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Monday, July 18, 2016

THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE


REGINA -- Well Rider Nation, where are we at this morning?

Or in the words of the immortal John Lynch - the Hall of Fame Roughrider broadcaster from the 1970's and 80's -, "Where do we go from here, caller?"

Your Jolly Green Giants are the CFL's only winless team at 0-3 following their latest defeat, 40-27 at the hands of the B.C. Lions Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium.  In the fourth quarter of Saturday's game when Lions punter Richie Leone hit a 69-yard punt single and their point total hit 40, I winced.  That's a lot of points to give up.

And the script continued to follow the disturbing narrative from the past two years; without Darian Durant, this team can't win.

The Face of the Franchise went down with a "lower body injury" in the second quarter of Saturday's game, with his Roughriders leading 10-7.  And has has been the case with Tino Sunseri, Seth Doege, Kerry Joseph, Kevin Glenn, Brett Smith and now the little-known Mitchell Gale, no back-up has been able to rally this team to victory without the vaunted Riders' #4.

No coaching staff has discovered the magic formula to overcome Durant's absence either.  At least, not yet.

Had Durant finished Saturday's game, Saskatchewan wins it.  Hands down.  But for whatever reason, the roof over Canada's Team habitually falls in without their leader.

Why do defensive backs suddenly have brain farts and blow coverages when Durant's watching on the sidelines in a t-shirt and ball cap?  Why can't defenders hang onto a sure interception even when Durant's not even on the field?  It's what's called "a phenomena".  The unexplained.

The Webster's Dictionary definition of "phenomena":  "something (such as an interesting fact or event) that can be observed and studied and that typically is unusual or difficult to understand or explain."

Bingo.

The impact of Darian Durant on this franchise's fortunes is truly inexplicable and definitely underrated.  And now the team is, again, looking at making plans for "Life Without Darian" as they prepare to host the Ottawa RedBlacks this Friday night at Mosaic Stadium.  Durant's immediate status is uncertain, other than the pivot told reporters on the weekend that the injury is not long-term.

And it's time to face facts.  Since Darian Durant went down with a season-ending injury in the 2014 Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg, the club is 5-25.

That is a helluva lot of losing.

Is it any wonder none of the three home games this year have been sellouts?

Now you can't hang much of this on the new Saskatchewan Roughrider braintrust of Chris Jones and John Murphy because they're not responsible for anything that happened prior to 2016.  But they understand that losing does not go over well in the 306 and know full well that the natives are getting restless.

"I know this: we've got a lot of character in that room and I saw a lot of bright eyes in there," said a hopeful Chris Jones after Saturday's game.  "Hadn't been that long ago (in 2011), B.C. started 0-5 and ended up going to the Grey Cup.  It's a long season and we've gotta just continue to scratch and claw and we've got a good solid character group, players and coaches included.

"All we can do is all we can do.  We're not gonna throw the baby out with the bathwater."

It's clear Saskatchewan is slowly falling in love with Jones, his southern drawl and folksy sayings but these fans would turn on their own mother if she had a losing record.

31,014 Rider fans nearly filled the stadium on Saturday and they showed up with a chip on their shoulder.  It was a perfect summer night and the fans were primed for a victory.  They were loud, and had a serious edge.  But they left silent and dejected with 2:06 remaining when their team turned it over on downs.

And now, we wait to see how the fanbase deals with an 0-3 start this week.  The Roughriders understand if the fans are upset.

"Of course," shrugged Jones' righthand man John Murphy.  "I'm not saying that's their role but that's their role.  When we're winning you should be supportive, happy and content but if we win one in-a-row, you want to see two.  If we win 10 in-a-row, you want to see 11.  You never should be satisfied as a fan no matter how well we're doing, and then be okay with the fact if we give our best for four quarters and it doesn't turn out.  I'm very fine with you being as hyper-critical as you want to because it's your dollars."

These are football guys who know the score and aren't insecure.  In a refreshing change of philosophy around here, they're going to give it to you straight.

Now it's up to YOU whether you want to hang around on the bangwagon to see how it all plays out, beginning this Friday night and in the subsequent weeks leading up to November.

Are you living with this team or are you dying with this team?

I'd truly love to know.

