Buckle up, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have created a mess for themselves following their second straight loss to the Calgary Stampeders.
While this game wasn’t officially a must-win, it certainly felt like it given the Riders’ recent lack of success against Calgary and the possibility of the West getting even tighter.
Under Craig Dickenson, Jeremy O’Day, and Cody Fajardo, the Green and White are now 0-4 against the Stamps. This week’s loss drops the Riders to 5-4 on the season, they’ve now lost the season series to Calgary and have just a two-point lead over B.C. and Calgary for second place in the West.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb from Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium.
The offence remains the single biggest problem for the green and white.
Once again this week, Fajardo and the offence couldn’t connect on an explosive play. Even when it looked like Fajardo had found Brayden Lenius in the corner of the end zone, his heel came down out of bounds. A moment that could have turned the game, instead it was another kick.
Angst is definitely rising in Rider Nation, especially toward this woeful offence. Whether it’s Fajardo missing throws, receivers dropping balls, offensive coordinator Jason Maas’ calls, there’s one thing that stood out the most against Calgary and really could be the root of all their problems — the offensive line.
At the start of the season, a completely remade offensive line looked solid but clearly, teams have adjusted to the quick passing game. Now, the unit is a problem. There were numerous times on Saturday night where Calgary’s defensive front was through the line essentially at the snap. I don’t care who your quarterback, receiver or offensive coordinator is, odds are you won’t be successful when that happens.
Despite all of that, the Riders had a shot but just couldn’t get the big play they needed from the offence.
I would have liked to have seen Dickenson go for it late in the game on some third and short situations as well. Punting with a minute left in a tied game when your opponent has one of the best kickers in the history of the CFL generally doesn’t work out — play to win.
Coming into this game I was pretty confident that the Riders were the better team, now I’m not so sure. Maybe they are but the Riders just aren’t as good compared to the rest of the league — outside of Winnipeg — as we thought they were.
It’s hard to pick out anything really good for the Riders on this night but the defence was pretty good overall.
The Riders had some issues with coverage on crossing routes and Stampeders running back Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 109 yards but other than some busted coverage on the very first play of the game, the unit bent but didn’t break.
You pretty much can’t lay any of the blame on the defence, if anything they gave them a real chance to win.
Defensive back Nick Marshall picked up his third interception of the year and safety Loucheiz Purifoy added another late in the game. A few more points off said turnovers would have made a huge difference.
Overall, it was a pretty normal football game, unfortunately.
The excitement level certainly wasn’t really there, as it hasn’t been for much of the CFL season. We didn’t even get a wild finish to help save the game to some degree. It would have been hard to live up to Oklahoma versus Texas and Ole Miss versus Arkansas earlier in the day in the NCAA. Those games combined for 2,465 yards and 206 points, which feels like a weeks worth of offence in the CFL this year. So, perhaps my excitement level judgement is a bit clouded.
The fans did try to create their own fun at one point, which is fine, but stop starting the wave while the team is on offence.
Anyway, enough about that.
Riders kicker Brett Lauther, who has now made 12 straight kicks, also added two tackles to his stat line this week. At one point in the game, he was tied for second on the team in total tackles. A fun stat, but one I’m sure the coaching staff would prefer not to be required.
Calgary had the most interesting play of the game when Bo Levi Mitchell handed off to Colton Hunchak who then completed a left-handed pass to Josh Huff for 36 yards. It’s interesting to see the Stamps have to dip into those bags of tricks, but that’s the kind of year it’s been for them.