Let's also be real about the fact the Riders' biggest issue coming into the offseason remains the same as it did when they walked off the field in November of 2018, November of 2017 and November of 2016:
Who’ll quarterback this juggernaut over the hump?
And although they did re-sign Zach, they haven’t upgraded.
The addition of running back William Powell is key but without Willie Jefferson or Chris Jones guiding the defense going into 2019, more questions remain than answers.
This team, on paper at least, does not look better than it did at the end of last year.
2. REILLY EXIT INDICTMENT OF JASON MAAS: So many ‘insiders’ tried to claim the Edmonton Eskimos best shot at keeping Mike Reilly would be to retain Head Coach Jason Maas. It was all bull. So often the team reflects the personality of its head coach and we’ve seen exactly that with the Esks. They’ve become volatile, unpredictable and never quite as good as their talent would indicate they should be.
Kind of summed up Jason Maas’s career as a CFL quarterback and in some ways mirrors the head coach’s personality. Maas tossed Reilly under the bus after a Thanksgiving Day loss in Regina back in October and from there, the divorce was sealed.
Think about it. Find me one other reason Mike Reilly would give up everything he’s built in Edmonton to go play in front of 15,000 fans a night in Vancouver. You won’t find one. Maas was it. Not the geography to Washington state. That was all baloney.
3. BIGGEST LOSER IN FREE AGENCY: The Ottawa Redblacks really blew this one. To lose both your top quarterback and running back is bad enough. But to come up with Jonathon Jennings as your prized pickup? Sorry, GM Marcel Desjardins, but that won’t cut it. Even another year of pathetic east division football might not be enough to keep you in the playoffs.
4. DeVONE CLAYBROOKS: Didn’t really know what to expect when he got the head coaching job for the B.C. Lions but the more I think about it, he really is a homerun for the Leos. Very bubbly personality with some original swagger (you would have to in order to wear your hat sideways as a pro football head coach) and after seeing his public appearance with some fans and Olympic figure skater Patrick Chan in the snow Monday night, I am convinced he is the right guy to sell football to Vancouver and lead the Lions into the modern era.
And it’s a nice bonus that his loss from the Calgary Stampeders could mean trouble for the Stamps too.
5. BO LEVI MITCHELL: Blows my mind that we somehow went from being resigned to the fact he was gone to the NFL after Grey Cup to him being re-signed only 3 months later. Surely someone down there must’ve guaranteed him the league minimum, which in U.S. dollars would be about the same as he’s getting up here. It tells me 2 things: A) Players would rather be a star up here than get treated like a nobody down there. And B) The NFL really doesn’t respect CFL quarterbacks. It’s the same reason Ricky Ray never made it in his tryout with the New York Jets one year.
As with Bo Levi, it had nothing to do with him being good enough. And that’s pretty sad.
6. GREY CUP 2020: The CFL should give it to Hamilton if they want it. Ticats owner Bob Young has propped this league up for long enough. We’ll host plenty more Grey Cups in the new stadium. Montreal isn’t a legitimate option at this point.
7. DID YOU KNOW?: The Alliance of American Football has declared affiliates for each of its 8 teams to each of the 9 CFL teams. For example, the San Diego Fleet own the AAF rights to all free agents who were last under contract to the B.C. Lions. So, who owns the Saskatchewan Roughrider player rights in that league? The San Antonio Commanders.
8. DID YOU KNOW? 2.0: San Antonio head coach Mike Riley was once offered the Roughriders head coaching job by then-GM Al Ford prior to the 1994 season. Ford was looking for a replacement to the recently-departed Don Matthews and even flew down to Southern California to meet with Riley who took a few days to think about it and even wore a green shirt to his meeting with the Rider GM.
But alas, it was not to be as Riley stayed with USC as an assistant and went on to bigger, better things like Head Coach of the San Diego Chargers. The Riders settled for Ray Jauch and ultimately went nowhere.
9. BRIAN SUTHERBY: Had lots of fun interviewing Moose Jaw Warrior alumni Brian Sutherby at their legends game Saturday night in Moose Jaw. His Warriors beating the Pats out of the first round of the 2002 playoffs was the first time Moose Jaw beat Regina in the postseason and really changed the culture of that franchise from the poor country cousins to a can-do organization. He misses the old ‘Crushed Can’ Moose Jaw Civic Centre. Not me. I’m nostalgic about old buildings but that old barn stunk. I’m certain there was serious mold hiding in that dump.
10. THIS WEEK’S MVP: Access Communications cameraman Cal Fehr for picking up Darren Dupont after his car broke down in Southey and chauffeuring Darren to Moose Jaw just in time to save our TV broadcast from complete and total disaster.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)