Piffles Top 5 – Things to Watch Between Riders and Lions
Published: Friday, Jul 21st 2023, 9:07pm
By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
The Riders travel to Vancouver to take on the BC Lions in the first of back-to-back games against the two best teams in the league, both division leaders. Here’s what I’m watching for this week as the Riders enter the Fine era.
1. Mason Fine – Way to be obvious here, Alex. Look, it’s Fine’s time to shine and show the league exactly what he has. He’s been exactly like his last name every time he’s played, nothing more, nothing less, but I think if he gets some help from the rest of his O, he can keep the Riders on track in the playoff race. I don’t think I’m as worried as many in Riderville are… at least not yet.
2. Help for Fine – Speaking of help for Mason Fine, it’s going to come down to the O-Line and play calling from Kelly Jeffrey. How can they get Fine more time against Mattieu Betts and the rest of the stellar BC Lions D? Will we see more dedication to Jamal Morrow and the run game? More screens and hitch passes to Shawn Bane Jr.? We’re going to need to see some elite play calling over the next little while to give Fine the help he needs to run this team.
3. Will the Soft Zone Tighten up? – The defense that Jason Shivers is calling right now is getting absolutely picked apart. Outside of the two games against the Elks, the Riders are giving up a ton of points and making it stupid easy for other teams to move the ball. Jeremy Clark was AWFUL last week against Calgary (no kidding he’s been benched this year), but Shivers isn’t exactly calling plays to suit the strength of the team. They are letting average at best QBs like Jake Maier have receivers 15 yards open! That can’t happen against the best QB this year, Vernon Adams Jr.
4. Coaching – Did Craig Dickenson and Jason Shivers learn from their mistakes last week? Both made some pretty brutal decisions that ultimately cost the Riders against Calgary. With all the injuries to the team, they’ll need to be pretty much flawless this week in BC for the Riders to keep it close.
5. The Kicking Game – Brett Lauther is having a tough year with his leg injury and missing some kicks that I normally trust he would make. The leg strength isn’t there right now and the team needs him at his best. He is going to play, but he HAS to be able to hit from 50. If he doesn’t have that range, the Riders will be even more in tough for this game. All this said, I’d rather him sit a week or two, rest up and give the team a chance to see what Campbell Fair has.
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