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9 MONDAY QUICK HITS

1 - BROOKS AND DONE:  There's no question that the low hit by B.C. defensive tackle Micha'el Brooks was a deliberate attempt to injure Darian Durant.  The Lions' #90 was falling at Durant's feet but he swooped his legs in a "slewfoot" motion and clipped the Rider quarterback in the back of the legs.  However when the CFL head office examines the tape early this week, the worst punishment Brooks will suffer is likely to be a fine.

On play #14 Brooks was flagged for facemasking Durant while play #47 was the one where he took out Durant's legs.  There was talk this spring that any player guilty of two major fouls would be ejected from the game but that idea was not included in the list of rule changes that was announced on April 7.

2 - C'MON GUYS:  I was appalled to read the media's reaction on Twitter to Friday's eyesore of a game in Montreal, a Hamilton 31-7 victory over the Alouettes.  It's fine to point out that the game was a debacle, but one reporter said he was only there because he was being paid while another wondered what CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge would say about the game, since he was in attendance.  Like Orridge had any control over what was going on on the field.

Any CFL fan reading these reports certainly wouldn't be scrambling to turn the television on to watch the game.  Is that what we want?  Dissuading fans from our product?  It's not necessarily the media's responsiblity to promote the CFL but what happened Friday night on Twitter was a "snowball effect" of negative coverage with each reporter trying one-up the next guy with snide remarks about the game.

To me, it went far over the line.

3 - WOE IS WINNIPEG:  Edmonton receiver Adarius Bowman ate up the Blue Bombers to the tune of 185 yards in the Eskimos' 20-16 victory over the Blue & Gold.  TSN panelist Jock Climie observed that things might be different for the Bombers - and quarterback Drew Willy - if they had a game-changing receiver like Bowman in their lineup.  I thought that comment was quite a stretch because it would take far more than Bowman to make Winnipeg a contender at this point.

Now the hand-wringing in Winnipeg has resumed with the Bombers' 1-3 start and calls for Head Coach Mike O'Shea's head are being heard far and wide.  However it's the play of Drew Willy which should be of utmost concern and while watching the game, I thought to myself maybe we jumped the gun on annointing Willy among the league's elite quarterbacks.  TSN 1290 Winnipeg's Troy Westwood feels Willy has never recovered mentally from the severe concussion and knee injuries he's suffered in the past and he may never be the same again.

Really it's up to Drew to prove everybody wrong, and turn this Bomber season around.

4 - TAMPERING:  Major League Baseball's investigation into the All Star break comments by Boston's David Ortiz regarding his Red Sox signing pending free agent Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays had rammifications across all pro sports.  Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning was harshly fined for making similar off-the-cuff remarks about NHL free agents at last month's Draft.

It's easy for the league office to investigate such public remarks but it's far more difficult to nail down the true tampering - that done via text message, email or phone conversations by league Presidents, General Managers or coaches.

The greatest example of this in the CFL is the Riders luring Chris Jones away from the Eskimos and the still-unanswered question of:  When exactly did Rider President Craig Reynolds contact Jones for the first time?

We'll never know, and that's why tampering will never be snuffed out entirely.

Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge introduced a splashy new Anti-Tampering Policy this off-season but all it's done is cause management types to go even more "underground" in their recruiting.

I suggest leagues stop the fruitless exercise of eliminating tampering because they never will get rid of it entirely.

5 - GLUEY HUGHIE:  I can't remember when I've had as much fun as interviewing all those members of the 1966 Grey Cup champion Riders last week.  They included George Reed, Dale West, Wayne Shaw, Hugh Campbell and Alan Ford and the club said it really enhanced ticket sales.

Thursday was our chance to interview Campbell - a 2000 inductee into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame - and I asked him if the "Rider Pride" tradition began in the 1960's when he showed up from Saratoga, CA.  However Hughie said it was already alive and well when he showed up in 1963.

When he recounted all of the things Rider fans did back then (staging rallies for the team, decorating their houses in green and white, travelling on the road for games), it was remarkable because they're still doing all the same things.

Where and when did this phenomenon start?

6 - BLACKOUTS:  The Riders will likely be scrambling to sell seats for this Friday's home game against the Ottawa RedBlacks.  They even introduced a "Flash Special" last week, blowing out endzone seats for about $20.

