The good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ 33-26 loss to the B.C. Lions

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

Once again this week, we were told that this year’s edition of the Saskatchewan Roughriders is different.

Despite following a similar trajectory to last year, when they hit the wall at six wins and missed the playoffs, both general manager Jeremy O’Day and head coach Craig Dickenson have insisted this year’s team is better.

The character in the room is better. The coaches are apparently better.

Perhaps they are, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The same thing is happening again and again. This time, the lopsided loss on the road came in Vancouver. Four straight losses overall, six in a row on the road. None of them were particularly close, despite what the final score might have shown over the last two weeks.

Something has to give. Not to save the season — there might be no hope there — but to give the fans hope that someone is listening. That there’s a reason to spend money the rest of this season and beyond. Fans are angry, which means they are still engaged. Eventually, anger turns into apathy and if the Riders aren’t careful, it’ll set in.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ ninth loss of the season.

The Good

Another week, another game on Friday night. This one started late enough that you had the option to go to bed and not witness the end if you so chose and I hope you did. You might as well be well-rested for the rest of the weekend.

There were some players who battled. Jake Dolegala is doing all he can, putting up over 400 yards by himself. We saw some receivers like Tevin Jones and Kian Schaffer-Baker throwing blocks. Schaffer-Baker also had a breakout game with over 100 yards receiving. The defensive line showed some effort getting to Vernon Adams Jr. yet again.

Overall though, there isn’t much to say.

The Bad

The Riders were never really in this game. You never got the feeling that they had much of a chance most of the night.

The only reason this game was close at the half was the Lions played with their food for most of the first 30 minutes. Head coach Rick Campbell decided to kick a field goal from the six-yard line when he could have gone for it and likely ended this one early. The Lions had to settle for a few more field goals before finding the end zone right before the break.

That seemed to do the Riders in, as for their eighth game in a row they were outscored in the second half.

Sometimes that’s on the players but when it consistently happens for half of a season, then that’s on the coaching staff. Whatever they are doing isn’t putting the team in the best position to improve as the game goes on.

Perhaps nothing summed this up more than Craig Dickenson trotting out an injured Brett Lauther to attempt a 32-yard field goal down 22 with 11 minutes to go. The team needed a touchdown to spark any hope of a comeback. A field goal in that situation is just as deflating as not picking up a first down.

It’s not just Dickenson, though.

The offence is no better than last year, especially in the second half of football games.  Vernon Adams Jr. threw for more yards in a single game this season than any other quarterback, in case you thought the defence had a night. The Lions also exploited linebacker Derrick Moncrief who was lined up at halfback for some reason, when his pass coverage has struggled this year.

I guess it was time to mix it up after getting gashed for over 700 yards along the ground over the last three games.

There’s a lot wrong with this team, but it all starts somewhere. They’ve made plenty of changes since the start of last season, but outside of Jason Maas, not much has changed outside of the players.

There isn’t much left to say. If nothing changes this week, then I wouldn’t expect anything different down the stretch.

Thanks to the general ineptitude in the West below them, the Riders may still make the playoffs. At that point, anything can happen and perhaps that should worry Rider fans more than anything. A small sample size event may extend this mess for another year.

The Dumb

The kings of the onside kick did it again.

The Riders continued their torrid pace of recovering onside kicks against the Lions. This time, Brett Lauther opted for the deep fly ball.

But perhaps the most fun moment of the night game was when Lions defensive end Mathieu Betts got in a staring contest with the camera following a sack that ended a drive. In total, the stare lasted for 23 seconds. Pretty impressive.

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