The good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders’ 26-16 win over Edmonton

Photo: Paul Swanson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

It wasn’t pretty but at the end of the day, they don’t ask how you win.

Well, I guess we do… Nevertheless, a win is a win as the Riders improved to 2-0 thanks to a 26-16 victory over the Edmonton Elks.

There isn’t much else to say about it overall, so here’s the good, bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ second game of the season.

The Good

While the Riders’ offence didn’t light the world on fire or take over the game late like last week against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, they got enough out of the unit to overcome a number of blown-off toes — more on that in a bit.

What was extremely promising for the Green and White was the sudden emergence of the run game. Running back Jamal Morrow had his coming-out party against the Elks, rushing for 126 yards individually as the Riders racked up 186 yards on the ground as a team.

Last week, the Riders rushed for just 76 yards but 42 of those yards came from quarterback Cody Fajardo, the team’s leading rusher in the game. While running is certainly a part of Fajardo’s game, it’s never great when he’s the team’s workhorse ball carrier.

Obviously, that changed against the Elks. Chris Jones’ unit struggled to contain the run and, for the most part, offensive coordinator Jason Maas — who isn’t always run happy — stuck with it. For that, he deserves credit.

The Riders were so committed to the run on this night that they went old school and it warmed this fullback-loving writer’s heart.

Late in the second quarter, Maas fielded a package with dual fullbacks James Tuck and Albert Awachie and brought back the power or super I. It led to the Riders’ first major of the game.

You love to see it.

The Bad

While the Riders got the win and will take it, there’s certainly plenty to work on.

Saturday night was basically a master class on how to keep a team you should beat in the game and continually give them hope. A turnover led to an Elks touchdown and the flags were flying all night.

Far too many times the Riders took penalties at bad times, killing promising drives. They ultimately got away with it but against a better opponent, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

In total, the Riders were flagged nine times for 85 yards. Many of them were of the misconduct variety, including a pair by linebacker Derrick Moncrief which led to his ejection.

This isn’t a new problem for the Riders. Last year, discipline was an issue for the team as well. Last week against Hamilton, it seemed like the team had it under control, but not anymore. Head coach Craig Dickenson needs to get tough on his group before it spins out of control, as it did at times in 2021.

Were some of the calls bad? Yes, because — as I’ve said many times before — Al Bradbury is the ref you think Andre Proulx is. However, especially in the case of the misconduct calls, whether you like the rule or not — I don’t — players need to be aware and act accordingly. Otherwise, it could come back to haunt you at the wrong time.

The Dumb

Not a lot of fun, dumb stuff really happened in this game but there was one actual dumb thing that just needs to stop.

This is an open letter to the CFL on TSN.

Enough with the in-game interviews already.

Yes, we all want to hear from Elks’ president Victor Cui during the team’s home opener, no doubt about it. He’s done wonderful work during his first few months on the job. He’s a great story that needs to be told and he needs a bigger platform, as I feel he could be an agent for change league-wide.

However, we don’t need him in the booth for a third of a quarter.

Let the game be the game. I don’t know anyone that enjoys these long, seemingly never-ending in-game interviews. The Hall of Fame game earlier in the day featured a number of shorter interviews that didn’t interrupt the flow of the game quite so badly. The one big one that happened during play featured Henry Burris, who could probably be a good colour analyst so it wasn’t as bad.

Every time these interviews happen, something big tends to occur on the field as well. In this case, it was an incredible interception by Moncrief. A moment that lost some of its magic because of the ongoing interview.

Do these interviews at the half or any other time that isn’t the game. Please. I’m begging you.

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