On a Friday night in Regina in which both teams were put to the test, we learned a lot about the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the B.C. Lions.
If you’re a Rider fan, the panic button should be near. The Riders emphatically failed their biggest test of the season and there’s reason to believe this team isn’t ready to compete in the ultra-competitive West Division.
Though there’s still a long way to go, things are not looking great in Saskatchewan. The Riders are staring down a schedule following their bye week that, other than an October game against Hamilton, is entirely against the West — including all of their games against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders.
At this point, appearing in the Grey Cup at home will require a miraculous turnaround.
If you want something to hang on to, things appeared pretty bleak in 2013 at one point too. I don’t know if lightning will strike twice.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ fourth loss of the season.
We just have to start here.
We have enough of a sample size to definitively say that the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ offence is not good and is very likely to be the reason they won’t compete for a Grey Cup in 2022.
Early in this one, it felt like the return of quarterback Cody Fajardo was going to be enough to bring this offence to life. In a rare occurrence, the Riders stormed out to a 10-1 lead in the first quarter.
Things looked good.
Then, with the score 17-4, returner Mario Alford made a completely bone-headed decision, waffling on a missed field goal return and getting tackled at the two-yard line. Jamal Morrow would be tackled on the ensuing offensive play for a safety.
From there, it was all Lions.
It was clearly the moment that brought B.C. to life. Unfortunately for Rider fans, their team had no response, especially on offence.
The Lions finished the game with 28 unanswered points. It was the second straight week in which the offence ended the game with a collective fart noise. Last week, you could wrap your head around it with the Riders playing their third-string quarterback on a week filled with chaos and uncertainty.
This week? It’s setting off alarms across Rider Nation.
The greater problem in my mind? There isn’t one singular issue you could point to that will fix what ails this offence.
Fajardo is unlikely to be 100 percent the rest of the year, it’s nearly impossible to fix an offensive line mid-season, the receivers simply aren’t playing well enough right now — especially Duke Williams, who is being paid a lot of money to drop a lot of balls — and the play-calling continues to leave a lot to be desired. (Did anyone see Jamal Morrow after the first half?)
Yes, the Riders are dealing with some injuries to the likes of Shaq Evans and Kyran Moore, but everyone has injuries at this point. Other teams have found ways to work exciting new receivers into their offences, something that has been a struggle for this team under general manager Jeremy O’Day. Perhaps Tevin Jones could finally be one of those guys.
Will anything change coming out of the bye week? I don’t know. It’s been a season and a third of the same thing. It’s hard to see it happening.
There wasn’t a whole lot to pick from tonight, so I’m going to use this space to eat a little bit of crow surrounding defensive end Charleston Hughes.
I’ll admit that when the Riders re-signed the 38-year-old later in the offseason, I raised my eyebrows. After a quiet year in Toronto, I wasn’t sure what Hughes had left in the tank. Short of stashing him until October, I didn’t think he’d have much left to contribute on the field.
Could he be a leader in the locker room? Sure. Would that be worth it? I didn’t know.
The last two weeks, the addition most certainly has been. Hughes has been the rare bright spot in a couple of ugly losses with a couple of sacks, tackles and forced fumbles. He’d have a touchdown to his name as well, if not for a quirky CFL rule.
Hughes may not be an 18-game contributor — he’ll need his rest from time to time — but the signing looks pretty good right now.
The Lions were dominant in every facet of the game on Friday night, so much so that they scored every way possible.
— John Fraser (@FraserPxP) July 30, 2022
Soon after that graphic appeared on TSN, the Lions added their first touchdown of the night to hit for the cycle in the first half.
Much like a triple in baseball, that safety is probably the hardest one to accomplish. Once the Riders provided that, the rest seemed inevitable.
It’s one of those fun stats you don’t see every day and one that is only possible in the CFL. You gotta love it.