Midterms: Rider award winners and report card at the half way point

The Riders have now reached the mid-point of their schedule, a little later than most thanks to already having two weeks off. With that in mind, now is a good time to look at potential team nominees for the most outstanding player awards and grade the team’s overall performance.

Most Outstanding Player

There’s no award that generates more discussion in the CFL than the Most Outsanding Player and for good reason. Some tend to confuse it with most valuable player, but in my opinion, outstanding refers to the player who’s level of play on the field was above and beyond everyone else.

Front runner: Right now, the nod goes to quarterback Kevin Glenn. The veteran pivot is having a resurgence this year in Saskatchewan as the Detroit native is on pace to pass for over 5,000 yards and nearly 40 touchdowns. Not only has Glenn put up the numbers this year, after a few of his vintage interceptions early on, he hasn’t been prone to that major error during the team’s winning streak. The Riders are on pace to have three 1,000 yard receivers this season.

Honourable mention: Willie Jefferson. The defensive end has been a beast along the line all season and is the straw the stirs the drink defensively.

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Kevin Glenn (5) attempts a pass during first half CFL football action against the Toronto Argonauts in Regina on Saturday, July 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

Most Outstanding Canadian

This award feels wide open for the most part of the Riders as the team’s Canadians have contributed but no one has really stood out.

Front runner: Henoc Muamba, the linebacker leads the team in defensive tackles with 39. Muamba has added six special teams tackles for good measure.

Honourable mention: Eddie Steele. The defensive tackle doesn’t have a pile of numbers but has provided a steady force in the middle of the defensive line.

Most Outstanding Defensive Player

Is there really a question here? Maybe. This discussion has become a little more interesting in the last three weeks.

Front Runner: Willie Jefferson. The defensive end leads the Riders in defensive plays and that’s just what can be measured. Jefferson is two back of the CFL sack lead with 5 quarterback take downs but he’s also been credited with 20 quarterback pressures, second only to Edmonton’s Odell Willis. Add another five pass knockdowns and a blocked punt and Jefferson has basically done it all for the Riders.

Honourable mention: Ed Gainey. The defensive back had a slow start to the season but has exploded onto the scene over the last month. Gainey now leads the league with six interceptions.

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Willie Jefferson (7) celebrates the blocked kick against the Edmonton Eskimos during first half CFL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday August 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson.

Most Outstanding Special Teams Player

Often overlooked, special teams can make the difference between winning and losing a close game.

Front Runner: Tyler Crapigna. The kicker is well on his way to another nomination. Crapigna has connected on 82 per cent of his kicks and remains steady.

Honourable Mention: Denzel Radford. The Canadian receiver leads the team with 11 special teams tackles. As a team the Riders have returned kicks well but have done so with a variety of players.

Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker Tyler Crapigna kicks a field goal during first half CFL action at the brand new Mosaic Stadium against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in Regina on Saturday, July 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman

The most important part of any football team finally gets their due for the Riders, it’s the return to the top for a familiar face.

Front Runner: Brendon LaBatte. The Weyburn native has put a tough, injury filled 2016 season behind him. LaBatte is not only playing well again but he also hasn’t missed a beat since taking over at centre for the injured Dan Clark.

Honourable Mention: Peter Dyakowski. The former Ti-Cat has become an important part of the Riders line in 2017 filling in for the retired Chris Best as younger players like Dariusz Bladek develop.

Report Card

Offence – B: A slow start keeps this grade from being higher. Glenn is on pace for over 5,000 yards and the team could have three 1,000 yard receivers. I would still like to see more out of the running game.

Defence – B+: Like the offence, the first few games of the season drag this grade down a little bit, there was simply too many big plays allowed to overlook. If Jefferson remains healthy, no reason this defence can’t build upon what they’ve done the last month and finish with a much higher grade.

Special Teams – A: the steadiest unit all year. Crapigna and Josh Bartel are kicking well. The return game is strong no matter who is back there and the cover units have kept opposing returners at bay.

