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Monday, November 20, 2017

OUT OF THE TUNNEL: WHY THE RIDERS LOST THE EASTERN FINAL


Rider Nation is licking its wounds today, but in a couple of days, we will all look back and reflect on a 2017 that was a season of tremendous progress and many lessons learned that will help the Riders track back to the top of the CFL beginning next year.

But right now, we will head Out of the Tunnel looking back on what could have been in Sunday's 25-21 East Division Final loss in Toronto.

Other than fans' complaints about the refereeing (the questionable review of the hit to the head of Kevin Glenn being number one on the list), many will be talking about the rotation of quarterbacks through the whole game.

Head coach Chris Jones has been incredibly astute in the second half of the season on when to switch quarterbacks, but on Sunday it went sideways.

Kevin Glenn started the game and the first drive of the second quarter, then Brandon Bridge came in for two series without much success.

Glenn went back in and that’s when the game unravelled. He was intercepted on back-to-back series (by Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and Cassius Vaughn) which ended up in ten Argo points and that was the end of Glenn's afternoon.

Other than his one touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, Bridge wasn’t great either, completing just a hair over 50% of his passes. On the other side of the football, Ricky Ray was steady and when he needed to be great on the final drive of the game, he was. Game over.

Huge kudos to Corey Chamblin and his game plan for the Rider offence. He blitzed the heck out of the Riders and made life miserable for Glenn and confused the heck out of Bridge. It had to be an incredibly satisfying day for the former Riders head coach (as well as Shawn Lemon who had three sacks and five tackles) as he marks his first return to the Grey Cup since leading the Riders to their 2013 victory.

The key to Rider victories all season was relying on the big play. They had a few on defence courtesy of Willie Jefferson and on special teams with Christion Jones’ late punt return touchdown, but it just wasn’t enough.

Another frustration was when the game was on the line and they needed to just bend but not break, the defence couldn’t stiffen up and stop the Argos offence on the final drive.

A couple of other notes from an armchair quarterback:

- Whether it was/wasn’t roughing the passer, to rely on the officiating or the replay booth to make a call on an interception for a touchdown isn’t a great way to look at it. You can never rely on officiating to help a team out. Even if Victor Butler never touched Glenn, it was going back the other way for the score.

- The Rider running game was having some success, and in such a tight game, Marcus Thigpen and Kienan LaFrance should have seen the ball more. Sure they were nailed in the backfield a couple of times, but even still, they averaged over five yards per carry. When in doubt, pound the rock.

-  Kevin Glenn’s three interceptions were the most he has thrown in a playoff game.

- Duron Carter wasn’t just great between the lines (6/99 and a touchdown), he was great all week (who else would offer to take fans to a movie?) When his gregarious personality is positive and in control, he is a huge positive for the Riders and for the CFL.

It’s going to be a long six months waiting for the Green and White to return to the field for Training Camp 2018 in Saskatoon, but with all the positives that happened this season, it will be nice talking about filling a few holes instead of a complete overhaul.


 The West Division Final looked like it was going to be all Edmonton when they took a 14-0 first quarter lead, but after a month of sleepwalking, the Calgary Stampeders finally woke up.

They stormed back to tie the game, then "Roy Finch happened" at the end of the first half. His two plays that covered 65 yards - including a 50-yard run on the final play of the half - put the Stampeders up seven at the break and was the turning point of the football game.

Calgary added another score midway through the third (to cap a 30-1 scoring run) and they appeared to be cruising to a Grey Cup berth.  Then the Eskies showed the same moxie that helped turn their season around.

They chiseled away at the Stampeder lead, cutting it to 31-25. After a Rob Maver single made it a seven-point lead, the weirdness began.

With 1:54 left in the fourth quarter, it was 3rd and four at the Calgary 13-yard line when Eskimo head coach Jason Maas, for some reason, decided to kick a short field goal to cut the lead to four points …meaning they would still need a touchdown to win.

It was their best and final chance to tie (or possibly win) the game. Calgary killed most of the clock and then forced a Jamill Smith fumble on a late punt return to seal it. This is something Eskimo (and CFL) fans will be talking about all offseason.

So, the Grey Cup will see the Toronto Argonauts host the Calgary Stampeders at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa (side note: Out Of The Tunnel made the prediction of an Edmonton-Saskatchewan Grey Cup … reminder never listen to the media when placing bets). Ottawa will be a fantastic host city, it will still be a great party and an interesting match-up, but the question will be…how many across the country will be watching this game? Many Rider fans will, because they are fans of the game, but will the casual fan tune into the 105th version of the Classic?


