It was back to school this week but it appears the Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t learn much.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this year’s Banjo Bowl: the Riders were awful and completely deserving of the beat down they took at the hands of the Bombers.
As weird as it sounds, losing isn’t even the worst part. The Riders had won six games in a row, so basic math and common sense would suggest that they were going to lose a game sooner rather than later.
The fact that it came against the Bombers in this game isn’t all that surprising either.
It’s how they lost that’s the most frustrating part.
They were once again an undisciplined mess in just about every way you could imagine, especially in the first half. Once again the Riders took over 70 yards in penalties, a number that probably would have been much higher had the game remained close in the second half.
Early on they were especially good at keeping Winnipeg’s offence on the field. To put it nicely, they struggled to tackle and they looked unprepared defensively at times.
If these issues had suddenly appeared in this game, they could be brushed aside as a bad game, but penalties and tackling were a problem last week at Mosaic Stadium. Penalties were an issue the week before that against Ottawa too.
They got away with it over the last couple of games. They didn’t against a determined Bombers team.
Overall, it feels like the Riders lack of discipline, especially on defence, could go either way. Maybe getting their butts whipped will be the wake up call they need in order to get the house back in order. It’s a lot easier to take your flaws seriously in defeat than in victory.
If this isn’t the wake up call, then something more drastic needs to be done.
This game won’t help the Riders silence their critics. They should have beat a team as beaten up as Winnipeg, at the very least it should have been a competitive game. Instead, the game was over in pretty short order.
A loss was going to happen, another bad one was likely going to happen at some point. This game won’t define their season, but where they go from here will.
Odds and ends
– The TSN turning point came very early in this game. The Riders had the Bombers at their three-yard line after a sack to open the game. They had Streveler on the ropes again but then he got away for a first down and a drive that ate up most of the first quarter followed.
What would have happened had the Riders made the stop there? We’ll never know.
– I understand that a defence has to have an attitude but there’s a fine line. We saw some stuff that left me shaking my head.
Ed Gainey got in the grill of a Bomber early in the game on a play that would have been a long first down if Matt Nichols was at quarterback and then there was whatever that was toward Mike O’Shea late in a blowout. Was the challenge necessary? Probably not, but c’mon man. It was obviously a frustrating night for the group, but you still have to keep your emotions in check.
– I thought Craig Dickenson should have challenged a potential pass interference call late in the first half. I’m not sure if he would have won, but given what was going on at that point, it was worth a shot to try and get something going for your team.
– I think it’s safe to say the offensive staff over thought it at times. They had a number of second down plays with manageable distances and didn’t get much out of it thanks to some curious decisions.
– Can an offensive coordinator be named coach of the year? Asking for Paul LaPolice. What he’s been able to do without so many weapons is astonishing.
– I heard Jamie Nye of the Green Zone on the Postmedia Rider Rumblings podcast this week with Rob Vanstone and Murray McCormick talking about the CFL on TSN triple headers. He wasn’t a fan. He’d rather see two games on at once, so if one is a blowout CFL fans can switch to another CFL game. It actually makes a lot of sense, but if the Banjo Bowl was on at the same time as the Ottawa and Toronto game, we’d still be hooped.
The timing of half time worked out at least so we could all watch Bianca Andreescu win the US Open.
– As bad as this game was, the last time the Riders entered this game on an extended winning streak they lost their starting quarterback for the season and their season effectively ended. So, it wasn’t that bad at least.