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Monday, January 23, 2017

THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE


Today's MMG comes to you from the beautiful Mexican State of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula.  It's the annual Harvard Broadcasting Sun Trip comprising clients, staff and friends and they were once again nice enough to invite me along.

I thought I'd take the opportunity to answer 12 questions I've fielded from the rabid sports fans on this trip, and turn them into this week's Monday Morning Goalie.

But first, some photos of the fabulous Now Sapphire resort ...





12 QUESTIONS

1 - WERE YOU SURPRISED AT THE DURANT TRADE?:  Yes, particularly after the report of trade talks was denied just a few weeks ago.  For the past couple of months we'd reported on this website and on the radio that the expectation was for Darian Durant to go to free agency on February 14.

If he was unable to fetch his asking price on the open market, my hope was that he would sign back in Saskatchewan for a 12th season.

However as we all learned on Friday, there were some bubbling emotions under the surface that ultimately made it impossible for Durant to return.

2 - WERE YOU SURPRISED AT DARIAN'S COMMENTS ABOUT CHRIS JONES?: Yes and no.  We learned early on in Durant's tenure that he wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn't mince words.  However my expectation was - when he was invited on the SportsCage on Friday - that he'd simply thank the Rider Nation and speak of some of his best memories.

That didn't turn out to be the case as Durant levied some harsh words at Chris Jones which he'd been holding onto for awhile.

Does he regret that he spoke his mind?  Likely not, but hopefully the whole situation is now over and dealt with.  However I have a nagging feeling it's not.

3 - HOW DO YOU THINK DARIAN WILL DO IN MONTREAL?:  If he's able to stay healthy, I suspect Durant will prosper in Jacques Chapedalaine's and Anthony Calvillo's system with the Alouettes.  After all, who would be better to guide the quarterback of the Als than Calvillo himself?

Durant got his money - guaranteed and a lot up front - so he should be happy.  If all goes according to plan, then Montreal GM Kavis Reed will look very smart.

However if Darian suffers another major injury, Chris Jones will have been proven right and the public opinion pendulum will swing back to the Riders' side.

Whether he stays healthy or not in 2017, I still think Durant could play several more years in the CFL.  Kevin Glenn has suffered some major injuries over his lengthy career but is still ticking at 37 and will resurface somewhere in the league this season.

4 - WILL THE ALOUETTES VISIT THE RIDERS IN WEEK 1?: If there's a football god, then yes.  Durant would still get to open New Mosaic Stadium - albeit in Red, White & Blue - and it seems to me he deserves as much.  To me, it's a no-brainer to have Montreal visit Saskatchewan in Week 1 and the storylines would be mind-boggling.  The match-up would assuredly over-shadow the Grey Cup rematch of Calgary and Ottawa, which typically opens the CFL season.

However that may be one reason why this doesn't happen.  The CFL suits may want to prop up a Stampeders-RedBlacks sequel and not have to deal with the drama surrounding Durant's Return in the same week.

Another reason an Alouettes-Roughriders meeting may not happen in Week 1 is that the Roughriders may want to save the showdown for later on in the summer since the home-opener will have enough fireworks of its own.  I've heard quite a bit of that talk.

I pray that doesn't become the case.

5 - WHEN DOES THE 2017 SCHEDULE COME OUT?:  Great question.  Last year's schedule was unveiled on February 18 and even that was earlier than normal.  The NFL has already announced the dates and teams for next year's games in London, England and their season isn't even over yet!

I'm sure the CFL schedule-makers will get to it in due time.  It's not as eagerly-anticipated in other CFL markets as it is in Saskatchewan.

6 - WHAT'S KEN MILLER DOING NOW?:  Great timing with that question.  I got a tip on the weekend that Coach Miller will be coaching pro football in Italy in 2017 on the staff of legendary CFL coach Adam Rita.

7 - WILL JEFF KNOX JR. MAKE THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS?:  I'd be surprised if he doesn't.  The Pittsburgh product leaves the CFL with an exemplary resume after being the Riders' MVP, Defensive MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2015.  He also recorded 100-plus tackles that season and while injuries hindered him at the start of 2016, he rebounded to be a key part of Chris Jones' defense.

If Brian Peters can flourish with the Houston Texans after having a similar stint in Saskatchewan, there's no reason to expect Knox can't do the same thing in Tampa Bay.

However you never know how the numbers game and politics will affect things.

