View From the Stands: Heartbreak in Rider Nation Edition
Published: Tuesday, Nov 19th 2019, 11:11am
By: Sheldon Jones (@SheldonJones83)
The 2019 Saskatchewan Roughriders Cinderella season ended on Sunday night, with an audible “thunk” of a Football hitting the upright. Rider QB Cody Fajardo was trying his all to lead his team to the endzone to tie the game and have a chance to win the Western Final in overtime. As he looked to Rider receiver Kyran Moore, his pass struck the upright and ended the Roughriders hopes to make it to the 107th Grey Cup Championship game in Calgary on Sunday. For the final time this season, I offer you my thoughts and observations on this heavyweight slobber knocker at Mosaic Stadium.
- Cody Fajardo is a warrior, plain and simple. After his performance (passing for 366 yards on 41 attempts), in the post game press conference Cody let everyone in on the worst kept secret that he does in fact have 2 torn oblique muscles. For him to be able to stand the pain and still be able play effectively was outstanding. In his only interception of the game, he did underthrow Shaq Evans and he also did have a couple of overthrows, but the fact that he could still put the velocity on the ball was impressive. His injury did seem to slow him down on his rushing attack as he only had 3 attempts for 23 yards, with 21 of those yards coming on the last play of the 3rd quarter. It was evident that either Cody, or the coaches did not want to rely on his scrambling ability until late in the game. More on that later…
- Brett Lauther shook off one of his worst games ever (the regular season finale two weeks ago vs Edmonton, where he went 2/6) to lead the Riders to 12 of their 13 points in the game. In going 4/4 he again showed Rider Nation that he is still one of the best in the league and a money kicker. I have no doubt in my mind if he would have lined up for a 50-yard + FG to win, he would have made it. It was a rough year for Lauther statistically following his outstanding 2018 season where he led the CFL in longest FG (56 yards), successful FG’s (54) and was second in percentage (90.0). He was hampered early on with a hamstring injury that could even still be affecting him. Lauther needs to stay in green for a long time…
- The Riders defense gave up too many explosions plays to Bombers QB (and former Roughrider, just in case you needed another reminder) Zach Collaros and his receivers. The did however tighten up after those plays and except for one drive, limited the damage to only FG’s. I was hoping to see a lot more pressure towards Collaros, as he is a very accurate passer when given the time. Riders DC Jason Shivers had a great game plan for shutting down RB Andrew Harris and Chris Streveler. Overall the defense played good enough to win the game.
- Roughriders RB William Powell had a 6 yards per carry average in the game. The only problem was that he was only given the ball 8 times. It bewilders me, along with all of Rider Nation, that we did not effectively use the best (IMO) running back in the league. Lots of people, myself included thought that maybe HC Craig Dickenson or OC Stephen McAdoo were using a sort of “Kawhi Leonard” type of load management with Powell to save him for the playoffs. Well 8 carries in a Western Final is not good enough. I sincerely hope that William chooses to remain with the Roughriders, but honestly would not hold it against him if he went elsewhere. He is an elite talent and deserves to get at least 20 touches a game.
- Offensive Coordinator Stephen McAdoo needs to go. I honestly think he is trying to be too smart for his own good. When the Riders had 8 cracks at the endzone from less that 10 yards away, and to not get a single TD, there is a major problem. So many times, this year, McAdoo has called the run, pass option with tremendous success. The first trip to the green zone, short yardage QB Bryan Bennett was brought in and had a very impressive scramble to get to the one-and-a-half-yard line. On 2nd down, a miscommunication between him and Powell lead to a sack. In this time of the year, in a win or go home situation, you need your best players in the game. I understand that Cody was not 100%, but to take him out and put a kid in there who is cold, was a terrible decision unless Cody himself said he was not able to go. Rider fans cannot pin this loss on the last second play, we lost the game due to bad (or over thinking) coaching decisions. I’m not sure who will be available if the Riders do choose to look elsewhere for an OC, but after the last 2 playoff games McAdoo has shown that he can’t get the job done in pressure situations.
- Kudos to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and their fans. I did not see a single rude, or unruly Bomber fan the whole day. I love our rivalry but also love sportsmanship, so it was great to see the Bomber fans well represented. I happy for the fans that they get a crack to end their long Grey Cup drought.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure I can say that the better team one, but I absolutely will say that the better prepared team did. Bomber HC Mike O’Shea, OC Paul LaPolice and DC Ritchie Hall had a great game planned out. Other than the one decoy punt return that the Riders pulled out of their hat, nothing seemed to surprise them. The Bombers deserve to represent the CFL’s West Division in the Grey Cup this Sunday. I do think that they will be in tough to end their 29-year Grey Cup drought, but if they can come up with another great week of preparation, they absolutely will have a chance. I However, will not be cheering for the Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup (shocker) but I have happily joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats fanbase for the week. Oskee Wee Wee!!