A lot can change in three weeks in the CFL.
At the start of month, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ season seemingly turned following a strong three-week stretch that saw them win three games in a row, including two against a couple of the league’s best three teams.
The winning streak was snapped with a predictable loss in the Banjo Bowl, but what’s happened since has gone from bad to worse. The defeat to the Elks last week was bad, but this loss to the Redblacks feels like a new low in a series of lows over the last two seasons.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how things don’t change significantly in the offseason after this team’s decision-makers gave the current brain trust another chance. Something will have to give.
Even if the Riders run the table for the rest of the regular season, they’d finish 10-8. Is that enough to bring everybody back? I’m not sure. It almost certainly won’t garner a home playoff game.
Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
However, as we’ve seen, a lot can change in three weeks.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ eighth loss of the season.
The best thing you can say about this game is that it kicked off just after 5 p.m. central time on Friday night.
So, Riders fans, take the rest of the weekend to decompress, have a beverage or two, and enjoy what time is left before the weather turns and we’re stuck inside for six months.
That’s about all I got.
A lot had to go wrong for Saskatchewan to fall behind 36-14 to a last-place team riding a seven-game losing skid and boy did it ever.
The Riders moved the ball pretty well on their first couple of possessions and mostly kept Ottawa in check. Then a penalty-aided drive for the Redblacks ended in a rushing touchdown from Tyrrell Pigrome and you could feel the game change.
It went from a night on which it looked like the Riders might finally make things easy on themselves to one of those games where nothing comes easy. Then, like a bad case of déjà vu, the wheels fell off and the team never recovered.
With the exception of a couple decent drives from the offence and one long touchdown pass to Samuel Emilus, the Riders had little to offer for the rest of the contest. Quarterback Jake Dolegala threw his first bad interception as the team’s starting quarterback and followed it up with a weird fumble where no one seemingly knew where the ball was, leading to another Ottawa major and a lead they never surrendered.
It was another game in which the Riders failed to score a touchdown in the second half until things got weird at the end as the Redblacks tried their best to make it interesting. The easy catches were dropped, the run game was invisible, and the play-calling was uninspired, especially following a rare turnover generated by the defence.
Speaking of the defence, the unit wasn’t any better. In fact, they were worse. Once again this week, they allowed the opposition’s running back to rumble for over 100 yards. As a team, Ottawa rushed for 193 yards. A team that continually gets run over says a lot about them, none of it good.
The Riders still haven’t kept their opponent below 25 points since the last time these teams played in early August. Some fresh legs allowed the defence to get some pressure on Dustin Crum early, but eventually, the pivot adjusted.
Even the dependable Brett Lauther missed a point after attempt and the normally dependable kick coverage units had their problems, too.
It’s hard to say where the Riders go from here, but it’s certainly starting to feel a lot like last year when the wheels fell off down the stretch.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team as good at recovering onside kicks as the Saskatchewan Roughriders have been over the last few years.
I’m not sure if the CFL has an onside recovery statistic (not that we’d be able to see it), but surely Saskatchewan has blown everybody else out of the water in that category over the last few years.
This game got a little interesting at the end thanks to yet another recovery. This time, punter Adam Korsak sent the ball spinning along the turf, which struck an Ottawa player in the foot and allowed the Riders to pounce on the ball before the 10-yard mark.
Korsak tried it again after the touchdown with about a minute to go, but the Redblacks were ready for it this time.
We’ve now seen Duke Williams go up and get a couple of high kicks, Lauther has dribbled it forward for a recovery on a couple of occasions and now the Korsak helicopter has been unleashed.
What will we see next?