Who are the Saskatchewan Roughriders? It’s a legitimate question that still needs an answer at this point and we’ll probably be getting an answer over the next six weeks.
When the season opened, 3DownNation’s Darrell Davis seemed pretty bullish on the Riders considering their run of Eastern opponents to begin the new campaign. Given how the West has generally played against the East, his opinion wasn’t too far out there. Whether it would actually happen or not was another question.
As it turned out, it didn’t. That said, the Riders first five games, though a rollercoaster, has them sitting in a pretty decent spot. Their 3-2 record isn’t as good as it could be but more importantly, they haven’t fallen out of the race for a home playoff game and perhaps even first in the West should they catch a few breaks and take care of business. Pre-Labour Day that’s really all you can ask for. Like in golf where you can’t win a tournament before the weekend, you certainly can lose it. We’ve seen plenty of teams have an awful first couple of months effectively ending their season.
As it stands right now, everything is still on the table in Saskatchewan.
So, where will this go? If I was a betting man, I’d say the Riders should continue to improve as the season goes along. That’s basically been their m-o under head coach Chris Jones. Jones’ teams in Edmonton were very much the same. For Jones, and in football in general, it’s not about where you start, it’s where you finish. The season is a process and it’s about building toward something, even if you win every game along the way.
Of course, this is still the CFL and anything is possible.
What I can say with certainty is the Riders are about to open the most important part of their schedule. Over the next month and a half, they will play every single team in their division including two against Calgary and Winnipeg, currently the best and one of the better teams in the league. The only “break” so to speak is a game against B.C. but that game is on the road and that trip is never easy. This is also a team that lost to Montreal, so you never know.
If there’s another thing I know about Jones’ teams, they tend to rise to the occasion when the going gets tough in their schedule. They were the team that ended the Stampeders long home winning streak last season.
Their critics will write them off, their supporters will say the best is yet to come. No matter what the answer is, we’ll probably have it by mid-September.