Canada West Diary:

The Vanier Cup is set with the Laval Rouge et Or returning to the USports football championship game for the fifth time in eight years courtesy of their 35-23 victory over the Calgary Dinos.

Calgary had the 17-10 lead at halftime before Laval went on a 25-6 second half tear to take the Mitchell Bowl at McMahon Stadium.

Laval winning wasn’t the big story, the Uteck Bowl took all the headlines, but not for the right reasons. The Western Mustangs embarrassed the Acadia Axemen 81-3 to book their ticket to Hamilton.

It wasn’t just embarrassing for Acadia, but for all USports. After a complete debacle in the handling of the Archelaus Jack situation with the St. Mary’s Huskies (more here) which saw the AUS final being played on Tuesday. It set up Acadia for complete failure in the Uteck Bowl.

Canada West and RSEQ can’t always wave the flag for Canadian college football. If you want to keep the best football players in Canada, stuff like this must change. If not, the trickle of players to American prep schools and NCAA schools at all levels will turn into a stream and it will be hard to claw that back.

Speaking of which….

Canadian to Watch in the NCAA
Nathaniel (Nate) Anderson - DE
Missouri
6’3” 265lbs.
Hometown – Toronto, Ont.
Class – Jr.

Anderson is in his first season with the Missouri Tigers after playing two seasons of junior college football with New Mexico Military Institute. In 2017, Anderson has a sack, two tackles for loss and 11 total tackles.

Before heading to NMMI the Toronto native finished his high school career with Prattville High School in Alabama.

(RodPedersen.com Staff)

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

GO ARGOS

Marc said...

We should be very proud of the turn around. I am amazed at how negative fans show up when the Riders lose. Chris Jones and his staff took over a very pathetic team and made them a competitor. It will only get better from here.

Anonymous said...

The idea that Kevin Glenn belongs in the HOF is laughable and obscene.

Anonymous said...

The east/west playoff format sucks! Toronto, with a worse record than the Riders, gets a bye and home field advantage! The Riders then have to go on the road and then deal with the hype of a Eastern media bias jumping on the Argos bandwagon!

Larry said...

ABC - Anybody But Calgary!

Anonymous said...

Still don't like Jones. Go Argos. Yea Shawn Lemon, the guy that told Jones where to go.

Anonymous said...

It was a great season! A winning season, a playoff win, and one play away from the Grey Cup game. The Riders were competitive with every team in the league and even knocked out the defending champs. Please no more criticism aimed at Chris Jones. He has done wonders considering the pile of rubble he inherited while other teams only had to tweak their rosters. A fabulous entertaining and successful season. Can't wait for next year.

Willie said...

All Rider Players please stand up and take a Bow for a great season and at least getting us to the Semi Final only one win away from the Grey Cup. We had it in the bag yesterday but in Sports anything can happen and that is what happened yesterday it happened to us at the wrong time. We will be back but we also will be better. This team has loads of talent and just a few changes will have to be made, but we will be tougher next year. To: All the Coaches, Players and Rider Staff a big "Thank You" for a job well done.

CM said...

Outperformed expectations this season, so it was a good one in retrospect. They lost because Glenn was awful. His picks cost points. All the other issues: the ref, needed a bigger back in there like Trent or Marshall, were minor. Both D's played great, and the Armanti Edwards catch was a backbreaker. Let them kill the clock and score a major. Ray wasn't great, but he made money throws to Posey and on the last drive. Theres a reason hes won 3 cups. Just like theres a reason Glenn has 0. Probably wasn't realistic to think KG would lead them to 3 playoff wins in a row. He was 8-9 this year. (They won 11 and BB won in Hamilton, Toronto and Calgary - even if he did not start the latter 2) Time to move on, sign Bridge and give him and whoever else they bring in a shot. The talent is there to win it all, provided they get competent quarterbacking.

Anonymous said...

tis why u set urselves up in regular season for postseason success! win 1 game @ home and ur in cup!!!

Anonymous said...

It's simple. The two teams with the best management (GM/Coach) are in the Grey Cup game.

Western Manitoba Riders said...

