Monday, August 15, 2016

Something To "Mitch" About

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell looks to make a pass against the Saskatchewan Roughriders during CFL action in Regina on Aug. 13, 2016.
Photo: Canadian Press

LET THE GRUMBLING CONTINUE - As a sold-out crowd, most of them Rider fans were leaving Mosaic Stadium after what was a snoozefest of a game won by the Calgary Stampeders 19-10, Riders head coach and general manager Chris Jones summed up the feelings of the Rider Nation when asked by this blogger what the frustration factor was like after this one.  His answer " A loss is a makes me want to throw up!".  Is it safe to say somewhere in Jones' medicine cabinet is a great big bottle of Gravol!

The Riders are a team still taking baby steps. That is no secret. They had an opportunity to win a football game against a very good football team, but as young football teams do, they shot themselves in the foot too many times.  Two missed field goals, dropped passes, a fumble deep in Calgary territory, etc. etc. The points left on the field turned a victory into a loss. A victory over Calgary after what was a very tumultous week might have been a turning point in this season. Now, it is a season which is perilously close to being over if it isn't already.  It is safe to say the annual Labor Day games against Winnipeg will likely be the determining factor as to whether or not this team can make a playoff run and with all Western teams winning this weekend with the exception of the Riders, the hole became somewhat deeper.  Some think the dirt is already starting to get filled in that hole as the season is over and the funeral can start.

Other thoughts from what transpired.....

 --In the NFL, the debate is what is a catch? It is a debate that is seemingly discussed week after week after week. In the CFL, that debate has to be what is pass interference. I sure don't know, and I don't know if the league even knows after two debatable calls in the third quarter.  The first one had Bo Levi Mitchell throwing a pass to I believe Bakari Grant. Justin Cox made a play for the ball leaping high to get it contacting the receiver resulting in a flag and a Calgary first down. Yes, contact was made, but Cox was going for the ball which is what he is allowed to do. Let's fast forward to the end of the 3rd quarter when Darian Durant's long pass to Naaman Roosevelt falls incomplete with Roosevelt being pushed by the Calgary defender who once again appeared to be going for the ball. No flag was thrown and despite a challenge flag being thrown, the CFL command centre validated the decision on the field and did not overturn the play. How is that possible? Two exact same scenarios played themselves out with one being called and the other not. The lack of consistency from game to game or play to play is maddening. At the end of the day, that wasn't the reason why the Riders lost, but it was certainly a game-changer. The 4th quarter would have been a lot different had Saskatchewan scored a touchdown as a result of the PI which should have been called.

--While the Rider defence has taken its lumps this year, they put in a pretty solid effort against Bo Levi Mitchell and company. They held Mitchell to under 300 yards and it would have been under 250 had it not been for his game-clinching bomb to Simon Charbonneau-Campeau.. While the defence got its act together, the offence continued to sputter along as this team has now just 28 points in its last three games. I don't care if you are playing CFL, NFL, CIS or junior football, that just doesn't cut it.  Darian Durant was 24 o 37 for the night completing 65 percent of his passes which is good, but the numbers would have been better had it not been for dropped passes. There were at least 4 I counted. 5 sacks didn't help either. It was also great to see Durant's mobility re-surface as he took off at some key times to keep drives alive.  Durant doesn't run with the frequency he used to, but it is nice to see him still get moving from time to time, It adds a little something to the offence.

--Rookie kicker Quinn Van Gylswyk was not a happy camper after the game. While I was not a part of the questioning he was given after the game, he was said to be beating himself up over the fact he missed two field goals that changed the complexion of the game. While Van Gylswyk has every right to feel the way he does, he should also be pretty damn happy with the fact the coaching staff thought he could nail a 54 yarder by giving him a chance to do so which he succeeded on.

--The star of the night was not anyone on the field, but the 33-thousand plus who were off of it. There is no doubt the engine of the CFL is located just off the train tracks on 10th Avenue as the game was sold out. A sell-out for a 1-5 football team shows the passion isn't dying any when it has every reason to. Whether it be the fact the stars of the 89 Grey Cup team were remembered, whether it was the final home game of the summer or whether it be Bo Levi Mitchell's comments this week, the fact the game was a sellout is a testament to Rider Nation They may not be on the same page when it comes to what Chris Jones is doing but they are firmly showing their support for the organization, and that must be commended.

MEMORIES - I think we all remember where we were on that Sunday evening in 1989 when Dave Ridgway's field goal gave the Riders a 43-40 win in what was arguably the greatest Grey Cup ever played. It is always great to see highlights of the game, and it was great of the Riders to show the highlights on the Maxtron as Don Wittman and Ron Lancaster called it. With apologies to Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor who do a great job on TSN in bringing CFL games into our living rooms, I don't think there has been a better combo for CFL games than the original "Ron and Don". I got to know Dave very well when he hosted a weekly football show at CJME and oh, there are many stories that could be told.