It's supposed to be a long, hot week and hopefully by Friday fans will be in the mood to come watch the Riders in a night game at home.

However the allure of staying home and watching on television may simply be far too great.

The Riders haven't blacked out a televised home game since 2006 and my guess is they never will again.

However if attendance dips below 90% of capacity, they'll be well within their rights to.

Many of us thought the Farewell Season would be an automatic sellout from pillar to post.

Guess we don't know everything.

7 - OH WHAT A FEELING!:  This never gets old -


That's two straight weeks in the money!  It didn't take long to figure out the nuances of the Canadian football game and how to best-use them to win at DraftKings.

Would it be worthwhile to stage a Fantasy Football segment in the SportsCage weekly?  This enhancement to the CFL has made the games infinitely more enjoyable.

8 - SMASHING MILESTONES:  This blog topped 16-million all-time hits over the weekend and I'm proud to say our new policy on Anonymous Commenting has done nothing to hinder readership.  Thank you for your continued support and here's to many more years of reporting on the Roughriders and the local sports scene on this blog!

9 - ONE MORE:  I'd like to wish long-time Rider Radio analyst Carm Carteri a belated Happy 60th Birthday!  We celebrated Carm's birthday in his backyard on Sunday with several Rider alumni and close family and friends of the Carm's.  His family truly went above and beyond with this birthday cake commemorating Taylor Field and the old Carteri house where Carm was raised on Garnet Street right in the shadow of the Grand Ol' Lady.



------

THAT'S IT!  SEE YOU ON THE RADIO ..
RP
@rodpedersen

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

#90 Brooks also took a roughing the passer when Gale was in. 3 roughing the passers by him that game.
And I agree, he tried 100% to injure Durant. Brooks has to be suspended.

Anonymous said...

The half-time event for the 1966 Grey Cup was very special and well done. The film highlights were great!

For many of us grey hairs in the stands it was the first and last time we will witness a 50th anniversary celebration of a Rider Grey Cup team.

Try to imagine the 50th anniversary of the 2013 team in 2063. At half time in the "new" Mosaic Stadium and old-timers Durant, Sheets, Geroy, Dressler, Chick et al out on the field receiving appreciation from a generation of fans most who were not alive in 2013.

Old Hank

willie said...

Hey Rod.... Why can't Anonymous names be used on here ? There seems to be an Administrator that cuts off bad language and obscene comments every once in awhile so why can't the same Administrator just delete any JUNK comments that are made on here ?

Jordan Patzwald said...

I am so SICK of people saying if Durant stays in, The Riders Win! STOP IT!

Mitchell Gale went 17/30 245 1 TD, with 0 Turnovers. Durant's injury did not cost us this game.

Injuries to Brendan Labatte and Shamawd Chambers hurt the Riders far more. They are 2 Nationals and when they got hurt, it hurt our ratio significantly.

Didn't anyone notice we had to take out Curtis Steele at Running Back, and we also got a lot weaker at DB?

Andrew Walter had to come in and did okay, but soon, BC exploited the absence of Steele, and the sacks started piling up in the 2nd half.

Also, CDN DB Tevaughn Campbell came in. An already green defense, just got greener by being forced to have 2 CDNs in the secondary. Obviously, Jennings picked it apart like he was the best QB in the league.

Side note, Kudos to Chris Jones and John Murphy, Mitchell Gale looks far better than any training camp arm. (other than Durant) Lots of amazing throws, leading the receiver to let them keep running post-catch, throwing in tight windows, and NO TURNOVERS!

I think he'll give us a fair shot to win some games, as long as the other phases of the game get clicking.

Clarkenstein said...

No D No W!

Anonymous said...

Don't go blaming Campbell because our defence had him covering the slot and wideout on the same play. The least they could have done was disguise that better.

John Waynes can of snuff

geestewie said...

Jordan you make some good points. The thing with Durant in there is the peace of mind and confidence he brings to the other players. Though not an excuse, it's clearly evident.

Labatte and Chambers and Cox going down were just as key, though the coaches did a good job to shuffle things around. Replacing Steele with Walters was a prime example and then Walters got injured too. He could certainly be used ala Neil Hughes way back when. Lots of similarities there IMO. Run game as a whole has to be better though, there's no immediate threat there.

