Realty One

Monday, August 1, 2016



REGINA -- "One step forward and two steps back."

That's the title and chorus from a great country song from 1988 by the Desert Rose Band which hit #2 on the Billboard charts.  The next line goes, "Nobody gets too far like that."

That catchy tune wouldn't leave my head Friday night as we were leaving Percival Molson Stadium in Montreal following the Alouettes' 41-3 drubbing of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

One week after the upstart Roughriders surprised the previously-unbeaten Ottawa RedBlacks 30-29 in Regina - raising fans' hopes mightily in the process - the Jolly Green Giants went out and rolled over for the Alouettes.

One step forward and two steps back.

It was one of those "burn the film" scenarios where the mere thought of revisiting the game makes you sick to your stomach.  In fact, as first-year Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones attempts to rebuild this franchise back to respectability and greatness, he's likely singlehandedly keeping Pepto Bismol in business.

Friday's game in La Belle Province was Pepto Dismal.

It was ages ago so there's no need to dig deep into a recap of the game here.  Suffice it to say the Riders' biggest worry going into the game was an offensive line which featured five players out of position.  All five linemen weren't with the Riders last year and four of them were rookies.

Yikes!  Surely they'd get eaten alive by the fearsome Front 7 from Montreal featuring John Bowman, Chip Cox, Bear Woods and Winston Venable.

But as it turned out, the hoggies were the least of Saskatchewan's concerns.  They only gave up one sack and kept their quarterback - Mitchell Gale - upright for most of the night.  Kudos to Offensive Line coach Mike Scheper for his excellent work in readying his group.

But that Rider defense!  Double yikes.  Montreal quarterback Kevin Glenn looked vintage, completing 75% of his passes and throwing two touchdowns as the Dirty Birds had their way with Chris Jones' defenders who gave up a season-high in points.  All of that coming on just three days rest for Montreal.

That's what has the Rider Nation up in arms as we enter Week 7 and now the first of a back-to-back set with the rival Calgary Stampeders looms this Thursday in Cowtown.

In their five games this year Saskatchewan has allowed, in order, 30, 39, 40, 29 and 41 points.  That leads the CFL by a country mile and while the special teams and offense took their turns imploding the other night (a Mitchell Gale first quarter fumble in Als territory with the Riders only down 8-0 comes to mind), we are still impatiently waiting for the vaunted Chris Jones Defense to show up.

And this is where a calmer head should prevail.

Chris Jones can't be punished for the sins of the past regime.  And bemoaning Saskatchewan's struggles in Montreal over the years has nothing to do with this current group.  It's human nature to say we're tired of losing and even I've been sucked into getting down over the fact the Riders are 6-26 since the 2014 Banjo Bowl when Darian Durant went down.

But STOP!  That isn't Chris Jones' fault.

He's responsible for the fact the 2016 Saskatchewan Roughriders are 1-4.  And if you'd have been told on May 1 that the Riders would be 1-4 at the end of July would you really have been surprised?

I wouldn't have been.

The games have been fantastic but for Friday night's eyesore in Montreal.  Frankly, a beatdown like that was to be expected early on this season but that doesn't make it any easier to digest.

Perusing social media, listening to the buzz on the street and judging by the emails and texts which have come into my Iphone, I'd say the Rider Nation is about 50/50 after Friday's loss.  Half understand exactly where the football team is and the other half are lighting a flame under Chris Jones.

"He's wearing too many hats!" many are saying.

But they weren't saying that after the last-minute victory over Ottawa the week before when Jones made the correct decision to take the wind in the fourth quarter and it directly led to a 53-yard game-winning field goal.

The "too many hats" argument is hogwash and you can tell anybody that who floats it to you.

The Riders are building, slowly, and aren't making the same mistakes twice on the field.  Players have lost their jobs over performance (see DB Brandon McDonald).

The win over Ottawa was just a teaser to keep you interested, and maybe a sign of what's to come when this club gets all the kinks worked out.  But that's not likely to happen consistently until the leaves change colour.

Until then they are right on pace.  Whether you like it or not.

Click on the crown to sign up for DraftKings!



