Riders done for 2018, Fall to Bombers

Published: Monday, Nov 12th 2018, 1:11pm

by: Greg McCulloch (@GregOnSports)

 

Riders Season Ends at the Hands of the Bombers

Picture a CFL team in the playoffs, they lose their starting QB to an injury the week before. Their young back up QB is called into service despite not playing much that year, and to no surprise to anyone, they just can’t get the offence going in a low scoring game. Leaving touchdowns on the field and settling for field goals. Final score 23-19.

Now enough talking about the 2007 Grey Cup and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

In an almost bizarro world re-enactment of the 2007 Grey Cup, the Bomber squeaked out a victory vs the Brandon Bridge lead Riders last night 23-18.

When TSN’s Dave Naylor broke the night before the game that Bridge would be the starter because Zach Collaros wasn’t dressing due to concussion symptoms, Rider Nation let out a collective gulp. The offence was suspect on the best of games all season but always played better under Collaros than Bridge.

Unfortunately, Rider Nation fears of some were founded as even though the offence was moving the ball well early even taking an early 6-point lead. But they were settling for field goals instead of touchdowns.

Then the play that swung the momentum to the Bombers was a terrible attempt by Bridge at throwing the ball away which the Bombers intercepted.  You could almost hear the entire 30,000 plus yell “No!” when Bridge was cocking his arm to throw it on the run. The Bombers scored on the ensuing drive and never looked back.

The offensive woes weren’t just on Bridge however, there were some questionable coaching decisions when the team was in the red zone. The decision to bring David Watford in after Bridge drove the field was a head-scratcher, especially considering Watford hasn’t thrown a ball in a game since August. He only has ever been brought in for Wildcat plays or to play “receiver” when Nick Marshall takes the ball in short yardage. Winnipeg was obviously cueing on the run whenever Watford was behind centre and that killed any momentum the Riders did have.

The defence did what they could, they held Andrew Harris till the fourth quarter and then he was able to seal the game because that is what Andrew Harris does. The Bombers tried everything they could to give Matt Nichols time and keep the defence on its heels, including, short passes, reverses, play action and even a flea flicker. While the strategy didn’t put up a ton of points it was effective at extending drives, keeping the Rider defense from being too aggressive, and limiting turnovers.

The big story of the game was the late, unnecessary, and illegal hit on Bridge. By that point, the game was basically decided, and the Riders needed a miracle to pull off the win so while it angered the fans it didn’t decide the game.

But the league needs to do something this offseason to protect the players much better than they are doing now. This has been 2 Rider games in a row where the league has had to come out and apologize for missing the call, that is unacceptable and not just because it’s the Riders.

All teams are offenders and all teams are victims. This must be a league mandate, and everyone needs to be held accountable for the safety of the players. We will discuss this more in depth on this week’s episode I am sure.

So, with the season officially over, this offseason is going to be an interesting one. The CBA is up after the Grey Cup, and in typical CFL-CFLPA fashion, this drama will probably linger into training camps if not longer.

The Riders have a ton of free agents including all the defensive line minus Charleston Hughes, Naaman Roosevelt, Marcus Thigpen, Collaros, Bridge, Tobi Antigha, and Sam Eguavoen to name a few. How many are coming back? How many will sign before the new CBA or wait?

The CFL’s new front office salary cap also takes effect this offseason, the Riders have one of the biggest staffs in the CFL there will be hard decisions which need to be made. I know Rider Nation is looking for one removal they probably won’t see (coffMcadoocoff).

While the season didn’t end the way we all wanted, if the Chris Jones era has shown us anything the offseason is just as interesting as the football season.

 

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