So. There are two schools of thought following Saturday’s 28-23 loss to those cowardly Lions.
If you know me at all, you’ll know I really, really don’t like the Lions. I’d forgotten how much I really, really don’t like them until Saturday night, as it was the first meeting between my beloved Riders and those Lions. BTW, why the name ‘Lions’? Canada doesn’t have any lions – except those in zoos. Smoking too much you-know-what on the coast there…
But I digress. The first school of thought following the loss is what I will call the ‘Chicken Little’ group (credit for this name goes to the knowledgeable-yet-entertaining posters on RiderFans.com). This group believes the Riders are done. The loss in BC is the beginning of a long, slow death, an implosion that will leave the Riders in the basement of the Western Division, fighting for a playoff spot by playing for a crossover berth. These pessimists think Michael Bishop should be pulled in favour of Darian Durant. Now. Also, Makowsky, January and the offensive line need to be benched. And cut Scott Schultz and the ENTIRE defensive line. Well hell, let’s just scrap the whole damn team and forfeit the season!
The second group is the more realistic ‘regroup’ group. This is the group I fall into. This group believes the Riders simply didn’t play well enough to win on Saturday. But, the sky isn’t falling. No. It was a bad game (albeit a bad game the Riders could have won if it weren’t for that pesky pass interference call in the 1st half. I’ll save you a couple of paragraphs and leave it at that. Besides, penalties shouldn’t be used as excuses). The lines were porous, clearly outworked, outmanned and overwhelmed by the Lions front lines. Michael Bishop made poor decisions. Poor playcalling by the coaches didn’t help; the schemes were both inefficient and ineptly implemented. The receivers didn’t come back to the ball and try and help their quarterback enough. Special teams poorly blocked and poorly tackled. Defensive backs got beat on big plays. In other words, it was a TEAM loss as the TEAM looked poor in all three phases of the game at one time or another. And you know what? It’s gonna happen. ALL good teams have bad games. Even the New England Patriots. You just have to hope your team doesn’t ‘go bad’ on the most important night of the season.
And, believe it or not, there were bright spots. As evidence, I present to you my three stars of the game.
Offensive Stars: WES CATES – #20, RUNNING BACK and WESTON DRESSLER – #7, RECEIVER
I swear my heart stopped last week when Cates got his bell rung by a certain Bomber linebacker with the last name Logan. He went down like a ton of bricks, and I was sure we wouldn’t be seeing him play again for a couple of weeks. But, he got up, shook off the cobwebs and came back to play. This week he put up 122 yards and crossed the 1000 yard rushing mark, the first running back to do so this season. Congrats, Wes!
And then there’s #7, whose performance is causing a battle. I sure do love my Andy Fantuz, but #7 is making a good push for my heart. He racked up 112 yards in the air on Saturday night. He’s quickly becoming a deep threat and a leader on the Rider offence. And, he’s making a good case for Rookie of the Year honours.
Defensive Star: MAURICE LLOYD – #47, LINEBACKER
I really could have given this award to any of the linebackers. They might be the best linebacking core in the league, which is funny considering how much change occurred at that position in the offseason. It’s also funny because Rider fans are notorious for being overly-concerned with the person who plays middle linebacker. I picked Mo Lloyd because of his sack on Buck Pierce in the 4th quarter. This guy knows how to play when the pressure’s on. I love watching him fly around the field on every single play. He never, ever looks like he’s tired. Amazing stuff.
Special Teams Star: LUCA CONGI – #10, PLACE KICKER
Did the special teams ever suck on Saturday. The only bright spot? Luca was 3/3 on his field goals. He only missed three field goals alllllllllll year. That’s pretty ridiculous. Ridiculously good.