Ten (10) brief points to consider with the Riders' 2018 season coming to an end yesterday...(1) With the start to the year, and to then make the playoffs as well as win one game on the road, and come as close as they did yesterday, is something I for one did not expect back in July (2) There are still many pieces to repair, and consistency is an issue as well as some questionable or risky coaching decisions, but overall, it was a good year (3) The game yesterday was a game, that while exciting, was poor from a performance perspective. Multiple interceptions, and turnovers to that extent, when one gets to the final four, is not a sign that the quality of play is where it should be at this time of year (4) So, even if the Riders had pulled it out yesterday, it would not from a quality standpoint have been an epic game. The "C" in CFL means what? "Comedic"? Careless"? (5) As much as they were in large part the reason why the Riders were still in the game, the inability of the D to stop the third down gamble, as well as allow the Argo player who was likely going to get the ball to gain the new set of downs leading to the winning TD, was sure unfortunate, especially for such a defensive guru as Jones (6) Kevin Glenn is a nice guy, who is proficient during the regular season when there is not much on the line. Coming off the bench was his strongest suit. However, an "A" level starter he is not, and once again, he simply made far too many mistakes in a big game (7) When Jones could not find anyone else after cutting Durant loose, and announced Glenn as the starter, with there being no one else lined up as the heir apparent, the chances of success this year were minimized by Jones. Had Bridge not came out of nowhere and in a number of games displayed some future talent, the team would have been even more unprepared for the start of the year and probably would not have made the playoffs (8) Franklin or Collaros with Bridge would be fine for next year, but if not, and Glenn is still here, he had better be #2 and Bridge or someone else had better step up to take the top job as QB. The "platoon" idea worked for awhile, but failed yesterday, and was confusing, just like putting your most talented athlete at receiver on defense at the corner (9) The referees and video review were not strong, but is that a surprise? And that was not the sole or most significant reason for the Riders not winning. It did not help, but three interceptions (which were pathetic) did not help the cause at all (10) I hope most Riders fans take the high road. I may not be a fan of how Jones deals with players or others, but I also know this is a business and results are mostly what matters in pro sports. The Jones' regime has improved the team, and fans should be excited about 2018. And, it is the CFL. In what pro league can you make the playoffs, after such a poor start to the year, and have a better record than the East winner? Because there is no NHL hockey in Saskatchewan, this is it, and pulling for the little guy or underdog, and being part of a community of fans, is what brings all of us back for more. Talk to you all again in June.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

You grind through 18 games to have a final placement for playoffs. Then you divide a 9 team league in two divisions. One of 5 and one of 4 for the purposes of playoffs. If it's going to be that way, why not play all your games within your division, with each winner going to the Grey Cup. The fact that Toronto should get a bye with a poorer record is obscene. This East-West format has long been a joke and really it serves no usefulness. Last year a sub .500 team got bye into the playoffs with 1st place and won the Grey Cup. This year a .500 team gets the bye into the playoffs with 1st place and is in the Grey Cup. When will the CFL decide that you can't continue to try and breathe life into the league when you continue to reward incompetence. Fairrness would have been Calgary and Winnipeg getting the Bye week with the next 4 teams in the Semi-Final based on their order of finish. 3 vs 5 and 4 vs 6.. The highest finishing team then plays the lowest placed semi winer with other two teams being the other ones. You would reward the better teams with home games and the regular season would now be something that actually had meaning and would be rewarded properly. In the Grey Cup game anything can happen but it should between the best two teams, not the division they come from. Anything less is cheating the teams, fans and sponsors. It's what causes younger fans to quit the CFL because it rewards incompetence.

Ambrosie and the CFL should have egg all over their face for the blown call. You can rest assured that the call wasn't blown but something far more sinister was at play. I can tell you that anything coming out of CFL Head Office is truly "Fake News". It's immoral, distasteful, and a black eye on the league. It is however not at all surprising. This isn't the first time this has happened to a Western team and it won't be the last. Much like the surprising trade of Ricky Ray to Toronto for the 100th Grey Cup. Ambrosie is only marginally if at all better than the last moron.

As bad as that Eastern BS is and was yesterday, it wasn't the reason for the loss. Excruciatingly poor quarterbacking for such a big game. A defence that broke when it was most needed, however they may have had to play too much because of all the 2 and outs. For most of the game the defence was good. It will need to get better next year. And the last most critical thing was the needless "me" penalties that were taken. Tourist hits by Gainey and Clark were entirely needless and hurting. The body slam take down by Jeff Knox extended a Toronto drive from a punting situation. It later resulted in a TD against Kacey Rogers. There was more than enough undisciplined play to go around. That and 3 picks cost the game. Toronto wasn't that good and we could have won that game, even with the pick 6. A few of our players had other ideas.

Anonymous said...

It was a great season. Most games were entertaining and I agree Rod, just need to fill a few holes and the Riders will be right there competing in November again in 2018. The 2 big questions are at QB and will Duron Carter be back or try and take another shot at the NFL. I think Bridge has the tools, he just needs more playing time to mature and understand situations better. Let's hope Carter loved Regina and the organization enough to come back. Here's to 2018, and those fans who are whining would probably be whining even if the Riders won. Let's do it in 2018!!

