Chris Jones to blame for Riders tire fire of a performance against Alouettes

As it stands, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the worst team in the CFL and Chris Jones has no one to blame but himself.

After last week’s loss to the Ottawa Redblacks, I wrote the game off as a game where “stuff happens.” Over the course of 18 games, you’re going to put up stinkers from time-to-time. This week? Well, you certainly can’t say that. The Green and White not only had to win this game, they had to win running away. If you’re not pushing the panic button, you should at least be hovering over it.

Right now, this Riders team is fundamentally flawed with an offence that can’t produce and a defence that has potential but doesn’t have the right personnel – even their usually strong special teams are a mess.

While some of this mess is out of Jones’ control, some of the decisions he’s made of late have not worked out or simply make no sense.

We’ll start with the most obvious one: Duron Carter.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how the Riders need to let Carter do what he does best, which is play offence. Considering how these things work out, I fully expected to be proven wrong. At the very least, I thought Carter would end up being passable against another bad football team. Instead, you could argue keeping Carter on defence cost the Riders the game. Carter got beat like a rented mule all night, mostly by Chris Williams.

Carter should have been promptly removed from defence pretty early against Montreal. Here’s the thing, Jones couldn’t make the switch. He didn’t give himself a safety blanket as there was no other defensive backs dressed on the roster that could replace Carter. The only guy with a name behind him on the defensive depth chart in the secondary was at safety and Mike Edem or Marc Olivier Brouillette certainly cannot play corner either. But hey, at least there were eight linebackers and eight defensive linemen on the roster (nine if you include Eddie Steele, but he was actually the sixth offensive lineman.)

I’m not a professional football coach, but having someone else who could fill in for a guy who had a bad week last week at a position that isn’t his natural position probably would have been a good idea. But, what do I know?

One thing we know for sure, Jones has had less patience with other players who had rough nights, especially on defence.

We saw that on full display on Saturday night as well, but on offence, when Jones yanked quarterback Brandon Bridge at half-time in favour of rookie David Watford. A move that certainly had the press box and much of Mosaic Stadium buzzing.

To staunchly stand behind Carter at corner while giving your quarterback no leash is interesting, to say the least. By no means am I saying that Bridge was playing well and didn’t deserve some share of the blame for what happened but he also had little to no support. The offensive line continued to be a revolving door, essentially no one not named Naaman Roosevelt could get open or hang onto a football. Like they could use a dynamic receiver who makes circus catches look routine and help his inaccurate quarterbacks, if only there was another one on the roster somewhere. Nonetheless, Bridge was stapled to the bench in the second half.

Overall, the offence has scored just three touchdowns this year, no matter who the quarterback is, but it was Bridge who was more or less thrown under the bus.

Both quarterbacks completed roughly 45 per cent of their passes. Both threw for around 110 yards. Both threw two picks and their longest pass was 35 yards. They essentially had the same game.

Watford seemed to have the confidence and slightly more time to take off and run, but overall, it doesn’t seem to matter who the pivot is at this point. The offence is broken and has been broken for some time.

The only Rider who had a good night was kicker Brett Lauther who connected on all three of his field goal attempts. Long snapper Jorgen Hus didn’t sail one.

Other than that, the Regina Leader-Post’s Rob Vanstone was on fire on Twitter. I got nothing else.

There’s no question that this is rock bottom for the Riders. The good news is in football it’s not about where you start but where you finish. With one hell of a stretch against good teams coming up, this team is going to have to figure it out fast.

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