Monday, July 20, 2015
THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE
THE OPENING RANT
Hopefully you didn’t come here to find answers for the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 0-4 start to the 2015 CFL season.
Because today I got nothin’.
After confidently, and privately, expecting the Roughriders to charge out of the gates 4-0 before a Week 5 showdown with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Mosaic Stadium this Sunday, I now find myself as confused as anyone with what’s gone on over the past month.
The facts are the facts and they can be dissected any way you want. The Green & White have lost their first four games by a combined 12 points. Three of those have been at home, and three have been against West Division opponents. All bad news.
And if last Friday’s 27-24 loss to the visiting B.C. Lions is any indication, the team is getting worse. It’s the first time all year they never had a lead at any point in a game.
Injuries, of course, are a major factor. However during the golden era of this club dating back to 2007, the use of injuries as an excuse has been beaten out of me. They’ve always seemed to be able to struggle and emerge.
But not now.
The Riders went into the B.C. game with 12 players on their injured list and it grew by a few more over the course of the game including stars Rob Bagg and Tristan Jackson. It truly impacted what they were able to do on the field.
However it was gut-wrenching to see the team take a time count violation and have to burn a timeout while on offense late in the game when they were attempting a rally.
“We had some guys get hurt and when you have to mix and match, it's gonna take some more communication than normal,” explained receiver Chris Getzlaf. “It won't run as smoothly as you’re used to.”
That was clear, and I suppose, understandable. The club also continued to struggle with the new Pass Interference rule instituted by the CFL this spring. These things killed them Friday night. But the good teams adjust, band together, and find a way to overcome all obstacles.
Unfortunately right now the Saskatchewan Roughriders simply aren’t a very good football team.
“The one thing I'll tell you is there's no more tears in my eyes,” said a sombre Rider head coach Corey Chamblin at his postgame news conference. “What I mean by that is the worst has already happened. So it's time for us to stop worrying about what's going to go on on the outside, who's gonna get fired, who's gonna talk bad, stop trying to answer the questions from the outside and answer them from the inside. That's what we have to do.”
And just where did this talk of anybody being fired come from anyway? There’s been heat on Chamblin no doubt, but the first I heard of a firing came from Chamblin himself Tuesday afternoon.
“He's a very sharp guy as you know,” Rider GM Brendan Taman confided to me on the weekend. “I think you get to a point sometimes where you hear so much and you get that negativity around you and you think 'Hey I've had enough of this'. He's really good (mentally). Corey is focused on winning moreso than anyone I've ever been around.“
Chamblin went so far as to say if he’s coaching somewhere other than Saskatchewan next season, he’s prepared for it. But again, where did this talk come from all of a sudden?
“He sure doesn't want that to happen, that's for sure,” Taman continued. “Like anybody in this business, we all get paranoid at some point. When you're losing, a lot of things seep into your mind. But our focus is on getting this thing turned around.”
Worrying about being fired isn’t going to help matters so it’s best for Chamblin and his players to flush this from their minds entirely. However if they themselves don’t think better days are ahead, we truly can shut off the lights.
But I know that’s not the case. If you think you can't do it, then you definitely never will.
The complainers are the same ones who griped back when the team was winning that they weren’t winning by enough points. Darian Durant wasn’t throwing for enough yards. Blah, blah, blah.
Those people never should’ve been listened to in the first place. They love the scandal, the drama, and aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy. These folks demand perfection from others yet are far from perfect themselves.
It’s times like this that I recall a conversation I had with former Rider coach Danny Barrett a decade ago when he said, ‘You’re the team’s voice. If the team could speak, what would it say?’
It would say, “Don’t give up on us yet”.
Each week we provide the postgame analyst from 27-year Roughrider radio colour commentator Carm Carteri. Here's what he had to say after Friday's loss to B.C.:
"I'll tell ya Roddy, the score really flattered the Riders in this one, 27-24 for BC. This was a game that the Riders did not lead at any point in the football game and it felt like it. It felt like the BC Lions were in total domination and in talking about BC, it's all about Travis Lulay. This quarterback, last week he was tentative, but tonight I think he surprised everybody. I'm going to give you a stat that will blow you away: seven rushes unofficially for 103 yards. I think that's the biggest thing the Riders have to address, is allowing Lulay to get outside. He really hurt this football team and not just with the two touchdowns he threw in the air. I think his running controlled this game.
"On the flipside for the Riders, they did not handle the second half well. After coming out of halftime to open the third quarter what did the BC Lions do? They took the opening kickoff down to about the Rider 17 and boom, the very next play, a run play, their great Canadian running back Andrew Harris basically went untouched into the endzone before anybody got back to their seats. Tell you what, give the BC Lions a lot of credit for the way they came in here.
"For the Riders, you can talk about talent or playing for pride, when you're coming up over the ball with the game on the line and you're letting the clock run, there was no real sense when the Riders had the chance to steal it from the Lions like BC did last week in Vancouver. It didn't happen for the Riders and boy oh boy, they're gonna have to go back to that locker room and put the pieces together because they're going to have a hungry Hamilton Tiger-Cats team in here coming in off a loss. But this loss for the Riders, this one's tough.
