Well I was going to say that we need to move on from that debacle on Toronto on Saturday, but it was going to be tough to not refer to what went wrong in that game. Well the team made it a lot easier with the move today (Monday), and the trade of Dwight Anderson. I believe that what happened with Anderson has been coming, and that Saturday was the last straw. Think about it. Cory Chamblin was always a huge supporter of Anderson. Think of what it would take to change that. Well, TSN has their story line for the game on Saturday and the rematch with the Argos on the 26th. For now let's look at this Riders / Lions matchup. Would anyone have thought these two teams would be 1-3 between them going into this week?
Probable starters: Riders - Durant, Lions - Glenn. Well no point in sugar-coating it, that was not a good peformance by Darian. There were so many what if's. What if he leads Taj Smith on the first play of the game, and the Riders go up 7-0? What if he also hits Brett Swain for a second TD? I think Darian will bounce back with a better performance. It was hard to find any silver lining in that game, but one to me erassed any fears people may still have about Durant and Cortez butting heads. After that pick six at the end, there was a scent of the two of them talking. Cortez had a little smile on his face and after they spoke, he patted Darian on the head. These two are on the same page despite how bad that game was. Going back to the last two meaningful games Kevin Glenn played last year (both against us and he was pulled in both), Kevin Glenn has thrown 9 picks. That is in the equivalent of 3 games. One thing Glenn had going for him in his success in Calgary was either the top or top 2 rushing attacks in the league behind Cornish. The Lions have not used their running game and Glenn has really struggled. Edge Riders
Probably starters: Riders - Allen or Charles or Messam? , Lions - Logan. I didn't think much of the Allen fumble against Hamilton. That stuff happens in those kind of conditions. When it happened again last week, it caught my attention. Obviously by the benching it caught the coach's attention too. For the record, I thought Chamblin handled that one right. More changes due this week with Hugh Charles and probably Jerome Messam drawing in. Having to use an Eskimo cut at running back has me worried about our running back situation a bit now. Messam has all the physical tools but can hre regain his 2011 form? I am very surprised at how few carries Stefan Logan has gotten from the Lions so far this year. Andrew Harris hasn't gotten many either. They weren't down till late in the Edmonton game and even in the Montreal game, 14 in the CFL is not much in the first quarter. Considering a lot of people expected the Lions to run the ball a lot this year their playcalling so far has been puzzling. Edge Lions
Probable starters: Riders - Smith, Bagg, Riley, Swain, Riley, Lions - Jackson, Poblah, Gore, Arceneaux, Taylor. It appears that the Riders won't have Chris Getzlaf for a 2nd straight week. I saw this coming with the bye next week. Hopefully he's at 100% for the Argo game. Obviosusly we need guys like Swain, Smith, and Riley to step up fast. The Lions have a good group of receivers. They are nowhere near as good as people were saying last yaer when they got rid of Simon, but they are good. Arceneaux coming back makes this group much better. I am shocked to hear that Marco Ianuzzi is out of favour in BC. Edge Lions
Probably starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Heenan, G - Labatte, Best, C - Picard, Lions - T - Cave, Olafioye, G - Fabien, Valli, C - Norman. After all the accolades from week 1, the line's play came crashing down to earth too. That might be unfair, as they were opening big holes on the ground, and there were times that Darian had all day to throw. But once the Riders fell behind, the pass rush got through. Of course that is the toughest task for a line, when the opposition knows you have to through. One thing I was looking forward to was a healthy Fulton this year, so seeing him limp around on Saturday was alarming. This is not the dominant Lions line of as recent as 2011. Olafioye is still as good as wever, but overall this line has had their struggles so far this year. They get Fabien back at guard this week which should help. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - DE - Chick, Foley, DT - George, Walker, Lions - DE - Smith, Bazzie, DT - Mitchell, Taylor. I didn't expect the line to get to Ray like they did Collaros. The big concern here might be how well the Argos ran on us. It seemed like a scheme issue where a lot of times they got wide with a quick toss play or jused mis-direction. This is probably the best front four the Riders will have faced in this young season. Having Mitchell back in the middle give the Lions quite a push with him and Taylor. I think Khreem Smith is pretty underrated. Jabar Westerman will get into the rotation too. Slight Edge Lions
Probable starters: Riders - MLB - Peters, OLB - Hurl/ Black, Brown, Lions - MLB - Elimimian, OLB - Bighill, Johnson. Both teams are in very different stages at linebacker. I don;t think there is a better 1-2 bunch in this league than Elimimian and Bighill. On the other side, Hurl and Peters are still finding their way for the Riders. Edit time: It looks like Tristan Black is either starting or splitting time with Hurl. It's got to be disappointing for Hurl to have this happen just two games into the season. I have to think this is not permanent, and he will get the chance to work his way back into becoming a full time starter. Edge Lions
Probable starters: Riders - CB - Williams, Jackson, HB - Maze, Harris, S - Brackenridge, Lions - CB - Marsh, Yell, HB - Parks, Phillips, S - Larose. The uncharacteristic bad game from our secondary was quickly overshadowed by the events of the Anderson trade on Monday. It sounds like Maze switches to the short side now with Macho Harris coming in to start in Maze's old spot. Just my opinion, but I thought Maze was a better cover guy than Anderson. I have faith in this group to bounce back from the bad game and remain effective without Anderson. One of the biggest suprises for me in the CFL Top 50 was seeing Cord Parks on that list. Ronni Yell is a newcomer for the Lions on the corner. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Green, Lions - Logan. It was hard to blame Green for the lack of return yards last week when it looked he was not getting much blocking help. I thought that long return by Owens in the fourth quarter last week was the play that sealed that game. That return was very disappointing because the punt was well placed by the sidelines and we looked to have it well covered. We can't use "it was Chad Owens" as an excuse because it does not get any easier this week with Stefan Logan. Edge Lions
