Another piece of Rider history for your enjoyment today…
Can you believe it?!?! Labour Day is SOLD OUT!! And we’re still a MONTH away from the home opener!
In celebration of June 1st and the beginning of training camp, I put on my Rider jersey at midnight last night. My friends looked at me as if I was more than a little crazy, but I’m used to it. Plus – IT’S THE RIDERS!! MY RIDERS!!
I’ve started a ‘Rider wall’ in my house that I’ll fill with news about the Riders throughout the coming season. It’ll be a fantastic collage by the end of the year. Maybe I’ll even scrapbook it! I’m still mad I didn’t do that last season.
The blog also has a new look – a little greener! This is no coincidence, of course. It’s in time for the Rider season! So let’s get to it!
Ah, the QB position. The most important position in football. When my family and I were at Mano’s this past week, my Auntie Rita made an intriguing comment. We were talking about the Riders and their QB fortunes when Auntie said, “You know, we’re not going to use that position this year. We don’t need it. We’re just going to line up three running backs and snap it to one of them every play.” I then added that we could line up the receivers and offensive line like a wall and just push the defence down field.
It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard…
The fact is, we’re not the only fans who’ve expressed some scepticism about the talents of the QBs on the Riders’ roster. I was flabbergasted when the Riders decided to trade MOP Kerry Joseph to the Argos; I was speechless when I heard what they received in return.
Many have written off the Riders this year because of Joseph’s departure. So let’s look at the men who have the chance to take his spot.
1. Marcus Crandell
You’re going to hear this phrase so many times this year: last year Marcus and Kerry were so close in terms of who was going to win the starting QB position; it was a photo finish. Now I don’t have the chance to go down to Regina and watch the two-a-days; therefore, I don’t know if it’s true or not. But Rod Pedersen believed Crandell would start last season, based on what he saw at camp, and was rather surprised to see Joseph get the nod.
Head coach Ken Miller and GM Eric Tillman believe the offence they’ve built will fit Marcus perfectly, and since Tillman has won as many Grey Cups as a GM as the Riders HAVE Grey Cups (three!), I’m going to put my faith in him.
But let’s be honest: Marcus Crandell IS NOT the same QB Kerry Joseph is; they have two completely different skill sets. Joseph is more likely to beat you with his legs; Crandell is more likely to beat you with his arm. We won’t likely see Crandell gallivanting down the field for 20 yards – but we won’t see him overthrow open receivers or throw many INTs. Crandell is far more accurate.
The real test for Marcus might not so much be a football one; his leadership abilities will be of paramount importance this season. Following Day 1 of training camp today, Miller told reporters that he told Marcus he needed to take more control in the huddle. I don’t think it was a slight to Marcus or any criticism of his leadership abilities. I think it was Miller reminding him, “Hey – this is YOUR team now.” Remember – Crandell has a Grey Cup ring from 2001 and was the MVP of that game. He knows how to win.
2. Steven Jyles
This is the man most prognosticators see as getting the coveted back up spot. In an interview with the Leader-Post a couple weeks ago, Jyles told Murray McCormick that he sees himself as a Kerry Joseph-type of QB – he can run if he wants to. But he also has a cannon for an arm, which may make him a more balanced than Joseph is.
Jyles was acquired by the Riders in the trade that sent Frey Perry to the Edmonton Eskimos. Tillman explicitly stated that the Riders needed to get younger at QB and start finding/grooming their next starter. Jyles is obviously seen as a possible contender for that position.
Miller was impressed by Jyles in rookie camp; his quotes about him were more than favourable.
3 and 4. Darian Durant/Drew Tate
I won’t pretend that I know a whole lot about them. I don’t. Actually, I can’t even remember what Darian Durant looks like. Hmmm. I do know that he sat in the third spot on the Riders’ depth chart at QB last season. He is said to be comfortable with the Riders’ offence.
None of the coaches have said anything relating to these two the past couple of days. But we’re only beginning. MUCH more will be said in the coming days…
5. Teale Orban
First – what a great name! It’s one of those names you expect to find in a romance novel. But I digress…
Orban is a rare breed. He’s a CANADIAN QB! Go figure! He was drafted by the Riders in the Canadian College CFL Draft in April in the 6th round. He’s the current starter for the Regina Rams of the CIS. He more than likely won’t make the team and will be returned to the Rams for his final season of CIS eligibility. But participating in training camp will force him to grow exponentially as a QB, which can only help him in the upcoming Rams’ season.