MONDAY MORNING QUICK HITS
- Proving the slogan We Walk Among You, I ran into a couple of Roughriders on the weekend. OG Chris Best and his wife at the movie theatre on Saturday and WR Rob Bagg at the gas station on Sunday. Bagg left Friday's game with injury, but moved fine while carrying a propane tank two days later.
- Two thumbs up from the MMG, by the way, to the flick Trainwreck. Every seat in the theatre was filled for the show Saturday night. And the hotdogs continued to be the best in town.
- The club informs me the injury to Rob Bagg is not serious and he's tracking to fine. The report of an injury to RB Jerome Messam was false.
- However the injuries to CB/KR/PR Tristan Jackson and REC S.J. Haidara are more serious and they're expected to be out this week.
- I'm also told to expect some "personnel adjustments" this week. That's certainly an ambigous comment, but leads me to believe the club realizes what they're doing right now isn't working and they'll make the necessary moves to correct their approach.
- Rider GM Brendan Taman will be on 620 CKRM's SportsCage today at 5:05 pm. It's the only time the Riders will speak in the media until after Wednesday's Day 1 of practice.
- On May 13, 2015 an article was published regarding Corey Chamblin being called "Mr. Untouchable". It stated that the Riders could go winless in 2015 and the head coach would still retain his job. So ... which is it?
- Regarding the "New CFL" with its rule changes, TSN play-by-play man said during Saturday's Winnipeg-Calgary game "this is getting weird". Colour commentator Glen Suitor chimed in with, "it is".
- In a Twitter poll I conducted over the weekend, I asked respondents if they like the "New CFL". 380 voted 'no' and only 37 voted for 'yes'.
- With this 0-4 record, many around here are pointing to the B.C. Lions' 0-5 start in 2011 before they rallied to win the Grey Cup. Or the 2014 Hamilton Tiger-Cats who started 1-6 before earning a Grey Cup berth. I look instead at the 2014 Winnipeg Blue Bombers who started 5-1 only to miss the playoffs at 7-11. The point? It's still early until the opening third of the season (six games) have been completed.
- Love how the media gets blamed for the Riders' poor play. Trust me, no question I could ask is going to make the team win. Similarly when a team raises the trophy and pronounces, "I'd like to thank the media for their help in us winning the championship!", then I'll share the blame when they falter.
- In sports you've got the team on one side, the fans on the other, and the media in the middle being yelled at by both.
- According to oddsmakers at the online sports book Bovada.lv, the Calgary Stampeders have the best odds to win the Grey Cup at 7/2. The Eskimos have the next best odds (9/2). The rest are B.C. (11/2), Toronto (6/1), Hamilton (13/2), Winnipeg (15/2), Saskatchewan (8/1), Ottawa (25/1). The Montreal Alouettes weren't mentioned!
- Vancouver Province football writer Llowell Ulrich referred to Regina as "the football capital of Canada" in a Friday article.
- According to the Calgary Sun, former Roughrider Jock Sanders has put his 2014 Stampeders Grey Cup ring up for sale online. The asking price? $15,000. Obviously he wants to hold onto his 2013 Roughriders Grey Cup ring.
- Former Rider defensive line coach Mike Walker begins a new job this week as a small business banker based in Pullman, WA. He's one of the finest guys to come through here.
- Had a great visit with Lions assistant coaches George Cortez and Johnny Holland on Friday. Both are former Rider assistants. Holland and I discussed Saturday night's #4 jersey retirement in Green Bay for Brett Favre which was carried live on the NFL Network. It was a four hour ceremony. "It'll be a great time!" Holland, a Packers Hall of Famer said. "Brett loves to party!"
- A survey published by Emory University in Atlanta, GA last week found that the Dallas Cowboys have the NFL's best fans for a fourth-straight year. Their data was based on which fanbase spends the most money on its team. The Miami Dolphins were found to have the worst fans.
- The Arizona Cardinals were found to have the biggest "bandwagon" fanbase. This was based on the team's attendance figures as they relate to the team's record. Oh how I'd love to see a survey like this done for the CFL! I'd conduct it myself, but the results would be skewed by Rider fan voters.
- Congratulations to the 12 inductees into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame over the weekend in Humbodlt! Former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wendel Clark led the way along with Dave 'Tiger" Williams, Vic Lynn and Guile Fielder in the players category.
The builders category saw Dave King, Dr. Gerry Rooney and Jackie McLeod get inducted while the 1934 Saskatoon Quakers, the Simpson Flyers senior hockey team and the 2002-03 Humboldt Broncos went in in the teams category. Kevin Muench was inducted in the officials category while Elgar Peterson was named to the grassroots section.
- Regina Pats great Bill Hicke passed away 10 years ago on Saturday. The occasion was marked on Facebook by his son Danny, who now lives in Phoenix.
- Regina's fourth Gold's Gym location will be opening in September behind the Victoria Square Mall. Join now with their introductory offer of $10/month! See you there.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY. TIME FOR DOWN MONTH TO END!