Probable starters: Riders - Milo, Lions - McCallum. There shouldn't be any criticism of Chris Milo for missing that kick into the win in the opener. But we can't have him missing from inside the 40 like he did last week, or having a kickoff go out of bounds that really killed some of the momentum of the comeback after two quick TDs. It's too early in the year to give either guy an edge. Even
Probable starters: Riders - Bartel, Lions - Schmitt. For the 2nd week in a row, a member of the Grey Cup team returns with the opposition. This one will be a lot more quiet than the next one promises to be. There's less than a yard difference between Bartel and Schmitt so far this year. It's tempting to call this even, but I have to be honest. IF Schmitt was still the Rider punter, I would give him the edge in a matchup against Bartel. Edge Lions
When the Riders have the ball
This section is a lot more difficult to do this year. Last year it was pretty much establish Sheets, and in the passing game get the ball primarily to Dressler and Getzlaf. Well none of those guys are around. Then when you thought it was going to be establish Allen this year, with his fumbling it could be Hugh Charles getting a lot of the work. Well with our offensive line, my guess is whoever lines up in the backfield, we are going to give them the rock to move the ball on the ground. It might be too early to see Jerome Messam be part of this mix. As good as the Riders are at running the ball, the Lions have a strong front seven. Running the ball against this front will not be easy. Their linebackers are very moblie in the passing game too so throwing the ball to the backs won't be a gimme. I would assume we will try and get Hugh Charles the ball in space, so if he is in look for more sweeps and swing passes.
I don't see an obvious mismatch in the Lions secondary so my guess is Darian will be distributing the ball pretty evenly. He's shown he will get the ball to the newcomers, particularly Swain I think it would be a mistake for the Lions to completely concentrate on Smith and Bagg. I wish Rob Bagg was a little closer to the QB than the wide side WR spot because I would like to see him get the ball more with Getzlaf out. It's hard to tell from TV, but it seemed like there were times when Darian had time but just couldn't find someone open. I hope it is not a case of us missing Getzlaf that much. It's hard to draw much from last year against the Lions either since they have a new DC this year. We all noted last week that the Rider line had a sub-par game by their standards. This is a much better front they are playing in BC so they are going to have to step up their game. It's no coincidence that we turned the ball over last week vs week 1 (in bad weather no less) and lost. The Lions have aggressive defenders who like to go after the ball. We have to protect the football.
When the Lions have the ball
Like I said above, I did not bother putting myself through watching last week's game again so I am going by the one time memory. The Argos seem to have success using misdirection and quick toss plays to outflank our D and get their runners outside. We'd better have an answer for this because it really reminds me of the type of plays the Lions used to have success in the WSF last year (let's hope Khari did not keep that part of the playbook from last year). Again, as I said above, the lack of carries for Logan really surprises me. I expect that to change tomorrow, and the Riders need to be able to contain him. If the Lions continue to ignore the run or the Riders stop it, I don't know if Glenn can carry the offense with the passing game and win.
Even though the Lion receivers are all pretty good, Arceneaux is definitely the most dangerous guy they have. If they line up him up at slot, like the depth chart shows, it will be mostly up to Maze and Harris to handle him. I can see the Lions moving him to the wide side at times to test Harris. They will also try and get him the ball on quick screens and end arounds so he can use his ability to run after catching. Our tackling will have to be much better than last week to contain this. Kevin Glenn is in the same league as Ricky Ray when it comes to mobility. There was no excuse for missing tackles on Ray or not closing on him fast enough to stop him from getting first downs. When we get our chances on Glenn we have to finish the play and sack him. Even if Tristan Black comes out on the field to start the game, the way we use a lot of personal on defense, I suspect Hurl is still going to get a fair amount of action.
We will find out tomorrow if that game against Toronto was just "one of those days". If the team posts a convincing win or at least plays well and gets a close win, we can feel they are back on track. IF we see another stinker where the Riders get badly outplayed, it's time for concern. After the easy win in week 1, I got caught up in assuming that we can just pick up where we left off last year, and the new guys will fit in seamlessly. Last week was a reality check that it will take some time for the team to gel, so we can't have off-days where the team doesn't show up to play right from the start. From what I hear, practice has been spirited, and the team is ready for tomorrow. As tough as it was to lose a popular guy like Anderson, they have to use that rally around the guys who are still here.
Last week all the keys to winning - win the turnover battle, contain Owens on returns, win the battle in the trenches - were not achieved. It's the same formula this week. The Riders have to contain Logan in the running game and special teams. They have to win the turnover battle. Finally get the running game going and protect Darian when he drops back to throw. I just can't see this team putting up 2 stinkers in a row. BC is better than what they have shown the first two weeks, and I expect a better game from them tomorrow. But the Riders should bounce back at home.
My score: Roughriders 26 Lions 21
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