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Monday, September 19, 2016

THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE


WELCOME TO 'UP' WEEK

1 - A massive sigh of relief went up from the Wheat Province late Sunday afternoon when the Saskatchewan Roughriders emerged from overtime with a 26-23 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos.  The victory snapped a 7-game losing streak for the Green & White, and relieved a lot of tension around here.

Does it mean anything in the standings?  We'll get to that in a minute but more than anything, it was just a euphoric feeling to actually win a game.  It sounds so small and hollow to say that, but the Roughriders were finally rewarded for all the hard work they've put in over the past number of weeks.  They celebrated lustily - some said as if it were a Grey Cup win - but Rider boss Chris Jones had no problem with it.

It seemed like the bubble may have finally burst.  But is it too late?

2 - How many fans got out their calculators Sunday night and were doing some quick Rider Math?  Let's see, with six games to go, if the Riders win all of them and the Eskimos, Argonauts and Alouettes lose most of theirs, then Saskatchewan could be looking at a crossover playoff berth.  Do we even dare dream of an 8-10 record when all is said and done?

That sounds like a tall order indeed but for now let's just revel in Sunday's victory over the Evil Empire, a team which appears to have its own set of problems as we enter the stretch drive.

3 - The TSN Turning Point in Sunday's game likely was the Justin Cox interception off Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly at the Saskatchewan 54-yard line with 1:08 to go and the game tied 20-20.  We assumed the Command Centre already looked at it since it was a turnover, and the Rider offense was already on the ball.

However Eskimo Head Coach Jason Maas threw his challenge flag and it went back to Toronto for another look.  How many of you were seeing the final minute of the Labour Day Classic playing out all over again, with disastrous consequences looming?

"I just thought 'Here we go again'", admitted Rider coach Chris Jones on 620 CKRM's postgame show.  "But then I watched the replay and it was eerily similar to a couple weeks ago against Winnipeg.  But clearly he didn't make contact and we were fortunate enough to make the play."

The video replay official at the Command Centre in Toronto was Jeff Harbin and apparently he saw what Jones saw.  I haven't looked at it since but at the time, it appeared as though Cox tugged the receiver's hip about 12 yards past the line of scrimmage, long before the ball arrived.

4 - It's hard to make any judgment on the call without having looked at it again forwards, backwards and from all angles but - if there was mild contact - does that mean that the Command Centre is loosening up its approach on Pass Interference as we head down the homestretch?

That would be a tough thing to do now, even if it's what everybody wants.  Sunday's game was a great example of what the CFL could be with some mild tweaking of the rules and their interpretation.

There was only one challenge in the contest and the officials were actually allowed to call the game themselves without the interference of "Helicopter Officiating" from Toronto.  Some referees have indicated to me that they're not fans of the new "All 24" camera in the Command Centre, which was instituted to correct on-field errors or confusion.

There's been an apparent awakening amongst CFL powerbrokers that the game currently is broken, but there may be some unrest ahead on how to go about repairing it.  (i.e. getting nine teams to agree on what needs to be done).

Less challengeable plays and less video review clearly is the way to go.  However that's a conversation for this winter.

5 - A point of clarification.  My longtime colour commentator Carm Carteri referred to some players on the Rider punt cover units as "braindead" for taking multiple No Yards penalties against Edmonton on Sunday.  #27 Kevin Francis did it twice and #25 Matt Webster did it once.

However I was informed by the Riders late Sunday night that they coach their players to get downfield and take the No Yards penalty if necessary, especially if it's in the endzone.  99% of the time the penalty is declined in that instance.  It's a lot easier to cover and take the penalty rather than to try to stay outside the 5-yard halo, end up stationary, and then try to make the tackle.

6 - The fourth quarter touchdown by "rookie" Rider Armanti Edwards was his first professional touchdown despite all his years in the National Football League (including four as a receiver in Carolina).  That nugget comes courtesy of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, which I happened to be reading early Monday morning.  It was an incredibly acrobatic play by Edwards to reach the goalline.

What's that you say?  The Riders finally made some big plays?  And they won?  Go figure.

Anyway when Edwards is healthy, he's likely the Roughriders' best receiver.  The trouble is he's suffered through several nicks and bumps all summer long and was rarely healthy enough to get on the roster.  Hopefully Sunday was the start of something special.

7 - A couple of Roughrider players are showing why Chris Jones went after them in free agency, and why he's stuck with them throughout this season.  Running back Curtis Steele is a prime example, as he had an explosive start to the season but then went on the injury shelf for months.  The Roughriders probably don't win that game on Sunday without him.