Coaching – B: Chris Jones and company have still made some interesting decisions at times, such as changing the quarterback in the middle of a successful drive or rushing three way too often. Overall, this grade should rise should the Riders keep playing as they are. Jones does get credit for adjustments made from early in the season. He’s also letting the players be themselves , as we’ve seen in celebrations, which is important.

Management – B-: This team seems poised to be good for the rest of this season and perhaps next. However, they are still too interested in bigish name washed up NFLers and already established CFLers. Focus should be on finding diamonds in the rough down south and developing through the Canadian draft. That will make the team consistently good for years to come.

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.
Joel Gasson
Joel Gasson
About Joel Gasson (155 Articles)
Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic.

67 Comments on Midterms: Rider award winners and report card at the half way point

  1. white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 11:23 am //

    Can’t disagree with the choices. Glenn is MOP hands down. Although I’d give Bartel the special teams award, his punting may be best in league . Crapiga hasn’t been terrible but he hasn’t been outstanding either.
    I share and have expressed to problem with the players this team focuses on. Build a pipeline, plug and play like Calgary has. No ex nfl big names.

    • Horsie – no one cares about your constant “play like Calgary” talk. Each respective team plays their own way. I’d rather not have my team full of perenial chokers.

      • white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 1:09 pm //

        Fair enough

      • dangnabbit // September 7, 2017 at 2:46 pm //

        I would dispute this “choker” label. Calgary is tied with Saskatchewan for most Cup appearances over the past decade (2007-2016, inclusive) as they both have four (nobody beats their 2-Cup haul, either). Also during that time, Calgary’s five divisional titles (and thus first-round byes) are the most in the league, and combined with the three years they advanced from the semifinal they have an unmatched eight appearances in the divisional final. Along with BC, they are the only team to qualify for the playoffs all ten years.

        To summarise:
        No one wins the Grey Cup more than Calgary
        No one gets to the Grey Cup final more than Calgary
        No one gets to the divisional final more than Calgary
        No one gets into the playoffs more than Calgary
        No one wins their division more than Calgary

        Now, as the weak teams get weeded out in the playoffs, the average opponent becomes stronger, so Calgary’s playoff percentage isn’t as high as in the regular season. But at what stage do you claim they perennially choke? They’re at or above .500 at literally every level:
        124-53-3 in the regular season
        3-2 in the semifinal
        4-4 in the divisional final
        2-2 in the Grey Cup final

        • Thought this was a Rider story. Just saying.

          • No sh*t hey Jamal. I woke up on this side of the dirt, it’s hot, smokey and horse is at the Riders again….pretty much a normal day.

          • dangnabbit // September 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm //

            Well, as usual, as soon as Horsie comments, everybody wants to come fling their poo at the Stampeders. This just seems like a particularly invalid criticism I’ve been seeing people post here a lot lately, so I thought I’d explain why it’s inaccurate.

    • Why do you keep changing your name in here

    • Bartel over Crapinga for sure.

  2. Those are fair grades at this point of the season. Barring any catastrophic injuries there’s still room for steady improvement. The kick coverage teams this year has been nothing short of outstanding.

  3. white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm //

    I encourage you all to go onto the CFL site and read the “winter is coming article” I know it may not be well received but it is blunt reality

    • Lancaster/Reed // September 8, 2017 at 8:35 am //

      Most interesting part of the article is the first arrogant stamp fan to comment itakes a shot at the riders. Im thinking your real name is Dave Hookham? Did i guess right horsie?

  4. And they should have included on the bottom of the article. Are the stumps going to choke again this year? Its very possible.

  5. The Stamps get themselves in trouble when they get overconfident from reading in the press how great they are. “Winter is Coming” is a good example so Horsie better hope that none of the Stamps read the article. But of course they all will read it.

  6. Winter is coming is a bias diatribe from a weak minded eastern personality. Why even play the games, just give the Stumps their rings now. In the end, the bigger they are the harder the fall, and nothing in the CFL this year or any others for that matter would be better received than watching the Stumps fall on their arrogant faces again. Some humility among the fans here and the team would help curb that. Not likely though. As for the report, it’s one writers opinion and a fair assessment. It’s half way and we’ll see where they stand in the end. I am betting ahead of the Stumps.

