So did everyone enjoy the bye week. I think it came at a good time to get away from the bad feeling following two straight ugly losses. Time for the team to come back focused, reenergized and get this thing back on track. It's way too early to panic, but the losing needs to stop now so tha Riders aren't chasing their opponents in the standings all year. The team should be fired up to play this Argo team that made them look bad just too weeks ago. If that wasn't enough, Dwight Anderson's return to Mosiac will add to the emotion. You just know he's gong to be over by the middle of the field when the Riders come out.
Probable starters: Riders - Durant, Argos - Ray. These guys who were considered the league's elite going into the season have struggled in recent weeks, but a lot of it is not their fault. Both guys have to adjust to inexperienced receivers with injuries. I don't know about Ray, but in Durant's case it has also affected his protection on blitzes. I know we don't want to see Durant run too much and take hits in the regular season, but for the time being he might have to and hold the fort. Ray's perecentage is as good as it normally is, but you can tell when he's missing with his receivers on his usual corner routes that the timing just isn't there. The one thing I do find troubling in Darian's game is the 4 picks so far. Even
Probable starters: Riders - Allen, Ford, Messam ?, Argos - Steele. What an odd anomoly that the Riders are so unsettled at running back and yet Allen is fourth in the league in yards despite playing one less game than the guys ahead of him. I agree with the initial benching in Toronto, but I wish since then we would let him run with it. Signs put to running back by committee this week. I feel comfortable having a big back like Messam around for short yardage. I would have thought with the receiver injuries, that the Argos would lean on Steele and Steve Slaton more than what I saw last week. Slaton is out this week and Jeremiah Johnson is back in. The Riders running backs may be as good or better than the Argos but haven't had a chance to prove it. Edge Argos
Probable starters: Riders - T. Smith, Bagg, Swain, Schilens, DePalma, Argos - Chiles, Watt, Coombs, Sinkfield, Adams. These are two units that have been hit big time by injuries. With Schillens back, the Riders are actually healthier with the Argos missing 3 guys. Unfortunately for us, Getzlaf is still out. I don't buy the excuse that Darian doesn't trust the new guys. He was using Swain a lot early in games and Schillens had a first quarter catch before his injury too. I think it's more a case of them not being where Darian expects at times. Even though Schillens is mostly an unknown to us, I think his return will help. He was showing some nice signs of catching on in that 2nd pre-season game. You could tell last week that the timing just isn't there for Ray with his new receivers. Let's hope that a few more days of practice this week didn't help find that. They have had some trouble hanging onto the ball. THe biggest strength that I see for the Argo receivers is running with the ball after the catch. I hope this doesn't come back to bite me, bit things are pretty dire when they have to bring Maurice Mann who hasn't played in over a year. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Heenan, G - LaBatte, Best, C - Clark, Argos - T - Van Zeyl, Sewell, G - Holmes, King, C - Keeping. The big news here is Dominic Picard sitting this one out with Dan Clark in his place. The biggest concern is going to be the inexperience in making line calls and the snaps to Durant. I am concerned that Cory Watman hasn't shown enough to be the next man up here. I don't think any of can argue that our line has not played to their potential in pass protection the last two games. Not much I can really say about the Argo line so I'm mailing it in. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - DE - Chick, Foley, DT - George, Walker, Argos - DE - Okpalaugo, Gibson, DT - Harrell, Laing. The Rider sack numbers look great but of course some of that comes from the 10 in week 1. Absolutely no questiosn for us on the outside. I didn't get a chance to look at the last game again to see if part of our problem against the run is the tackles not getting a good push or engaging the offensive linemen allowing them to get out on our linebackers. Okpalaugo had a big game for the Argos last week vaulting him among hte league leaders in sacks. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - MLB - Peters, OLB - Brown, Hurl, Argos - MLB - Emry, OLB - Horton, Robinson. This is the area under the most fire for the Riders right now. The numbers don't lie, we are last in the league in ave rush against. To be fair there have been a lot of missed tackles in the secondary too leading to big runs too. What surprises me is how we seem to have struggled when running backs catch the ball out of hte backfield. With two converted DBs there, you would think our speed would negate that. Emry is the leader of the Argo defense. Shane Horton is a very good blitzer. Edge Argos
