Ten Things We Learned about the Riders
Published: Sunday, Jun 11th 2017, 3:06pm
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
The riders opened the preseason last night with a 25-25 tie with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Here’s what we learned about the Saskatchewan Roughriders last night.
1. Brandon Bridge should be the #2 QB without any doubt. Bridge had one heck of a game, playing with both the #1 unit and #2/3 units. It didn’t matter who was lined up with him, he was confident throwing the ball, going 20/26 for 201 yards and a TD to Duron Carter, also having one run for 19 yards. He was on all night as he was making great reads and showed tremendous poise in the pocket. We have always heard he was a gamer, after having average practices. Well this proved that theory as he was the best player on the field last night.
2. The guy Bridge is going against for the backup job, Bryan Bennett had a night to forget. He was talked up with a lot of hype in the media the past 2 weeks as the best QB in Training Camp. Hopefully it was just nerves, because he did not look good at all. Bennett went 7/15 for 82 yards and had 3 fumbles, one of which the ball slipped out of his hand as he was about to throw a bubble screen.
Not saying to give up on him yet, but he is at best the 3rd stringer on this team (assuming the Riders do away with the Vince Young experiment).
3. Don’t worry about the offense. Bridge looked great, the receivers were making plays, including some very nice catches in tight coverage. Kevin Glenn has a lot of tools to work with and they should have no problem scoring points this year. Hopefully the Riders can find room for guys like Antwane Grant, Jenson Stoshak and Mitchell Picton as they all have a lot to offer this team in the future.
4. One of the main things fans were watching for was how the O-line would look. The starting unit did well. Dennis-Labatte-Clark-Dyakowski-Coleman will be solid. I hope they can upgrade at RT as Coleman is serviceable but is far from a lockdown Tackle. He doesn’t have the quickness to keep up with a speed rush going around him. The rest of the O-line wasn’t bad, but the depth the team has needs some time to develop. I thought Emmanuel Adusei, the Riders 7th round draft pick in 2017 had a good night, especially on a screen pass where he got a nice block off the line and got up field in a hurry to open up a few lanes for a big gain. 2nd round pick Dariusz Bladek didn’t impress, but he will improve and needs time to develop behind vets like Dyakowski and Labatte.
5. As far as Running Backs, it appears that after 1 game, the team is not sold on going Canadian with Kienan LaFrance and Greg Morris. Americans Cameron Marshall and Anthony Allen (it was great seeing him back in green, he’s a big fan favourite) got the majority of the reps last night. The game plan was to feature the QBs, so we didn’t see much from the RBs but there were flashes. Friday night’s 2nd preseason game in BC should tell the tale of who wins the starting job in the backfield.
6. The defense is FAST! Chris Jones loves his fast athletes and this team is full of them. I felt the defense played off a bit much in coverage but they did a good job of getting to the ball quick and limiting gains. Up until the 4th quarter, they were very good all game and didn’t let Winnipeg get any momentum.
7. There were still hiccups with the defense though. Although Willie Jefferson didn’t play, the entire D-Line didn’t get any pressure at all. Sure they got a couple sacks, but they were on long plays where the pocket collapsed. This is an area of concern as the D-Line wasn’t that good last year and last night’s showing didn’t exactly ignite hope in having 50+ sacks.
8. The starting secondary is a concern for me still. After the retirement of Marc-Olivier Brouillette and the Justin Cox release, we are really only left with Ed Gainey as a for sure starter. If we go based off last night we are looking at Royce Adams, Ed Gainey, Mike Edem, Erick Dargan and Kacey Rodgers as our starting unit. They don’t strike fear into anyone, but they play well together and ultimately, continuity is key to their success. If they stay healthy, they should be ok.
9. Special Teams played fairly well. Our kicking situation is great with Crapigna and Van Gylswyk as field goal kickers and Josh Bartel as the punter. As far as returners go, Chad Owens is the guy, but Quincy Walden looked great returning a missed FG 87 yards. He should have had a TD but got caught by the kicker (c’mon man!!)
10. I was looking for a win, but was still pleased (kind of) with the tie. The crowd was into the game, it was a beautiful night for football and the atmosphere was astounding for a preseason game. July 1st will be absolutely insane in that building. Mosaic Stadium will be an incredible place for football. Kudos to the fans for bringing a great atmosphere and yes, while doing the wave, they only did it while the team was on D and not on O, so they were smart about it.
Hear our full thoughts on Saturday’s game on the next Piffles Podcast, coming out on Wednesday.
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