8 - DO YOU BELIEVE IN CHRIS JONES?: Absolutely I do.  The expectation is that Jones will be Saskatchewan's version of Bill Belichick and the franchise will enjoy similar year-over-year success as the Patriots under Jones' guidance.

Remember Belichick was 5-11 in his first season in New England which bares an eery resemblance to Jones' first season in charge in Regina.  Oh how I'd love to be able to read message board posts from Patriots fans from back in 2000.  I'm sure Belichick took his share of heat while attempting to turn that franchise around.

I'm hearing more and more (externally) that 2017 will be another year of building and that the plan may not truly come to fruition until 2018.

However I'm not sure that Rider fans can or will be that patient.

But a member of Jones staff told me last week that he wouldn't have followed Jones to Saskatchewan if he didn't believe this club would have huge success under his leadership.

9 - WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITHOUT A QUARTERBACK?:  I didn't have to wait to get to Mexico to field that quiry.  A guy pulled up beside me at a red light in Regina last week, rolled down his window, shook his fist, and yelled that exact same question.

The guy was a dead-ringer for the folk singer Valdy and was wearing a Blue Jays toque, if that means anything.
Valdy has a twin in Regina
I pretty much shrugged my shoulders and held my palms skyward.  The rumour persists that the Riders will exhaust every effort to acquire back-up James Franklin from Edmonton and Eskimos colour commentator Dave Campbell didn't exactly extinguish that notion on Friday's SportsCage.

If that trade happens, then things look immediately better for Canada's Team.

However if it doesn't, I still expect the Riders will go with a fresh face rather than a recycled veteran like Kevin Glenn, Ricky Ray or Travis Lulay.

Perhaps the next Tom Brady - or Jonathan Jennings - is still out there somewhere.

10 - ARE THE RIDERS REALLY GOING TO SIGN DURON CARTER?:  CFL Insider Justin Dunk reported that on the weekend and he's got great sources.  Initially I was against the move due to Carter's well-documented set of baggage but I'm warming up to the idea.  If the Dallas Cowboys can get a similar player in Dez Bryant to ball-out, then perhaps Jones can do the same thing with Carter.

He could also be attractice trade bait as well, like in a deal for James Franklin.

11 - HOW FAR CAN THE PATS GO?:  There have been lots of questions down here about the Queen City Kids.  They continue on a torrid pace and have achieved 30-plus wins in just 43 games.  That's happened only two times before (in 1981 and 1984, as noted by historian Kevin Shaw) and in 1984 they went to the league final.  With this group, they should be able to go at least that far.

Their crease has been a revolving door whatwith the recent injury to starter Tyler Brown but having back-up Jordan Hollett back now helps a lot.

Is the team giving up far more goals than John Paddock would like?  Yes.  But he's got two months to get this figured out and in the meantime, enjoy all the goals!  The games have been insane and more often than not, the Pats have come out on top.

12 - HAVE YOU BEEN TO A SASKATCHEWAN RUSH GAME?:  Yes, I've been to several including last year's Champions Cup-clinching game over Buffalo at a soldout SaskTel Centre.  The Rush really are the talk of the province and the sellouts will assuredly continue.

There are some people from Saskatoon on this trip and they say Rush President Lee Genier is absolutely everywhere in Saskatoon, shaking hands and building the brand.

That's why Genier was a slam dunk winner of the NLL's Executive of the Year last season and the team has followed suit.

Success starts at the top!

And I suspect any Rush naysayers are just jealous Reginans.

------

THAT'S IT FOR TODAY! THANKS FOR READING
RP
@rodpedersen

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

DD injured in first 4 games

Anonymous said...

DO YOU BELIEVE IN CHRIS JONES - absolutely not , never in a million years and that was even before he came to the riders. The nicest thing that I can say about him is that he is an idiot and yes he is the leagues worst coach and gm

Fire jones and reynolds now !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Consider how much better the TSN's TV viewer rating will be this season when Montreal plays their home and away games! I am sure there will be many from Rider Nation tuning in to watch Durant perform each week. Indeed if the Riders do poorly, it would be Montreal that many fans out here will get behind. Who would have thought this possible a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

#2. Why would anyone be surprised by Darian's comments regarding Chris Jones after reading Jones' comments about Darian?

#8. Do you believe in Chris Jones?

My God Rob, you've sold your soul to the devil just to keep your job.
You don't have to you know, you're more than capable and wouldn't have a problem making a living elsewhere.

Just a reminder; Two years ago you believed in Cory Chamblin.

Rod Pedersen said...

Who's Rob?

Dex said...

