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Monday, July 2, 2018

OUT OF THE TUNNEL: WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?


BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF

Walking out of Mosaic Stadium on Saturday night, most in Rider Nation were probably thinking, “What the hell did I just watch?”

A mere 24 hours after the Saskatchewan Roughriders dropped a 23-17 decision to the hapless Montreal Alouettes and it appears, for now, that there are some glaring weaknesses that the collected talent cannot overcome.

The win ended a couple of Alouettes' streaks of futility: 1) A 13-game losing streak and 2) their first road win since November 5, 2016 in Hamilton. Two of Montreal’s last four wins have come against the Riders.

Montreal is a team the Riders - no matter who was playing at quarterback or corner - should have beaten handily. Those positions were the two biggest downfalls Saturday night.


1881 Scarth St. Regina, 306-789-0011
Here’s what went right:

- Willie Jefferson: The Riders top defensive player played like their best player. He had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery along with wreaking havoc all night long. This is a solid stepping stone for Jefferson and will only help the Riders get out of the early season doldrums.

- Naaman Roosevelt: Finally, they put the ball in the hands of the incredible receiver out of the University of Buffalo. He did what he usually does, make incredible catches, take a bunch of punishment while holding onto the football, and keep drives alive.

Once Duron Carter returns to the offence, this will be a key in the turnaround.

- The return game: While the punt coverage team had a tough time with Stefan Logan (more below), Christion Jones almost changed the game by himself.

His 53-yard punt return in the fourth quarter led to the Riders only touchdown. He came close to breaking a few others.

Jones will be the difference in helping the Riders win one or two games this season. He should also see some time in the offence. Offensive skills like that kept exclusively to special teams are a waste.

Here’s what went wrong:

- Duron Carter at corner: Out of the Tunnel is not going to continue to pile on. We all saw it. Let’s move on and put one of the most dynamic receivers in the CFL back in the place where he can make a tremendous difference.

The TSN panel put it correctly; you can find so many corners that are more adept at playing the position than Duron Carter. Even a 41-year-old Omarr Morgan (who was on the sidelines last night) would be a better fit.

The Riders were able to quickly find a defensive tackle (which are considerably more difficult to find) in Mic’hael Brooks to fill a gap in just one week’s time.

Who knows if there truly isn’t an appropriate defensive back to fit the Riders defensive system, or if it’s just a stubborn Chris Jones. Either way, it's time to get back to business.

- Depth at quarterback: Before kickoff, if someone would have said that Jeff Matthews and David Watford would be the quarterbacks of note by the end of the game, would you still take the Riders? More than likely, yes.

When the dust settled, Matthews looked calm and cool behind centre, was incredibly efficient, and didn’t make any mistakes for Montreal.

On the other hand, David Watford showed a couple flashes of brilliance, but other than that, looked like a player who hasn’t played a game at quarterback since 2015.

The starting quarterback, Brandon Bridge wasn’t much better.

Here's the duo of Brandon Bridge and David Watford by the numbers:

18-40 for 218 yards, 1TD, 4INT with a QBR of 31.04

In comparison Drew Willy and Jeff Matthew were:

16-27 for 255 yards and 1TD with a QBR of 103.2

If it wasn’t for a half dozen drops by Alouette receivers, it would have been ugly.

- Punt coverage: Special teams have been a strength of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the early parts of the 2018 season. Saturday night saw Stefan Logan flip the field a couple of times and that helped the Alouettes seal the deal on the road.

There's not much time for the Riders to sulk. The high-flying Hamilton Tiger-Cats are coming to town Thursday night.

Jeremiah Masoli is one of the top passers in the CFL while the Ti-Cats defence is playing incredibly well. This will be a great test to see how the Riders stack up against the East Division’s top team.

Hamilton’s transformation into being one of the top teams in the CFL may be the best story thus far in the early parts of the 2018 season.

CFL Notes:

-  There have been so few close games this season (a TD or less) and it continued again this week. But there is a bright-side. After getting smoked in week one (losing all three) the East Division is 4-3 against the west. With the play of Hamilton and Ottawa, the gap is closing between the divisions.

-  Ho-hum, the Stampeders are the lone undefeated team in the CFL and in first place in the West. They have done it with a stingy defence that has given up a league low of around 10 points per game.

It was their defence that sealed the deal against the Redblacks last week. Their goal-line stand early in the fourth quarter was the turning point in a game where both teams struggled offensively up to that point.

