--Walking out of Mosaic Stadium for the final time this season after a Riders game, I started wondering just how to compose this column and where to go with it. There are many things that need to be said. Where do you start?
Let's start with the game itself.
Brandon Bridge had a chance to secure his future. He didn't have to win the game, but he had to show once and for all that when he was the man, he could do the job. He failed to do so. In a playoff game, you need to make plays and while Bridge did make some with his feet, he made none with his arm. His passes fluttered, he made bad decisions and there were times he simply hung on to the ball way too long. To be fair, he might have had a TD pass to Naaman Roosevelt had it not been for the upright, but he needed to be better and he wasn't. You saw something last year to get him back. Can you say the same this year? More on that in a bit
A defence that has won games on turnovers this year couldn't do it. Willie Jefferson, Charleston Hughes and company could not get that ball when they needed it most. Jefferson said Saturday if they play their game, they will win. They didn't play their game. Sam Eguavoen and Ed Gainey both told me after the game they just didn't feel like they had the attitude and energy needed on this afternoon. They didn't know why that was and either do I. Eguavoen was a beast out there, but he couldn't force a turnover that was much-needed.
At the end of the day, the Riders were oh-so-close to winning a football game without a quarterback. They were in it despite the horrific play on offence. That brings me to the off-season.
When the 2017 season ended, it was clear the team needed a quarterback. Kevin Glenn had seemingly lost the faith of the coaching staff and Bridge was called upon. As we go into 2018, the statement remains the same, but now it might be worse.
This team doesn't need one quarterback. It may need two. The Zach Collaros concussion (and yes, he suffered one even though the team won't come out and say it because if it smells like a concussion and looks like a concussion than it is) is his 3rd this year alone and his 4th in his CFL career. It would not surprise me one bit if he retired in the off-season, In fact, one person over the last week that has some CFL knowledge has suggested if Collaros was doing the right thing, he would hang up the helmet for his own good.
If he does continue to play, do the Riders want him? Let's be honest, the Riders didn't get the investment out of their marquee player. This wasn't the Collaros the Riders were hoping for when they got him from Hamilton. More was needed. Yes, he had rookie receivers learning the game to work with, but more was needed. If Collaros is to come back, it can't be at the price he played for this year. If he doesn't, now what?
Some on the 620 CKRM post-game show suggested Travis Lulay. What? You don't need a quarterback who can't stay off the injured list. You need to get someone younger. I don't think Jonathan Jennings is the answer, but could James Franklin talk be revived again? That's where Chris Best, who by the way is outstanding on his role with our broadcasts, is leaning.. If the Alouettes are bringing back Johnny Manziel, could you get Antonio Pipkin and no, let's not talk about Manziel wearing green. I can't see Mike Reilly coming here either. After Bridge's game and season, I don't know how you realistically bring him back. I think it is safe to say he regressed this year which is something I didn't think would happen under QB's coach Steve Walsh.
There are some who believe Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley might be the answer, but can we let him go through the NFL draft before starting up with that conversation. At 6 feet, he may be what they say too small to play in the NFL, but he will get a look. Like many others, he will also likely want to see what the new Alliance of American Football might offer as well. Who's kidding who, Noah Picton would be an option. He throws a better ball than Bridge, but there are a lot of USports quarterbacks that could say that after seeing some of the ducks Bridge threw. Just look at that pass he unloaded that was intercepted by Kevin Fogg. I think he has exhausted his chances to show he is a starter----at least in Saskatchewan.
That brings me to "the play".
For the second straight game, the Riders had a quarterback taken out because of a dirty head shot and yes what Jackson Jeffcoat did to Bridge was a dirty head shot. Some yahoo phoned the 620 CKRM post-game show to say Jeffcoat has only had one penalty against the quarterback in his two years so he should get off with nothing. This just in, I have never held up a convenience store during my time on earth so if I decide to, I should get off with nothing. What a stupid statement. Speaking of stupid statements, that is what I would classify the statement from Randy Ambrosie following the game.
The Commissioner put out another one of those "Oops we made a mistake" statements. While I have a great deal of respect for Ambrosie, statements aren't enough, actions are needed and actions are needed sooner or later. Yes, the official was blocked out by Patrick Lavoie, but where were the other officials and what were they watching? They can throw a flag from the far side of the field when the play isn't near them, but they couldn't throw what again was an obvious penalty. This "we advocate player safety" is a pile of crap and everyone knows it. Once again, the so-called "eye in the sky"failed. I guess maybe he was watching the Dolphins-Packers game instead of failing at what he is supposed to do yet again.
