about as pure of a passing team as you could be in the CFL, yet they lead the league in rushing.  The tandem of Jerome Messam and Anthony Allen put up over 170 yards on Friday night, and the running game has certainly opened up the passing game.  Given how successful the running game has been so far this season, it’d be nice to see the Riders use it to their advantage in 2nd and short or 3rd and short situations.

3. Tyree Hollins: While he got burnt on Emmanuel Arceneaux’s OT touchdown, he was more than capable in his first start.  Starting in place of Marshay Green, he did not look out of place and had a few key tackles.  At the age of 24, he potentially has a long career ahead of him as he appears to have the tools to be a solid DB.

4. Red zone conversions: After settling for four field goals last week, the Riders scored TDs every time they were past BC’s 20 yard line.  On the other side of the ball, the Riders kept BC from doing the same during regulation, a big improvement from last week.

effTHINGS THAT DIDN’T

1. Pass rush: I repeat my thoughts from last week:  

You ask why it didn’t work?  BECAUSE IT WAS NON-EXISTENT.  A game where John Chick isn’t even mentioned is not a good game.  In the ‘new’ CFL where defenders cannot cover receivers as they once did, a defence requires a pass rush in order to be aggressive.  Otherwise, your secondary is left trying to cover receivers that will undoubtedly either get open or draw a pass interference flag.  The defensive line was supposed to be one of the Riders’ strengths, and through two games it’s been less than ordinary.

In addition, those three man defensive fronts have to go.

2. Secondary coverage: While overall the coverage appeared to be a lot tighter this week (and it really couldn’t have been any looser), it still broke down at key times, allowing a lot of long completions.  For instance, Austin Collie tiptoed along the sideline to score the TD that allowed the Lions to get back into the game.  But there’s still a lot of rooom for improvement, as Travis Lulay threw for over 400 yards and five different BC receivers had more than 50 yards on Friday night.  Yuck.

3. Situational decisions: See above.

4. Discipline: The secondary continues to have trouble with the new illegal contact rule, but what continues to be so frustrating is how the Riders’ offence continues to take penalties that negate first downs.  This time, a TD was taken off the board due to a penalty.  While the Riders eventually got that go-ahead TD, it was mainly due to a number of ill-timed BC penalties that extended the drive.  The Riders need to play a lot smarter, as the number of penalties is simply unacceptable.

OFFENSIVE STAR: TIE – #7 Weston Dressler, SBbah

As stated above, he’s baaaaaaaaaaack.

DEFENSIVE STAR: #37 – Tyree Hollins, DB

A solid game by the rookie, as I discussed above.

SPECIAL TEAMS STAR: #39- Ray Early, P

His punting average was nearly 50 yards.  Too bad he didn’t get a chance to pin the Lions deep late in the 4th quarter.

NEXT UP: vs. BC. The second part of the home and home series goes on Friday night at Taylor Field.  The Riders will definitely have revenge on their minds, and they’ll be desperate to win their first game of the season.  Hopefully the boo birds don’t come out.

Rider Review – Week 2: Close, But Not Quite

cg

Appearances can be deceiving.

For instance, look at the statistics for the Rider offence in this game:

587 total yards, 477 yards passing, 110 yards rushing,  and 4 TDs

Impressive, not?

Would it surprise you, though, that even with those gaudy numbers, the Riders still managed to lose?

Another stellar effort from the offence was stymied by a defence that could not put pressure on the Arblows’ defensive line, nor figure out how to cover the backfield.  The result?  A 42-40 loss in double OT.

After the game, Coach Chamblin put the blame squarely on the offence.  His comments focused on the Riders’ inability to find the end zone when deep in opposing territory and an ill-timed interception.  As for his defence, though?  A defence that allowed the Arblows to march down the field and score the game-tying TD in the remaining seconds of the game?  Apparently it’s on the right track.

For Coach Chamblin, appearances are deceiving, as he clearly does not see what everyone else does.

Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t.

THINGS THAT WORKED

kg

1. Passing game: Kevin Glenn, whom I’m now only going to refer to as KG, threw for nearly 500 yards.  When’s the last time a QB threw for that many yards in a loss?  (I don’t know.  Do you?)  He showed resilience after throwing an interception midway through the 4th quarter by leading the offence down field near the end of the game for a go ahead TD.  He also engineered two TD drives in OT.

2. Running game: Jerome Messam had another solid game with nearly 100 yards on the ground.  Dear football gods: You’ve already taken Darian away – please let Jerome stay healthy!  The only mark on the scoresheet was a fumble by Anthony Allen.

3. Ryan Smith: This kid’s gonna be a star.  His amazing somersault of a catch in the 4th quarter brought Mosaic to its feet, and his 8 receptions for 174 yards and a TD put the CFL on notice.

POG

4. Receiving coreI can’t think of one dropped pass.  Another solid outing by this group.

5. Kicking game: Paul McCallum nailed 4 field goals and Ray Early continued to impress with a punting average of 59 yards (somewhat wind-aided).  No longer do I cringe when the Riders are punting or kicking field goals.

6. Punt/kickoff coverage: A day when Chad Owens doesn’t have a big return is a good day for a coverage team.

THINGS THAT DIDN’T

1. Pass rush: You why it didn’t work?  BECAUSE IT WAS NON-EXISTENT.  A game where John Chick isn’t even mentioned is not a good game.  In the ‘new’ CFL where defenders cannot cover receivers as they once did, a defence requires a pass rush in order to be aggressive.  Otherwise, your secondary is left trying to cover receivers that will undoubtedly either get open or draw a pass interference flag.  The defensive line was supposed to be one of the Riders’ strengths, and through two games it’s been less than ordinary.

penalty

2. Secondary coverage: I don’t like to give Glen Suitor a lot of credit, but I couldn’t help but agree with him later in the game as he continually drew the viewers’ attention to the big hole left in the middle of the secondary because Tyron Brackenridge (TBrack) was playing so far back.  The Arblows attacked that hole over and over again, leading to long drives and TDs, especially in OT.  The soft zone defence that the Riders have been playing over the last two games isn’t so much soft as completely porous.  I don’t know if defenders are scared of drawing flags or what the issue is, but again, there’s no aggressiveness in the secondary, and that was its calling card last year.