  7. pantsonfire // September 7, 2017 at 1:19 pm //

    Until proven otherwise, Stamps have pretty much been the best team since Hufnagel took over. Agree with DanoT that I don’t necessarily like it but can’t disagree. Criticize Calgary all you like & rave about the Riders but the best example I can give is in the past 7 years there have been 7 different teams winning the Grey Cup. Only Winnipeg & Hamilton have been blanked (Bombers year perhaps???). So, yeah, in recent history the best team in the CFL would be graded by the regular season record over that time because no one has strung together a couple of Cups. And that team is Calgary. The choke label is just white noise.

    • pants.. But like you said No one has strung a couple of cups in a row. The regular season is just a moot point… All they have proven is they are regular season warriors, that can’t win the big games in the playoffs. Realistically you could basically say 7 teams right now are pretty much on equal ground when it comes to playoffs/cups. At the end of the year are players more proud of how many wins they got in the regular season, or would they have traded those in for a grey cup? I bet that they would rather have the cup as opposed to 15 regular season wins.

      • white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 1:40 pm //

        It’s all a moot point in jan/feb…right now is very important. Teams are jockeying for playoff spots and the highest positions that award you with home games and byes. You don’t think teams what that first spot right now?..do you think teams are saying ” oh we’ll try to get 3rd”

        • Does it really matter horsie? How well did all of those home playoff games you lost work out for you? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure most teams would love to have a home playoff game…But As long as you make it into the playoffs, anything can happen. Shall we talk about last year?
          My point being that even though you have a great regular season, does equate to more cups? It sure isn’t working out for you guys.

          • white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 7:32 pm //

            We can talk about last year until the cows come home. It irrelevant to this season.
            Let’s talk strictly 2017 as of September 7. ..Would you not like to know you will be able to enjoy sitting at home relaxing watching 2 teams battle it out in wsf for the right to play your riders in your new stadium the next week?.. Of course you would. Guess what..you won’t. Guess what I probably will!
            That doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win. The riders certainly could come in and beat us in WF…but at this moment and the next 9 or so weeks we have the comfort and privilege and advantage that 7 other teams in this league would kill to have..that means nothing to you? You wouldn’t want to be in that position?

    • Since the inception of the CFL Salary cap in 2007 and Huffnagel taking over the Stamps in 2008. Sure Calgary has had the best regular season record. No doubt about it. But they are not the best team. Since the inception of the salary cap in 2007. The Stamps have won 2 Grey Cups. Even a roller Coaster team like the Riders have won it 2 times and so has Montreal since 2007. So that means the Stamps have choked 7 times in the playoffs. We can’t say 8 because this season is no where near from being finished.
      What matters the most in our tiny little league is how your team is playing going into the playoffs. So many times the team that gets the buy and watches the semi final. Then ends up having a well practised, confident, proud, jacked up team that has no care or respect for the team that got to sit the 1st round. They don’t care that they are going into the Western regular season Champions ball park. Usually the travelling team has enough fans in the stands to make it interesting.
      So I concede that Calgary has been the best Regular season Western CZfL team since 2007. I do not concede they are the best team period. Otherwise they would have many more Grey Cup wins.
      Speaking of Grey Cup rings. I read a good one today
      What do you call a Blue Bomber with a Grey Cup ring?
      A senior citizen. LOL Now that is funny.

      • 3rd and 1, you are so much more politically correct than myself. We make the same points as each other, I just come off more of a d*ck when I say them. But really horsie can say what he wants, but the reality is.. they have no more cups in a 10 year period than any other team right now. Regular season warriors.

