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Frustration in Rider Nation – Riders lose 34-22 to Calgary

Published: Sunday, Jul 29th 2018, 4:07pm

by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

Thank goodness for Brett Lauther and the Riders defense… without them, the Riders stood ZERO chance against the best team in the league, the Calgary Stampeders. I could write a thesis about this game, but I’ll save that for episode 86 of the Piffles Podcast later this week. Here’s my thoughts on last night’s… performance:

Let’s start with some positives.

1. Kicker Brett Lauther – 5/5 for field goals including a massive 56 yarder. This kid can KICK! Sorry (not sorry) Tyler Crapigna, but if Lauther keeps kicking this way, you are out of a job next year. His kickoffs are longer, he has a stronger leg and I trust him 100% over 50 yards, something I haven’t had in a Riders kicker since Paul McCallum left. We’ve had good kickers here since then (Congi, Milo and Crapigna), but none as good as Lauther.

2. Tobi Antigha – A receiver-turned-defensive end-turned-linebacker-turned-safety… This is a guy who is the classic definition of “a football player”. The man just needs to see the field and regardless of where they put him, he will make things happen. His pick-6 last night came on a play where he dropped into deep coverage from the middle linebacker spot. More Tobi, please!

3. Charleston Hughes – Another 2 sacks last night, putting his league leading tally at 8 in 6 games (pace that would give him 24, good enough for 4th most all time). I tweeted last night that he is a manimal and he absolutely is. He’s the best player on the Riders right now and it’s not really close.

4. Chris Jones: Defensive Coordinator – Clearly the strength of this team is the defense and to be honest, they are the only reason the Riders are 3-3 right now. They’ve scored 4 TDs this season (5 if you include Special Teams) while the offense has only put up 6. Unorthodox at times, whatever Jones has them doing is working. They held Bo Levi Mitchell to 187 yards passing and only 55 yards allowed on the ground… remarkable! They are keeping the team in the game week after week and will need to do so until… well, for the entire season.

Okay, enough positives, I can only find so much in a loss. Time for what pissed me off last night.

5. Stephen McAdoo’s Playcalling – This is an offense that is run by a guy who doesn’t have a 2nd page in his playbook. We have a shotgun run up the middle, a swing pass to Jordan Williams-Lambert and a screen pass/checkdown to the running back. That’s it. The playcalling is so ultra-conservative and too predictable that thee boo birds we heard at Mosaic Stadium all game long are completely justified Down 2 scores and running the ball back to back from your own goal line?? BOOOOOOO!!! However, it’s not all his fault…

6. Brandon Bridge – Bridge has a lot of raw talent. He’s got mobility, a cannon of an arm and has the ability to make all the throws needed, but we just don’t see it. His mechanics are bad, he throws off his back foot, he relies on his arm strength to complete passes instead of accuracy (which he doesn’t have, despite his 65% completion percentage) and he doesn’t know what to do if his first read isn’t there… he simply can’t read a defense. This is his 4th year in the CFL, he SHOULD be able to get to a 2nd read by now, no? He’s shown little development and the coaching staff clearly doesn’t trust him. Why else would they run check downs and screen passes ALL. GAME. LONG? I get that they want to limit turnovers, but a 6.4 yard average when throwing the ball is embarassing. I hope that I’m wrong, but Bridge isn’t a starting QB. He’s nothing more than a capable backup that can be used to spark a team. His role in 2017 was perfect, although I will say that a lot of his success last season was due to being bailed out by his all-star receiving cast of Carter, Roosevelt, Grant and Holley. He’s not getting that same help this year, but I don’t think Jerry Rice in his prime would make this offense better.

7. Caleb Holley – Too many inexcusable drops this season is hurting this team. I rip on Bridge, but at the same time, when he does deliver the ball with accuracy, he’s getting no help. Holley is elevated to the #2 receiver with Carter playing DB, but was forced to be the #1 after Roosevelt left last night’s game after being dumped on the top of his head. Holley is a great #3 receiver, but he’s not ready to lead a team yet. These drops are drive killers and they need to stop NOW.

8. Chris Jones: Head Coach – After the game Jones said to the media that we better get used to this offense, because that’s what they will do against Edmonton on Thursday… GREAT… Sorry, but a very good coach will change things up when they aren’t working. A very good coach will hold his coordinators accountable for a terrible performance. A very good coach, Chris Jones is not. GREAT defensive mind and a good head coach, not great. I’m not saying fire him by any means, he has completely revamped this team from the garbage 3-15 we saw in 2015 into a team that even when bad, is still in the game. They ARE a competitive team, but it’s frustrating seeing the same problems week in and week out and NOTHING being done to correct them. He’s a stubborn man and while I respect that he doesn’t do things just to appease fans (no coach should), he needs to adapt to what’s around him and make the occassional change for the benefit of the team, even if that means admitting a mistake.

I’ll end this with a few more postives:

9. The Crowd – Last night was the loudest I’ve heard the new stadium. From kickoff until the end, the crowd was in the game and was LOUD! Great job, fans. That’s the energy we need from you the rest of te season!

10. Offensive Line – We’ve talked a lot at how the O-Line has been bad and is part of the offensive problem. Not anymore. They aren’t world beaters, but they are coming together and you can see steady improvement week after week. They still aren’t where I would like them to be as a unit, but there is no reason to get on them right now. If we aren’t talking about them, that’s a good thing, but they do deserve some praise.

Overall, a frustrating night led to a frustrated group of Rider Priders. This team SHOULD be a top contender, but is again looking at battling for a crossover spot. The season is still young and starting QB Zach Collaros will be back shortly. Hang in there Rider fans, if history is any indication, a Chris Jones team will start hitting their stride shortly.

 

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