Belichick would have been fired years ago if he hadn't stumbled onto Brady. If Jones can find a guy he may stick around a while.

Jones has had success in the CFL coaching players other people have brought in.

As a GM in Saskatchewan he hasn't found much in the way of new talent. Most of the decent players brought in were free agents who had been around the league.

He will have until Labor Day to show he found a guy with potential to be a franchise QB. Anything less than .500 by then will be a disater for Jones. He has gotten rid of anyone important from the past. It is his team now and he can't blame anyone but himself if things go keep going wrong.

I don't think the higher ups will be too pleased by empty seats in the new building.

Coach Jones needs GM Jones to save both their jobs.

Anonymous said...

#3 Agree 100% Doubles will prosper unless injured. I would add that his odds of getting injured is similar to most other qb's in the league. Most are susceptible.
#8 Yes Jones needs at least another year in Rider green before I can begin to judge his work. So far I saw things I liked from him and other things not so much.

Bart in Regina

Anonymous said...

Sold your soul? It's just football people. Relax. Accept that we will stink this year and move on. This is a three year plan. We have Jones & Co. until the end of 2018. Deal with it! All these whiners will be the first ones to come back to the Riders when we start winning. I admit without Durant right now things look bleak for 2017. But it's only January. Take a deep breath and let Jones do his work.

Anonymous said...

After watching the weekend's NFL playoff games, I need to ask, where would these teams be without a GREAT quarterback.
The answer is .........golfing.
Jones better find one SOON.

Anonymous said...

To the comment that Belichick would have been fired years ago if he hadn't stumbled across Tom Brady: Do you watch football prior to the play - off's? Like ever....

The only reason I ask is Belichick might be the greatest coach football has ever known. He won 11 games with Matt Cassell as his starting QB. He had the Patriots at 3 - 1 this year using Jimmy Garopolo and Jacoby Brisette. Chris Hogan, a university LACROSSE player was the most dangerous guy on the field last night. Belichick has the innate ability to take whoever he has handed to him and make them great as a team. While this will lead to individual performances at times, New England is the greatest example of a team who utilizes what they have and translate it to success and that falls right back onto the shoulders of Belichick. So any notion that Belichick is where he is because of Brady alone is asinine.

HM

Anonymous said...

So far Chris Jones has been very disappointing in my opinion. I just am not a fan of how he conducts himself and the teams performance on and off the field was pretty bad at times. His inexperience as a GM showed many times this last year. However, I am fully willing to give him an honest shot at turning the Riders around. I believe an honest shot means he has this year and next year to make a winner. We don't want to be like Winnipeg , constantly turning over football operations. Evan

John Knight said...

Things will not be any worse without DD! He was over rated and once he gets behind Montreal's lousy o-line he will be on the injury list. Things are looking up for the Riders

Anonymous said...

Jones haters will resort to facts either actual or made up to further the agenda of hate. Like the Trump lap dogs they will present "alternate facts" to support what they spew.

Anonymous said...

"In Jones We Trust"

Pat Strain said...

The belief that Franklin is the answer to the Riders QB question is unfounded.He is an unproven backup. The Riders already have a few of those on their roster. If he does develop into a bona fide starter it is gonna take more than a season . In any event it looks like 2017 will be another rebuilding year .

Anonymous said...

I wonder if people would feel different if they really knew what Durant's injury was that kept him out of the final game of last season and how him and his agent refused to let the Riders people do the MRI in December so they can understand the extent of the injury.

Wonder if that was ever communicated to Kavis?

Anonymous said...

For the first time in Durant's 11 year career a coach and GM finally held him accountable and his feelings got hurt. Exact quotes from the article Darian was soooo upset about.

“When you strictly look at Darian’s win-loss record (58-54-1), he’s been moderately successful." Is he wrong with that statement? Four games above .500 through 11 seasons.

“I’ve got to coach ’em better, Number 1,” he stated. “We’ve got to be a more disciplined football team next year. First and foremost, before you say anything, I’ve got to coach ’em and I’ve got to lead ’em better. We, as coaches, have to do a better job of getting them to do the things that we need them to do on the field, regardless of who they are on the field."

"On Monday, for example, the Regina Leader-Post’s Murray McCormick asked Jones to evaluate himself. He responded with an unequivocal “F.”"

Where has Chris Jones has denied responsibility for the 2016 season?

I will miss Darian but it was time to move on. I like winning.

Anonymous said...

