Monday, August 29, 2016

Something To "Mitch" About


SIGHHHHHH -  The Riders lost. That didn't come as a surprise to some, but while positives are hollow when you are now 1-8, I think we determined some things about the green and white on the Commonwealth Stadium turf Friday night.  Who's kidding who, when the Eskimos jumped out to a 17-0 lead which was later expanded to 22-0, I think we all thought had a repeat of what happened in Hamilton dancing in our heads. Why wouldn't you think that way?  Mike Reilly couldn't be contained, Shakir Bell was running all over the place and the Saskatchewan offense was doing diddly squat. Another ugly beating looked like it was on the horizon, but wait! 

That football team showed some fight! That football team showed some spirit! That football team showed me what I have been hoping to see this season. They showed a pulse!  Darian Durant moved them down the field in the final moments of the first half to get some points and some momentum. It was momentum they carried on into the 2nd half and into the final seconds where for a fleeting moment, one wondered if Shawmaud Chambers could actually take the ball to the house on the last-play for what would have been an amazing touchdown. A team that is 1-7 and getting "molly-whopped" isn't supposed to do that. The Riders didn't follow the script.  Yes, losing sucks and yes, consistency is needed as they need to build on this for the Labour Day games against Winnipeg, but that team didn't fold up its tent when they had every reason to. There were a lot of negatives in this game, but there were a lot of positives to build on as well.  Sadly, that loss likely drives the final nail into any bleak hopes this team had of getting to the playoffs which is a stark reality going into the 2nd half of the season for a 2nd straight year, but we saw what this team can do and what type of heart they have.  At the end, they are still 1-8, but at least there is a sliver of optimism again. Bring on the Bombers!

Other thoughts on what transpired:

 --Darian Durant simply took that team on his back in the 2nd half and did everything he could to grind out that win. It is no secret the offence has had its struggles which has made life tough on that young defence, but Durant did his best to rally that team and it almost worked out in the end 

--Justin Cox makes plays. The Riders have a keeper in that player. He made a bad mistake by getting his hands into Mike Reilly's facemask to get a 15 yard penalty on what was a good play, and he was victimized by a terrible illegal contact call against Adarius Bowman, but I thought he made several good plays.

--After being dud-like for most of the season, Kendial Lawrence may be snapping out of the first half funk he has been in. There were some moments where Lawrence showed us what made him the player he was in Edmonton.

--Naaman Roosevelt continues to be one of the top players in the CFL. It just boggles the mind as to how the old regime kept this guy on the sidelines in favour of Jamel Richardson and Taj Smith,

--After what was a terrible first quarter, the Riders did what not many teams have done which is keep Mike Reilly in check when it came to throwing. One thought after that first quarter he might have a 400 plus yard night coming. It ended up being at 253.

CHANGING IT UP  -  Good on the CFL for seeing what was happening on the field and listening to the fans. Everyone knew the challenge rule had to be tweaked somewhat, and while it was done midway through the season, it has been. Yes, it would have been nice to all teams playing by the same rules which didn't happen seeing BC and Ottawa played under the old system, but hopefully tweaking the challenge rule will stop some of these frivolous challenges from happening.  The rule needs to be looked at long and hard in the off-season and frankly, getting rid of reviewing DPI and OPI would be fine with me.  Perhaps the challenges should be opened up to turnovers and touchdowns as well so coaches can think about when is the right time to challenge. The bottom line is if with Division 1 NCAA Football starting next weekend and the NFL starting in two weeks, the league had to do something and they have. Good on them!

FANSPEAK -  CFL fans let it be known they were disgusted with what they were seeing on the field and the league listened. The question now is "How much say should CFL fans have when it comes to what they see on the field?"  There is no doubt this is a fan-driven league, but you can't give the fans a huge say in what is happening can you?" I do not know if the tradition ended once Jeffrey Orridge became commissioner, but when Marc Cohon was in charge, he would deliver his state of the league address to media, have lunch and then give his state of the league address to fans. When Grey Cup 2013 was here, Cohon spoke to a larger audience in the afternoon affair than he did in the much-more formal morning gathering.  Fans had a chance to interact with the commissioner and tell him what they liked and what they didn't like about the game. Did Orridge do this in Winnipeg last year? Is there a plan to do it in Toronto this year? CFL fans have the right to pepper Orridge with questions about the game they are so passionate for and to most questions, they deserve an answer.  If this practice stopped, bring it back for GC week. It just may educate the new commissioner, who I still think doesn't realize what he stepped into when he took the job. Who's kidding who, what is needed is for the CFL to form a panel with current and former players and coaches, TV minds and others to sit down and find a way to fix a league which is broken. It's not getting better, its not getting worse. With the NFL starting, Canadians have another brand of football to watch and they will.

CFL WIRED - What did you think of that? Yes, it took you inside the huddle and put you on the sidelines as you heard from Kent Austin, Zach Collaros, Dave Dickenson and Bo Levi Mitchell. It also took the coaches of seven other teams inside those huddles. Don't tell me other teams will use this when looking at game-film of the Ti-Cats and Stamps. Any little competitive advantage you can get you use. It is like when Chris Jones asked fans not to give away secrets with Ottawa apparently learning a thing or two. Then again, its nothing we haven't seen on NFL games over the years. Sadly, the one thing that came out of this game was once again some illegal contact calls away from the play. It's in the rules and the coaches are taking advantage of that rule. You could hear the disgust in Chris Cuthbert's voice on the 2nd one that took a Tommie Campbell pick six away when he sent the league a very clear message by saying "I hope the Grey Cup isn't decided on a play like that".  If it is, the egg on the face of many in the CFL offices will be very noticable.