Perhaps Ambrosie should put another statement out saying officials have been fired for less than adequate work. That would send a definite message. The league tells you they are working to make officiating better and then we see what we have seen the last two weeks. What more needs to happen? Does something like this need to happen in a Grey Cup game? A couple of weeks ago, it was said by someone connected with the league that the state of officiating in the CFL was at an all-time low and this was before the Collaros hit. I can't disagree!
There are many things on the plate of Ambrosie and the game will never be perfect for all parties, but don't sit there and issue statements about how this can't happen and how player safety is a key when we are seeing this BS happen.
As I said, if Ambrosie is serious about getting these hits out of the game, action will be taken in the off-season. I suspect nothing will change despite his "statements" suggesting otherwise.
--OK, enough about the Riders. Let's move on to the East Semi. Thanks for showing up BC! That was horrible! What an awful way for Wally Buono to bid adieu to the CFL. That game was over 5 minutes in. Kudos to the Ti-Cats for bringing in Ric Flair. What a great move!
So your final four has Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Hamilton. I'll go with the home teams to move onto Edmonton for the Grey Cup.
--Congratulations to the U of S Huskies. Scott Flory takes his team to a title in year 2 and they do it by going into Calgary and wiping what I'm sure was a smug look right off the Dinos face. It sounds like Calgary didn't lose with class either as there are reports it got chippy once the Dinos knew they weren't getting the Hardy Cup. Some wondered aloud if the Huskies would have gotten there had the Rams situation not happened. We will never know, but one would have to think the Huskies would have had an edge in the playoff game the two likely would have played before the Regina forfeits because of Noah Picton's foot. It will be tough for the Huskies against Western next weekend.
--Ladies and gentlemen, Brutus Beefcake!! Yes, the WWF star of the 80's is a few pounds above his playing weight as we saw at the CWE performance at the Owl on Saturday night. Beefcake did literally nothing except sit at a table, take pictures and hawk some merchandise at the event. He did get involved in one match where yes, a haircut was had, but he brought very little to the show. He didn't even get on the mic. If he did, I don't remember it. As fellow wrestling afficionado Robert E Vanstone said, "Look at Brutus, he must be going 20 years ago I was wrestling in front of 20,000 fans at Madison Square Garden and now I am at the Owl in Regina, Canada. What happened to my life? Sadly, he isn't the only former wrestler in that place.
--Good friend and Sportscage baseball insider Craig Slater sent me a link to an ESPN article written by baseball insider Buster Olney on Friday suggesting the Chicago Cubs could be persuaded to make a trade involving 3rd baseman Kris Bryant? WHAAAAAAAAAAT!!! Where did this come from? Bryant is a franchise player. He had a rough 17 due to injury, but unless that injury is going to prevent him from being what he was, you don't trade him. The story didn't seem to have much legs to it. I hope it stays that way.
--Getting home from the Riders game, I had a chance to watch the Avalanche-Oilers game. What a disaster! Cam Talbot allowed another early goal and it was all downhill from there. This team is hitting a cross-roads and after a somewhat decent stretch, they have now lost four in a row making some wonder if Todd McLellan's job is once again on the line.
It would seem as if there is a conflict as to what to do with Jesse Puljujarvi The top 5 pick is not panning out and he was finally sent to the American Hockey League. The Oilers simply don't know what to do with the kid. It may be time to make a trade. I don't think you can get full value and if Puljujarvi figures it out, it could come back to haunt you, but how much longer can you wait. The Oilers have given him opportunities and it's not panning out.
--What Karlsson is having a worse year. Erik or William? A program on NHL Radio Saturday afternoon suggested Erik is the most disappointing player so far in the NHL As the show went to commercial, they said they would discuss who is having the most impressive season. I pulled into the driveway before I could hear that discussion. I would have to think Mikko Rantanen, Thomas Chabot and Elias Petterson are in the mix.
--Sunday was not a good day to be a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals. OUCH!! It can't be fun getting beat 51-14 in your home park. Meanwhile, all those Cowboys fans that wanted Jason Garrett's job are likely talking Super Bowl again after a Sunday night win in Philly. Would I be right Luc Mullinder? That was an impressive bounce-back for the Cowboys.
--Jimmy Butler is heading to Philadelphia. Your move Raptors!
--Congrats to Kirk Muyres and his new curling team out of Saskatoon. They won the Tier 2 part of the Grand Slam of Curling's Tour Challenge in Thunder Bay on the weekend. The team is coming off a World Curling Tour event in Morris, Manitoba where they were beaten by Matt Dunstone and his new Regina team with Braeden Moskowy throwing third stones. While there are a lot of good rinks in the province, can we just seed in a Dunstone-Muyres final at the Tankard in Whitewood. Both want that Saskatchewan drought at the Brier to end. Perhaps it will very soon.
--That's all I got! Have a great week as you start to play GM and pour over this 2018 season which was a good one that ends with a very sour taste.