From there, the Stampeder offence woke up in the second half and rolled to a 24-14 victory.

So many folks wrote them off at the beginning of the season because of the slew of new faces. But with the strength of their football operations, the Stampeders have been able to handle the turnover with ease.

- With Ottawa’s William Powell (123 yards) and Edmonton’s C.J. Gable (165 yards) both going over 100-yards this week, it makes four times a player has gone over 100-yards this season.

The record when a team has a 100-yard rusher, 3-1. Pound the rock!

Canadian to watch in the NCAA:

Chase Claypool
WR – Notre Dame (Jr.)
6’4” 3/8, 228bs.
Abbotsford, B.C.
High School – Abbotsford

When we focused on Claypool last season, he was coming off a freshman year that saw him catch just a handful of passes. Well, he took the next step in 2017 with 29 catches for 402 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

His breakout game came on November 4, when Claypool caught nine passes for 180 yards and a touchdown in a Fighting Irish 48-37 win over Wake Forrest.

Claypool is the top returning receiver to Brian Kelly’s offence and without their top rusher returning for 2018, look for Claypool to see more touches through the air.

(RodPedersen.com Staff)

14 comments:

Football Fan said...

First of all I like these articles. The analysis, the NCAA update, it's all good. But I have some quibbles with the analysis itself.

Why would you mention Carter first? Yes, he was an overall minus in this game, and it was probably the first game where you could say that, but his play was not why we lost. The biggest issue by far was the play of our QBs, and your stats show the gory details. Unfortunately this is a much more difficult problem to fix as well.

"The Riders were able to quickly find a defensive tackle..."
-I don't think we were looking for a DT. I think he was looking for a job and we decided to give him a shot, and Bladek being healthy enough to start opened up an import spot. Jones is great at finding DBs. Just look at our secondary, so I'm sure if he thought there was a better option out there than Carter he would sign him. This game was different, however, so maybe he'll be looking more now, but then Marshall may be back soon as well. Have there been any updates on him? But again, Carter's play really had no major impact on the outcome of this game. The problem is the QB play.

"Before kickoff, if someone would have said that Jeff Matthews and David Watford would be the quarterbacks of note by the end of the game, would you still take the Riders?"
-Probably but it would have been much closer. Mathews is a decent backup QB. He's been in the league 4 years and he got a decent amount of playing time a few years ago with Hamilton. Watford, otoh, is raw, raw, raw.

"If it wasn’t for a half dozen drops by Alouette receivers, it would have been ugly."
-You can't really talk about the Als drops without talking about the Riders' as well. Thigpen I think had 3 all on his own, including that big one early in the game. He also took a key penalty. Thigpen was a disappointment, but maybe we relied on him too much too soon. He is a vet, but this was his first game of the year as well.

Ahhh the QBing! THIS is a real problem. Have there been any updates on Collaros? Bridge struggling is bad, bad, news. Some of his comments before the game made me think he wasn't in the right headspace, and then Jones not playing him at all in the second half notable as well. I have a bad feeling about this. One thing to keep in the back of our minds is that Mike Reilly is a FA at the end of this year, and he won a GC with Jones in Edmonton, and the Esks seem to be regressing under Sunderland. Hmmmm...

Dion Rogal said...

The cheap head shot by Brooks on a defenceless receiver in Cunningham and Hughes helmet to helmet that knocked out Willy should warrant a fine or suspension ! Isn't this the same Brooks who has been in trouble with CFL a number of times before?There is a reason nobody else signed this guy.

RS said...

Ok settledown last comment, to me ur just trynin to add fuel to a fire that's slowly growing and truely believe ur not a rider fan right??

swift_fox said...

Hughes did lead with his helmet on that hit on Willy. Roosevelt should have caught that ball that got intercepted on Bridge too. Why was Messam not used when your rookie QB is struggling that badly. Poor coaching. Carter can stay at CB whats the big deal

SWC said...

If the O-line is functioning then the QB is better and so are the RBs.
Fix the O-line!!!

Helix said...

Bridge was very very disappointing. He was not even close to “compete” level. He never looked through his reads like good qbs do. After 4 years I am afraid he goes into the pile with tino and others. This is just unbelievable that we are now starting a qb who had never played the position professionally until now. The most important position in order to win. Wow are you sure we looked under every stone.

Ted Oldenborger said...

Can someone tell me why Messam wasn't playing? He was out warming up.

Warren File said...

