The results in the preseason still don’t matter all that much, but the Riders have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after their exhibition schedule.
The Green and White picked up a 28-16 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night at IG Field, giving them a perfect preseason after last week’s win against the Lions.
This game was particularly encouraging, as several starters made their 2023 season debut and didn’t look out of place at all.
While it’s always better to win, nothing that happened in the last two weeks matters now. It’s on to the regular season, where things get going for real.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ 28-16 win over the Bombers.
TSN FINALLY ADDED TIMEOUTS TO THE SCOREBUG.
Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. Now, back to football.
If there’s one word I would use to describe what we’ve seen out of the Riders’ offence in the preseason, it’s “professional.”
After a couple of seasons where the unit looked completely lost in the woods, new offensive coordinator Kelly Jeffrey has to be pleased with what he’s seen through two games.
Of course, everything in the preseason is to be taken with a grain of salt, but so far so good for the Riders’ re-made offence.
This week it was veteran pivot Trevor Harris’ turn to take to the field and we saw exactly what you’d hope from a prized free-agent signing worth more than $500,000 per year.
Harris only needed one series to prove that he was ready for the season, leading the team on an opening possession touchdown drive where he went four-of-four for 72 yards and a touchdown. Harris was exactly as advertised; calm, cool, and collected.
A couple of key plays stood out, first when he stepped up out of the pocket to take advantage of the offensive line driving Winnipeg’s pass rush wide. Harris followed that up by recognizing a Bomber blitz and putting up a 37-yard pass for Derel Walker to haul in.
Harris told TSN’s John Lu at the half that he wanted to play more but head coach Craig Dickenson decided he had seen enough. The coach was right.
As for what’s going to happen behind Harris, your guess remains as good as mine. It does appear likely that former Michigan Wolverine Shea Patterson has earned himself a role on the team in a short-yardage/running package. But as to what will happen between Mason Fine and Jake Dolegala, this game didn’t provide any clear answers. The team appears to be in decent hands either way.
It’s also important to note that the Riders were only flagged once for six yards on Friday night. They’ll need more games like that to achieve Dickenson’s goal of being the least penalized team in the league.
It’s admittedly a little difficult to come up with too many negatives from this game.
It was definitely a rough start for kicker Brett Lauther, who missed two extra points and a field goal on his first three attempts. He then barely squeaked a 51-yard field goal attempt past the corner of the goalpost after a poor snap. It was to the point where Lauther was even discussed at halftime.
The kicker also proved he’s earned the right to work through it, getting back to being himself in the second half by adding a couple more field goals that went right down the middle.
I think there’s also some concern with the depth on defence. The Bombers found a little bit of rhythm late in the game as the Riders pulled their starters and even their backups from the game. But it was also late in the second half of the second preseason game, when everyone just wants to get on with it, and Winnipeg seems to have something in quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome.
Ultimately, this is all nitpicking a little bit.
Just how good was Trevor Harris’ one drive? He finished the night as the game’s second-leading passer. The other five quarterbacks all played at least a good portion of a quarter, most of them more than that. All but one had more completions and attempted passes than Harris, yet all struggled to eclipse his yardage total.
Harris’ 72 yards passing actually led all quarterbacks heading into the half. It wasn’t until partway through the third quarter when Fine surpassed Harris’ mark and finished the game with 86 yards passing.
Just a fun little quirky stat you don’t see every day.