3. Time Management: When you have the ball with 1:10 left on the clock and it’s 1st and Goal, you DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT HURRY UP AND SNAP THE BALL.  What do you do instead?  Well, first you line up and get the clock running.  Then you wait until the 20 second clock counts down to 1 and you then you snap the ball and fall forward.  Then you line up and do the same thing again.  Then you line up for a field goal.  You wait until the 20 second clock counts down to 1 again, and you kick the field goal, leaving about 10 seconds left in the game.  Then you kickoff the ball, stop the returner, and then let the opposing team try a Hail Mary, which will more than likely fail. THAT is what you do.

4. Discipline: Two facemasking penalties on the offensive line.  A clipping penalty that warrants supplementary discipline.  Many offsides (TBrack – you need to practice the timing on your safety blitz).  Roughing the passer.  Pass interference.  Too many men.  It’s tough to win football games when you’re negating big plays by taking penalties.

OFFENSIVE STAR: TIE – #5 Kevin Glenn, QB and #2 Ryan Smith, WR

I talked about the great games both of these guys had above.  They’re developing chemistry, and it’ll only get better as the season goes along.  It’s nice to have another speedy threat on the field to bring some of the coverage away from Weston Dressler.

DEFENSIVE STAR: #50 – Jake Doughty, LB

No one on defence really deserve a star, but kudos to the rookie who made an acrobatic catch in order to get his first interception in his first start.

doughty

SPECIAL TEAMS STAR: #15 – Paul McCallum, PK

The 45 year old went 4/4 in his first game action this season, and like usual, it looked effortless.

NEXT UP: @ BC. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Riders as they travel west to take on the Cowardly Lions.  As both teams heavily rely on their aerial attacks, this game could be a bit of a shoot out.

Week 2 Recap

What the…??

wow

 

My thoughts exactly, kid.  What is going on in the CFL??

Let’s take a quick look at all of the things I have been so very wrong about thus far this CFL season:

  • The Arblows and Alouettes, have not been the doormats I thought they would be. 
  • The RODBLACKS are undefeated thus far, which I would have bet my ENTIRE YEAR’S SALARY against. 
  • The Schmoes’ defence has looked terrible, instead of the dominating force I predicted. 
  • The Stumps looked shellshocked in their game against Montreal, and lost to a rookie QB who was on the practice roster the week before.
  • Trevor (No Name) Harris has been stellar, as have the Arblows in general. 
  • Bovine Mitchell has started one-hopping throws, which is just weird – but also wonderful. 
  • Darian Durant is hurt AGAIN.
  • The Riders’ leading receiver is some guy named Ryan Smith – aka Dressler 2.0.  (See his amazing 4th quarter catch here.)
  • The Riders’ defence sucks.  

And so on and so forth…

But that’s what makes the CFL the unique league it is – no lead is safe, and you should always expect the unexpected. 

I was 2-2 with my picks this past week, one of which had the Riders losing. (I was kind of hoping to be wrong about that one.)

Here’s a recap of the weekend’s games: 

  • The football gods continue to be unkind to QBs as Free (Drew) Willy went down while the ‎Bumblers hosted the Tiger Cats. What started out as a tight contest turned into a shellacking as the Kitty Cats scored more than 30 points in the first half. Remember when I said that the Bumblers’ defence really didn’t look that good last week? The ‘Cats proved me right (for once this season).  Final score: Kitty Cats 52, Bumblers 26.  
  • What the h-e-double hockey sticks happened on Thursday night in Montreal to make the Stumps look like actual stumps on Friday? Bovine Mitchell missed tons of throws, the Stumps’ defence was porous and made The Rookie (Rakeem Cato in a stunning debut) look like Ricky Ray in his prime. Don’t get me wrong – I’m mostly happy with the outcome, because it keeps the Stumps with the rest of the pack in the West Division, but for the sake of my football pool, well – it kind of sucksFinal score: Les Alouettes 29, Stumps 11.  
  • Well lookee here – we’ve got ourselves a real football team! The RODBLACKS put together another solid effort by beating the Leos at home by a score of 27-16. Most impressive, though, was the RODBLACKS’ comeback when down in the 4th ‎quarter. I’m not convinced they’ll be able to keep us this calibre of play all season, but they’re definitely not a free space on the bingo card these days. As for BC? Le Grand Orange made it through the entire game. That is promising. Final score: RODBLACKS 27, Cowardly Lions 16.
  • I cannot believe I’m about to say this, but BRING RICHIE HALL AND HIS 10 YARD CUSHIONS BACK. At least his defence ‎had some modicum of a pass rush. Rushing 3 linemen and yet allowing opposing receivers to be wide open when there are 9 other defenders in the backfield is simply inexcusable. Yes KG threw an ill-timed interception – but he led the team down the field for a go-ahead TD and to two TDs in overtime. Coach: When your QB throws for nearly 500 yards and your offence puts up 40 points and yet you blame the offence for the loss because it left points on the field, I have to question whether or not you were actually watching the game. John Chick was nowhere to be found today. That’s a symptom of a much bigger problem, which is that this defence has no teeth. Or, to use a more sports-appropriate metaphor, balls.  Final score: Arblows 42, Riders 40.  

A full breakdown and analysis of the Rider game will be posted tomorrow.  Have a great Monday!