I think the CFL schedule makers could have their cake and eat it too is to have the Redblack vs Stamps be the featured game in week #1 and either have the Riders on the road for week #1 or on the bye week like last year and have the Rider's home-opener in week #2 against the Als.

Dex said...

HM,

I don't disagree that Belichick is a great coach.

He was mediocre in Cleveland (36-44) and with the Patriots he was 5-11 in 2000 and 0-2 in 2001 before Bledsoe got hurt.

What I said was he would have been fired if he hadn't stumbled onto Brady.

Maybe, like Belichick, Jones can learn from his early mistakes and turn this team around. But unless we get a QB, he won't last here.

Anonymous said...

Link?

Anonymous said...

"I am sure there will be many from Riderville tuning in to watch Durant perform each week." Lamar Durant of the Stamps, damn good player.

P.$. Montreal Alouettes Darian Durant happily moved on for his own interests and don't give a sh*t about the Riders from Sk. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Jennings - "BC Lions # 1 starting star qb". Can someone explain why the Saskatchewan Roughriders released him from a organizational evaluation perspective? Last regime's gm Jeremy O'Day are you around and can you account or recollect? And please no Sunseri comments.

Stuie

Anonymous said...

Wait till Jones gives up the farm in a trade for Franklin and he turns out to be a bust like the majority of young QB's in the CFL. Rider fans won't be seeing Jones, the smartest man in the CFL, for very long after that.

Anonymous said...

Henry B. Is retiring! Good for him!
Patrick

Anonymous said...

Time for another brewie, stuie...

Anonymous said...

Stuie - Jennings is old news and bringing him into this conversation adds no value. Try something relevant to todays Riders.

Rod S in Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

I'm a Rider fan. I don't give a crap about Durant and the Alouettes. He took his greed to Montreal, so good riddance.

Anonymous said...

If the CFL doesn't improve the officiating and stop all the stupid reviews nobody will be watching.

Anonymous said...

Re: Link?

http://leaderpost.com/sports/football/cfl/saskatchewan-roughriders/chris-jones-hopes-for-storybook-ending-with-darian-durant

http://leaderpost.com/storyline/rob-vanstone-sat-down-with-riders-head-coach-chris-jones-for-an-exclusive-interview-to-reflect-on-the-2016-season

Sorry to all the bleeding hearts but the actual words are not disrespectful at all. The Chris Jones slandering is unfounded.

james simpson said...

Just as the DD haters/ Jones sycophants will blindly bash Durant and rewrite Rider history to minimize DDs massive part in it for the last decade plus. Yes Jones is unquestionably a very good football mind, but he has had several huge missteps since coming to Sask. See Price, Lemon, Capiciotti, the other guy that retired rather than play here. These are unquestionable mistakes. Add in the still debatable issues like Drsssler, Chick and now certainly Durant, and it's pretty clear Jones still has a way to go to rebuild this team into a winner and cement himself as a full-fledged winner.

Anonymous said...

He took his greed...what garbage, the guy wants to be paid for his services and because it's not with the riders he is now greedy. Do you like taking pay cuts at your job, most likely not so what is the difference. He isn't making millions upon millions every year and just in case his career ends short why not get paid the best you can in case. He's not wearing green and white so he now sucks and is nothing but a greedy player...top class fans in Saskatchewan, proof above^^^.

Russell Cone said...

Have a great trip Rod. That's a great spot in the world.

I'm wondering about Coach Miller? Plaza of honor worthy? Was he here long enough?

Another season out of the playoffs might be too much for the faithful to take Roddy. I can accept a road playoff game if they're close to a home playoff game and don't win the one game needed to get it. I can accept that and I can accept losing in the 1st round of the playoffs. But I can't accept no playoffs again.


Travel safe.


Russ from Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

It's just Lacrosse and it's Saskatoon.... as soon as that team starts doing poorly the attendance will plummet drastically! Look at the Blades for example

Anonymous said...

Darian has a huge spot in the history of the team. Not sure how any Rider fans would or could deny that.

However Chris Jones made the decision based on the 2017 season not 2013 or 2010 or 2009. Many, many, many fans say "darian deserves" ... even this blog write up says "Darian deserves to open the new stadium." I get the sentiment but Darian deserves nothing. He was paid handsomely for his time here. We are forever grateful. But it's a new era.

I can guarantee Montreal will not open the new stadium.

Anonymous said...

Jones needed to make cap room for a class act like Duron Carter.

Anonymous said...

Rob S in Saskatoon

Everything is totally relevant from past regimes to today's Riders as it adds value not to repeat idiotic bad decisions moving forward.

