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Monday, August 6, 2018

OUT OF THE TUNNEL: READY TO TURN THE CORNER


BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF

Losing is misery; winning is sweet relief.

After listening to the post-game shows and the Sportscage call-ins as well as sensing the tone of social media posts, this is the feeling that is starting to creep in after the first seven weeks of the season for Rider fans.

That’s the incredible pressure Chris Jones and his staff are under right now. Now midway through his third season of the rebuild, the heat is on in the Wheat Province after back-to-back losses to West Division foes.

PizzaPalooza is on now at all Sask Famoso locations!
They were close games and the one in Edmonton (a 26-19 loss on Thursday) was in the hands of the Riders but it slipped away.

Thursday was one of the best wire-to-wire games in the CFL this season. Big hits, big plays, fantastic individual efforts and solid play across the board.

The Riders and Eskimos are very similar with the exception of one thing: the big plays on offence. The Riders finally had a huge gain on a fantastic play by Duron Carter with an underthrown ball by Zach Collaros that turned into the Riders' longest pass-play for a touchdown this season. Jordan Williams-Lambert picked up 29 yards on a quick pass-play early in the game and Tre Mason had that sparkling 41-yard scamper later in the game.

The Eskimos had five completions of 20+ yards which helped pick up 23 of their 26 points.

But it wasn’t the high-volume yardage plays that were big. It was also the simple plays that turned out to be big.

While Edmonton was able to plow in from short-yardage with ease into the end zone, the Riders needed all three plays to get into the end zone from one-yard out in the first quarter and then were stoned twice on second and third down from the one-yard line late in the third quarter that ended up being the turning point of the game.

Even with these tough losses to divisional foes, there are signs that this team is ready to turn the corner, but the next 11 weeks will be crucial.


OTHER WEEK 8 TAKEAWAYS 

- Zach Collaros showed signs that he can lead this team to a possible home-playoff date. The game in Edmonton was his best as a Rider (keeping in mind that was his first game action in over a month!) and if the offence can mix in the odd deep throw and use the middle of the field a bit more, Collaros will return to his 2015 form.

- Even without the interception numbers (just three this season), the Rider defensive backs have been very good. Jovon Johnson is an ageless wonder and has been in lock-down mode for the majority of the season and if Nick Marshall can continue his stellar debut CFL season those interception numbers will come.

- The Riders defensive line might be one of the best in the CFL. They now have 16 sacks this season and with the addition of Mic’hael Brooks, the run defence (along with the great play by Sam Eguavoen) has not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.

- From game one to game seven, no unit has improved more than the offensive line. They were feeling the heat from the media and fans alike after the first two games of the season. Now…crickets. In Rider Nation, silence is roaring approval. They didn’t allow a sack of Collaros Thursday night.

- One thing that will be tested will be the Riders' depth. They have had a pair of bye weeks in their first nine weeks of the season, and now it will be eleven straight games without a break. Major injuries will happen, and they will happen in key positions. When a player does go down, will that next man up be able to fill in and fill in without impacting other spots on the depth chart?

- The Green & White's next foe will again be the undefeated Calgary Stampeders on Sunday, August 19th at Mosaic Stadium. Both teams will be coming off a bye-week.

After how Calgary has looked the past few weeks and how Saskatchewan played in Edmonton Thursday night, look for the Riders to hand Calgary their first loss of the season.


AROUND THE CFL

- Johnny Manziel’s first CFL game may have been one of the more-wretched by a quarterback in recent memory, but he had zero help.

Manziel wasn’t by any means good but he didn’t receive any help from the rest of the offence. He had zero help from his coaching staff and was thrown into the fire by the pressures of a front office looking for a quick buck.

He had all of eleven days between being traded to the Alouettes before being pushed into action (his first ever CFL regular season action and first game action in two years) and it was evident Manziel wasn’t ready. Manziel shouldn’t bear the whole brunt of what happened. It should be spread far and wide on an Alouette organization that is still, from outside appearances, spiralling out of control.

There were also many blaming TSN for pushing the narrative of “Johnny Football”. But if you're a CFL fan you know that this is what TSN does…to a fault.

- TSN has improved their on-screen product in 2018 by adding Henry Burris, Davis Sanchez and Jim Barker to their panel, changing up the play-by-play booth combo’s and even taking a chance with the Thursday Night Football program.

One thing that TSN still has a difficult time doing is adjusting to their in-game and game-to-game narrative.  Once their production crew picks the one or two story-lines, they seem to have a difficult time changing on the fly as the game changes.

A lot of it comes down to what pre-packaged video and graphics they have created. But in the booth as games evolve from quarter to quarter, and as an overall product game to game to game, the next step in the CFL on TSN evolution is to not ride-or-die on a handful of season narratives.

- Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, at age 44, worked out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday in Tennessee. What's the end game here?

Canadian to watch in the CFL

Daniel Joseph
DE – Penn State (Rs. Soph.)
6’3”, 236lbs.
Brampton, Ont.
High School – Lake Forest Academy (Illinois)/Brampton Bulldogs (OVFL)

Joseph saw the field for the first time as a redshirt freshman with the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2017. In limited action along the defensive line, he picked up 7.5 total tackles, but more impressively had 2.5 sacks.

He will have to claw for playing time in 2018 on one of the top defences in the Big-10.

Joseph comes from a football family: his brother is former Winnipeg first-rounder and current Montreal Alouette Faith Ekakitie and is the cousin of Calgary Stampeder defensive tackle Ese Mrabure.

(RodPedersen.com Staff)

15 comments:

Dex YQR said...

The o-line isn't great, or even good at pass protection. The coaches see that and that is why the play calling has been what it is. They have to protect the qb from the o-line.

