OY VAY -- It took three games. The honeymoon is over, the knives are out. The Rider Nation is furious after Saturday night's loss to the BC Lions. They have every right to be, but some need to eat a Snickers bar because they aren't themselves.
This blogger thought it was time for the Riders to get into the win column. After tough losses to Toronto and Edmonton, I truly believed this team was ready to go out and spank the Lions. Many others believed that as well. However, on a night where the 1966 Grey Cup champions were saluted by a crowd of 30-thousand, it didn't happen and now this team is temporarily in the same boat where it was last year and for the last half of 2014---without its leader.
My phone was buzzing in the 4th quarter from people wanting to know what the h-e double hockeysticks was going on. "This team sucks!" "Did Durant break his ankle?" "What happened to Labatte?", "Our o-line is a joke.", "Here we go again", "Pick up some cold beer on the way home"...and from someone in Edmonton " I bet Ed Hervey's grin is wider than it was on Grey Cup Sunday." In the words of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers when his team was struggling last season....R-E-L-A-X!
Would this game have been any different had Durant and others been on the field? Absolutely. Chris Jones stated at the end of the game injuries did not lose this game for the team, and he is right, but it had a major effect on the final outcome. The Riders lost a huge deal of leadership on the offensive side of the football in losing Durant, Labatte and Shawmaud Chambers. While Mitchell Gale came in and looked good in his first appearance in green, you could see things weren't operating with the same efficiency it was when those three were in the game. Yes, those three wouldn't be on the field when Jonathon Jennings torched the defence with several long throws, but I am guessing there might have been some sustained drives coming out of the second half to quell the momentum BC was building.
The blocks are there to build this team back to respectability. The process is going slower than it should. Perhaps the resume of Chris Jones gave some of us (me included) false expectations, but that team you saw on the field and the team you have seen the first three games is better than their record indicates. If there is no straying from the plan, that will be evident. They have not had the breaks. When this team gets their feet underneath them, they will be fine and when they move a couple of Josh Bartel punts west to their new digs in 2017, they will be a team that can start competing for a championship. The last couple of years have been painful, and with Ottawa, back to backs against Calgary and a trip to Hamiton in the future---all without Durant, it makes one want to perhaps put a blindfold on because it may not be pretty over the next few weeks. Speaking of which, why is it this team folds its tent once Durant goes down. Yes, I understand what he means to the team, but does he mean more to them than what we think?
Where else do we go from that one? Let's start with Mitchell Gale. Ti-Cats QB Zach Collaros was watching the game and he saw Gale playing pretty well in Durant's absence which didn't surprise him. In a tweet he sent out at halftime, Collaros said I tried telling people Saskatchewan picked up a stud. He looked good going 17/30 for 247 yards, and I think his play had many going Brett who?
Defensively, the numbers aren't pretty but guys like Newsome, Eguavoen and Cox are fitting in and will get better as time goes on. Add them to vets like Foster, McDonald and Jones and it is better than it seems. If they can just rid themselves of these brain cramps, it will be a different story,
MICHAEL BROOKS - This guy comes in as #2 as the most hated person in Saskatchewan this weekend (Number 1 is the unknown toiletscum who thought it would be a good idea to light a kitten on fire at Craven) for what he did to Durant. Was the hit dirty? Yup! Should the league do anything considering he took not one, not two, but three roughing the passer calls in the game. Yup! Will they? NOPE! You can cry about supplemental discipline all you want, but you know the CFL has no teeth when it comes to that as all he will get is a fine. The CFL could show its backbone isn't sponsored by Jello in this case, but they won't and you know it.
JONATHON JENNINGS - I think it is safe to say the previous regime screwed up with this guy. How they let him get away is a little mystifying. The Riders would certainly be in better shape at the QB position had this guy stuck around.
RETROS - I know it is a plea that will fall on deaf ears, but like many others I wish the Riders would come out for every home game in the uniforms they had on Sunday. How can you not love that look!
66 REUNION - It looked like the members of the 1966 team that won the Grey Cup had a great time at their 50 year reunion. The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and the practice field was very busy as fans got autographs from heroes or players they were told young to see in their prime, but have been told what they were all about and what they mean to the great history of the football club. The only thing missing was Ron Lancaster. To see Ron's daughter Lana Mueller come in wearing the jersey of her father and the Grey Cup was a Mosaic Moment.
PHIL VS HENRIK - How about that? In a day and age where the game is starting to become known for up and coming young stars of the game, two guys in their 40's gave us a Sunday to remember, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickleson gave golf fans a Sunday morning to remember at the British Open as they went head-to-head in what might be one of the greatest final rounds ever. Mickleson shot a six under 65 in the final 18 and it wasn't good enough. It wasn't good enough! Phil has been guilty of losing tournaments in the past, but you can't say that about this one because Stenson won it with a brilliant 8 under 63.
DOC AND DARRYL - ESPN's latest "30 for 30" is a look at the lives of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. It is fascinating. Both became stars at too young an age in a city where temptation got the better of them as they battled drugs and other demons.
Both had outstanding careeers, but one wonders where their careers would have taken them had they stayed out of trouble. I am guessing both would be in Cooperstown.
BENN CASHES IN - Maybe I shouldn't be, but I was stunned to see Jamie Benn get an 8 year contract from the Dallas Stars worth 76 million dollars. Stunned because Steve Stamkos got the same term at just 68 million dollars. Take nothing away from Benn, but I think Stamkos is a better all-around player.
NARROWING THE GOALPOSTS - The NFL is supposedly going to use technology during the pre-season to see how far inside the uprights all successful field goals and extra points have been kicked. The idea is there are rumblings to narrow the goalposts to make kicking tougher. Can we just not play the game and quit screwing around with it on both sides of the border, What would Chris Milo think about narrowing the goalposts. Could he hit them with the same accuracy he does now?
BLUE JAYS - All I am hearing is the Jays want another bat at the trade deadline? Ummm, there's nothing wrong with the offence, its the pitching that once again needs help. Either find a starter to drop Aaron Sanchez into the bullpen or find a guy that can get you to Roberto Osuna the way Mark Lowe could last year. I don't know how much Toronto has left in the system to give away, but the division is once again there for the taking. Boston has already shown they want to make a run for it, so let's see how aggressive new GM Ross Atkins is.
BALL HOCKEY IS BACK - Did you know Toronto city council actually had a bylaw banning street hockey? I didn't until the news came out this week it had been repealed. How could you actually have such a bylaw? To quote John Lynch "How Dumb Can Ya Be??". Are Regina kids playing ball hockey? If so, where? Back when I was a kid, we loved playing ball hockey whether it be in the schoolyard, the driveway or yes, the street. More kids are interested these days in NHL17 or some other video game and now Pokemon, Put the controllers down and get out on the street kids. There's nothin like it!
That's all I got. Have a great week!