Meanwhile receiver/returner/running back Kendial Lawrence was in the fans' doghouse all summer but no one's said a peep about him since his 85-yard punt return touchdown in the Labour Day Classic.  He had another monster return in the Banjo Bowl which was negated by a needless penalty.  Why Lawrence was a scratch for the Edmonton game this weekend is a mystery to me, but I'm guessing it had nothing to do with performance.

A lot of things are going on that aren't apparent to the naked eye.  Jones will likely be proven to be a genius yet.

8 - Now for what you all came here for today.

It all started on Friday afternoon with this Tweet from Drew Edwards of the Hamilton Spectator and the website 3DownNation.com:

The timing of the news was unfortunate only for the fact we were poised to host our annual Plaza of Honor edition of the SportsCage live from Evraz Place and the show should've been dedicated to Plaza inductees Ivan Gutfriend and Matt Dominguez.

However all our listeners and callers wanted to discuss was how Justin Dunk and I were recently dumped by the CFL's official website, CFL.ca.

9 - First, some background.  In June, I informed the editors of CFL.ca that I hadn't planned on writing for their website this year.  I was trying to "de-clutter" my life and was content to simply write for this blog and the Roughriders official website.  (I relinquished my syndicated column in 23 weekly Saskatchewan newspapers as well).

The league said they'd still like to keep me on since my columns were amongst their most-read, and we struck a deal that they'd publish the Monday Morning Goalie or my weekly column from www.riderville.com.  It wasn't for a lot of money.

That was going along great until Roster-Gate, after which I started to take aim at CFL Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge in this space.  If you'll recall, four days before that, I wrote that I was willing to give Orridge another chance at the urging of those in the CFL office, most of whom I still have profound respect for.  They're great soldiers.

10 - It should be pointed out that I still haven't received any word from the CFL office about booting me from CFL.ca.  The word actually came down from two separate Roughrider staffers over the past couple of weeks.  One said, "They're going in another direction with some younger writers" while the other said, "The decision came from the CFL hierarchy.  The Commissioner and his P.R. guy don't like you very much".

That's hardly surprising, given the tone of my columns, and I greeted the news with a shrug of the shoulders.

However it spread like wildfire across the CFL over the weekend and even one Eskimo coach laughed before Sunday's game, saying "Look at you making the news again!" as he shook my hand.

The "firing" even brought these responses from some of the Hall of Fame media who cover the CFL:

 




11 - That last one was my personal favourite, from Zig Fracassi of Sirius NFL Radio in New York.  My beliefs are simply that I only want to write for - and broadcast to - Roughriders fans.  What other teams - or fans of other teams - think about my opinions isn't something I care about.

I spend the off-season travelling thousands upon thousands of miles across this province greeting Rider fans at sports dinners and appearances and always try to portray the franchise in a good light.  So many have said, "Thanks for sticking up for the Roughriders".

The fans really are what it's all about, and reporting on the Riders for them is what gets me out of bed each morning.  But I'm not a journalist.  Never was and don't profess to be.  Don't want to be.

I've carved out my own style over a 25-year career and if people want to label it as an "entertainer", that's up to them.  There aren't many guys on the continent doing what I do, but it's a helluva lot of fun.

So, again, when Orridge made the statement on August 12 that the Roughriders "compromised the reputation of the CFL", I took great offense to it and still do.

I have a mandate, the full support of my bosses, and that's all I care about.

12 - The only thing that stung out of all this was when my daughter said Sunday evening, "Dad, did you get fired from the CFL because that's what I heard?"  I had to give her the background and make her realize that, no, her Dad didn't lose his job.  NBD.

13 - That's all I've got today because I have to prepare for a very important speech I'm giving at Tuesday's Recovery Luncheon in Regina plus a couple of school presentations, media appearances and of course MY JOB.  This blog continues to be just a fun sideline.

THANKS FOR LISTENING,
RP
@rodpedersen


35 comments:

polkabill504 said...

Great read and YES we have an up week in our midst.. A glimmer of hope not only for this year but at least something going into next year. Hopefully they will be able to win at least half of their remaining games.. Dont change a thing. This is your blog and is a pleasure to read 365/days /year. Go Riders Go.. Polkabill from the Peg

Rafal said...

And this is why I come here to read this entertaining blog, keep up the great job Rod, it was even a pleasure to meet you on Toronto, you are an amazing and caring person! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

If Maas wouldn't have screwed up and challenged Illegal Contact instead of Pass Interference, he would have got the call

Anonymous said...

