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Monday, July 24, 2017


Photo Credit: David Moll

Let's get right to it but first, just slowly back away from the panic button. While Rider Nation has every right to begin the fretting after a 27-10 domination by the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium Saturday night, we here at Out of the Tunnel want to offer some food for thought before you jump off that cliff.

You hear grumblings at the lakes, cottages and summer outdoor festivals. You read them on message boards, comment sections and social media -- the pure frustration, mostly due to the Riders' start of the game in Calgary.

Pick any part of what went wrong in the opening half and it has been mentioned: Jerome Messam running roughshod, Kevin Glenn getting sacked five times, less than 100 yards of offence, poor play in the defensive backfield; really there wasn’t much that was positive to pick out.

Coming off a bye week - and prior to that a solid performance in a victory over the beleaguered Hamilton Tiger-Cats - many were expecting the Green & White to come out of the tunnel and play fast, physical football. It was anything but.

By now, we have all either watched, re-watched, poured over stats and/or read every blogger’s point of view about what happened and all of it adds to the frustration.

Simply put the Riders are now 1-3 and, during Chris Jones’ first 22 games as head coach. just 6-16. To see it in print stings, but for fun, let’s compare it to the past ten head coaches after their first 22 (or less if fired prior) games.

Chris Jones (2016-2017)         6-16
Corey Chamblin (2012-2013) 12-10
Greg Marshall (2011)              1-7 *fired after week eight
Ken Miller (2008-2009)          14-8
Kent Austin (2007)                  12-6
Danny Barrett (2000-2001)     7-14-1
Cal Murphy (1999)                  3-15
Jim Daley (1996-1997)           7-15
Ray Jauch (1994-1995)           11-11 *lost eight straight to begin 1995 season
Don Matthews (1991-1992)    7-15
John Gregory (1986-1987)      6-15-1

So there you have it: 30 years of Rider head coaches and their (mostly) inauspicious starts. Only four were .500 or better but Austin and Miller inherited teams that were .500+ the previous year and Jauch’s slide was swift in year two.

Corey Chamblin is the only one to turn things around, but it too was gradual. He took over after a tumultuous 2011 that saw Greg Marshall fired eight games into the season and the team finishing 5-13 under Ken Miller.

In 2012, Chamblin was three games better at 8-10 and was again three games better (11-7) in 2013 and won it all (which is starting to feel like another lifetime ago).

What’s the point of this exercise? To remind us all that to turn around any team takes time, and sometimes a two or three game improvement year over year is all that is needed (and maybe a dash of patience would help).

But, this isn’t the Saskatchewan Roughriders of even five years ago. A turnaround should be easier than it was in the past. There’s a brand new $280-million stadium that is the jewel of outdoor facilities in Canada, the business operations is the best in the CFL, and most importantly the biggest and most engaged fan base in the league. This is supposed to be THE destination in the CFL and recruiting players for fast success should be easier.

Secondly, if you look back at the list, only Ken Miller had more than just the head coach title. He was also Vice-President of Football Operations. This adds to the frustration for fans, everything begins and ends with Chris Jones -- on the field and off.

These are tough times right now and as a fan, you have every right to complain, pick apart and chastise the team you love.


- It seems like Edmonton just finds ways to win and Hamilton finds new ways to lose. The Ti-Cats led for 55:27 of the game with the Eskimos first and only lead coming with :33 remaining. The drive that Mike Reilly led for that game winning touchdown was football artistry. It is a thing of beauty to watch as all facets of the offence are clicking at the same time. In a pressure situation, everyone was on the same page; Offensive coordinator Carson Walch was in a play calling groove (all :37 of it), while Reilly was a calm field general guiding the five-play, 75-yard drive that also included a pair of running plays. If you have a chance, go watch that piece of mastery again.

- Reilly is also our early choice for CFL MOP.

- A funky Week 5 ends Monday night with the REDBLACKS playing their second game in six days as they head to Toronto to take on the Argonauts. Ottawa escaped with a 24-16 victory over Montreal on Wednesday night and back-to-back wins would go a long way towards erasing any memory of the poor start to the season.

- The Game of the Week was the 45-42 B.C. Lions victory at home over Winnipeg on Friday. The Bombers had a 42-27 lead early in the fourth quarter and did everything they could to give it away (did they take lessons from the Ti-Cats?). It will be interesting to see how this affects a team that was off to a pretty good start to the season.

- Finally, this is going to be a fun week in preparation for Saturday afternoon’s battle with Toronto at Mosaic Stadium. It marks the return of Corey Chamblin to Saskatchewan since being fired mid-way through the 2015 season and will be interesting if he will, or be allowed to, meet with the local media. It may be one of the few times a coordinator will have more requests than the head coach.

A Canadian To Watch In The NCAA In 2017

Neville Gallimore – DT
University of Oklahoma
6’2” 310lbs.
Hometown – St. Caatherine’s, Ont.
Class – RS-Soph.

As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Gallimore played in all 13 games, starting six for the Sooners. He finished the season with a sack and four tackles for loss. He will start at tackle in 2017 with the Sooners switching to a 4-3 defence. Gallimore is the second Canadian to play for the Sooners, following in the footsteps of current Rider offensive lineman, Josiah St. John.

What To Do Between Games This Week:

With the REDBLACKS in Toronto Monday night, and Montreal in Winnipeg on Thursday, there isn’t much time between games. So, it’s simple, go watch season two of Last Chance U on Netflix.

(Written by Staff)