Gale looked impressive given the short time he's been here. I caution the fanbase though after 1 game (see: Smith, Brett c. 2015). He seems to have more going for him though unlike Smith, Sunseri, et al.

The biggest gaffe from this game was Special Teams by far. Coverages were awful, returns weren't much better and we had far too many penalties.

The sky isn't falling around these parts; lots of potential surrounding this team. We just have to clean things up and the boys have to continue to grow together.

Keep the faith, Rider Nation!

Anonymous said...

Gale didn't get the Riders a first down in the 2nd half until the 4th quarter.

Anonymous said...

Jordan does make some valid points, but he obviously has no clue as to what losing a leader is like. DD is the heart and soul of that team and everyone knows it. As soon as he didn't come out for the 2nd half, I knew they were done. They did too.

I agree with you Rod, if Darian stays in the game, the Riders win going away.


Todd

Christopher said...

Rod, you really have to stop referring to the riders as Canada's team... Because if this is Canada'a team it is bloody embarrassing. There are 9 teams in Canada and no one team respects us all... You are making a huge assumption that if Durant stays in the riders win... You are saying that BC makes no adjustments, they do not change their game plan (as they actually did) to improve and exploit the riders weakness then the riders may have won. but to bold state that if Durant is not injured the riders win is a ridiculous statement. One last thing, to your comments that says Mic'hael Brooks (please note I spelled his name correctly) 100% tried to injure Durant is ridiculous and pathetic. If your Oline did not toss Brooks at Durant he would have been fine. Was this not exactly like the low and dangerous hit on Jennings that the ref did not call at the end of the 3rd quarter which was an obvious attempt to injury as he was not touched by a Lion player. I guess Jennings is just a tougher than that made of glass Durant.

Anonymous said...

Logically, the Ottawa Redblacks are now Canada's team, at least until the Riders can find is groove again.

Don Mitchell said...

Hey Rod, you are letting in anonymous comments again?
The inability of special teams to get past the 25 yard line (coupled with the penalties) killed us in the 3rd quarter.
Jennings receivers also made some killer catches as well.

Get well soon DD, and cmon Mitch!

Anonymous said...

Taman + O'Day, take Sumseri over Jennings, huh?????

Reginald of Regina said...

Time to go away. Telling the owner of this web site what he can and can not say is ridiculous. BC's #90 was on a rampage to do what ever Damage he could to the QB. I have never seen the same player get 3 roughing the passer calls in one game. When he took out Durants legs he pulled his legs together to hit the QB's legs with full force.

Heptiro said...

I believe the Rider Fan "phenomenon" started when the city went nuts over QB Glenn Dobbs about 1953. There were "Dobberville" signs everywhere. As a kid I had zero interest in the game or the Riders but during that period I think everyone in Regina and Sask became a fan including me.
DD going down hurt the team but the Defensive breakdown hurt more. Most Fans understand it will take some time to get on track in the meantime the Riders will suffer losses. Just don't pull a Scruffy and tell the Fans the Riders will put a "wuppin" on anyone .....yet.

tskware said...

So Winnipeg is calling for Mike OSheas job? Remember they have one more win than the Riders do. I think the Riders will be better in the long run, but all we know for certain is what the standings say right now and Winnipeg is one game up on the Riders.

Anonymous said...

Hey, it was great to see the members of the '66 Grey Cup in attendance. I was able to get into the autograph session at the Sports Hall of Fame. Due to time constraints they could not let everyone who was lined up outside into the venue. It was distressing to see two so-called Rider fans BULLY their way in from back in the line after the ladies manning the door announced that the autograph session was now closed because the '66 Rider members had to get ready to leave to the FanFest at Mosaic. Not only did these 2 guys bully their way in, but they refused to leave......purely disgraceful!!

Terrance said...

Gale played ok not good enough to win. The team has a letdown when Durant is out of the game. Momentum wins games, if the QB or defense cant make the plays to get it back then the game is lost. Momentum relies on more than 1 play or 1 series, the next series or 2 are as important as the first one to change it. Riders are to incinsistant on both sides of the ball without Darian. EXCELLANT READ TODAY ROD!!!

w said...

