There’s panic in Rider Nation following the Bombers 33-9 beatdown of the Riders in the 2021 Banjo Bowl at IG Field.
But, should there be? We’ll get into that and more.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ second straight loss.
Yes, we’ll start with the bad as that’s the focus in a blowout.
For the third straight game against the Bombers, the Riders were unable to score a touchdown. Captain obvious here, but that’s not going to win you many football games.
This is a troubling stat on a couple of fronts for the Green and White. They haven’t scored a touchdown against the Bombers since October 2019. And they haven’t scored a major since Cody Fajardo ran for a touchdown at the eight-minute mark of the third quarter against the Ottawa Redblacks.
Even worse? The offence hasn’t completed a touchdown pass in even longer. That came late in the first half against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during their Week 2 match-up.
In that time, the defence has done everything they can, especially against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to keep the team in it. At the end of the day though, it’s a team sport and the defence and special teams are going to need consistent support from their offence in order to succeed.
The Riders were again their own worst enemy with 16 penalties totalling 143 yards. This is a serious issue for the team that isn’t going away — something needs to be done.
In fairness, the Blue Bombers defence deserves a bunch of credit. They’ve held opponents below 10 points four times this season. Only once has someone scored more than 20.
Yes, despite the score, unlike last week’s post-game column, I do believe there was some good.
You can basically throw out the second half of this game once the Riders were without two more starters on defence, after beginning the game down two important starters before the game even started, and they lost Fajardo, it was more about survival than actually winning.
The first half, though? It wasn’t terrible.
The Riders did actually show some progress from last week. They were actually able to move the ball down the field with some success. They just couldn’t finish, as we talked about.
Fajardo did get a little more time to throw, the receivers did make a few plays and they clearly adjusted the game plan to include running back William Powell as the tailback rushed for 88 yards on 18 carries.
Receivers Kyran Moore and Kian Schaffer-Baker were both good. Schaffer-Baker especially made some big grabs to keep drives alive playing in place of Jordan Williams-Lambert. That’s two impressive performances from the former Guelph Gryphon. He’s earned a spot in the starting line-up as far as I’m concerned.
Overall, I think the Riders chances at first in the West are all but over, although they’re still definitely in the mix for a home playoff game. Right now, they’re part of a group that includes every team in the league except Winnipeg (the best) and Ottawa (the worst.)
The good news for the Riders, they don’t have to play Winnipeg the rest of the season. No one else is the Bombers, especially on defence. They should be OK, if they’re not, then it might be time to panic.
They will have to figure out Winnipeg to win the big prize, though.
Also, no one hit the goal post today.
What’s with these teams and the end of the first half?
Once again this week things went off the rails before both went for the mid-game break. This time in the form of a brawl. All that was missing was someone smashing a banjo over someone’s head.
It was a real doozy.
It led to two ejections, both of them on the Riders. Defensive lineman Garret Marino and defensive back AJ Hendy both got the hook — rightly — however, no Bomber did. That’s despite the fact that Andrew Harris ripped off defensive back Christian Campbell’s helmet quite violently, throwing him to the ground in the process.
Perhaps by the book, he shouldn’t be ejected since a punch is usually the line, but it certainly feels like he should have been and that’s something that should change.
On the fun side, Bombers receiver Drew Wolitarsky made a dumb catch after falling down as Zach Collaros was under pressure. It basically just landed on him and he made it anyway.
It’s been a year of change at TSN too following the departure of Chris Cuthbert to Sportsnet.
It’s felt like TSN has left the door wide for all of their play-by-play guys this year to take the reigns. No one is working exclusively with Glen Suitor or Duane Forde.
I do think that Dustin Nielson has to be leading the pack right now. I haven’t been keeping track but it feels like he’s called the most games and it shows. His call is fun and energetic, bringing a certain something to the game the others haven’t.
If I had my way, it would be Nielson and Forde calling the Grey Cup in November at this point.