--You can't sugarcoat that one ladies and gentlemen!
At halftime of the Riders-Calgary pre-season game Friday night, I hit the airwaves by saying there were three positives about the Saskatchewan Roughriders to that point in the game. 1) Derrick Moncrief 2) Josh Bartel and 3) it was a nice night for football. That didn't change in the second half.
Ugly doesn't even start to describe that performance by your Saskatchewan Roughriders. Thank goodness the only people that saw it were those inside Mosaic. I think Chris Jones might have left before it was over if he had the opportunity. He wasn't joking in his post-game press conference when he told Arielle Zerr that she might have done a better job blocking than the hoggies in the first half. The "protection" they gave both Zach Collaros and Brandon Bridge was abysmal. How Collaros got up and walked to the bench after getting a high-low hit that folded him in the 3rd quarter and had the crowd deliver a collective "OOOOOOO" amazed me. As I said on Twitter, if I absorbed a hit like that, friends and family would be at Speers Funeral Chapel Monday or Tuesday afternoon to pay their respects.
Emanuel Adusei was the guilty party on a couple of hits Collaros took and Chris Jones while not calling him out did so in that post-game newser. It is never a good thing when the coach names someone for the bad things that were done. As one would expect, he is no longer here. More on the cuts in a moment.
How bad was the first half with the main group in there? They had three first downs and less than 100 yards in total offence. If that was the first pre-season game when the regulars weren't in, I would have said fine. The regulars were in though.
Jones finished his night by saying he was "perturbed" by what went down. Safe to say he wasn't alone. At the end of the day, it was pre-season where evaluation is key and the score doesn't matter. The grades in that evaluation weren't great and a performance like that against the Argos next week when everything is for real won't be tolerated. Jones knows that and so does his veteran team. I would expect the performance to be better, but after what we saw Friday, it really can't get any worse.
--When the Riders announced their cuts on the weekend, there were many names on that there that weren't surprising. However, when Rob Bagg let it be known Saturday that his time in Rider Nation was over, there was outrage. The long-time Rider receiver confirmed to me that he had been released moments after he sent his tweet saying Goodbye to Rider Nation. As I said on Twitter, there was no more of a professional in that room than Bagg. There might not have been a harder working player either. Bagg's story is well known and on a 2012 afternoon at Taylor Field we thought Bagg's career may have come to an end. After knee injuries disrupted his 2010 and 2011 season, Bagg crumpled to the turf with what looked to be his third major knee injury. As he limped off the field that afternoon, he was in tears. Standing on the sideline, you could see that he thought his career was over. Thankfully for him, the injury was not as serious as he thought it could be and we know how his 2013 season ended.
Out of all the Riders on that team, he was the one guy I was happiest for because of what he had endured to get that championship moment. He was the heart and soul of the football team, and his presence in the room will be missed, but life goes on.
As it is with many other teams in many other sports, as you get older and make a big salary, you are a candidate to get chopped because of the cap. Can Bagg still play? Yes, but not at the salary he is making thus his time in Riderville unfortunately comes to an end. He is not the first veteran player in Riderville or the CFL to have that happen, and he won't be the last. I completely understand fans being upset because Bagg is no longer a member of the team, but I understand why he isn't. I don't think some fans do. I truly believe there are some out there that would rather see their favourite football team lose with fan favourites who are on the other side of 30 than win championships because they want to hold on to those players who have given them great moments. Some are still angered by the loss of Weston Dressler and John Chick. I didn't like those moves either as a fan, but you must admit this team is better off today. It's called professional sports and sadly the moves that are made are ones that aren't popular at times.
When Chris Jones discussed the Bagg release with reporters on Sunday, he said it was a tough call to make, but "When you start letting things like that — like media or somebody else’s opinion on the decision that you’ve made — affect you, I think that you end up being weak.” He's 100 percent right on that. You can like Chris Jones or hate him, but that statement could come from Dave Dickenson, Marc Trestman, Pete Carroll or Doug Pederson or any other professional football coach. Fans do not make the decisions (sorry to break that to you) and sometimes the decisions aren't popular but you move on. A majority have moved on from Dressler and Chick and I think a majority have moved on from Darian Durant. You will move on from Bagg as well. It takes nothing away from his time with the green-and-white and as I told him Saturday, I can't wait to hear that he is in the Plaza because he will be. I think he meets the criteria. Then again, so should Kerry Joseph but that's another story for another time. For what its worth, I would not be surprised to see Bagg end up as a Hamilton Tiger-Cat.
--Are we having fun watching Alex Ovechkin with the Stanley Cup? Are we wishing that we could have 72 hours in our lives like Ovi is having or reminiscing about perhaps being like Ovi at some point in the past? TSN's Chris Cuthbert had a great Tweet Sunday when he surmised the Capitals could probably pay Barry Trotz the big money he will command by taking Ovi's empties back. It is safe to say Ovechkin is loving life right now and hockey fans are loving watching him celebrate his team's Stanley Cup win.
--What do the Knights do for an encore? What can they do? I think it is safe to say they succeeded in year 1 in bringing excitement for hockey to the desert. They only have thing they can do. Is it realistic to think they will be right back to where they were in year 1 in year 2. No one will be taking them lightly in year 2 and teams will have had one year's experience in road trips to Sin City. It will be interesting to see what the NHL's newest team does to strengthen themselves. Do they make a run at one of the high-priced free agents? Do they have the money for it? One would think the answer to the last question is yes because I don't think any of their current roster are on big-money deals.
--Has P.K Subban worn out his welcome in Nashville after two years? Some hockey experts say he has and that the Predators would love to move him to take a run at a Carlson or a Tavares. I am sure there are teams that would explore having PK on their team, but what would it cost them and can they afford him? If P.K has indeed worn out his welcome with the Predators what type of red-flag does that put up when it comes to getting his services if indeed Nashville is offering them.
--Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Rush. The team won their 3rd title in four years in Saskatoon Saturday night. They have been in the final each and every year they have been to Saskatoon. When does the trophy come to Regina for a visit? I'd like to get a look at it and I am sure there are Rush fans in Regina who feel the same way.
--One can't blame Lebron James for showing frustration over the way Game 1 of the NBA final ended. Word is he broke his hand punching a chalkboard after the overtime loss in a game they may have won had it not been for JR Smith's brainfart. Let's be honest. The only thing that did was make Golden State's victory come in four straight and not 5. The Cavs weren't winning that series. Now the "Where will Lebron play next year?" stories will emerge. While he could stay in Cleveland, many teams have been mentioned as a future home----Houston, Philadelphia and the Lakers are apparently the front-runners. I am guessing there is no way that James could bring his talents north of the border. What that would do for the sport in this country would be immeasurable, but it won't be happening. FWIW: I'd love to see him end up in Portland or Milwaukee.
--Back to the CFL and the annual top 50 list will come out later this week. I am guessing Mike Reilly will be the #1 guy and Bo Levi would be sitting at #2. After that, who do you have? Where is your top Rider and at what position do you put him. I would think Duron Carter, Willie Jefferson and Ed Gainey are all in the top 20 and maybe the top 15. I would also think no matter where he is that Carter will be chirping on Twitter. How many Riders could crack the top 50. The three I mentioned are in there for sure. I am guessing Charleston Hughes, Naaman Roosevelt are in there. Could Christion Jones be at the bottom of the list for his kick returning prowess. Would Zach Collaros make an appearance even though last year in Hamilton was a disaster. Once again, the list will be tremendous fodder for debate.
--That's all I got. Have a great week!