Gasson: Offensive offence ends Riders winning streak

It was only a matter of time before the Saskatchewan Roughriders offence was asked to bail out their defence that has won them basically all of their games this year.

It didn’t happen. Not even close.

Instead, Zach Collaros probably had his worst performance as a Rider and perhaps one of his worst statistical games as a quarterback in the CFL. A late, penalty aided, touchdown drive made the score look respectable, but basically all night, the Riders offence was merely a myth.

Collaros’ closing stat line: 10-of-27, 37 per cent, 162 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions – 162 yards is probably even flattering.

Beyond just the numbers, it was clear that Collaros doesn’t currently possess the arm strength to go downfield. His long balls rarely reached their target, and struggle to do so even with a decent wind at his back. Even some of his shorter passes were less than accurate.

Was it just a bad game or a sign of something else? If you’re a Rider fan, you hope it’s just a bad day at the office.

As bad as Collaros was, he wasn’t alone. Shaq Evans probably couldn’t receive a handoff, let alone make a catch. The play calling continues to be baffling, the run game wasn’t really helpful, and head coach Chris Jones even made some head-scratching decisions (more on that in a bit.)

It was another night where a unit that wasn’t the offence put two touchdowns on the board. The defence didn’t have their best night, but it’s hard to put the blame on them after everything they’ve done for this team this year. You also know that they’ll bounce back next week.

This was the offence’s chance to show it can bail out the defence. They couldn’t do it. Will they ever?

Game Thoughts

There was a couple of interesting, shall we say, decisions from Chris Jones in this one. In the third quarter, the Riders were able to keep the Redblacks pinned at their goalline eventually leading to a conceded safety. After the safety, Jones opted to have his team take over at their own 35-yard line instead of having the Redblacks kick-off. It’s not like they had returned two kicks for touchdowns in this game or anything. It’s not like offence had done precisely nothing to date.

Jones also made a clock management error late in the game. After the defence forced a punt with 1:38 to go, inexplicably Jones didn’t call timeout. As far as I know, he didn’t call one earlier after the three-minute warning. So, some 20 seconds ran off the clock. It was rendered moot by Collaros throwing an interception on the first play of the drive anyway.

Would there have been some value to putting Brandon Bridge in for a play and just letting him air it out? He’s got the arm strength to do it. It couldn’t have gone any worse.

Full marks to the special teams units who were easily the Riders best group against Ottawa. Returning the opening kick off should set the tone for the night. Adding a punt return in the third quarter should have been enough to seal the deal. The Riders now have 12 touchdowns from their defence and special teams this year, just a few behind the offence.

There’s obviously something in Ottawa’s system that gives the Riders fits. They’ve put up 70 points on the green and white in two games.

Just how bad was the night for the offence? There’s an in-stadium promotion where a fan wins $185 when the team reaches 185 yards of offence. That happened part way through the fourth quarter. The groan of displeasure from the sold-out crowd when it was cheerfully announced was outstanding.

Once again this year, just when you think you have the CFL figured out, everything goes haywire.

The highlight of the evening was definitely half-time, and it might have been no matter how the game went. It was time for the annual wiener dog race. Three races featuring three different condiment named teams with team mustard ultimately coming out on top. This should end the debate once and for all, mustard is THE hot dog condiment.

Finally, props to the lovers of local beer who once again sold-out this week’s selection of Saskatchewan suds at the stadium. Keep voting with your wallets.

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