--3Down Nation's and Sportscage contributor Justin Dunk now has Rider Nation salivating Dunk let it be known Friday the Riders are expected to make a strong push to land free-agent quarterback Mike Reilly if he does not re-sign with the Eskimos before February 12.
Dunk says "The Riders would try and sway Reilly to end his career in Saskatchewan, pushing the benefits of being the face of the franchise – especially post-playing career when Reilly could earn income in various ways long after the days of stepping on the football field are over. Combined with the benefits of playing in a state of the art facility for a rabid fan base."
The talk is all positive, but I just don't see this happening. If it does, what will it cost the team to sign him. What will it do to other free agents like Willie Jefferson who will command a steep raise. Some have said the Riders could jettison Charleston Hughes because of his salary, his age and his second-half dropoff. If a big-salary player comes in, one or two have to leave. It's the reality of the game in a salary cap era. Who do you think will leave and imagine the uproar if said player is a crowd favourite or a local.
Yes, the Riders are close to a Grey Cup and Reilly could be what is needed to push them over the top both in 2019 and maybe even 2020 when the team could be the host for the Grey Cup and do what was done in 2013.
Does Reilly want to come? That pot will have to be sweetened and with many thinking Reilly will be either staying in Edmonton or moving to BC, it will have to be sweetened a lot. It's never dull in Riderville.
--There is some angst over the fact Steve McAdoo will be back as the offensive co-ordinator in 2019. The performance of the offence or the lack of it was as you know the lightning rod for criticism in 2018. I will just ask the question again. McAdoo had the same offence in place as he did in 2017 when the Riders led the league in TD passes so where did it change because his philosophy and playbook didn't. Was it Zach Collaros? Was it Kevin Glenn? Was it QB's coach Steve Walsh? Was it a young group of receivers? Was it a combination of both? I'm not absolving McAdoo of complete blame, but he can't take all of it.
--The Mexican combine seems to have gone over as well as a bad burrito. Out of the many who were there, not many seemed to be worthy of having a CFL career. While there are some who can play, it would seem as if GM's don't believe Mexico will be a major pipeline to the league. It leaves me to ask why the league is pursuing this instead of a new CBA or investing in the game back home whether it be through USports or minor football. . Where are the priorities?
--Saturday afternoon in Kansas City the snow was falling as the Chiefs took on the Colts in an NFL playoff game with the game-time temperature sitting at minus 2. Arrowhead Stadium was packed and Chiefs fans were on the top of their game showing their passion for their favourite football team. Rewind to November where Ottawa and Calgary played in the Grey Cup at Commonwealth Stadium on a day where the temperature at kickoff was minus 2 yet all CFL fans could do was bitch and moan about the game being played when it was.
There are cold weather playoff games in the NFL ( do we remember the Seahawks/Vikings game played at a sold out TCF Field in the Twin Cities) and people show up to support their team. They don't bemoan the conditions and look for excuses. While I know it won't happen, it would be great if we could just end the argument as to when playoff football should be played in our country and enjoy the game and show the passion shown south of the border. I wonder what the temperature will be in KC next Sunday. The seven-day forecast shows minus 10 for a daytime high.
--As for that game, give a lot of credit to Kansas City. They buried their playoff demons by making the Colts look bad. Patrick Mahomes didn't look like a rookie playing in his first playoff game. He certainly wasn't Joe Montana-like, but he cut the Colts up early and let the defence take it the rest of the way. One has to think they will move on to Atlanta for the Super Bowl.
--Can we stop talking about the demise of the Patriots. It was interesting to hear everyone say the Chargers can basically end the dynasty. This just in, the dynasty will be over when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady say its over. This is what, nine straight appearances in the conference final. What they did to LA on Sunday at home was simply surgical. Right from the opening kickoff, Brady knew how this day would end and by the end of the first quarter we all knew it as well. Can the Patriots walk into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs? Yup!
--As far as the NFC games went, the top two seeds won there, but the Eagles didn't make it easy on New Orleans right from the first play. Marshon Lattimore made two big INT's in the game---one to keep the score from getting any bigger than 14-0 because if it did, it may have been a one-sided win for the defending Super Bowl champs and the second to preserve the win as the Eagles were driving for a game-winning TD.
The Rams always seemed to have control over Dallas, but they really couldn't put them away. In watching highlights and seeing talk on the game, it sounded like Dak Prescott was very inconsistent. I don't think Dallas is as good as some think they are, but I also think their quarterback play is very inconsistent from week to week. That needs to change if the Cowboys are to be taken seriously IMO.
--Another solid weekend of basketball action at the U of R as the Cougar men and women took a pair from UBC-Okanagan in relatively easy fashion. The men's game was somewhat close on Saturday night, but there was no doubt as to who the better team was. The biggest question of the weekend was what type of uniform would the ladies team wear. A laundry snafu ( let's unofficially blame it on Michaela Kleisinger) means the team has to wear some old unis, but they looked good in black. Can we make that a thing moving forward? In the end, I'm left to wonder if Coach Breaux from the Tide ads is better at washing uniforms than whoever who ruined this year's togs. How can I blame that on Dave Taylor? There has to be a way!
Both finish off the Canwest regular season with home games against the U of S Feb 1 and 2. That will be a great weekend of basketball. Head down and check it out if you can.
--The Oilers had their skills competition on Sunday at Rogers Place. Was Milan Lucic and others a game-day scratch?
--That's all I got. Have a great week!