2 - WHAT ABOUT ZACH'S HEALTH?: The season's been over for well over a month but we still haven't seen heard a peep about Saskatchewan QB Zach Collaros. The 30-year old pivot was unable to suit up for the playoff game due to lingering concussion symptoms. After sustaining three concussions in 2018, Collaros's future is very much up in the air. However his agent Dan Vertlieb is notoriously tight-lipped and if Zach's health status is known, no one is saying anything.
3 - WILL BRANDON BRIDGE BE BACK?: With the scarcity of top flight QBs available in the CFL, it might behoove the Roughriders to bring the Canadian QB back in 2019. They've invested a ton of time and work into him, he's got plenty of quality starts under his belt, and everybody knows he has all the tools to be a star. Another question: Does Brandon even want to re-sign in the Wheat Province?
4 - WHAT WAS WITH THE OFFENSE?: With the record-setting performance of Saskatchewan's defense in 2018, it even further shone a spotlight on the team's offensive woes (last in offensive TDs at 25) and the team's inability to advance to the Grey Cup. In a year-end retrospective with former Rider Paul Woldu which will air on 620 CKRM's SportsCage on New Years Eve, the two of us concluded that the problem was personnel, not coaching. With the decision to go young at receiver, the end of the Duron Carter experiment, and a rotating backfield (including the loss of Jerome Messam), it was curtains for the offense.
5 - WHO DO THE RIDERS SIGN NEXT?: The team has locked up the likes of Marcus Thigpen, Patrick Lavoie, Loucheiz Purifoy and Zack Evans but there are still 22 free agents left on the Riders' list. That includes defensive stalwarts Willie Jefferson and Eddie Steele (Steele had 19 tackles and 5 sacks in limited time in 2018). With Sam Eguavoen, Toby Antigha and Jordan Williams-Lambert getting NFL looks, Chris Jones has a lot of work ahead of him.
6 - WHAT WILL WE BE LIKE IN 2019?: With my travels around the province in the past weeks, Rider fans are incredibly optimistic about the team's outlook next season. At a book signing in Melfort, a fan said "I don't know who the QB will be, but I know we'll be good". That seems to be the prevailing notion in the 306 and after three seasons with this regime, Chris Jones has finally earned the faith of the fans. 5 wins, 10 wins, 12 wins and a home playoff game. What's next?
7 - THOUGHTS ON THE SCHEDULE?: Kudos to Commissioner Randy Ambrosie and CFL teams for getting the schedule out before Christmas for a second-straight year. At first glance the schedule seems a bit odd with back-to-back road trips down east to open up (at Hamilton in Week 1 and at Ottawa in Week 2), followed by three straight home games in July. After that it stabilizes somewhat other than the three straight road games in October. Meh, with 9 teams and 18 games, there's not much exotic you can do with it.
8 - HOW DID THE COACHES SALARY CAP AFFECT THE RIDERS?: It had to have been incredibly difficult for Chris Jones to say good-bye to young coaches he brought into the league and force paycuts on the rest. However most other teams are getting along fine and in BC, Devone Claybrooks has done a nice job of assembling a group of young, talented coaches. It's just another clamp on how Chris Jones prefers to do business but he always seems able to adjust.
9 - WHERE WILL DURON CARTER PLAY IN 2019?: It's not a Rider question but Saskatchewan football fans still love Duron and are following his next move. Carter's contract is up in Toronto and Argo RB James Wilder Jr. told us at Grey Cup that he's lobbying Duron hard to re-sign with the Double Blue. It's unlikely D.C. will fetch a rich contract like he's had in the past and it's no secret he's not a fan of cold weather. My bet is that he could suit up with the AAF's Orlando Apollos in his home state of Florida and get a fresh start.
10 - WHAT WAS THE CFL'S TOP NEWS STORY IN 2018?: I ran a Twitter poll with these options: 1) The Stampeders Grey Cup Revenge, 2) The CFL In Halifax, 3) Johnny Manziel and 4) Other. The runaway winner was the CFL heading to Halifax, and the naming of the Atlantic Schooners at Grey Cup. With Commissioner Ambrosie on stage at the team's naming announcement at Grey Cup, it seems inevitable that a 10th team is a matter of "when", not "if". There doesn't seem to be a single dissenter.