Any glimmer of hope that the 2022 Saskatchewan Roughriders would compete for the Grey Cup in about a month’s time has been extinguished.
The doors on the Riders’ playoff hopes officially closed around 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 22.
Did it feel like the home team was trying their hardest to win an elimination game against the Calgary Stampeders in order to keep their playoff hopes alive? That’s hard to say. It certainly didn’t feel like it when the decision was made to start Mason Fine at quarterback.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ 11th loss of the season.
There isn’t much to say here; this wasn’t a very good football game, and not much good came from it unless you happened to have Calgary running backs in fantasy football or your weekly prop bet.
Fine certainly didn’t look like the quarterback of the future for the Riders against the Stampeders. He finished the night 18-for-28 for 196 yards and a touchdown.
It was a pretty below-average performance overall, but not a significant drop off from the quarterback play the team had been receiving for the last number of games. The offensive output was about the same as we’ve seen for most of the year.
What Fine brought to the field that Cody Fajardo hasn’t in quite some time was confidence. The former North Texas Mean Green quarterback looked the part more than Fajardo did He wasn’t seeing ghosts, he stayed in the pocket that extra second or two in hopes that something would develop.
There’s no doubt that the Riders’ offensive line has been a problem this season but they also haven’t received that much help from their quarterback either. Fine wasn’t sacked on Saturday night until basically the mid-way point of the third quarter. Considering Calgary’s defensive line, that’s pretty good for this unit.
By no means am I saying that Fine should be starting for this team in 2023, but he at least looked the part — even if the skill isn’t quite there yet.
Admittedly, it’s pretty hard to say anything was bad in a game when it went pretty much exactly as you expected.
A much better Riders team last season had issues with Calgary’s running game and a weaker one did again on Saturday night.
The Stampeders finished the night with 212 yards along the ground. 112 of those yards came from Dedrick Mills, who seems like yet another find at running back for the Stamps. Add in another 75 yards from noted Rider killer Ka’Deem Carey and it was a long night for the defence.
There were times I was legitimately surprised Calgary even attempted to throw the ball as they easily could have finished drives and effectively ended this game sooner along the ground.
The offence? Well, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. Putting in Fine certainly didn’t provide the spark head coach Craig Dickenson hoped it would.
Coming into a game with their playoff hopes on the line, it certainly felt like the Riders had accepted their fate and a lot of their play seemed to back that up as well.
Now, they get to do it all again next week.
For perhaps the first time this season, I was completely stumped when it came to this portion of my post-game column.
From start to finish, this game more or less went as expected and not in a good way. Calgary played solid, safe football to secure the win, while the Riders’ wheels continued to spin as their playoff hopes officially ended.
When not a lot happens, there aren’t a lot of chances for dumb stuff to happen.
Then it struck me, the absolute dumbest part of all of this is that my Green Cast co-host John Fraser was right.
If you don’t know, John sometimes likes to throw hot takes out there and his track record is worse than the Riders. But, as the old saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Following a 37-13 Week 3 loss to the Montreal Alouettes, John tweeted that he believed it was time for the Riders and their fans to hit the panic button. My co-host that week, Dan Plaster, and I didn’t think it was. Our thought was that bad losses are going to happen and they tend to happen in Montreal, especially for this team.
Just flush it and move on.
Well, in the surest sign that perhaps end times are near, John ended up being right. While it took a few weeks for the Riders to hit the skids and have the season start to fall apart on them, it happened faster than anyone else expected (don’t worry about who he said would catch the Riders.)
Perhaps Johnny Manziel will yet lead the Ticats to that Grey Cup.