BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF
Let's get right to it. The 10 latest Burning Questions in Riderville:
1 - IS ZACH COLLAROS WORTH $300,000 IN 2019?
If you are paying for the quarterback that finished 10-4 in 2018 and led the Roughriders to a home playoff game? Yes, it would be worth it.
If you are paying for the quarterback who threw for 3,000 yards and had four more interceptions than a paltry nine touchdowns? Then the Riders are overpaying for Collaros.
This will be a fence sitting answer, but it seems about right. $300,000 is just average for a starting quarterback in the CFL. It still allows some wiggle room cap-wise to ink a few more players (either in free agency or NFL players that get cut in the fall) and possibly a quality backup.
It's a low risk option in today's climate of CFL quarterback salaries.
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Everyone wants to crown either Edmonton or B.C. the Kings of the West because of their free agent spending spree. Or they keep Calgary at the top of the heap with Bo Levi Mitchell returning.
Here's a thought: You don't win games in February.
How many high-impact free agent seasons have gone down the toilet once the season began (see the 2015 Rider free agency class)?
One of the two big free agent classes will fail, Calgary will slip a little, Winnipeg will tread water and the Riders should be about the same as well.
Edmonton will win the west, Calgary will finish second and Saskatchewan, B.C. and Winnipeg will fight for the third spot and the crossover.
3 - SHOULD THE RIDERS HAVE RE-SIGNED BRANDON BRIDGE?
The Toronto Argonauts inked Air Canada to a contract on Sunday and it officially ended his time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
It's probably the best for both parties that Bridge moved on to another team and gets a fresh start.
The Riders can add another veteran pivot - or find another youngster to develop - and Bridge can find a spot that fits his style and skill-set.
4 - HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE RIDER O-LINE AT THIS POINT?
After a bad start to the 2018 season, they settled into a pretty good groove and finished tied for the top spot in the CFL with just 27 sacks allowed.
By the looks of things right now the middle will be a trio of Canadians: Brendon LaBatte, Dan Clark and Dariusz Bladek with Americans Thaddeus Coleman and Takoby Cofield as the tackles.
Veteran Canadian guard Philip Blake will fight for a starting spot in training camp as well as a handful of Americans.
The Riders will add one or two more Canadians to the line in the draft and we shouldn't forget about last year's first round pick Dakoda Shepley.
To answer the question, it will be better than what everyone thinks. It has the potential of being a solid unit.
5 - HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE RIDERS IN FREE AGENCY THIS WINTER?
See Question 2.
The Riders admitted they lost out on a few free agency battles but still have some cash at the ready to spend.
To miss out on one of the big-three quarterbacks (Reilly, Harris, Mitchell) stings, especially with all three signing in the West. They lost out on re-signing Willie Jefferson but picked up the best interior defensive linemen in the CFL, Micah Johnson.
They still need to sign a veteran backup and fill out the receiving corps.
For a grade prior to seeing the play on the field, how about a C+.
6 - WHAT CHALLENGES IS CRAIG DICKENSON FACING?
As a rookie head coach the most important thing he needs to do is build his football blueprint from now until the opening kickoff of the 2019 season. It will be the foundation to build the entire season on.
He will need to develop a team personality that matches his.
And finally, the biggest one is how he will handle the heat under the biggest microscope in the CFL?
If he crumbles even just a bit, the sharks will come to feast.
7 - IS THE HEAT ON OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR STEPHEN MCADOO WARRANTED?
It's much like the heat on Zach Collaros.
The team was successful in 2018 but if the offence had just a little flavour to it, things might have been different.
McAdoo's offence was a very simple spread offence that really hammered on short routes, screens (of all kinds) and running the football.
They rarely used the middle of the field and lacked the big plays with a league low 22 plays of 30+ yards.
If it's more of the same in 2019, this team will be in big trouble. All of those huge defensive plays that turned into instant points do not happen every year.
This offence will have to be a lot more dynamic in 2019.
You can't replace a generational talent like Willie Jefferson, but you can lessen the blow by adding a few other pieces.
Chris Jones used Jefferson as his jack-of-all-trades pass-rusher sending him from all angles and techniques on the defensive line.
With Micah Johnson in the mix, the return of A.C. Leonard, Charleston Hughes on the other end and Zack Evans up the middle, this may be the top defensive line in the league.
Jefferson cannot be replaced, but the line as a whole may be a bit better as a unit.
9 - IS CRAIG DICKENSON TOO NICE TO BE A HEAD COACH?
Do not let his 'aw shucks' personality fool you. This man is a smiling assassin and has a huge fire inside him to win. He's a killer.
He was the voice of reason on the Chris Jones-led staff the past three seasons. Did you notice who was always around Jones on the sidelines? It was always Dickenson.
And don't be surprised when he snaps in training camp, and on some poor official during a game. We can't wait!
10 - CAN G.M. JEREMY O'DAY DELIVER A GREY CUP TITLE IN 2020?
It's all up to the quarterback position. If Collaros can't deliver in 2019 then it's back to the drawing board and it will be an incredibly tough hill to climb.
Mike Reilly, Bo Levi Mitchell and Trevor Harris all inked multi-year deals so getting one of the top-three pivots in the league is out of the question.
This is a much different position than the team was in 2013. At that time there was a solid core of players led by a generational quarterback in Darian Durant.
If O'Day does build a team, it would have to be more like the 2007 championship unit. Kerry Joseph wasn't an all-world quarterback but had an unreal cast of characters around him and he was just good enough to win.
The task facing J.O. is large.
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