The win is even sweeter when you go over to an Edmonton fan forum and they whine about officials, saying they always favour the Riders at Taylor Field.

Evidently they didn't watch the LDC.

Great to see the Riders win - gotta eliminate some of those brain cramp penalties though. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

I wondered why we didn't see Armanti Edwards before this game. I appreciate you telling us that he was nicked up.

As for brain dead no yards calls, if Francis doesn't take the penalty on the 5 yard line, we get a TD!
Take care Rod. You and this Rider team deserve and up week.

Anonymous said...

Two things.
One, I have never gone to the cfl.ca website...probably ever so no big deal, haha
Two, THIS is where I go, and only go to read about our team and the goings on, and to interact with our fans. Thanks for writing it RP. The CFL commission needs to really give his head a shake and realizing he is killing this league, one small piece at a time.
Caesar

Anonymous said...

One more win and Jonsie will have as many wins as Bobby Dyce.

3RD and 1 said...

Even though Rod's Web Site \ Blog is designed for Rider fans. Fans of other teams can not help themselves from coming here to read and post. Of course they use anonymity behind "Anoymous" postings. As they do not want to be gang green piled upon.
Listening to Commissioner Orridge on a different Radio program. The man sounds like a Lawyer. So no doubt he wants to stay in the background and have the league run courtroom style. I have also noticed that Orridge also has a Do as I say and not as I do policy.
I believe it was best when the Riders uninvited him to the recent Riders Plaza of Honor event for Ivan and Dominquiz. I could see a few Hundred Rider fans all liquiored up and cornering Orridge to give them a piece of their mind. I'm sure Orridge was relieved he did not have to attend.
Keep up the great work Rod. Each Morning I am on your site during Coffee Break. Always a good read.

Anonymous said...

You're fired - I didn't want the job anyway lol. Good one Roddy

CM said...

you'll be around a lot longer than Orridge. Keep it up!

Russell Cone said...

Keep doing what you're doing Rod.

Great seeing you Friday night!



Russ from Saskatoon

Lyle Pederson said...

For an old diehard your blog and etc etc are a godsend. With LP pretty well a day or two behind and TSN cutting back on CFL columns/comments etc you help keep up the daily info/interest. (Even doing the Arizona thing for we snowbirds) Keep saying what you
think. It's fun and generates discussion.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying a healthy Armanti is a better receiver than Roosevelt? That would be amazing, I don't see it but I didn't see Armanti at camps and practices and such. Thanks Rod.

Anonymous said...

The time count violation on the field goal which did go wide left was in error. I checked it out with my PVR and the ball was half way to the holder when the clock changed to zero. Does anyone know if a time count is challengeable?

Adrian DeCorby said...

I really like the resolve, guts and determination the Riders showed in the game on Sunday. It reminded me a lot of the Week 2 showdown with the Esks... Riders fought back and got the tie and put themselves into position to win; except in week 2 lack of discipline and prevent defence prevented them from holding on. There was also a 3rd and inches late in the 4th that this time we were able to convert while then we didn't. Then in OT the Riders were able to overcome their failings that got them there (this week, a time count on a potential game winning FG, then the prevent def) and come out with a win.

Front and centre in this victory was the veteran leadership from Darian Durant in the 4th Q drives and OT touchdowns. Darian simply would just not let the Riders lose. He's the heart and soul of this team and it shows in spades, here's hoping they get a contract settled for the next 2 seasons in the near future. I also like the improved play from our Defence, including well time turnovers and stops, a better pass rush, and although our coverage still has breakdowns for long passes... At least they are from guys trying to jump the route and missing or missing a strip and not just straight blown coverage when they are wide open anymore. Special Teams have been on their game for about 4-5 games now.

The Riders aren't out of the woods yet but at leAst there has been progress and we are seeing improvement, but they are still a ways away from being a legit contender.

Great work as usual Rod, and keep pumping up the Rider Pride!

Adrian, in Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod i see I am not the only one getting sick and tired of your coments and finally said enough is enough,and your show bragged about how there was over 30,000 seats sold and I was at the game and there was boat loads of open seats there and would guess there was maybe 25000 actually there in the seats,most of those seats were sold before the season so dont go bragging up riders fans about how great they are when they are falling off the wagon week by week and are proving that they are far far from worlds greatest fans .THEY ONLY SUPPORT A WINNER .

Anonymous said...