I haven't seen him for many years, and the last time I talked to him was a pre-game interview I did for the 2013 Grey Cup. As soon as I saw him outside the Rider Store at the Northgate on Friday night, he stood up from his chair wondered what the hell took me so long to get there and delivered a firm handshake and hug. I didn't get much of a chance to talk to him this weekend because he was obviously very busy, but it was great to once again be able to sit down for a few minutes to see how things were. I didn't get a chance though to remind him that Lui Passaglia was better. (inside joke!!) 

THAT'S FINE - On Friday, I said there was a witch-hunt against the Saskatchewan Roughriders for what Craig Reynolds did in the off-season. That theory was somewhat validated by TSN's Gary Lawless on Sunday as he is reporting the league has fined the football club for "taking over midfield" during intros before their game in Calgary. This is just laughable. It would be laughable for any team in the CFL to be fined for this. This just re-defines embarrassing. What's next? As I put on Twitter Sunday night, has Jones been fined because he was caught wearing white instead of his usual black.

HEY VANCOUVER, THIS JUST IN - Your CFL team is pretty good. You should watch them. I didn't see any of the Lions 45-38 win over Hamilton, but just over 20-thousand were in the seats for the game. ????? Have the Lions become Toronto West? There was an interesting article written last week about MLS soccer and how more people are going to their games than CFL games in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. That is something the league needs to stop and stop immediately. The teams need to do their part too.

HAPPY IN HUMBOLDT -  Brianne Theisen-Eaton came through in the clutch. The Humboldt native was favoured to win gold in Rio, but after a tough first day, some wondered if she would be on the podium.

Screencapture from NBC 

All Theisen-Eaton did was gather up that Saskatchewan spirit and put it on display as she came through in the final couple of events to pick up the gold medal.  Just another Saskatchewan athlete doing great on the world stage. We can do more than play hockey in this province to make it big in the sporting world ya know.  As for Graham DeLaet, he once again couldn't string four solid rounds together and ended up 20th in mens golf, but that's a respectable showing for the Weyburn native. 

THE FORGOTTEN MAN -  While watching the Blue Jays-Houston series this weekend, it was brought up a few teams that the series featured two of the front-runners for American League MVP this season. Houston 2nd baseman Jose Altuve and Toronto's Josh Donaldson. I ask you Blue Jays fans, who has had the better year---Donaldson or Edwin Encarnacion. While Donaldson has had a great year, Encarnacion has had a better year has he not?  He has five more homers and 18 more RBI's than Donaldson If you count defence as well, the Toronto nod would go to Donaldson, but don't voters look at offensive numbers when looking at the MVP and not defensive ones. It will be interesting to see how many MVP votes both get when it comes time for baseball writers to cast their ballot. 

THE THUNDER ROLL -  A successful debut for the Regina Thunder as they knocked off the Edmonton Huskies in a defensive battle Sunday at Mosaic.  While that was going on, the Rams were finishing up the first weekend of main camp. I had a chance to talk to new coach Steve Bryce and I like what I hear and I like what I see. 2016 will be better than 2015. Then again, I knew that after a news conference was held in the Rams dressing room last January and so did many others. 

THANK YOU NFL NETWORK - Yes, it is only exhibition season, but once again it is a tremendous time of year when you can turn on the NFL Network and see one game after another being played as they show all the pre-season encounters. Football is slowly getting to full speed as CIS camps are underway, the PFC season is underway and soon NCAA football will once again be a part of my Saturday viewing routine(except for when the Cubs are playing). 

WHO HAS THE TICKET - Beside the Riders, the big story on the weekend was someone in our fair province has a Super Max ticket in their possession worth 60 million dollars. When I first heard about it, I reached for my ticket, but alas I won zip on this draw. Someone's life has changed. Is it you? 

That's all I got. Have a great week!! 


Anonymous said...

Don't disagree with your assessment of the Riders game one bit. Patience is running thin. The great Chris Jones has started his time in Saskatchewan with a thud and he is making more enemies than friends. The ship will get turned around under him, it is just a matter of when. When it does, the grumbling will stop.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Jones is doing what he's doing and the Riders are 1-6. It gaves the Durant haters a reason to change allegiance and keep being the goofs that they are.


Anonymous said...

That's two games the Riders should have won.

Anonymous said...

Your last two tweets ridiculing the CFL have been gold.


Anonymous said...

Reynolds needs to wake up and see how Jones is killing this football team from the inside out.

Anonymous said...

Jones has to go and the sooner the better.

Anonymous said...

If you ever find out what PI is, please let the world know. Don't keep it a secret!


Anonymous said...

Poster #5 said: "Reynolds needs to wake up and see how Jones is killing this football team from the inside out."

You watch the games and it appears like Bagg and Roosevelt are the only two that even give a crap.