1 - SAY WHAT?: I had to rub my eyes and do a double-take when I read this article -

Let me get this straight: Calgary Stampeders players - like Bo-Levi Mitchell, Jerome Messam and Rob Maver - are calling out their fans for leaving Friday's game against B.C. early?  That's the game where the Stamps came back from being two touchdowns down to beat the Lions 44-41 in overtime.

These players had some pretty harsh words for their own fans via Twitter.

After reading it a few times I finally just chalked it up to Calgary being Calgary.  They see things through a different prism than we do here in the 306.

You'll never see or hear me admonish Rider fans for leaving Mosaic Stadium early.  If you pay your money, you can do whatever you want, or leave whenever you want.  "Thanks for coming and we'll be better next time", sorta deal.

Calling out your own fans.  The very people who are the lifeblood of the franchise.

What a head-shaker.

2 - THE GHOST: Spent some quality time in Montreal with some people from the CFL office.  They of course read every word of this blog, my column at, and listen to our podcasts.  Over the years they've even had In The Huddle shipped to their Wellington Street East office in downtown Toronto.  In short, they know every move we make.

Anyway, they wanted to report on the latest goings-on of CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge.  These guys have heard all my criticism of the second-year chief and acknowledged most of it has had some merit.  However they say Orridge has made some huge strides and he's got the staff at CFL headquarters busier than Mark Cohon ever did (and make no mistake, these guys loved Cohon).  But they like working for the new guy too.

As you can see, Orridge has been quite a bit more visible than he was last year.  He made the Ottawa Grey Cup announcement last night at TD Place Stadium and has been featured in some television interviews including last week on Bloomberg TV.  He did an admirable job there.

In short, they're saying "Give this guy a second chance" and because of that, I will.

I was starting to come around on him anyway.

3 - AND ANOTHER THING:  I asked the league staffers what their biggest challenges are and they said it's the curmudgeons in the sports media who continually drag the CFL back to its darkest days.

For instance every time the CFL makes some big strides (like the DraftKings deal), there's a veteran, well-followed reporter who wants to bring up the Ottawa Rough Riders drafting a dead guy.

I see both sides, because it's fun.  But after reading Ed Willes's tremendous Endzones & Border Wars account of the CFL's failed U.S. expansion experiment, I can see why the CFL wants to bury that era like a turd in the sandbox.

This morning I'm not going to reveal what I told the league staffer but we came up with a few solutions.  He already had a few of his own ideas too.

This league is shining bright right now and there is absolutely no reason to look back.

4 - THE NEW CFL:  Admit it, if you can ignore the Roughriders' woeful 1-4 record,  the 2016 Canadian Football League season has been must-see TV for the most part.  All of the shifting of the teams on a weekly basis has been fascinating and as far as the outcomes go, I can't even pick my nose.  I went 1-3 in Week 6.

The Ticats continue to win without Zach Collaros, the Eskimos appear to be teetering on a franchise slide, the B.C. Lions are back from the dead and they have only Wally Buono to thank (will he coach and manage until he dies?), the Argos have moved to BMO Field, and just when they were about to pull the plug on the Blue Bombers' life support, their leg twitched.

Aside from the first half of last night's Toronto-Ottawa game which my friend Zig Fracassi from Sirius/XM NFL Radio referred to as a snoozefest, all games this week were interesting in some way.  (I told you to forget about the Riders for a second).

Think about that, and all the young fans you see at the games in the flashy new stadiums (except Calgary and Montreal).

The CFL has got it going on!

5 - FINAL NOTES:  In rapid fire ...

- The video review delays are horrible and costing the league viewers.  Until Glen Johnson and Jake Ireland figure out a way to speed up the review decisions, the teams and TSN need to find a way to distract the viewers.  Kind of like a clown at the rodeo does when he takes the spectators' minds off delays in the arena.  (Anyone who was raised in the rodeo like I was will get what I'm saying).

Right now everybody in CFL stadiums and watching at home sits on their hands and stares at each other while the scoreboard is generally blank and the TV announcers try awkwardly to fill time.  It's painful to endure and the NHL is going through the same thing.

- CFL V.P. of Player Safety Kevin McDonald graciously offered me a spot in the Command Centre when the Riders come through Toronto and I hope the offer still stands.  It would provide a great learning opportunity which I could pass on through the MMG.