So far, all this team really has are reputations. That was fine for preseason, but until the W column gets some W's they are a winless football team no matter how much green lipstick you put on the pigskin.

Reginald of Regina said...

I have been to each home game this year. Even watched a punch happy fan ejected from the game right beside section 104. Took a while for security to get there. He was able to inflict a lot more damage. It was a bad scene.
What I'm concerned about in the game is that our kick off receiving team looks like it has regressed. I can't believe that Dickenson has this group looking so terrible. To watch how smooth BC was on both the kick off and kick receive teams versus SK was almost embarrassing. When you can't run the ball back over the 18 yard line. Your in trouble. The other thing that this game showed is how weak we are in depth. I'm sorry to say that I don't see anywhere that the Riders have Depth. It seemed every injury in this game hurt this team substantially. I know that you have to give a new regime time to implement their 3 year plan. However I don't see this team getting anywhere near .500 this 1st year. I agree Coach that you don't throw the baby out with the bath water. However the baby's are usually way down the depth chart. This team needs a victory real soon. I can't see any chance of that on Friday. How long is Darian gone for now. The wolves that were kept at bay because of his injuries these past 2 years are frothing at the mouth. The Riders paid Darian $1 million over the past 2 years. They can't have another season where Darian looks from the sideline taking that kind of pay fingers crossed for a quick recovery. Otherwise the wolves will be screaming for a new QB. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.... I thought blackouts were gone forever as part of the TV deal. I think you might be wrong about that 90% assertion. However, I could be wrong too. :)

Anonymous said...

As a season ticket holder I took advantage today of the opportunity to get tickets to the Rams vs Huskies game on October 1 at the new Mosaic Stadium. It remains unclear as to the seating plan. Does anyone know whether the seating will be the same as at the old Mosaic Stadium for Ram game days - first come, first served open seat selection? Or will actual seats and rows be assigned like at a Rider game?

Walt

Reginald of Regina said...

I agree 110% with this Post. Even if the "W" stands for Winnipeg. Facts are facts. This team no longer has the luxury of giving hope by saying the players are a good group of guys. Until this team puts a few W's up on the board. It's all just a bunch of conjecture! Which means nothing

Doug said...

What Hughie didnt remember, is that bus from the airport went to the Armories, where 5,000 fans had been waiting over a couple hours. I was 15 and went with my parents. The plane was late and everybody waited. There was only about 6 sq inches to stand in, but the fans were very joyful and did not mind waiting at all.

Even in those days, there were many fans that went to the practices at the Exhibition grounds, inside the track. I went most nights after school, right up to the Grey Cup.

3RD and 1 said...

I'm just going to say it.
I have that exact same 2014-2015 ugly feeling in my gut when I think about the state of the Riders. Call me small or insecure or any other name that fits the bill. I had some hope before the BC game. Seeing what happened in Edmonton. The watching the EE barely squeek out a win in Winnipeg. Combined with a second half against BC. That ugly feeling from the past 2 seasons returned. There is no substance to this team. No main course. Someone tell me where on this team of mustard and gravy there is hope.

Anonymous said...

Two football teams suffering long term professional consequence from ta man and company reign of error, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Saskatchewan Roughriders. Enough said!

Bobby Rew

Ricky Bobby said...

Have yerself another brew Bobby Rew. The ta man brought us a Grey Cup two years ago. Ya probably ain't gonna see that agin!

John Knight said...

People. we have played only 3 games, take a breath and relax. There are 15 more games to play and we will be fine. Stop jumping on and off the bandwagon and give the coaches a chance. No-one expected a dirty play would take out our QB. Typical Buono coaching

Lee said...

i am only a fan not a coach or gm but we are head and shoulders above last year .Count me on the band wagon until dec.

Anonymous said...

2013 GC courtesy of league collusion once the game was awarded to Sask to appease a long suffering fanbase. Enough said!

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that Darian Durant's brother, linebacker Justin, has signed a one year deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

Lyle Pederson said...

Lifting blackouts had a huge impact on Rider interest in this widely dispersed Rider Nation. Of course winning seasons were the needed criteria but don't underestimate the role of being able to watch you team's games. Blackouts are just a symptom of marketing failure.