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|
- 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.
- 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:
WR – Notre Dame (Jr.)
6’4” 3/8, 228bs.
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.