  8. The Riders still have Chad Owens. When is Owens ready to play?

  9. greenrider89 // September 7, 2017 at 1:59 pm //

    I admit in all honesty (and actually agree with horsee), Calgary is the team to beat at this juncture of the CFL season. The Stampeders have basically been impressive since the season started and do at times look like world-beaters. But I also have been pleasantly surprised — as have many others — with the solid improvement of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the past three games, primarily on defense especially along the defensive line and defensive backfield. Boy, that defense looks fast and athletic. Kudos to Chris Jones for not giving up. There also has been considerable improvement on offense with the passing game and most importantly, the surprising running attack. Where did Cam Marshall come from? And what about the offensive line? They’ve been solid up front since Bruce Campbell was inserted at offensive tackle. Special teams has been one of the team’s most consistent phase of the Riders’ game this year. At this time, I won’t rule out the Calgary Stampeders as one of the best team’s in the league. But watch out for the green and white should they get by Winnipeg this weekend. This western division race in the CFL is shaping up to be one of the most interesting battles in several seasons.

  10. greenrider89 // September 7, 2017 at 2:05 pm //

    And I do agree with most of the mid-season awards mentioned by Joel Glasson. But I do believe it’s a toss-up at special teams. Tyler Crapigna has not hit on a game-winning field goal this season and has failed on previous pressure kicks earlier in the year. I agree with horsee (once again), Josh Bartel has performed admirably all season long. Until Crapigna makes the big kick, he’s not on my list.

    • That’s fair. It’s pretty wide open at this point. If they had one returner all year, I probably would have gone that route with how effective they’ve been in that regard.

      • Thanks, Joel, for the reply back and your reasoning. A special teams award winner is probably the hardest assumption to decide upon at this point of the CFL season. What an improvement, though, for Chris Jones’ Riders since he took over as head coach during the beginning of the 2016 season. It really looks like the Riders may be turning a corner and starting a new chapter in their history. Hopefully, the green and white can pull out another victory in Winnipeg this weekend.

  11. Stamps don’t have a fanbase that cares. One 44 year old close minded white guy barely counts.

    • white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 7:52 pm //

      From your handle I take it you are an Argo fan?.. if my assumption is true…I say…. are you really wanting to criticise anyone’s fan base?

  12. Crapinga good but cost the riders 2 early wins. Can win the award

  13. justforkicks // September 7, 2017 at 2:47 pm //

    Not sure how this turned into another Stamps article. I’ll have to re-read it I guess. Interesting evaluations. Agree that Crapigna while being solid has not yet been in another must make situation. Credit to the rest of the team for not putting him there. He did not win in previous situations but he did not lose the games either. Another team effort. Very happy to see Glenn with high rating. I honestly was against his re-hire and kept seeing those costly pressure interceptions he had become known for. He has won me over.

  14. What is going on, here? This was supposed to be an article about the Riders and Horse’s A** just took it over and made it a Stump’s article. Go Away, Horsie. We are tired of you!!!!!

  15. They love to talk about “plug and play” with the Stamps, but that doesn’t work for losing a star QB. With all the injuries Edmonton and Calgary have had, it’s very likely one or both will their QB eventually and that will be it for their season/seasons. Go Riders!

    • justforkicks // September 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm //

      Same could be said for our Riders. If Glenn goes down it looks like Adams will take over but so far all I’ve seen him do is look lost after the snap and then attempt a short run. Excluding goal-line attempts.

    • white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 7:59 pm //

      What?? Doesn’t Edmonton have Franklin?? The guy Rider fans can’t stop talking about leading you to the promise land??
      Calgary would miss Bo but might be beyter than some think.

      Riders have been lucky with injuries. You a are 1 ankle roll away from being at your limit on oline.

      • I wouldn’t consider ourselves so lucky. We did lose Cam Marshall recently for a part of the season. Hopefully, he returns in due time. But the loss of Marshall would be as if Calgary lost Jerome Messam. And we did have our fair share of injuries, and I believe, led the league for lost games the previous two seasons. But that’s football. No excuses for lost player games.

        • white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 8:34 pm //

          Truthfully…I think presently losing Messam would hurt more. He’s a key Canadian and considering oline injuries have forced us to play 3 imports on oline last few games Calgary would start to feel a little roster strain. We’d probably still win..but with a bead of sweat

    • dangnabbit // September 7, 2017 at 9:19 pm //

      It doesn’t work for losing a star QB? Of course it can. Drew Tate stepped in for Burris, Kevin Glenn took over for Tate, Bo Levi Mitchell picked up where Glenn left off, and from what we’ve seen so far, Andrew Buckley looks well-positioned to take the reins should injury strike Mitchell. Do any of those names count as stars?

