The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ comedy show has only two weeks remaining, with performances scheduled for Calgary and Montreal.
The CFL team will no longer inflict torture on its hometown crowds because they ended their Mosaic Stadium run on Saturday, when the Roughriders blew a 21-3 lead and lost 35-24 to the visiting Edmonton Eskimos. The Roughriders are now 2-14 as they seek new actors, a producer and director for next season’s show.
The funniest play of this hysterical season — perhaps in Riders history — occurred during the second quarter of Saturday’s game. It has justifiably gone viral (http://vine.co/v/eV0DeKHwT9x ) and made a reluctant star out of rookie defensive back Junior Mertile, Number 29 on your program, who meekly shied away from tackling Eskimos slotback Adarius Bowman while another first-year defensive back, Tyree Hollins, tried grabbing the football rather than his opponent. Bowman’s 50-yard touchdown pulled Edmonton within 21-17. Edmonton led 24-17 at halftime while the Riders played musical quarterbacks, inexplicably alternating understudy Keith Price with new headliner Brett Smith.
With Bob Dyce as Saskatchewan’s interim coach — since head coach Corey Chamblin and general manager Brendan Taman were fired nine games into this season — the Roughriders haven’t shown any improvement.
How could they improve? Nobody knows who is in charge of this farce.
Craig Reynolds, the team’s first-year president/CEO, has left the squad in limbo while he decides who is going to run the on-field production. There really isn’t any decision to be made. This franchise likes promoting from within, which explains why Reynolds assumed his post after the departure of Jim Hopson.
Assistant general manager Jeremy O’Day became the interim GM upon Taman’s departure. O’Day has made several moves and shown he has a vision for the team, but until Reynolds annoints him as the fulltime GM the Riders will remain a joke.
O’Day needs to hire a head coach. The best candidate is Paul LaPolice, a former Riders offensive co-ordinator who now hosts “Coach’s Playbook’’ on TSN telecasts. LaPolice was a good head coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, except his talents were submarined by an inept general manager, Joe Mack.
Put O’Day in charge. Hire LaPolice to direct the show. LaPolice can hire Richie Hall, a long-time Riders assistant who will likely be out of work following the Blue Bombers’ season, to revive Saskatchewan’s defence.
That’s the real issue with the Roughriders: the defence. The Roughriders have allowed 497 points in 16 games. Edmonton, the league’s stingiest team, has allowed 178 fewer points (and the Eskimos have played one fewer game). That’s not funny. It’s a horror show. Or maybe a tragedy.