- Does Hamilton feel left out when TSN's Rod Black refers to Toronto-Ottawa games as the Battle of Ontario?

- It's amazing the amount of Canadians who spend so much time bashing American politicians on Facebook.  Since you don't get a vote, why don't you put your time into something more productive?

- We golfed on Sunday at Flowing Springs and now I think I'm Phil Mickelson.  But it got me thinking we should have an inaugural SportsCage Golf Tournament and we've already booked the Friday of Labour Day Weekend for a potential event.  The cost would be no more than $150 per golfer.  Who would be interested in that?

- Caught the movie Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates.  I liked it better the first time when it was called Wedding Crashers.  They're referring to this new version as an "adaptation".  I refer to it as "stole their idea".

- The biggest story out of Dallas Cowboys training camp so far in Oxnard, CA is that players Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant walked arm-in-arm with family members of fallen Dallas police officers onto the field for a ceremony last week honouring those who lost their life two weeks ago.  It was particularly nice to see Dez Bryant involved in the ceremony, and if you're following the story you'll know why.

If everyone could see sit back and see their role in any given conflict, the world would be a lot better place.




Larry said...

I would put a team into the golf tourney!

Anonymous said...

Go Pats Go! Roddy, any thoughts on this Mem. Cup team? Does anybody realize how good the Pats will be this year? I can't wait!

Rod Pedersen said...

What month is it? What YEAR is it??

Dick Rubnutz said...

The Challenge Football League has been both great and difficult to watch this year. Penalties and challenges seemingly every second play really hurts the flow of the game. Get rid of the challenges all together imo. We've had some great, close games this year which has been terrific for viewers as shown through the very much increased TV ratings this year.

As for my Riders, it's going to be a long process to get back to respectability. This year is a write off, but we should be able to compete for a playoff spot in 2017.

Rod Pedersen said...

There are many who agree with you Dick.

Anonymous said...

A very good TMMG today Mr Pedersen, I enjoyed this read. Thank you.

El A

Parkside said...

RP, I could possibly make a golf tourney. Let us know if its a go.

I had to finally unfollow Madani on twitter. He is one of those reporters who sling mud on the CFL.
Just couldn't take his snide comments anymore. I like to look at the CFL as having turned a corner.
With the brightest days ahead.

Bill Eng said...

This is THE BEST sports blog in Canada. I read it daily. Thank you for all your hard work. This has been one of the best CFL seasons in many decades.

tskware said...

A season's success is judged on the entire season. In the CFL it is entirely possible and should be expected to go from worst to respectable (ie playoff spot) in one season. It happens all the time. Look it up. While we may be frustrated and disapointed with the start this year (i know i am) we have to wait to see how the season ends before deciding if CJ is worth his fat paycheque.

Heptiro said...

Who decided the CFL must have every play perfect? The ref's do an amazing job considering the instant decisions they must make. I say let the command centre review every play automatically. If there is an obvious error like a player catching the ball when his foot is out of bounds, signal the Head Ref to stop the play. Take away coaches right to challenge and slo-mo replays of potential infractions. The game is not in slo-mo. LET THEM PLAY

Jeremy Hodgins said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but did you not suggest back in May or even earlier that the riders would finish first ? Yet now you are saying you are not surprised they are 1-4 ???? Lol. It doesn't add up Rod !

Anonymous said...

To further your comment I think that pass interference calls have gotten out of hand as well. It's a physical sport. Ticky tack challenges made me start to lose interest. Look no one's talking about the blatant PI on the second last play of the game we actually won. My only guess is Ottawa ran out of challenges ? The refs dont have to be accountable any more in my opinion. Let the cameras catch it right. Get rid of the endless challenges.the coaches are even getting penalties for challenging plays that aren't I watch a game and EVERYONE asks how many challenges are they allowed anyways? Common man . LET THEM PLAY


Anonymous said...

The win against Ottawa wasn't a teaser, it was a fluke. If Harris hadn't gotten injured, there is no way we would have won the game. The Montreal game was embarrassing to say the least. I did not expect an instantly winning team but I did expect us to get better as we went along. Instead we are getting worse. Not sure Jones and Murphy are quite the "gods" that everyone made them out to be. But, on the bright side, I don't think we can get any worse so there's that to look forward too.

