The Saskatchewan Roughriders are heading into the playoffs on a losing note following a 28-13 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium.
The loss on it’s own isn’t that big of a deal, but how they lost is should set off a few alarm bells around Saskatchewan as many of the problems we’ve seen at various points this season seemed to show themselves in one game against the hottest team in the league at the moment.
Once again, the Riders got off to a slow start offensively. Kevin Glenn proved once again that when the pressure is turned up and he’s under siege, there isn’t much he can do. These struggles have been clear for the last number of weeks as Glenn has been relieved by Brandon Bridge more of then than not. It begs the question, should the Riders just skip the middle man and start Bridge next week in Ottawa? It’s a tough call. On one hand, the game plan on Glenn seems pretty sure and pretty effective at this point. With the injury to Brendon LaBatte not looking good, that adds another wrinkle for a team that’s struggled to protect their pivot of late. At the same time, Glen Suitor on the TSN broadcast brought up a good point that naming Glenn the starter, as Jones did once again after the game, takes all the pressure off Bridge for the week and allows him to come in with a clear mind. The only problem is, if the team is down double digits in a playoff game, it might already be too late.
Other than a brief spurt when Bridge came in, the Riders also lacked the big play. The Eskimos certainly deserve a lot of credit for how they played defensively but Bridge did overthrow a couple of guys down field. It is time to end the Duron Carter on defence experiment and get him back to doing what he does best? Making big plays for the offence? I think so.
We’ve also become accustomed lately to seeing big plays from the defence and special teams as well. Those dried up against Edmonton. Simply put, this team needs their defence and special teams to be the difference maker in order to have a chance. Big plays can be the difference between winning and losing in the post-season. Compounding the problem is the fact that the Riders gave up big plays on all three sides of the ball, something we haven’t seen in a number of weeks.
Finally, let’s talk discipline. The Riders were flagged 11 times for 124 yards on Saturday night, a number that will simply kill you in the playoffs. The number is alarming but the types of penalties were worse. As a team, the Riders took far too many needless penalties such as unnecessary roughness. Few of the penalties were drive extenders, but discipline matters and if you’re getting caught at other times, odds are it could slip at an inopportune time.
While one game doesn’t define a season, what we saw on Saturday was the worst of the Riders showing up in one game. Any one of these issues could sink them next week, so now’s the time to get it right.