The Morning After – Riders Beat Lions in Preseason Opener
Published: Sunday, May 28th 2023, 2:05pm
By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
It was great to be back in Mosaic Stadium last night for the Riders preseason game against the BC Lions. I ditched my normal season ticket spot in the endzone in section 125 for upgraded seats through the Rider Rewards program and sat in the Avana Platinum area in section 308. Kudos for the ticket office for making everything nice and smooth! I’ll definitely be doing that again with my reward points! PLUS, they have free bags of popcorn up there, so I definitely had my fill on that! GREAT view, too!
I went into the game with a set of things I wanted to watch and that’s where I put my focus on. First, the QBs. I thought Jake Dolegala took a huge step forward for the backup QB spot. In the entire first half, I saw him go through his reads, get to his third or fourth option (usually BJ Emmons or Javian Hawkins) and was able to, for the most part, move the ball pretty well at times. The fact that he was able to go through his progressions and not get happy feet immediately impressed me the most. He scampered when he needed to to keep drives alive. And what can we say about that last drive by Mason Fine? He made some REALLY good throws to rally the Riders from behind to win that game, which was great to see after his first pass resulted in a pick-six. Shea Patterson shook off some rust early and didn’t look too bad once he got into the groove. They all were really efficient with the time they had. Did any one of them jump out and grab that #2 gig? I’m not sure, but the good news is that they are making it a very difficult decision on Craig Dickenson and the coaching staff.
HEY! The Riders won their first preseason game since Ottawa came back into the league in 2014! COMPETE, COMPETE, COMPETE! Just like I wanted!
I didn’t watch the linebackers as much as I would have liked, but how great was it to see Micah Teitz make that pass breakup early in the first quarter (on a great diving play, no less)? He was pumped about it and I was for him. If Teitz is back to the 2021 level he was playing at, this team will be doing just fine across the middle of the defense!
Now, how about the O-Line? It sure wasn’t the group I was expecting to play, but that tells me that the coaches have it in their mind who is the starting group already. I will say that I just hope that the team doesn’t have to rely on Evan Johnson in 2023. He just doesn’t have it. Pass protection is weak and run blocking isn’t much better. Overall, I thought the entire line gave their QBs a decent amount of time and the QBs didn’t get sacked once! I mentioned Dolegala getting to his third and fourth reads… you can’t do that without the O-Line giving you that time. I’m excited to see the starters on Friday with Trevor Harris in Winnipeg. I won’t say all the issues have been fixed, but they definitely seem light years ahead of where they were last year.
Lastly, I wanted to watch Craig Dickenson and how he controlled the team, but with that many guys on the sidelines, I felt it would be best for me to hold off on that. The team did compete until the very end and that also speaks volumes about the coaching staff. The penalties though… they HAVE to correct that and soon. We’ve all heard you talk the talk, Coach… time to walk the walk on it.
Overall, I liked what I saw on Saturday night. I know it’s way too early to tell, but it sure looks like Jeremy O’Day and company have done their work with this team. Some guys (like Mitch Picton, especially) really stepped up and have shown quite a bit of growth, albeit, for one preseason game against backups. But it was good to see. I’m optimistic about this team and their potential.
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