2019 Rider Season Grades
Published: Thursday, Nov 28th 2019, 9:11am
by Piffles Staff (@PifflesPod)
The 2019 season has come and gone and while we are disappointed that the 1990 chants will no longer ring loud in Ridernation when the Bombers come to town, we don't feel that this season is a disappointment. The Riders finished 13-5 (their first 13 win season since 1970!) and hosted the first West Final at Mosaic Stadium. Sure, they overachieved, but this is a damn good team and the crew here at the Piffles Podcast want to share our final grades of the team.
It’s often said that any season that doesn’t end in a championship is a failure, but I don’t see it that way. After losing Chris Jones to the NFL in January, many predicted the Roughriders would finish 4th or 5th in the West after their “convenience hire” of Craig Dickenson. Turns out, Dickenson is actually a solid coach and the Riders rode Cody Fajardo to a 13-5 record, including a 12-2 stretch to close out the regular season. I have never been alive for a 13-win season in Regina. Add in a home West Final (only the 2nd one in my lifetime) and a new franchise quarterback. Its hard to argue that this season wasn’t a successful one.
The 2019 Saskatchewan Roughriders over achieved this year. Going into the season they were faced with the loss of previous HC/GM/DC when Chris Jones went to the NFL. President Craig Reynolds looked in house to replace all three positions, and seems to have hit home runs with all three in this small sample size of the season. Top off the fact that they lost their starting QB 3 plays into the season and RiderNation was looking at a long year of uncertainty. They have found a new legitimate starting QB in Cody Fajardo and new DC Jason Shivers made strides defensively, while maintaining the "Chris Jones" defence. Anyone who said they expected the Riders to win 1st in the West was either a rediculous homer or an eternal optimist. All things considered it was a pretty remarkable year.
Raise your hand if you had the Riders getting first place in the West after the first three plays of the 2019 season.
Put your hands down you filthy liars.
Sure Zach Collaros won the Grey Cup on another team, but the Riders have found their franchise QB in Cody Fajardo. They found a Head Coach that players will run through a wall for, and they have a good young core of players that they can build around, if they can sign most of them to extensions.
This team is in great shape going into next year. Also, bonus points for no controversies with the Riders skirting the rules this season, which seemed to happen often under previous leadership.
Grade: A- There is no debate that this team overachieved. Are they a very good team? Damn straight they are. Are they really a 13-5 team (that could have easily been a 16-2 team)? No. They did benefit from being fairly lucky when it came to injuries. Whether it was lack of their own injuries or the major injuries to other teams. That said, you can only play against what is put in front of you and they won a lot of games this year.
Considering that the GM/Head Coach starting the 2019 calendar year left just before free agency started and a new management team was assembled without much time to prepare for what THEY wanted to do, Jeremy O'Day and Craig Dickenson did a WONDERFUL job putting their stamp on this team and making it their own. Add in that the starting QB went down on play 3 (THREE) of the season and they still won 13 games? Amazing.
The Riders finally found their franchise QB in Cody Fajardo. What's not to like about the guy? He's genuine, has a great catch phrase and literally checks off all the boxes that Rider fans want out of their starting QB. That alone makes this season a win. Finally, we have stability at the most important position and, found a very solid backup in Isaac Harker.
Jason Shivers and the defense were probably better than expected and they gave the team a chance to win pretty much every game.
Of course, the offense is still just not finishing as many drives as they need (hello West Final), but it appeared that they opened up page 2 of the playbook for the first time since 2017.
Nobody had the Riders finishing first this season, many "experts" had them missing the playoffs entirely. They proved everyone wrong and deserve praise for their 2019 season.