Dan said...

I’m being picky here but Shawn Lemon was not part of the Riders 2013 Grey Cup roster.

Defensive Linemen:

97 John Chick DE
92 Zach Evans DT
95 Ricky Foley DE
99 Alex Hall DE
91 Jermaine McElveen DT
74 Keith Shologan DT
62 Levi Steinhauer DL

Anonymous said...

Just like life: It was fun while it lasted.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the U sports situation (gong show to say the least), keeping the best kids in Canada will always be a huge challenge because Canada simply cannot compete with the scholarship opportunities.

Anonymous said...

The growing problem of so many empty seats at football games everywhere has to be a concern.

Anonymous said...

Can't help but wonder if the game is different had the Riders scored a TD on the first drive rather than settling for a FG. Everything else being the same, those extra 4 points would have meant Toronto ties the game with their last TD... would Tressman have gone for 2? Don't think so ....

Anonymous said...

Knock off with the book length comments. Far too long, imo

@mrt_man said...

STILL TOUGH TO BELIEVE THAT IT IS OVER... IT SEEMED LIKE THERE WAS SOME REAL HOPE AFTER THE OTTAWA GAME... WE BEAT TORONTO TWICE DURING THE YEAR... I THOUGHT WE JUST NEEDED TO KEEP WILDER IN CHECK, WHICH WE DID A PRETTY GOOD JOB OF...

WAS SAD TO SEE THE OFFENCE COME UP FLAT. 3 PICKS... ALL OF THEM UGLY... GOOD THING WE TRADED AWAY OUR STARTING QB... I HAVE BEEN A KEVIN GLENN SUPPORTER ALL YEAR. SEEMS RIDICULOUS THAT HE HAS SO MANY YARDS AND HAS HELPED SO MANY TEAMS, BUT STILL AN'T GET ANY RESPECT OUT THERE AROUND THE CFL... HOWEVER... WOW.. HE SURE LAID AN EGG ON THIS ONE.

AND THEN BASICALLY NO OFFENSE TILL THE 4TH. TOUGH TO WIN WITHOUT SCORING A POINT IN THE MIDDLE HALF OF THE GAME. DEFINITELY SOME PLAYS THAT NEEDED TO BE MADE THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

THE WEST FINAL LOOKED A LOT MORE LIKE 2 TEAMS THAT WERE EXPECTING TO PLAY A FOOTBALL GAME THAT DAY.

THEY GAVE US SOME EXCITING FOOTBALL THIS YEAR... AT LEAST WE ARE ONLY OUT ONE WEEK EARLY THIS YEAR. WAS HAPPY TO SEE DURON KEEP HIS DUMB PENALTIES ALL YEAR IN CHECK FOR THE PLAYOFFS... HOPEFULLY IT WILL BE A TREND THAT CONTINUES. CROSS OUR FINGERS AND HOPE THAT ALL THE FAN FAVOURITES DON'T GET CUT IN THE OFF SEASON.

Pat Strain said...

ThIs Grey cup has 2 teams with the smallest fan bases in the league. Nobody will be watching . Too bad cause it might be a good game .

Anonymous said...

Wherever Bridge ends up he will excell sooner or later so open the purse. Franklin? Who really knows. Give Glenn a little more credit. A great QB when protected. But huge weakness, simply can't avoid a rush. But the upside of that is we got to see a lot of Bridge. If he can get that rule change it would give an added bonus. At least he is fun to watch while he learns like Henry was his first year here.

Anonymous said...

Winnipeg's Walters is bemoaning the same thing saying one division. So Cal & Wpg get a bye. Edm plays Ott, Riders play Sask @ home. Riders were 5-4 @ home so not unbeatable. You want to rewrite history & say Riders definitely win? Not the way they played yesterday, Esks beat Ottawa @ home & Bombers 1st match is vs Edm @ home. The final 4 were 1, 3, 4 & 5 in the standings & at this point the 4 best teams. Calgary is Calgary & the other 3 had the best records down the stretch. Wpg has the worst defence in the league statiscally & no depth to make up for losing their top receiver, sack leader, top LB & a QB with a broken finger & 1 leg. They weren't going anywhere. The Riders would have had to beat TO & then a rested Stamp team. Be happy you got Ottawa first. Argos are a better club right now.

Anonymous said...

Honestly the defense was pretty stellar, they played hard football, holding the Argo's, but you can't hold every drive in football, and for that I do not place any blame on them for this football game. They gave more than enough - and it was up to the offense to be successful.