WILL WESTON PLAY - With Weston Dressler on the six game injured list, many were disappointed he would not be here to play for Winnipeg in the Labour Day game. He just might play. Winnipeg Sun reporter Kirk Penton told us on the Sportscage Friday when asked Dressler could very well be in the lineup for the LDC,  and so could Ryan Smith.  I hope the Riders do something classy for Dressler should he play. The reaction he will get from Rider Nation---especially if he should end up in the endzone will be a Mosaic Moment. It still doesn't look seeing him in Bomber blue. It never will!

BLUE JAYS BLUNDER -  On Friday night, not only did the Edmonton Eskimos honour the troops, but they honoured some local Olympians. The rugby team's Jen Kish and the soccer team's Stephanie Labbe were at Commonwealth to be recognized and sign autographs. It gave fans to get a look at some Olympic heroes, their medals and in some cases, maybe inspired some young people to start trying to become an Olympian. With a six game homestand, you would think the Blue Jays would have had Olympic stars and Toronto natives Penny Oleksiak and Andre De Grasse throw out the first pitch and be recognized in front of 40-thousand people. NOPE!  #opportunitywasted

THANK YOU SPORTSNET -I have the MLB app, so I can watch a Chicago Cubs game anytime I want. With WGN Chicago on my cable package, I watch many a game on my TV and when Sportsnet picks up Cubs game, it is usually the Chicago feed with p x p guys Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies.  Sportsnet had all three Cubs-Dodgers games on this weekend, but instead of picking up the Chicago feed, they picked up the Dodgers feed meaning a weekend of Vin Scully.  Those who know anything about sports know about Scully. His silky-smooth presentation of the game ( a game he does alone) is second to none and will be missed when he hangs up the mic at the end of this season. Like many of the other greats, his fastball doesn't have the same velocity and he made the odd mistake, but it was still tremendous to hear him call some games involving the Cubs.  Scully's last weekend will be one I watch whether it be off my phone, computer or hopefully on Sportsnet.  He is the gold standard!

GET A LINEUP - I didn't even think about this until Phil Andrews informed me of it on Friday. With the World Cup of Hockey going from September 15-October 1, it means a late start to the NHL season. It also means some of the WHL's best players won't be with their team to start off the season September 23. Players usually start trickling back from NHL camps around the time the WHL season starts, but now it may be longer. It means Regina will likely start the season without Adam Brooks, Sam Steel, Connor Hobbs and Austin Wagner while Moose Jaw won't have Noah Gregor, Brett Howden and defenceman Dmitri Zaitsev. Goalie Zach Sawchenko may also be on that list.  Hopefully many guys are back within that first week because those are the guys we want to see.

WELL DONE MINNESOTA - The Minnesota Vikings unveiled their new facility "US Bank Stadium" to the NFL universe on Sunday afternoon. What a fantastic looking building!!! It is a place this blogger will certainly have to visit in the future. The building was built by the same group constructing Mosaic Stadium. If our facility is like that one, we will indeed have the nicest stadium in Canada. Maybe it was just me, but FOX"s Kevin Burkhardt never mentioned the name of the stadium saying things like "the new digs", "the brand-new home of the Vikings", "The new stadium". Does the NFL or FOX have something against US Bank?

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



Anonymous said...

I'll admit it. I turned the TV off at the half thinking it would be about 45-14 at night's end. One good half does not make a football team. Darian did zip in the first half and that meant a tired defense. I agree there is some talent on a defense putting up bad numbers, but the offense has to give them some help right from the opening series.


Anonymous said...

Surely Reynolds realizes he went overboard in the off-season and made a huge mistake. This has been one embarrassment after another. Would the fans send a message by booing Jones when the team comes out Sunday?

Anonymous said...

Naaman Roosevelt - any good media doing it's job would simply ask Jeremy O'Day from the last regime why Naaman wasn't good enough to be on the Roughriders roster, he would know the answer. One wonders why Chris Jones keeps O'Day hanging around, (concession sales help) as he knows nothing. Highly probably as a favour to someone within team organization and the "fact" Jeremy begged (no shame) to stay on with the team in some capacity. What a waste of money on the Riders. By the way, where is that top brass of last regime? Nowhere! Real professional football organizational structure would never hire the likes of those bozos who didn't know the difference between a egg and a actual football. They shamelessly set back WBB/SRr a decade, thank goodnes Chris Jones is rebuilding on behalf of the Saskatchewan Roughriiders Club.


Anonymous said...

CFL Wired was weak!

Anonymous said...

Scruffy, someone has issues it seems ^^^^^^^^

Anonymous said...

Good performances are encouraging, but the record over the past two years is not. Wins are needed and wins are needed sooner than later. The fan base is eroding. Optimism is needed going into the new stadium. I would hope for 5 wins in the 2nd half of the season, but that may be too optimistic.


Anonymous said...

Sure tired of Jones and his excuses - but we tried hard
Maybe Jones can get a participation medal