--Rider Nation, how do you feel about your quarterback situation one year after "The Trade". Saturday was the one year anniversary of the controversial trade that sent Darian Durant to the Montreal Alouettes for a 4th round pick in the 2017 draft which turned out to be Eddie Meredith and a 2nd round pick in the 2018 draft which was flipped to Hamilton for Zach Collaros.
The anger directed at Chris Jones at the time was misguided as it turned out. Everyone saw the year Durant had. In fact, it could be his last year in the CFL if the Alouettes deliver on their take it or leave it ultimatum when it comes to his contract.
Darian did struggle, and he will be the first to tell you that. Is he willing to pack up his bags and head elsewhere with the question then being would there be any interest in him after the year he had. I think the answer to that is yes, but if a team had a choice between Kevin Glenn who showed he could do the job or Durant and Glenn came at a cheaper option who would you take?
It is something the Riders don't need to worry about. As one Sportscage texter indicated Friday, the Riders as it stands now could have the best 1-2 QB combo in the league with Collaros and Brandon Bridge. That might change if Ricky Ray comes back making it Ray-Franklin in Toronto or if Glenn or Durant would sign on in Edmonton to be Mike Reilly's backup, but the bottom line is the green-and-white are secure at the quarterback position with Collaros, Bridge, Vernon Adams Junior and Marquise Williams who I still feel can be a tremendous CFL quarterback when the opportunity arises.
What baffles me is why Rider Nation would want Durant back. Many indicated the team should sign Durant if he is cut. Why? At some point, let your football heroes fade away into the sunset. Yes, Darian provided you with a night you will always remember in 2013---a night that ended with him holding the Grey Cup high at Taylor Field. He really was never the same after that night. The elbow injury in 2014 followed by the Achilles injury in 2015 followed by sub-par play on a sub-par team in 2016 leading to his departure and his worst season ever last year. If Darian wants to retire as a Rider and sign a one-day contract with the team (which I hope happens whenever the time comes) than great. He is without a doubt going into the Plaza and he will be remembered in the same breath as Lancaster and Austin when it comes to great Rider QB's, but let's stop this notion of bringing him back. Please?
--Why do we love sports? Unless you are a devout fan of the New Orleans Saints, you found out why Sunday night around 6:45. You can just can't script what you saw at US Bank Stadium. You can't! It looked like the Vikings were dead after being up 17-0 as the Saints stormed back to take the lead. Another Minnesota playoff failure seemed imminent. Then it looked as if Kai Forbath had given them the game with a long field goal only to see New Orleans come right back down the field with just seconds to play and kick a field goal.
Vikings fans had that look they have had all too many times in the playoffs. There was an eerie hush inside the building, and then the Minny Miracle occurred. Put it down with the Music City Miracle, the Immaculate Reception and the Tuck Rule. What couldn't happen just happened! It was like Milt Stegall against the Eskimos many years ago, but this was a playoff game. Case Keenum hoisted one towards Stefon Diggs and the rest is history.
How does New Orleans let that happen? How? Vikings fans could care less because for once a playoff break went their way. It was truly an amazing thing to see. How many had left the stadium only to hear the roar? What was Marcus Williams thinking? If he lets Diggs makes the catch and wraps him up immediately, I don't think Minnesota could have run another play. It was surreal to see it occur. Can they get back for one more home game which would be the Super Bowl? After yesterday, one wonders if destiny is on their side.
--Meanwhile, The New England Patriots are good enough that they don't need help, but why is it they seemingly get it? Even Jim Nantz and Tony Romo were raising their eyebrows at some questionable calls that went New England's way in the first half. Why do the Patriots always get the call to go their way? An offensive pass interference call on Eric Decker on a play we see all the time that takes away a first down and makes it 3rd and 14. An encroachment call on a punt deep in New England's zone when it looked like the Patriots player moved first and at the end of the half the clock taking forever to go from one second to zero allowing New England to try a field goal. At the end of the day, they were better than Tennessee and shouldn't have had a problem beating them, but once again they sure seem to get the benefit.
-The Atlanta Falcons let Nick Foles take his team down the field on time-consuming 80,74 and 86 yards that resulted in 12 points being scored. Three of those points came after a bizarre play at the end of the first half. Again, it was Nick Foles quarterbacking the Eagles. Philly's defence came to play, but Atlanta's didn't. When you are letting Nick Foles drive the field on you, you deserve to lose. While everyone talks about the Julio Jones play on what was a terrible 4th down call, we could all see Jones wouldn't have had his feet in bounds.
--As for Jacksonville-Pittsburgh, it was a fantastic contest as well. One that Pittsburgh likely would have won if there was another 5 minutes. The first 10 minutes as we found out was just too much to come back from. A Vikings-Patriots Super Bowl. One has to think that is what we will see, but after this weekend, who knows!
--While I don't think Ray Ferraro is in any jeopardy of seeing his WHL goals in a single season of 108 go away anytime soon, one does have to look at what is happening in Moose Jaw with Jayden Halbegewachs. He has 48 goals in 46 games. He is three away from 50 with a quarter of the season still to go. Last year in the WHL, Tyler Steenburgen and Tyler Wong led the league in scoring with 51 goals and the year before, Warrior forward Dryden Hunt led the way with 58. Halbgewachs will surpass that and then some if he is healthy. He is on pace for a 77 goals season. When is the last time a WHL player scored 77?
--Yes, they haven't played a game against Moose Jaw or Swift Current yet, but it would appear as if the Pats have gotten back on the right track. They are 7-2-1 since the Xmas break as they try and chase Brandon down for 3rd. I will admit that with so many new guys in the lineup and the return of Sam Steel Friday that they seemed lost as they tried to get used to one another in what was basically another Game 1 of the season. They found a way to pull out a win, and then they dominated a Calgary team like they should have on Saturday. They are nine back of 3rd place Brandon with the Wheat Kings holding three games in hand.. Staying in that first wild-card spot likely means an easier road to the East final and perhaps another appearance in the Ed Chynoweth Cup final. What road do you want to take? Yes, I am talking Pats and not the 2017 Riders. There is an air of familiarity to that statement though isn't there.
--It was a problem before Mosaic Stadium was erected upon the grounds at Evraz Place, and it remains a problem. That is getting out of the Brandt Centre after an event.. SGI should do a zipper merge class with people leaving an event at the facility some night or nights. I don't think I'm alone in saying it would help a lot if the people who are there when fans arrive were there when they depart to help traffic flow a little more smoothly. Of course, there are some that hell or highwater have no intentions of letting anyone get in front of them as was seen a couple of times while leaving the Brandt Centre after Friday's Pats game. Why is that by the way? It is something that occurs no matter if it is a Pats game, a concert, whatever. Can we please fix this before people from across Canada shows up for both the Memorial Cup and Brier?
--I'll have more interest in Olympic speedskating this time around than hockey. Having done "Locker Talk" on Access 7 for the past umpteen years, I have had a chance to speak with many local athletes who have done good in the community and elsewhere. Two of those are Marsha Hudey and Kali Christ who not only have represented the Regina Speedskating Club, but Canada on the Olympic stage. Both were in Sochi and both will be in Pyongchang as well. They are not the only members of the RSSC who have been on the Olympic stage with one alumni--Lucas Makowsky--winning gold in Vancouver. Do Regina, Saskatchewan and yourselves proud ladies!
Has anyone heard from Connor McDavid since the end of Saturday's Oilers win in Vegas? What is the NHL thinking by having McDavid play on his 21st birthday in Vegas with the team getting a week off when the tilt is over. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right boys? Right ladies?