I will say I wanted Bridge to start, and when he did - it took a several drives to get the ball rolling. I think given more time Bridge could of had another successful drive, but we didn't have time left. He really changed them when he had that successful run and the long ball to Bagg - we were just finding our way and what was working. Honestly our offense has better numbers than Ray, even if our passing % was less than his - must consider he is 38 years old and has 3 Grey Cup wins!

I think our Defense was better as well...

We lost due to the offense turning the ball over and they capitalized with points. They blitzed us and we couldn't answer....they had to much pressure and they had too many sacks.

Oh well I will be mad for awhile, I was sooooooo hoping for a Canadian QB to start in a Canadian Grey Cup game in Canada's capital.

Bonnie

Anonymous said...

So proud of this team! Yes, the loss was disappointing but connect the dots from when Jones took over last year and we have not seen the best of this team yet. The biggest bugaboo in my opinion was the inability to design an offensive scheme for Glenn when he is under pressure. They know it is coming so I have no idea why they showed no improvement there in the last third of the season. Having said that, this team needs to move on from Kevin Glenn. His record in big games is abysmal. Yes, the team wouldn't have made it so far this year without him, but it is time for the Riders to move on and not rely on him moving forward. I say give Bridge a shot. Sure, he's got some learning to do, but he's young and gives the team a dimension that Glenn couldn't provide...mobility! Plus, he's got a cannon for an arm.
Surprised no one mentioning the roughing penalty on Rogers that sustained an Argo drive ultimately ending up as a touchdown. That was a bogus call. How else was he supposed to tackle the guy??? He didn't drive him into the ground like he COULD have.
Sure hope the team can move forward intact for next year. Pretty incredible how much character and talent Jones has been able to build.

Barry Wilkie said...

Rod it always comes down to the QB we made to many changes we should of stuck with Bridge and rode it out either he does well or he fails. Looks like it does not matter because he is going to get Franklin

Anonymous said...

To Western Manitoba Rider ....are you sure you are talking about the right year. This was the end of the 2017 season not 2018 or were you predicting next years outcome already!!

My prediction is a Rider Grey Cup in 2018

Anonymous said...

Waah!! Waah!! All you crybabies about the East/West thing......get over it. You should be lucky that Sask got a crossover, rather than the top 3 teams from each Division making the playoffs as in the past. If it were still that way, Sask wouldn't have even been in the playoffs this yr.

The blame rests on the coaches and especially Jones and McAdoo, for shaking the confidence of the Quarterbacks in playing merry-go-round with them. Playing musical chairs like that disrupts one's rhythm. but it was a team loss.

Anonymous said...

None of you idiots blaming glen took into consideration that the wind was blowing 62km/hr. glen didn't play well but we still had a chance to win the defence played great but Ricky made some big plays to win. Let's put it this way if Durant was our qb we wouldn't have even made the playoffs (a) because he is washed up and (b) his salary would have handicapped us on players to bring in. Jones is building something special here, remember we are the youngest team in the league

Anonymous said...

GREAT POST!
POST OF THE YEAR, POST SEASON!

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares you don't like Jones you townie.

Anonymous said...

TRY SOME SANKA, ITS DECAFFINATED!

Anonymous said...

Glenn sucks.

Anonymous said...

Agreed.

Anonymous said...

Would everyone just get over this youngest team in the league myth. The truth is the Riders are the second oldest team in the CFL, second only to Montreal. If you don't believe that find a roster and check out how many Rider players are already thirty and over. Also, take note that there are several more that will turn thirty next year. The Riders are NOT a young team. The youngest team in the league is Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

Dan above: Roddy was referring to Corey Chambin as the one who led the Riders to the 2013 Grey Cup win, not Lemon. You justly misread the context of his sentence structure.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

So Glenn throws back to back interceptions after being pulled. Who put him back in???

Anonymous said...

WHY THE RIDERS LOST THE EASTERN FINAL
ANSWER - FARJARDO!

Unknown qb CODY FAJARDO beat the Riders.
END OF STORY.

Anonymous said...

Reading your tweets Rod and reading your columns and listening to you on the radio. I think you are starting to sound a lot like the now retired Brian Hall. Rod your better than that!!!

lee said...

Long time season ticket holder very happy with yr two of the rebuild.I will be there for year three and i would think we will be in the grey cup representing the west> keep up the good work Jones,.

Anonymous said...

I did.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe everyone is missing the critical coaching error. The field goal was pointless. Had to go for it there. Down by 5 or 8. No difference. Still need a touchdown to tie or win.

OldBaldGuy said...

Interesting how idiotic some of these comments are! You don't build Rome in a day. It makes 3 to build it on scratch...and we are going in o three!