The good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders’ 41-20 win over Montreal

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

When all is said and done this season, a Week 4 match-up against the Montreal Alouettes probably won’t go down as the turning point or even one of the most important games of the year.

However, all of that said, it was still an important game for the Green and White.

The win not only keeps them in the thick of things in an ultra-competitive West Division but also provided some much-needed relief following a tough loss on a short week in Montreal.

The win doesn’t necessarily say much for the rest of the season, but a loss certainly would have been a big red flag.

A little late but better than never, here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ third win of the season.

The Good

Perhaps for the first time since Jason Maas was hired to be the team’s offensive coordinator, we’re starting to see an identity for this team on offence.

They are not explosive nor are they high flying but they certainly play heavy football. It’s not always the most exciting thing in the world to watch, except for beautiful power I formations, of course, but when it results in wins the team and the fans won’t care.

Running back Jamal Morrow is quickly showing why the team was comfortable letting veteran running back William Powell return to the Ottawa Redblacks. As good and reliable as Powell was during his run with the Riders, Morrow is quicker, sneakier, and a little more explosive in both the run game and through the air.

All in all, Morrow rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this year, adding 14 more yards through the air.

As the team continues to adjust to life without centre Dan Clark, relying on the ground game remains one of the best ways to get an offensive line into games and help out with protection. We saw quarterback Cody Fajardo dealing with early pressure quite often again against Montreal — especially in the first half. As the ground game established itself in the second half, Fajardo was under far less stress and it helped the Riders pull away from Montreal.

With injuries piling up in the receiving group, it was smart of general manager Jeremy O’Day to go out after the game and acquire returner Mario Alford from the Alouettes, which should hopefully reduce Morrow’s load on special teams.

I have my questions about the offence still. Most notably, do they have the ability to mount a comeback when it matters most? The explosiveness isn’t there yet and they definitely struggle when they get off schedule on a drive, but at least we have some sort of blueprint for them to succeed.

The Bad

If this were Twitter, I’d be inserting the “here we go again” meme from the Grand Theft Auto series here.

In a completely expected twist, a game officiated by Al Bradbury featured 28 accepted penalties for a combined 260 yards by both teams.

I’ve certainly had a lot to say about Bradbury’s crew over the years and how flag happy they are, but honestly, in this case, it’s pretty hard to even blame the stripes for the number of infractions that bogged down this game at times.

Yes, there were still some borderline calls that probably didn’t need to be made, but for the most part, the flags were pretty well earned by both sides.

The Riders came into the game as the most penalized team in the league and adding another 155 yards in infractions certainly won’t help their cause.

During the game, TSN colour analyst Glen Suitor quoted receiver Shaq Evans who said it’s up to the players to get their house in order. While he’s certainly right, I think we’re beyond the point where Dickenson needs to send a message about it on the field as this has been a problem for his team dating back to the start of last season.

In what’s looking like a four team race in the West with an improving and competitive Elks team in the mix, it’s going to be small things that make a difference and the wrong penalty at the wrong time could be it for this team.

The Dumb

We all got the joy of experiencing a uniquely Canadian — and severely underused — football moment in this one.

On the second play of the fourth quarter, the Riders dialed up the criminally underused onside field goal attempt and it’s always beautiful.

Should Dickenson have lined up the offence at the Montreal 35? Probably. Traditionally, that would be more my thought process. Even actually kicking the field goal would have given the Riders a 22-point lead, and any time you can increase your lead to three touchdowns, that’s never a bad thing.

That said, we embrace the dumb and the fun around here. I will never bash a coach for dialing up an onside kick or punt. It’s one of the best and most unique rules in the CFL that really should be used more.

Ultimately, kicker Brett Lauther’s execution was off, but I still appreciate the idea. Let’s see more of it.