‘They’re going to be watching somebody else playing the Grey Cup in their building’: Jeff Reinebold believes Riders’ veterans must own penalty issues

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

Had he not resigned from his post as Montreal Alouettes’ special teams coordinator ahead of the 2022 season, Jeff Reinebold might have been on the sidelines for the team’s 37-13 dismantling of the Saskatchewan Roughriders this week.

Now that he’s an unbiased observer, the long-time CFL coach didn’t hold back when asked about his would-be opponents on The Rod Pedersen Show on Friday.

“Saskatchewan walked into a buzzsaw. It started on the opening kickoff and it got worse from there. It was awful exhibition football by Saskatchewan,” Reinebold said. “Saskatchewan’s a good football team but this football team has got to figure out what they’re doing with the penalty thing, or they’re going to be watching somebody else playing the Grey Cup in their building.”

Flags were already a hot topic of discussion in Rider Nation after the team committed 23 infractions for 219 yards through the first two games of the season. Head coach Craig Dickenson was forced to talk extensively about the issue throughout the week, but the warnings fell on deaf ears.

“They went out and had 11 penalties again last night after Dickie had talked in the media about not taking penalties, not being the guy that hurts our team,” Reinebold marvelled. “And how did his team listen to the message? They went out and had 11 for 106 yards.”

Saskatchewan is the most penalized team by far this season and that will have to change quickly as they play under the intense microscope of being the 2022 Grey Cup hosts. Dickenson can speak about the issue until he is red in the face but according to Reinebold, the responsibility for enacting change lies elsewhere.

“There’s really just a limited amount of things you can do [as a coach]. You can sit a guy, that’s one way to get after them. It’s difficult to fine them because the player’s association is going to appeal those fines. It’s got to come down to the character of the guys that you’ve got in your room and your leadership,” he stressed.

“Whoever the leaders are on that football team, they’ve got to have one of those come-to-Jesus meetings. Whether they do it in private or how they do it, it doesn’t matter. But it has to be done.”

Should the Riders’ veteran players not step forward and take ownership, the consequence will be a failure to live up to the lofty expectations that come with a chance to win it all at Mosaic Stadium.

“You look around in the West — where you’re going to have to win to get to the Grey Cup, to have a chance to play in your building — you’ve got a Calgary team that’s disciplined and knows how to win and you’ve got a Winnipeg team that’s one of the least penalized teams in the Canadian Football League,” Reinebold explained.

“You’ve got to get through those two teams. You got to out-discipline those two teams. You’re good enough, Saskatchewan, to go to the Grey Cup, but you’re not good enough if you allow the guys in the striped shirts to be a factor in the game.”

The Riders have nine days before a rematch with Montreal to get themselves sorted out, otherwise, the chance for a storybook season will slip away.

“They have to get that message and it has to come from inside, because apparently, right now, they’re not listening to their head coach,” Reinebold emphasized.