Six predictions for the Saskatchewan Roughriders

The new season is finally here after another long winter in Saskatchewan as the Riders are set to open the 2017 season against the Montreal Alouettes.

For the Green and White, the new season offers another opportunity for the franchise to return to respectability after two and a half seasons of struggles, including back-to-back seasons where they failed to make the playoffs.

Another offseason filled with change and controversy has come to an end and now it’s time to play football. With that in mind, here’s my six predictions, based basically on my gut feeling, for the Riders in 2017.

1. The Riders will make the playoffs: I have to admit, I’m not entirely sold on this one but something is bound to change in Riderville eventually. In the CFL you can pretty much count on one team to be better than expected and for one to be worse. Not much is expected of the Riders this year and they very easily could miss the playoffs again but I think improved Canadian depth, a better offensive line and a solid front seven defensively should be enough to see them rise to third in the west or crossover to the east.

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Brandon Bridge (16) throws as offensive lineman Thaddeus Coleman (68) defends against Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo (54) during first half CFL football action in Regina on Saturday, June 10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rick Elvin

2. Brandon Bridge will start: There’s no question that Kevin Glenn is the Riders starting quarterback to start the season. He’s certainly capable of putting together a strong enough season to get the Riders back into the playoffs. That being said, I think the switch will be made at some point as the Canadian pushes Glenn all season long. Bridge looked good in the pre-season and appears poised to take his game to the next level. Bridge’s ceiling this season is potentially much higher than the known Glenn at this point in his career.

3. The defence gets better…eventually: Much like last season, don’t look for the Riders defence to be at the top of it’s game early on. There’s far too many question marks and injuries in the secondary right now. Adding Jovon Johnson will certainly help but he still needs to get up to speed in Jones’ system. Any success from the defence early on will have to come from the front seven. Led by Gainey and Johnson, the secondary will improve as the season goes leaving the defence and the team in a better spot.

4. Willie Jefferson leads the way: Jefferson joined the Riders late last season and just about won the team sack race in just a handful of games. The former Eskim should pick up where he left off and be the difference maker the Riders are going to need. Jefferson should easily crack double digits in sacks this season and should be among the league leaders in quarterback takedowns.

5. Now or never for Demski: Drafted in the first round in 2015, Demski hasn’t really lived up to the billing since leaving the University of Manitoba. Demski has shown flashes of being a starting receiver but he’s never been able to sustain it. Demski might be what he is at this point and that could spell the end of his time in Saskatchewan when his contract is up at seasons end.

6. An American gets cut: Chris Jones seemingly rounded up as many American receivers as he could in the offseason. Between Naaman Roosevelt, Duron Carter, Bakari Grant, Chad Owens and so on, there’s plenty of talent to go around. There’s also plenty of cash and limited roster space. Owens is reportedly on the six-game to open the season, which creates space for some of the younger guys to make an impression as a returner. Owens might be the clubhouse leader to not finish the season in green, but he should still get his chance to prove he’s still got it. Either way, someone won’t make it to the end of the season as someone younger should push them out the door.  

Bonus: If the Riders don’t make the playoffs this season, or they at least don’t significantly improve, Chris Jones, John Murphy and perhaps president Craig Reynolds won’t be back in 2018.

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.
Joel Gasson
Joel Gasson
About Joel Gasson (149 Articles)
Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.

60 Comments on Six predictions for the Saskatchewan Roughriders

  1. White Horse // June 21, 2017 at 12:07 pm //

    This Thursdays game will show the difference in QB’s Durant vs Glenn. I’ll put my money on Durant. Jones cut his own throat by letting Durant go in the off season. Thursday is the showdown and I am looking forward to a Montreal win. I am not sold on Bridge either.(but I wish him well)

  2. Riders13 // June 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm //

    Great article and I have the Riders beating out Calgary for 2nd in the west.
    Riders should move on from Chad Jones…old, injury prone and over-paid as strictly a returner.
    46 man roster is out and Riders have 11 rookies and 4 2nd year players on the roster including 4 2017 draft picks. Season hasn’t started yet, but it sure looks like Jones, Murphy and JO can find talent…hopefully, they can perform.

    • horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 12:46 pm //

      Oh hahaha That’s precious rider13. These moments are what make life worth living. Thank you for that this morning 🙂

      • Riders13 // June 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm //

        Here’s one more for you. The Riders record will be 4-1 but 5-0 if they win tonight after the 1st 5 games of the season. DD is still an elite QB and our secondary is suspect to say the least. If our front 7 can put some pressure on DD we win a close, tough game in Montreal tomorrow night and go on a roll.

  3. Riders13 // June 21, 2017 at 12:10 pm //

    Meant Chad Owens

  4. The crybaby Rider fans will be sobbing three games into the season as they realize another last place finish is about to occur. I hope your “Bonus” comes true and they boot Corky Jones to the curb and hopefully right out of the league.

    • Riders13 // June 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm //

      I don’t think so. Riders will be 4-0 after the 1st 5 weeks of the season and could start 6-0. Can’t wait for the Riders to stick it to Calgary at the corral.

    • Sobbing with joy baby. How long until we beat your team.

