Well, that’s over with.
At the risk of dissuading you from reading the rest of this column, there isn’t much to say about the Riders’ 41-12 loss in Montreal.
It was a bigger blowout than I expected, but if you listened to this week’s Green Cast, Saskatchewan losing didn’t come as much of a surprise. I suggested that despite last week’s progress in their win over Ottawa, they’d be in between a rock and a hard place this week.
Frankly, given the Riders’ schedule lately, they didn’t stand much of a chance. I know the team won’t use it as an excuse, but it’s a factor and we’ll get into that. The rest? Well, wish me luck.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ fifth loss of the season.
The best part of the game was that it was in Montreal, so I wasn’t at Mosaic Stadium. Therefore, I got to spend some time with my nearly two-month-old daughter and my wife on a pretty nice Friday evening.
For Rider fans, the good news is you can still enjoy the rest of your weekend.
On the field, Adam Korsak had a decent night punting.
As for the rest of the team, they can toss this game aside and get ready for the Lions on August 20.
That’s about all I got.
The CFL has got to figure this out. I get scheduling is hard, but the league seems to subject teams to insane scheduling every year.
Since July 21, the Riders have travelled to Vancouver to play the Lions, back to Regina for practice, out to Halifax to play the Argos, back home to practice before playing the Redblacks at home, then turning around a few days later to travel to Monreal and play the Alouettes. That’s a lot of miles in less than a month.
The odds of the Riders winning this game were astronomical. I’m glad this was actually brought up by the TSN panel during the pre-game show and during the game. Far too often short weeks and grueling schedules don’t get the discussion they deserve.
At this point in that stretch, Riders fans would have been happy if the team got through this final game with no major injuries. That obviously didn’t happen when Mason Fine left the game in the first half after an apparent leg injury he suffered while sliding at the end of a run.
Did the short week with long travel play into the injury? We can’t say with 100 percent certainty but it sure feels like it was a factor. It was a relatively harmless play that happens many times a game. This wasn’t a football hit with an unfortunate outcome that can happen at any time. Maybe proper time off — or at least not travelling across the country — would have helped Fine avoid injury.
Why the CFL continues to subject teams to scheduling like this, I don’t know. Just recently the Argos looked out of it following four straight games away from BMO Field in Calgary. They had a short week following Touchdown Atlantic heading into Calgary, where they lost their first game of the season in a pretty lifeless effort in which their own quarterback was injured.
If you’re the league, who wins and loses isn’t the point, but it sure as heck isn’t helping you grow interest in the game. That Argos game in Calgary last week was about as boring as it gets, with this Rider game in Montreal not too far behind.
For the sake of player safety, game quality, and fairness, something has to change here. Sunday evening games have generally been good for the league but the schedule-makers need to be more cognizant of giving teams a short week, when they should be travelling across the country and most importantly, avoiding both in the same week.
Given how quickly this game got out of hand, both teams put it in neutral relatively early in hopes of getting out of there unscathed.
We did see the Alouettes attempt a flea flicker up 24-3 for some reason, and they failed hilariously. Not only was the play a mess but they lined up illegally. Later in the game, Jamal Morrow tried to lateral the ball back to quarterback Jake Dolegala when it looked like he was going to get stopped short of the goal line, only to lose a few more yards for good measure.
In the end, this guy was happiest to see the Year of the Onside Punt™ continue. The Riders attempted the third such punt of the season late in the third quarter when they were down 24-3.
It wasn’t successful as Montreal recovered, but I’ll always support a coach pulling out that classic Canadian play.