I’m not going to get into a long discussion as to why there are no Canadian QBs in the CFL, but suffice it to say that it’s mainly a product of the import ratio.
Ratio or not, though, Orban is a longshot to make the Riders.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. And, like the Als, it doesn’t hurt my heart one bit.
The Eskimos have missed the playoffs the past two season and are desperate to get back in. Head coach Danny Maciocia needs them to get back, too – or he’s out the door. Maciocia has the unique distinction of being one of the few rookies coaches to win a Grey Cup, yet couldn’t lead them back to the playoffs in 2006, ending 34 straight years of playoff appearances.
Browsing through some articles written by Eskimos beat reporters, it doesn’t look as if there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this season. I read the list of Eskimos either released, retired or traded and was wowed; this team probably had as much of a turnover as the Tiger Cats. Crazy.
So who returns? The incomparable Ricky Ray, at QB. He will need to be healthy all season if the Eskimos want to make the playoffs. Jason Tucker will lead the receivers – his knee seemingly healthy again – with Kamau Peterson and Brock Ralph. Well, they’ll be the starting receivers if they beat out the FOURTEEN other receivers in camp. Yeesh.
As for the defence, DE Fred Perry and CB Jordan Younger will help rejuvenate a not-so-good defence.
But there are plenty of question marks. Who will back up Ray now that Steven Jyles is a Rider? Will the Eskimos even have a running game? They traded Tyler Ebell in the offseason – and he was the team’s leading rusher in 2007. And what about the kicking game? Long time kicker Sean Fleming retired after last season. Oh – problem solved. The Eskimos traded two Canadian draft picks to the Argos (including a 2009 first rounder. Ouch) for Noel Prefontaine (the Argos signed Mike Vanderjagt, who had a successful NFL career and is regarded as possibly one of the best kickers in pro-football history. But he’s old).
You know, the Stamps had fallen to 2nd on my ‘most hated list,’ behind the Lions, when I lived in Vancouver. I have a feeling they’ll regain their number on ranking this season, as expectations are high and already one columnist (Marty York) has picked them as this year’s Grey Cup winner.
Makes me gag.
And seeing Henry Burris’ smirking mug posted everywhere pisses me off more than Stephen Harper. That’s saying a lot. Trust.
I don’t want to write much about the Stamps because it pains me to no end, so here’s a list of 9 questions the Stamps have to answer, courtesy of Dan Toth, who writes for the Calgary Metro:
1. Can Henry Burris win a Grey Cup? Since the quarterback came to town in 2005 the Stamps have had one of the most exciting offences in the CFL, an explosive trait that will have to continue in 2008.
2. Can Dave Dickenson thrive in his new role of backup? The addition of the veteran as Burris’ caddy is expected to make Smilin’ Hank’s grin even brighter but the former CFL most outstanding player needs to accept a diminished presence.
3. Will John Hufnagel live up to expectations as a head coach? The new boss won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2003 and a Grey Cup with Calgary in 1992, but Huffer hasn’t coached in the CFL in 12 years. That’s a long time to be removed from such a unique league.
4. How long will it take a rebuilt offensive line to gel? The retirement of 14-year veteran Jay McNeil, the trade of veteran John Comiskey and departure of free agent Garrick Jones will leave plenty of new faces to the offence’s engine.
5. Will new defensive coordinator Chris Jones be able to apply his style of pressure defence that made the Alouettes such a tough opponent? The Stamps surrendered a league-high 527 points in ’07 leaving plenty of room for improvement.
6. Can punter Burke Dales thrive now that his backup, Duncan O’Mahony, has been punted from the locker-room?
7. Who will emerge as the heart of the new defence? In the old 3-4 scheme the linebackers made the defence tick. Now Brian Clark, Scott Coe and Cornelius Anthony are all gone.
8. Have the Stamps found a reliable game-breaking wide receiver? Ken-Yon Rambo has been moved outside while newcomers Jessie Burton, Tyrone Calico and Chris Jackson all have speed to burn.
9. Can the Stampeders finally give hungry fans a Grey Cup championship? The “new regime” is entering its fourth season at the helm and fans are getting anxious for some results.
And here’s a totally off-topic question.
Why do members of the Democratic party in Puerto Rico get to vote/pick a candidate for President when THEY CAN’T ACTUALLY VOTE IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTION????
Somebody – please stop the madness!! I don’t know if I can take another SIX MONTHS of this!