Stuie

Anonymous said...

Stuie

Even if someone took the time to explain the Jennings decision you wouldn't accept it. I'm sure you have alternative facts to dispute it. Time to move on Stuie.

Anonymous said...

My two cents on DD and the direction of the team...

It's funny how in many ways history has a way of repeating itself. Which is also sad given that we only have 4 Grey Cups to our name. While it was before my time, I would guess that fandom was running high during the George and Ronnie Era, then as it does, time catches up to all, and we went into a slump for most of the 80's. Then we assemble a great team of young up and comers, win the Grey Cup, and things go into a slide again once Kent leaves us for the 1st time. Roy and Danny come in, re set the table so to speak, and a new regime carries us over the threshold in 07, then we trade KJ and go into a mini slump before we turn the keys to the franchise over to an unknown named Darian. He takes us to many cups, winning one, and then he to finds his time has come to and end. So here we are again, at the base of what is hopefully the start of another cycle moving in a positive direction. In pretty much all of those era's we have placed a premium on being able to rebuild through free agency, and have never been able to really cultivate a winner over a long period of time. In every instance we have clamored for wins now, always throwing patience out the window. So we bring in Chris Jones, someone with radical ideas, and more importantly someone with a plan to do things different than they've always been done. While we can look back years and years at our history, we can't look to the next 4 games, or next season as a make or break. Building something great is going to take time, vision, patience, good scouting, and draft picks. It will not be built through dispersal drafts, over priced and over aged FA's. The next DD is out there, we didn't know we had him in 07, and we may have him in 17,or 18, we can't predict. But what we can do is trust the process and not be so fearful of trying it another way. We might not have a good QB this year, that's possible, but what I trust we will have is great depth and talent at every other position. Our guys are great football people, their resumes speak for themselves.... and at the end of the day we the fan's really know nothing. We don't know conversations behind closed doors, we don't know how good someone is in the locker room, or whether or not any loyalty in sports truly exists at all. We just know that rain or shine our team is going to show up and do their best, and hopefully entertain us. And if that's not good enough, than maybe this isn't the sport for you? If this stuff keeps you up at night, or ruins your day, maybe you should try something else. Being a Rider fan takes patience, if you have none than maybe root for the Patriots, Stamps, or Black-hawks, they seem to win all the time and can surely give you the gratification you're after.

That's my two cents.... be frustrated, be passionate, enjoy banter between fans, but most importantly show respect, class and support for your team, it's the only one you've got.

Archer

Anonymous said...

2017 another building season?

My house taxes are going up. My utility bills are going up. My wages are staying the same or decreasing.

Guess what I will let go of if this season is the same as the last?

Bye - bye season tickets.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is singing the "In Jones we Trust" song. He now has a team without a proven QB and there does not appear to be anyone in the wings. IF Edmonton was willing to trade Franklin, you can bet it will come at a VERY HIGH cost to the Riders. They won't be looking to do us (or rather Jones) any favours. And, Jones being the brilliant GM that he is, he will trade away everything to get Franklin. And there we will be, stuck with a unproven QB. Yay Us!!! But, hey, we will have another class act like Carter, so it's all good - LOL.

Anonymous said...

Riders sign Glenn... In Jones we trust

Anonymous said...

Who's Rob S?

John Knight said...

Archer, you are 100% correct! Finally we have a GM and coach who will make the hard decisions. Look at successful teams like the Lions, Stamps and Esks. When they knew players were at or past their before due date, they released them. An example, Geroy Simon and Jason Clermont and our previous Gms kept ours because the fans wanted them

Anonymous said...

And so they sign Glen because his best before date hasn't expired? The insanity continues.

Anonymous said...

Bang on Archer. Refreshing comments

Unknown said...

Why so much hype about franklin? I read his bio. Nothing great. Still has shown nothing more than most backups. I remember the same hype about Price etc.

Anonymous said...

Someone please explain the Jennings decision to release his playing rights, (Jeremy O'Day?) he's a holdover from that regime.

We want to know.

Tim Paquin said...

Anonymous,
Do you mean a great team like the Steelers, they have a great QB, still golfing,or a great team like the Packers, they have a great QB, still golfing? You actually need a great surrounding cast of skilled, character players as well.

Anonymous said...

The next potential qb was once property of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club but for some unknown reason was released and not developed after showing promise down south at a training camp. BC Lions now have the benefit of the doubt with potential rewards moving forward.