Hope to never see Lawrence back on the field for the Riders. Not sure why he is here other than he is one of Jones' boys. As for Jones being a genius - 2 and 10 and costing the Riders a bunch of money because of his stupid decisions does not exactly scream "genius" to me. It screams other things but genius is not one of them!

Anonymous said...

^^^ This guy is a moron. Don't listen Rod.

Also I quickly googled the Average attendance per game, and guess what? The Riders have the highest average attendance, also the highest average attendance when on the road. Very telling, and makes the last Anon's statement that we only support a winner false. Probably an EE fan that's pissed we beat them in OT.

Seems pretty clear to me, and I back up my claims link below.

https://stats.cfldb.ca/league/cfl/attendance/2016/

M7A0S8T8E5R

Evan Wiome said...

Would any other team in the CFL even draw 25k people for a 1-10 team?

Didn't think so.

Your argument has failed. Crawl back under your bridge troll.

Anonymous said...

I've read some loser comments before. But this Anon rambling about how many people were in the park versus ticket sold really shows just how slow people are! Rod said there was over 30,000 tickets sold. He didn't say there was 30,0000 attending. Listen better next time tweety bird! Rider fans show their support in many ways. Just because they buy a ticket dosent mean the HAVE TO show up. Besides what other fan base would even have 20,000 fans at a game with a 1 - 10 record. He'll look at the Bombers. They have a winning team and they only had 25,000 at their last home game.
CFL.CA is following the advice of the league Commissionaire. When an article is not written kindly about this leagues fron office they try and punish those involved. So you are the only one who is saying enough is enough. However I would suggest you have said enough. Enough to sound petty and uninformed.
Best be saying nothing instead of sounding utterly ridiculous.


Spock Logic

Dean said...

Oh wow. According to the tsn time the ball was on its way.

I was at the game and I didn't know it was wide.

Thank God it was for fear of a big run back.

I wanted Jones to call a punt. I thought he made the wrong call.

Anonymous said...

Good story and photo of the unveiling of the statue for the great Jim Brown in Cleveland in today's Globe and Mail. I hope that the province can put together a plan to do a similar statue near the new stadium for George Reed. It could be in the small park by the stadium and used as a gathering point for fans. Even better could be one of Ronnie handing off the ball to George. It would be wonderful to get this done while George is still alive and well.

Anonymous said...

"In Jones We Trust"

Anonymous said...

Rod,

We never knew.

Thank you for letting us know.

May you find the strength to keep on your journey. We wish you nothing but the best.

IMAGIRL

Anonymous said...

Nail bitter win. Eskis took the series. But not a sweep. Not a fan of the cheap shot that took out Young. Uncalled for and sucks to see a player leave the game on that garbage!!

Anonymous said...

When we quit taking penalties the wins will come .I feel so much better seeing a win and am proud of the team for struggling through the rough parts of the game. Disappointed as well in some of the bad penalties but we could see the effort the team was putting in and if they can give that much effort every game we will be in good shape for the future.

Anonymous said...

how many other teams had to have a phone telethon to save the team due to LACK of ticket sales ,i believe the answer is ottawa and your riders thank-you enough said

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that the Riders are considering recent Chicago Bears cut (on Sept. 3) B.J. Daniels - a QB who is similar in size to Durant and who is now on the Rider's neg list thanks to today's trade with Hamilton. He sounds like a player that could be groomed to be a quality back-up and to possibly be ready to replace Durant once he is ready to move into coaching.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is excellent Rod, i find myself reading your blog twice a day, its up to date and you are an excellent read, please keep adding more to it.
Cfl.ca website sucks,i deleted the app nothing good on there,poorly made, Espn or tsn is ok, for cfl news.

eman said...

No need to look, just make Armanti Edwards the back up and heir to Darin's throne. You will not be disappointed!

@mrt_man said...

NEW BACKUP... MAYBE. WHO WOULDN'T WANT A B.J?... DANIELS

Anonymous said...

Rod , just wanted to thank you for all that you do for Saskatchewan sports fans and especially us Rider fans. I have to say Saskatchewan is kept well informed by you and this blog is a daily read for sure, but it is your radio voice on game day that makes all the difference to me.

tskware said...

Rod, no matter what I think of your journalistic principles or integrity, I saw the article on your past struggles with addiction and my heart goes out to you. It's a good message your giving to others and it needs to be said. Thank you for raising awareness and letting others know there is hope.

Anonymous said...

Why are you so obsessed with Edwards?

eman said...

Because he's a really good dude and a hell of a player