      • white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 10:01 pm //

        They all know Buckley could emerge as the next star. They just don’t want to admit it Calgary’s domination will continue for years. Riders at best will be second fiddle.. Like the flames to the oilers in the mid 1980’s or Barney to Fred, Robin to Batman.

      • Did any of those people, until Mitchell, win Calgary any Grey Cups?

        • Burris in ’08

          • Exactly, another star QB… nobody between him an Mitchell, so why list off those others?

          • dangnabbit // September 8, 2017 at 1:30 am //

            I listed them to show that you can still overcome the loss of your star QB, contrary to your comment #82856.

            Tate wasn’t the star himself, but in 2014 he went 3-1 as a starter when Mitchell was hurt. The Stampeders didn’t miss a beat, going 15-3 and winning the Grey Cup. I wouldn’t say Tate “won Calgary the Grey Cup” but he’s the reason losing the star QB didn’t cost the Stampeders their division title in a highly competitive West division.

            Glenn ran the offence for most of 2012 and 2013, amassing a 20-8 record in that time. In 2012, he took Calgary to the Grey Cup final although they didn’t bring home the trophy. In 2013, he guided the Stampeders to first place in the West, but they lost in the divisional final to eventual Grey Cup winner Saskatchewan. Again, he’s not a star QB himself, but proof that Calgary’s plug-and-play system gives them a good chance even if they lose their star QB.

  16. Absolutely agree. Riders have problems if Glenn gets injured. Same with our OL – look how much better they are with Clark out. And he’s the best we got in case of injury there. I’m also interested to see how LaFrance does Never was sold on him. Marshall might be out awhile. Can agree with most of the choices except Crapigna & if Steele is 2nd best Nationsl we have, then we have a lot of very average talent there.

  17. Nobody but Reilly took a snap until the Riders game, Franklin might be alright but never gets any opportunities to play. Mitchell’s backup’s only go in for 3rd down. Bridge and Adams have both scored TD’s this year and are more experienced than Edmonton or Calgary’s backups. The point is, when players are getting injured on Edmonton and Calgary every game at every position, how long until it’s the QB’s?

  18. I think I get it now. A lot of stories on the Riders and Ticats on this site. Few about the Stamps. Their fans twist everything towards them to get some press. Sad.

  19. Anybody watching the Chiefs making a game of it. good game so far. Can the Pats do it again. Does Brady still have more in the tank.

    • white stallion in red // September 7, 2017 at 11:53 pm //

      Oats might lose. Slow start before they win 15 straight..The Calgary Stampeders south!

  20. Not a huge NFL guy but this is a pretty decent game.

  21. With Riders playing 11 straight games without a break to end the season chances are injuries will happen. You make it sound like because Edm &Cal have injuries, they’re bound to hit QB’s eventually. Apples & oranges. You could also say they’ve had their run of bad luck already. With Marshall, Demski & James out it may start to add up as they play every week down the stretch. Other West teams all still have a bye each.

  22. Might not be a bad thing if we’ve hit our stride and can keep the momentum going on Saturday. That will be a true test against a very good team – can we continue playing well with the likes of Marshall and Demski out ?? I am a bit concerned as when Marshall left the game we shyed away from the run game. I hope LeFrance can keep the ground game alive.

    • LaFrance and Morris are both pretty good and Moore is in all the time blocking, but has potential to run too… he had a nice long one earlier this season.

      • Also, with Marshall out LaFrance is Canadian. Demski was only starting at receiver because of ratio, now Holley can get back into the receiving core with a Canadian RB in.

        • white stallion in red // September 8, 2017 at 6:14 pm //

          Sean you just articulated perfectly the riders ratio problems.
          Canadian talent is so thin the Riders can’t dictate the circumstances of their ratio instead the circumstances dictate it for them

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