Anonymous said...

Rod it is talking out of both side of your mouth to constantly talk about shame of low attendance and then say you would never call fans out for leaving early. You can't have it both ways.
The CFL has made themselves look foolish in the past because of low self esteem and a need for money. It has caused them to go into business with shady folks (past ottawa franchises and most of the US teams.) The CFL was basically a 19 year old that became a stripper through much of the 90's

Anonymous said...

Bashing US politicians is just as pointless and unproductive as bashing referees in the CFL (and NFL). Two things I hope the Sports Cage drops from their future conversations: Officiating and attendance in at Argo games. There has to be and is better things to direct your energies towards here in the home of the Riders.

Anonymous said...

Rod when you mentioned that a lot of people agree with Dick on the challenges, are those people in the CFL office? The challenges and the wait time for them are the only thing holding the league back right now. It's brutal that a great game gets ruined by these delays. Either make the challenge calls instantly or get rid of challenges altogether. Then again I wouldn't trust Jake Ireland to ref a flag football game. He single handedly helped Edmonton lose the '96 Grey Cup.

Glad to see you've got a better opinion of Orridge now. Sure he'd made mistakes early on in his tenure but his good qualities far outweigh his bad ones. Plus he knows what he has to improve on and he's working on it which is important. When I met him at the Cup last year I was impressed by his knowledge and passion. That comment about him having the CFL office working hard is very telling. Personally I think Cohon was very overrated as CFL commish. Photo ops and fan parties are not going to run the league.


Anonymous said...

"Until then they are right on pace. Whether you like it or not."
Rod, Your Damn Right I Don't Like It !
How can I like getting 35 to 40 points scored against us every game?
How can I like it when our team goes into Montreal , a team that has just played three days earlier and they humiliate us 41-3 ?
How do I like it when in that game they get into Montreal's Red Zone only once and come out with a mere 3 points?
How do I like it when you of all people tell us "Whether you like it or not " !
We all like to support the Riders but to LET THEM OFF THE HOOK" as you are advising , I'm sorry but I cannot buy your reasoning.

Anonymous said...

God_ Mr Kent Austin is working in Hamilton on behalf of the Tiger Cats CFL franchise.

Anonymous said...

The refs are doing a fantastic job...give a break, there are only a couple good sets of refs in the league and challenges need to stay in the game but make it so the coaches won't throw there challenge flag down unless necessary...add a delay of game penalty to a lost challenge, this way they only challenge on actual missed calls mostly.

Reginald of Regina said...

If Harris wouldn't have gotten hurt? It's football. Use the same scenario for the Riders What if Darian wasn't hurt.

Darren Muller said...

Anon great comment. Make it a 15 yd penalty as well. Noticing it on the contacting a receiver after 5 yes a lot. This is quickly becoming the Challenge Flag Football League. After this year they need to reevaluate the challenge or get rid of it altogether. Thankfully the games have been good otherwise I think the TV numbers would be down cause of too many challenges. As for the Riders well that was a grievous display as I've seen on a professional level. They looked like the team on 3 days rest. If this continues Calgary will put 50 on us Thursday without much difficulty I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

So why are Lawrence and Steele here if McDonald got cut over perfomances. They have done squat either and it shouldn't matter if they are Jones boys.

Anonymous said...

There have been some great games in the CFL this year this weekend had some fun games to watch excluding the Rider game. But I find the games take until at least the second half to get going it seems slow and boring until the 4th quarter. This is the first time in my life I am looking forward to the NFL startup - usually I don't care about it until the CFL is done.

Let's hope we can do something about the challenge flags.

The Boomer

Anonymous said...

A lot of Canadians put their two cents in on American politics not because they have a vote but because in the end it affects us all. Plus its the best soap opera AROUND...........

It's just like when we all comment on what the Riders should be doing. Do we have a say in the matter ? No. But it's fun to pay attention to-

Lewis Grant said...

Finally a Montreal QB has shaken loose. I wondered how long it would take.

This is our gift - why have we not yet signed Brandon Bridge? I hope it's in the works.