Lots of disappointment and "what-ifs" during and after this game especially when most of us thought we couldn't play two lethargic games in a row. We are seeing things happening on the field that we haven't had to endure since 2015.
The O-line seemed to be giving the QB's a little more protection, but both QB's weren't convinced and frequently left the pocket and put themselves in jeopardy, ignored the short hook receiver, and fired four interceptions.
The opening play pass drop was a deflater and it was obviously a planned opener. A confident team could play through it but we didn't and we aren't. I see these issues: 1) Collaros was a cornerstone for the O and his game experience and cool headed demeanor were up in the coaches' box and not down on the bench. 2) Carter - I am not convinced the rest of the D is buying into Duron's loose "style", his continuous chirping at opposing receivers, or his outbursts and penalties. These are dedicated defensive players with a lot of pride. In interviews they show a lot of tolerance and don't contradict their head coach - but that does not mean there is not an issue here. Carter is being the distraction that the coaches have been trying to prevent from happening, and he's taking Chris Jones down with him. 3) Messam - not even in the picture and he could have been a big help. Even if he's only getting 4-6 yards on first down, he is breaking up the pass rush, giving the O-line a chance to hit somebody, and bringing their LB's up. Instead the Riders were having a tryout competition between Mason and Thigpen and neither were very effective and it didn't help them when most of the handoffs took place with the speed of a Canada Post delivery.
So now it's Hamilton, a team on fire, with none of the above issues and then a week off where we can bring in the help to begin to shore things up. We are all seeing a 1-4 start right?

Dallas Bergen said...

Would like to see the Riders bring in Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who started at both boundary and field corner, most recently in the 2018 Grey Cup. While you're bringing in ex Argos, how about Corey Watman too?

Old Rider Fan said...

To me offense begins with the O line ... so if it's weak it makes QBs look bad or at least limited. And of course limits the running game which also hampers the QB. If Cal and SK switched QBs BLM would not look as good and BB would look better. Pundits focus so much on the 'numbers' ... completion percentage and such. The number I would like is average time before getting hit or hurried. Writing off BB on that game is not at all fair. Get the O line fixed then judge.

Helix said...

Ok I just read the update that Bridge will start against ticats. That’s good he needs another shot at it. Hopefully his teammates give him some help this time.

RudersWestman said...

It is early in the season, so no need to panic (just yet) as long as there is reflection, some improvements made and progress; we have seen it before where, in a nine team league, a team can look done like dinner only to squeeze into the playoffs and go on a run to the Grey Cup. However, it is apparent (1) Nothing has changed over the years, as talent and depth at QB is a must to win in the CFL (2) Bridge has shown some flashes of greatness but he may end up in the long run being a reliable back up, off the bench, but not a starter. Watford showed some talent but is nowhere ready to play regularly, if ever. Is there anyone else out there who the Riders could sign so that they do not have to go solely with Bridge and Watford for another month and a half minimum? Anyone other than Kevin Glenn? (3) The O-line sure needs some help and a new player (or two) should be brought in and inserted, if there is anyone out there (4) With an improved O-line, more running plays can be worked in to the playbook, and with move time, the QB should be able to get the ball in the hands of the quality receivers (5) It snow balls from there as a balanced attack should keep the other team's D guessing, and results in the offense staying on the field, providing a break for the D. (6) Speaking of the D-line, as well as the linebackers and DB's, they have been fine for the most part, other than Carter at DB, which is a bush league move and calls into question the supposed ability to scout and attract talent of Jones and Co when one takes a star player away from the offense and plays them at DB (7) I do not know about you, but I would rather go to an optometrist to have my eyes checked rather than have a lawyer do it, and by extension, play a DB at DB, and not a receiver. (8) Jones' coaching decisions have been questionable at times and the lack of back up talent at certain positions also does not speak well with respect to his supposed skill to find gems in the rough (9) The special teams coverage also needs some attention too (10) Finally, the players' bench seemed quiet and there has to be more energy and enthusiasm among the teammates. So, there you go, no reason for despair, and maybe they upset Hamilton this week? Or not?

Helix said...

Upset. Always bleed green.

Sleighlock said...

Ted, Messam wasn't playing because coach Jones says he's saving him for the final stretch lol. Someone should tell him there won't be a final stretch at this rate. Jones said he's limiting Messam and Hughes reps because of their age wants then available at the end of the season. Which may have made sense if the Riders were winning their first few games against the supposedly weaker east division.