The good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders’ 23-16 win over B.C.

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

That’s a big ol’ sigh of relief for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Rider Nation.

A week after one of their worst losses of the season at the hands of these same B.C. Lions, the Riders rebounded with their biggest win of the year in Vancouver.

The win may be a breath of fresh air for the team, but it isn’t a cure-all for the season yet. Frankly, anyone playing a team that is forced to trot out their third-string quarterback after their backup started due to an injury to the starter should win.

The Riders did, but it probably should have been by a lot more.

Nonetheless, a win is a win and the Riders will take them any way they can get them at this point. With Winnipeg on the horizon for the next two weeks, there’s still a long way to go for them to prove they belong in the league’s elite.

Here’s the good, the bad and the dumb of the Riders’ sixth win of the season.

The Good

A week ago, much was rightly made about head coach Craig Dickenson’s decision to pull starting quarterback Cody Fajardo just before half-time in favour of backup Mason Fine.

Some felt it was premature, others applauded it. Either way, what’s done was done and what happened from there is what would ultimately matter.

Earlier this week on the 3Down Green Cast, co-host John Fraser and I had the conversation about what to do with the quarterback that was once the talk of the town for all the right reasons.

I felt Fajardo was worthy of being given a chance to prove he could bounce back from the pulling. Fraser felt it was time to roll with Fine. Naturally, the Fraser Curse kicked in and it looks like Dickenson’s message got through to Fajardo.

Sometimes — in any profession — you need a good metaphorical ass-kicking to get back into gear. It appears that’s what happened to Fajardo after being removed from last week’s game.

He rebounded with 321 yards through the air, 28 yards on the ground, and two passing touchdowns.

Statistically, it was one of his best games of the season. That’s the Fajardo the Riders will need to see if they are going to make any noise in November.

The quarterback didn’t do it alone either. Earlier this week, Dickenson said the team had to get back to what Fajardo and the team do well; they did that.

Early on, I got the vibe that the Riders were going to attempt to play it their way with a roll of the dice on third and two on their first possession of the game at the B.C. 51. We’ve seen Dickenson roll that dice many times this year. I have questions about the call, execution, and decision but the thought process remains solid.

They also supported Fajardo on the ground. The Riders were averaging well over 100 yards rushing per game during their 4-1 start. Since then, not even 50 yards. Unsurprisingly, their record in those games has been 1-4.

Did Jamal Morrow’s hand injury give offensive coordinator Jason Maas pause in relying on him too much the last few weeks? Maybe. But then he probably shouldn’t be in the game.

Either way, running back Frankie Hickson had himself a night with 129 yards rushing, including some tough yards late to close out the game.

This is how the Riders have to win games. The defence keeps it close, and the offence plays heavy football and hits the odd shot. Will it work in the big picture? I don’t know, but it’s what they got.

The Bad

It certainly wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the Riders’ offence, but that’s to be expected.

Despite having one of their best statistical games in terms of total offence, I’m sure they would have preferred to finish one or two more drives to ensure that game wasn’t as close as it was — most notably when receiver Kian Schaffer-Baker tipped a ball to himself for a long gain. That drive should have ended with seven, but the Riders were forced to settle for three. Cutting four points out of that exchange was certainly a deflating moment of the offence and a sigh of relief for the Lions.

Part of the reason for the lack of scoring was the Riders’ biggest Achilles heel, protecting the quarterback. Fajardo was sacked seven times on Friday night after the Lions picked up five sacks last week. That’s a lot of quarterback punishment.

To his credit, Fajardo looked more like himself, fighting through it and trusting his protection a little more, like on his second touchdown pass to Tevin Jones. He also wasn’t afraid to take off when nothing was there.

Pass protection remains a question mark for this team, but it is what it is at this point. They’ll have to try and work around the scheme and play-calling to try and make it work.

The Dumb

What’s a trip to Vancouver without a little bit of rain?

Like wind in Saskatchewan or humidity in Southern Ontario, you come to expect it when you travel to the west coast.

However, you don’t normally expect it to rain indoors, but that’s what happened on Friday night at BC Place for a brief period. During warm-ups, I saw via an Instagram story from Riders’ director of communications Arielle Zerr from field level that it was — in fact — raining as the roof was open for the evening.

Stuff happens, it’s funny, but of course, only in B.C. would it rain indoors.

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