  5. horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 12:23 pm //

    Lol rider fans will take this article as a morale victory. Interesting read Joel
    No denying this teams talent at receiver. The biggest issue is the oline and running game. It would appear Jones attempt to make running back a Canadian position has failed. This already puts pressure on the ratio. They want to start 2 imports on oline. This combined with the enevitable injuries will force the riders to play Canadians on defence that aren’t starting calibre. Ate playoffs possible? If they played in the east maybe. In the West they are in tough.
    Question to Joel. Who will they be better than in the West? They have to finish at least 4th

    • Actually even with current injuries to national starters we still have no issue with the ratio. I also see Francis emerging as the starting LB to give even more flexibility. Our 2 backup OL are nationals as well, so thanks for your concern, but we’ll be fine so keep your chaps on.

  6. Scottsask // June 21, 2017 at 12:34 pm //

    I think they’ll finish 4th as well. I don’t see them their first couple of games, but should come on strong down the stretch.

  7. Scottsask // June 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm //

    Had a quick look at the schedule. They lose this game and win next week at home Vs. Winnipeg.

  8. I believe the riders will make the playoffs. However I feel that if Calgary were to lose there QB by injury they will be in a lot hurt. I am not a lions fan or of Wally however I believe they carry the cup in Nov

    • horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 1:49 pm //

      I think you could make that argument with most teams. Remember this thought. Nobody has been more resilent than the Stamps with injuries and we have won with our backup. Remember too the last 2 years of Cornish’s career he was hurt. This would devastate most teams. Not Calgary however; they just kept winning and winning and winning.

      • Riders13 // June 21, 2017 at 1:53 pm //

        Except for the Grey Cup that is…every team goal to start and end the season.

        • horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 2:21 pm //

          More than you…and you can’t keep using that for every argument. Do you think teams don’t want to go 15-2-1?? Do you think they plan to suck until labor day then turn it on for the playoff drive and finish 8-9-1?? If course not. Stop dismissing this success. It’s jealousy

          • Riders13 // June 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm //

            There was no success. The goal is to win the Grey Cup and anything short of that is a failure so the Riders and Stamps both failed last season. That’s why the stamps and the media refer to the ending of their last season as a “choke job” and nightmarish. Be prepared for the stamps to regress even further this year.

        • horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 3:35 pm //

          Spoken like a fan who’s win total the last 2 seasons still wouldn’t add up to. 500 for this season

        • Riders13, they have a mental block to that tidbit. They are the model of regular season success. How ordinary!

          • grumblingaboutgreen // June 21, 2017 at 4:13 pm //

            riders need to LEARN that you cant WIN the cup unless you MAKE IT to the cup!!

        • Judge Jones // June 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm //

          True enough. By the way, how did you guys do in the Grey Cup last year?

  9. grumblingaboutgreen // June 21, 2017 at 1:14 pm //

    MAYBE they will CROSS OVER but that SHOULDN’T be attributed to them being a QUALITY team. NO CHANCE they are ready to COMPETE with the STAMPS, LIONS, or ESKS!! so IF nichols regresses from LAST season, they have a SLIM SHOT at taking FOURTH in the west. then they have to finish AHEAD of TWO eastern teams but WHO?? ottawa is the defending CHAMPS, montreal just SWIPED sasks STAR QB this offseason, and toronto is poised for a COMEBACK under marc TRESTMAN! and the TICATS have been using a NEW training system that REDUCES INJURIES which was their ACHILLES HEEL last season, so DON’T COUNT on them being EASY to PICK OFF either!! sorry did i say MAYBE sask will CROSS OVER? LOL LOL i must have been DREAMING!

  10. HAHA, is Joel’s real last name Pedersen?

  11. horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 1:24 pm //

    The one thing I truly hope we see at Mosaic is Bridge starting. I’m sure Jones will do everything we can to bring Young back but I’m really cheering for Bridge.

  12. My money is that double D is not playing due to injury. Yes the riders require arunning game. You can win games alone through the air. I believe Mr Bell will end up Sask. Special teams will be better this year which should help with the turn overs.

  13. Southwest cowboy // June 21, 2017 at 1:42 pm //

    I hope the bonus prediction comes true.

  14. Terrence Whittaker // June 21, 2017 at 1:54 pm //

    Not a rider fan but a diehard CFL fan. I don’t think the riders will be a crossover team but I can see them being 3rd in the West and being very competitive down the stretch. Chad Owens is a reliable returner but does not have the same breakaway speed he once had but he will add valuable experience and make great catches in pressure situations when he returns to full health for the riders.

  15. Mmmbacon // June 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm //

    I predict that stampeders trolls wull comment on yet another story not involving their team. Oops…too late…they already gave

  16. Ladd Law // June 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm //

    I believe that the Stumps fan base has the most trolls of any fan base by far. A real group of proud haters with a serious obsession for all things Riders. It certainly seems they are taking the lead on that one. The Riders have nothing to lose and will be playing each game free and easy. Top flight teams only have one direction to go and that’s going to fit them just fine.

  17. As mentioned in another commentary, will the antics & modus operandi of Chris Jones finally be played out? With a new stadium & the large fan base, a repeat performance of last season won’t bode well.

