Jury still out on Fajardo, Riders after Stampeders shellackin’

The Saturday night Stampede on Elphinstone brought Rider Nation back down to earth.

There’s no shame in taking the defending Grey Cup champs to the late stages of the third quarter with the game still within a touchdown, but the 37-10 Saskatchewan Roughriders loss to the Calgary Stampeders has set the green and white back to square one.

The good will generated from the 73 points put up over backup quarterback Cody Fajardo’s first two games has disintegrated somewhat with a Week 4 performance that resulted in a grand total of 89 yards passing, two interceptions, no touchdowns and just 10 points despite some great help from the Rider defence and special teams.

Although the Rider ‘D’ will certainly take some of the blame for falling apart late, it was the Rider signal caller and his offensive crew that couldn’t get anything going long enough to give a gassed defensive unit any kind of a break.

A symphony which sounded so in tune over Weeks 2 and 3, looked more on Saturday like an orchestra out of sync from its conductor.

It would be easy to blame this all on Calgary’s stellar defensive track record over the years.

But unfortunately the loss of defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks and stud linebacker Alex Singleton from last season along with a couple of medicore 32-point-per-game showings surrendered by this crew flushes any of those excuses down the drain.

Even the enthusiastic broadcasters on Rider Radio 620 CKRM in Regina, Derek Taylor and Luc Mullinder, struggled to translate Saturday night’s letdown into any real on-air excitement.

It sounded like a real ‘There is no joy in Mudville’ kind of night to be at the park.

And the B.C. Lions win in Toronto to keep pace with the Riders for fourth place in the uber competitive West makes the noose feel just that much tighter for Rider fans.

If the Roughriders can’t compete with the horsepower when Bo Levi Mitchell is on the shelf, then how on earth can fans from the ‘306’ expect to give the Stamps a run for their money when Bo comes back?

It’s a real conundrum staring down the team and its eager fan base heading into their first bye week of the season.

The CFL schedule is a marathon and not a sprint but teams generally do break it down into three six-game segments.

Lucky for the Riders, they’ll have two full weeks to prepare for their home-and-home with the B.C. Lions that will almost certainly put one team in a playoff position and drop the other to the West Division basement and to the outside of the playoff picture, looking in.

By then, we should all have a pretty clear picture of what this team’s identity is or even if it has one.

Unfortunately for the nice crowd on hand at Mosaic Stadium Saturday night and the hundreds of thousands more who donated part of their summer weekend to watch it on TSN, the loss has left more questions than answers about the Roughriders quarterbacking situation.

This jury still has plenty of deliberating to do before reaching a verdict on Cody Fajardo or the 2019 Saskatchewan Roughriders.

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