Scott Thompson said...

I agree, not sure what team you’re watching Rod, but the o line is still the weak link on the team. They have showed marginal improvement, but if you can’t move the ball in short yardage; there’s still work to be done. Go Riders!

Clarkenstein said...

This is the Chris Jones era. All we can do is ride this out until we get back to a more conventional management/coaching hierarchy. This is the CFL. When your DFL in offense in this league this is what you get. Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe it.

Justin Case U-win said...

There is talent on the Riders. Yet you don’t have to be a football guru to see the issues. One of which will kill them on the 11 game run. Depth at the Receiver position is good. 2 running backs is good. The rest of the depth on the team seems slim.
Some feel that the money paid for the QBs, is hurting the team in several ways. If one of the QBs was stepping up and winning games. People would forget about that. To date neither QB is worth their money.
Unless this team fixes the offence now. You can forget about a playoff game in the West. Little loan a home playoff game.
Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton all may have as good a record at the end of the year. Making the Riders our!
No one sees a team that Jones explained he wanted to build. You have to start winning first. Before you can consistently be good or sustain a winning team.
Plus you need to stay out of the negative news. Even this Terrell Owens is negative for the club. Yet Jones is too self absorbed to realize that. When was the last time a Calgary coaching decision was in the news. They quietly go about their business.
So far this rebuild would receive a grade of D. The negatives have far overtaken the positives.

Bill Fuller said...

If Owens is coming here to play why not suit up Henry Burris or Matt Dunnigan and maybe even Coach Jones himself? Edmonton was the Laughter point when Owens was announced and so now the Riders are looking at him. What The Hell Is Going Through Jones sometimes Very Thick Skull? This is Football Team not a Home For The Elder.

Football Fan said...

I think the pressure is largely off now that Collaros is back. I think the big pressure was in trying to find ways to win with the way Bridge was playing, but now that Collaros is back we start refining the offence around him and becoming the team we thought we were going to be before the season started. We're probably going to lose against Calgary, because everyone is losing to Calgary this year, but after that we should be looking to get on a roll.

Unknown said...

the riders are in the hunt in the west as long as zach stays healthy. the o line played against esks vanilla defence where four rushing is the norm and the o line did OK. Calgary will be a much better test. That will tell you where the Riders sit as a loss will be difficult to recover from.
The Riders have a great set of pass catchers when they are allowed to play offense but the key is Zach... he needs to finish the season strong. Can he do it.... sure. will he do it...maybe.

Scott Thompson said...

For what’s its worth, I say we will be the first team to beat Calgary next week. Go Riders!

Unknown said...

Here are the things I wonder.... what do people want? What are there expectations that as a result deem this team no good? Is it we need to be in frist place at all times? Of the coach needs to be likable?

Why do people hit the panic button so early in a season, or give up so quick? Why are people so sure they know everything, and no where this is heading? Last year was a train wreck.... until Ed Gainy had 4 picks in a game and this whole thing turned around. in 89 we were a 500 football team. In 07, we were not so sure about Joseph and Austin. and in 18 Chris Jones is an apparent idiot who has no clue what he's doing.

These are all tree falling in the woods type questions. I for one just want some entertainment value for my dollar. I expect wins, but know its an 18 games season. I mostly just want to be on the edge of me seat screaming at the TV, and riding the roller coaster. That might not have been the case for all games, but it was for 3 of the last 7, plus a thrilling game in Edmonton. I like where this team is going, an am content on seeing where it ends up.... and if it's not a winner, it will be fun to see where we go next.

Sterling Archer

David Johnson said...

Chris jones in my opinion is the best coach/gm since Austin/Tillman and better. He’s willing to look anywhere for talent. You know you are getting a guy who works harder then anyone else! Not afraid to make a tough decision. I really hope he’s here for a long time! Trust jones

Old Rider Fan said...

Agree totally with the poster who said that all he expects is entertainment. It is about ENTERTAINMENT! Of course it's about winning but the game is entertaining most times. Even when losing ... if you are on the edge of your seat for the three hours don't tell me you were not entertained.

I wish the league would recognize that. Dump the head office calls and get back to the old days when I could jump up out of my seat in spontaneous reaction to a big play or TD without sitting to wait for head office. It looses the SPONTINAIETY that is critical to fan enjoyment.

Scott Thompson said...

I fully agree David, I’ve never understood the anti Jones bias. We are very fortunate to have him. The last 2 gamestge Riders have made the 2 best qbs in the league look very ordinary. We just lost the last 2 on turnovers and squandered opportunities. Good things to come. Go offense, go Riders!

Football Fan said...

The 33,500 at the last home game tells you that Rider nation is pumped about this team. We are thrilled that Jones has brought this team back from being a laughing stock loser full of full scholarship players and a handful of ridiculously overpaid players, to being a professionally run team again based on merit. Rider nation is behind Jones and this team, so don't be fooled by the overly negative and fake-news element in the Regina media.

Football Fan said...

Here are some interesting stats. The Riders are now second in the league in rushing yards, and in the top half in terms of fewest sacks given up. I do agree with Scott in one area, however, and that is that there have been way too many bad snaps, and not enough push in the middle on short yardage plays, and both of those issues point to Dan Clark. Early word from the Jets media is that Shepley probably won't make the team so if we get him back I'd like to see a change at C, and maybe before if JSJ can step up.
cfl.ca/team-leaders/?season=2018

Helix said...

I also agree with the last few posters. For the last 20 games or so I always feel the riders may win the game in the 4 th quarter. Contrast that to before jones arrived when it looked and felt they would lose somehow.
The only negative comment I have is the offensive play calling. Taman summed it up in today’s leader post quite well. Go riders!