The good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders’ preseason loss to Winnipeg

Photo courtesy: CFL

Well, that was a thing that happened.

After being delayed thanks to collective bargaining issues between the CFL and CFLPA, the Riders and Bombers finally played their preseason game that was supposed to be played last week.

It wasn’t pretty — not even by preseason standards.

But as always, the preseason isn’t about the scoreboard — it’s about the film. I’m glad I’m not a coach because re-watching that film won’t be a fun task. It was a slow, dreadfully unentertaining game until the fourth quarter. The Bombers were marginally better as it was their second game of the preseason but not by much.

So, without further adieu, here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ 25-16 loss to the Bombers.

The Good

One place the Riders are looking for someone to step up is at Canadian receiver with Brayden Lenius now with the Atlanta Falcons.

Not surprisingly, as one of the few returning veterans that played against the Bombers on Tuesday night, Kian Schaffer-Baker showed some signs of taking another step forward this season. He was an important contributor at times in 2021 and made a few plays early on Tuesday night, picking up 28 yards over two catches before quickly being removed from the game.

The other big question on offence is who will take over for running back William Powell, who was the undisputed workhorse in 2019 and 2021. If Tuesday night is any indication, then the Riders might not have a true number one running back, but that might be OK.

Jamal Morrow and Frankie Hickson both looked solid, especially Hickson who was playing his first football game in three years. Hickson rushed six times for 47 yards and added a few important blocks along the way.

The Jason Maas offence is unlikely to produce the league’s leading rusher, but Morrow and Hickson feel like they could both contribute to the offence.

The Bad

There has to be some concern about the Riders’ depth after this game, especially at quarterback. Mason Fine and Jake Dolegala looked shaky with neither appearing ready to be the quarterback in waiting should something happen to starting pivot Cody Fajardo.

If I had to pick someone to be Fajardo’s backup following this game, it would probably be Dolegala who looked a little sharper and made a few more difficult throws. Admittedly, Fine made a nice touchdown throw to Jester Weah in the fourth quarter.

Both should see more time Friday night in Vancouver and I’m interested to see them in action. The same is true for Troy Williams, who wasn’t much better or worse than either of his fellow quarterbacks.

Overall, you could tell this game featured very few starters, but if you were coaching the green and white, you would have hoped that a few more guys might have stood out.

Some old concerns from last season once again showed up on Tuesday night as the Bombers rushed for 194 yards as a team and the Riders lined up offside twice in short-yardage situations. At least neither offside call was on the goal line.

The Dumb 

In what is hopefully a sign of things to come on TSN, the most fun moment of the night actually came from play-by-play man Dustin Neilson.

If you’ve watched or listened to enough NFL or NBA coverage out of the United States, you know the name Kevin Harlan. He’s personally one of my favourite play-by-play guys in all of sports.

Harlan is famous for having fun, especially when it comes to his NBA on TNT work, where they famously like to run things a little looser. Harlan has created some of his best moments coming off reading a liner, which is usually a paid ad read by the announcer or some kind of network promotional material.

In this case, Neilson had to read a liner promoting the new season of Masterchef on CTV. He did a great job making fun of himself, suggesting he might win if the competition involved nothing but making scrambled eggs.

Little does Neilson know that chefs are often tested on their ability to make the simplest of eggs and good scrambled eggs aren’t that easy to make.

Regardless, good natural fun is needed on the CFL on TSN. More of this, please.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.