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Time to Worry About the Riders Pass Rush?

Published: Monday, Jul 3rd 2023, 3:07pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)


Remember back in the 90s there was the computer game turned TV show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? I’m beginning to ask myself the same question, but instead about the Saskatchewan Roughriders pass rush. The Riders are done with their first bye week of the season (with the injuries piling up, they needed it!) and while I sure hope that the team was able to get some rest and get a bit healthier before going into a stretch of 7 straight game weeks, I also hope that they were able to find their pass rush that’s been mostly missing over the last few weeks. 


Through three games, the Riders have 6 sacks, but 5 of them came in the first week against these same Edmonton Elks they face this week. Since that opening game, Pete Robertson has the lone QB take down and it happened on the final play in the first half in week 2 against Winnipeg… a long developing hail mary play for the Bombers. Since then, not a single one, for the most part, not much of a sniff of the QB. Granted, some pressure got there against Calgary forcing bad throws (Jake Maier’s two interceptions come to mind), but it’s not at all consistent.


So what happened? The Riders have an abundance of talent on the D-Line with Pete Robertson, Anthony Lanier II, Micah Johnson and the rest of the crew. Even with the depth injuries the Riders have had this season, they still have guys that can wreak havoc on the field. Should Rider fans be worried about the lack of QB sacks in the last couple of games?


A poster on the Riderfans forum said they are running quite a few stunts, which against Calgary didn’t work because they have a quick throw offense. I know I’ll be paying closer attention to that this week when the Riders host the Elks. Is the issue playing Anthony Lanier II at end, instead of the middle? We saw last year he was most effective on the inside… maybe it’s time to move him back in closer to the QB and get Bryan Cox Jr. some more reps on the outside?


And what has happened to Pete Robertson? Since coming back from his injury last year, he just doesn’t seem the same. I know he was putting up numbers that are unlikely to be sustained for an entire season, but he’s been fairly invisible. He’s been asked to drop into the zone coverage that Jason Shivers loves to play more and more… but why are we taking our best pass rusher and moving him away from what he does best? Time to K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just let him rush the QB! 


Maybe the remedy here for the team is facing the lowly Elks again on Thursday and getting back on track. But will they even have their full complement of rushers available? Pete Robertson (possible late flight?) AND Anthony Lanier (foot) both missed the first day of practice this week. They should be able to beat the Elks without one or even both of them, but they’ll need these guys soon, because after this game, the schedule gets quite a bit tougher with BC and Toronto on the horizon. I’m not worried… yet. But if they can’t get pressure on Edmonton this week, it might be time to get concerned. 


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