  18. stamps fans hate that no matter how great a team they put on the field, their fans have no where near the passion that Riders fans have. they could go 18-0 and still not sell out their dilapidated old stadium. No pride in Calgary

    • horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 2:48 pm //

      Meh I can’t speak for all calgarian I can only cheer for my team.

    • Judge Jones // June 21, 2017 at 5:01 pm //

      Which is better: play in an older building and win or stink out a new building? Besides, if you’re in Saskatchewan, what else is there to do? Catch gophers?

    • horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 7:46 pm //

      And we might just go 18-0 too!

      • too bad your poor fans cant sell out the building to see it. If a team goes undefeated but no one watches, did it really happen??

        • horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 10:08 pm //

          Yep it does. Because you rider fans will be peeping in through the cracks steaming with jealousy as it happens.

  19. RIDER FAN // June 21, 2017 at 3:19 pm //

    The Riders may struggle to start the season(Secondary and possibly Oline) but they do have the talent and a no nonsense coach that will find the right pieces should one or two positions struggle! Jones will get the best out of his players and once those players who need the experience get their feet wet, this Riders team will start winning! Brandon Bridge will get his shot at #1 at somepoint this season and the naysayers who get their jolleys from Rider misfortunes will suck it! JONES AIN’T GOING ANYWHERE! THIS TEAM IS ONLY GOING TO GET BETTER! Two big keys to a successful season: Leadership and Canadian depth and the Riders have both! I predict a record between 8-10 and 9-9.. ONLY TIME WILL TELL IF I’M RIGHT OR WRONG.. AND I’M VERY OPTIMISTIC! GO RIDERS!

  20. I predict the only way Jones and his regime are fired at season end is if my boys finish equal to or worse than last year, and that won’t happen. We aren’t buying him out of his contract unless the world comes to an end.

  21. Scottsask // June 21, 2017 at 4:08 pm //


  22. Agree. Jones isn’t going anywhere. He may have a better team in 2018 but it’s not good now. Bringing in new players is not the same as bringing in new talent. The fact there will be so many rookies on the club is not good. The key position is QB. Glenn, by all accounts from Rider sources, is miles ahead of the others. Yet he is probably the 9th rated starter in the CFL. He was 3-6 with the Als last year WITH Carter, Lewis (who had almost identical yards/game as Owens) with BJ Cunningham who’s stats are similar to Holley & Collins, & with SJ Green. Yes Green only played in 2 games BUT Mtl won as many games with Green in the lineup as the Riders won with Roosevelt (1-10 when Roosevelt was in). So their impact on wins was identical. There wasn’t much difference in the 2016 Als & this year’s Riders’ receivers. Is it reasonable to expect Glenn to shoot out the lights just because we have a great receiving group? I don’t see it. There is a reason the Riders traded Glenn in 2015 (0-9 record) to the Als who traded him to Wpg where he sat behind Nichols who then left him unprotected & he ended up here – NOT because he was the QB of choice but the BEST available. Big difference. What does it mean that Willy is the BEST available by virtue of experience & stats out there now? The best clubs in the CFL now are offensive powerhouses, partly because most of the rule changes favour the offence. Clubs like Calgary & Edmonton last year scored an average of 30 points per game. This Jones club doesn’t look like a club that can do that.

  23. Scottsask // June 21, 2017 at 4:46 pm //

    No, not yet.

  24. I love how the haters & trolls never gave Durant any credit until he wasn’t a Rider. You guys provide a good laugh and your opinions tend to be a joke. Seriously I would love to hear actual opinions on this site and generate stimulating conversation, but these haters just spoil it and make everything a pissing contest of nonsense.

  25. Dan Bombers // June 21, 2017 at 7:43 pm //

    Would love to see demski in Winnipeg one day

    • Riders13 // June 21, 2017 at 9:13 pm //

      TJ Heath and a 1st round pick and he’s yours lol, I’m hoping he breaks out this year and is starting tomorrow so he’s getting an opportunity.

  26. All you stamp fans that are so into yourself better be prepared to watch BC take the cup home in Nov. Once again your team will choke.

    • horsieland // June 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm //

      Kinda like the Lions under buono previously??

      • Terrence Whittaker // June 21, 2017 at 10:13 pm //

        Come on you guys this is the CFL this is our game! Let’s enjoy it! Bad mouthing each other puts our league down.

  27. Southwest cowboy // June 22, 2017 at 9:29 am //

    The problem with the Roughriders is no continuity. Jones just keeps bringing in new guys hoping to find someone that can play in his system rather than changing his schemes to suit the players he has. That’s not good coaching, good coaches adapt.

  28. Tiger man // June 22, 2017 at 9:38 am //

    Glenn is a good quarterback, but he is fixated with the pick 6. It’s his best pass.

    You can have the best receiving talent in the league, but if you have a quarterback who can’t deliver the ball and/or an Oline that can provide the time to do so, then your problems are more basic.

    What will change this season, Chris Jones will be gone by the end of it.

  29. Scottsask // June 22, 2017 at 3:08 pm //

    Not a chance.

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