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New Stadium, Same Result

Published: Sunday, Jul 2nd 2017, 7:07pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

For the third straight year the Saskatchewan Roughriders are 0-2 to start the season. Last night’s 43-40 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was an exciting game to open the new Mosaic Stadium and the fans and the teams didn’t disappoint when it came to entertainment. That said, there was some disappointment for the fans of the Riders leaving the game. Here’s what I learned after the game.

– The offense is good. A bad offense doesn’t score 40 points, but they are leaving too many points on the field by kicking field goals. It’s hard for me to really say something bad about a team that moved the ball well and put up 8 scoring drives, but it’s the turnovers that are the killers. While Kevin Glenn didn’t play bad overall, the INTs need to stop. We’ve come to expect a pick or two every game from him as that’s been his career, but that’s simply not good enough. Not saying it’s time to replace him with Brandon Bridge, but if the picks continue, the leash should get shorter.

– Speaking of the offense, how about that run game? A week after Cameron Marshall had a good game against Montreal, the Riders had no intention of running the ball. We all know the CFL is a passing league, but the outright refusal to attempt to run the ball is frustrating. Winnipeg has a solid run D and running the ball on them is tough, but you have to at least try.

– Nic Demski needs to be the starting Canadian receiver for good now. Rob Bagg is probably my favourite Rider of all time, but Demski has really come into his own this season. I’m afraid he walks as a free agent after this season, so he needs to be made a priority for this team. Hopefully we see him continue his rise in the offense and he becomes a top tier Canadian in this league.

– This one will sound like a broken record, but I am beyond sick of the 3 man rush that Chris Jones employs. All last year and so far this year, it has not worked. It feels like every time our D goes to a 3 man rush,  they give up a TD. Both TDs last week and another 2 this week came when the CJ3 was called. The D-Line isn’t good enough to get pressure without bringing at least 4. And the secondary has struggled greatly when forced to play zone. It’s a young D and they play better when they have to play man coverage. If they get beat playing man, that’s fine. They just got beat. But too much confusion from the zone assignments have destroyed this team so far. We all know Chris Jones is a stubborn man, so this won’t be the last we see of it, but I truly hope he realizes that it’s a huge failure.

– I don’t think the defense is that bad. I think they are just being put in bad situations by the coaching staff. When they are allowed to rush and be aggressive in the secondary, we’ve seen some really good plays. When they rush no one and play a passive zone, we see blown assignments due to confusion and Weston Dressler goes uncovered for touchdowns… This isn’t an elite defense by any means, but I don’t think they are as bad as they were last night.

– Special teams… oh the special teams. Overall they have been very solid. Obviously the Greg Morris fumble hurt, but other than that, he was great returning the ball last night. The coverage team has been solid, not great, but the punt coverage team has been very good so far. Josh Bartell has been outstanding punting the ball, but the biggest issue is Tyler Crapigna. This one hurts me because I truly like the kid and I think he has a bright future in this league, but 2 weeks in a row he’s missed the important kick. One is fine in my mind, but 2 in a row? It might be time to see what Quinn van Gylswyk can do. Football never comes down to a single play and to think that Crapigna is the reason the team is 0-2 is foolish, but something is up with these pressure kicks. Hopefully it’s not in his head, but I’m sure it’s buzzing around back there.

– 2 losses by 4 points combined. This team can compete and is clearly better than the past 2 years. But compete level isn’t good enough any more. This team needs to learn how to win. They are close, but not there yet. I want to say be patient, but I said that last year. Wins are everything and they need to start soon. Hopefully for the team’s sake it happens next Saturday against the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Don’t miss this week’s episode of the Piffles Podcast where we will take more about this game and look forward to the next game! Go Riders!

 

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