Probabe starters: Riders - CB - Williams, Jackson, HB - Maze, Harris, S - Brackenridge, Argos - Smith, Underwood, HB - Anderson, Carter, S - Gabriel. No doubt about it, the biggest story in this game is the return of Dwight Anderson to Regina. He's been brought in to solidfy the Argo secondary and provide some leadership. It allows them to "hide" Underwood at the wide side corner spot. The Rider coverage has been pretty good, it's been the missed tackles back there that have been the issue. I am really surprised that we only have 1 interception so far this year. With Macho Harris now in the starting lineup, Mark Legree is the guy who has been coming in as the 6th DB. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - DePalma, Green, Argos - B. Smith, Coombs. If you go by the depth chart DePalma is going to get a chance to return ahead of Green. Green has not shown the same ability he did in the pre-season. To be fair, he has had very little blocking help. Even the 40+ yard return last week was all him, with little blocking. He did put the ball on the ground and really needs to get better at getting the ball in the air. The Argos miss Chad Owens, but Smith has a big return this year and Coombs is doing ok as a rookie as well. Edge Argos
Probable starters: Riders - Milo, Argos - Waters. Chris Milo is an early whipping boy for the Riders. He's only had 6 attempts so two misses really hurts his percentage. I will give him a complete pass on the miss into the wind in Game 1 but he can't miss < 40 yarders like he did in Toronto. Waters is hitting 90% so far this year. Edge Argos
Probable starters: Riders - Bartell - Argos - Waters. The good news is that Bartel is 4th in the league in average and even has a better average than Ricky Schmitt. The bad news is when go down to the net average category, now he drops to dead last. Part of it might be the cover guys, but I think there have been a few kicks where Bartel is not helping with a lack of hang time. No issues with distance or hangtime for Waters. Edge Argos
When the Riders have the ball
Let's get back to what works for this team. So far our offensive line has shown that they can open holes for whoever is running behind them. Getting rushing yards has not been an issue for us. Whether it's Ford, Allen, or Messam, let's feed them the ball and establish things up front. Early in the game before it got out of hand, the Riders were running the ball well in Toronto. Along with the usual advantages of opening up play action and taking the pressure off Darian, there is another reason to lean on the run this week. I am thinking firing out and run blocking is easier than calling protections in the pass. You can help Dan Clark by allowing him to fire out and attack the guy across from him. I heard on the Greenzone that one of Clark's best attributes is his physical strength, so let's let him use that.
If we get the running game going, I would like to see a lot more play-action, maybe bootleg Durant a bit. I see other teams doing that a lot and think we should take advantage of it. Even thought Ryan Smith is out, use that play where we got the ball to him quick and let him run. DePalma is a smooth runner from what people are saying so let's try that play with him. In general I would like to see us get the ball to our receivers quickly and let them make plays. Swain has shown the ability to run after the catch and with his size I am guessing Schilens would be a load to bring down.
The Argos have been good bringing pressure off the edge via the blitz. Carter is 2nd on the team in sacks even though he is a defensive back. As I mentioned earlier, they like to bring Horton as well. The Rides have had some issues with the outside blitz. That has to be better tomorrow. Overall, the team has to play a lot cleaner than it has in recent weeks. We have to limit the drops, interceptions, penalties. Even if you have new guys in, at this level, those mistakes should not happen. One last word on Dwight Anderson, you know he is going to be emotional and fired up. If we throw a short pass in front of him, he will be all over making the play and I doubt we will see a big gain. I can also see him ready to jump a short route and take it all the way. I think what could work early for us is to take advantage of him wanting to make a play and get him on a double move.
When the Argos have the ball
This will be a very different offense for the Argos than the last time we played them, fortunately. 285 yards and 2 Tds of Ricky Ray's 407 and 3 TDs are out without Owens, Durie, and Barnes. That doesn't mean our defense can fall asleep. They still have their work cut out for them. It seemed like we fell for a lot of misdirection last time and the Argos were able to get Steele and Coombs outside. This is just a hunch but I get the feeling that guys are trying to do too much on defense or covering for each other. It just seems on plays like that, we really seem to be getting sucked in. Guys need just worry about their jobs and trust each other. You can bet we will see a lot more of those kind of misdirection plays from the Argos with so many receivers out.
The Argos had success throwing out of the backfield last week to Coombs and Slaton. Slaton is out but they can run those plays to Johnson and Steele as well. Our coverage has to be better on those plays and, the tackling has to be sure so guys aren't getting big yards or getting first downs when they should be stopped short.
The bigges thing is not letting Ricky Ray get comfortable in the pocket. If we give him time to throw, he will throw perfect passes even to his new receivers. We have to make him uncomfortable and hope we can get to him with 4 and 5 man rushes. He reads blitz and gets the ball of as well as anyone if we are forced to bring extra pressure. As good as Ricky Ray is, I don't see him as much of a scrambler. When we get our chnaces to get a sack, like in the last game, make the play and do not let him get out of the tackle and run for a first down. That has to be really demoralzing to see a non-running QB do that.
Nothing this early is a "must win" game, but the urgency really ramps up for this one. The way the west is going this year, we have a lot of tough games coming up later in the schedule. The Riders can't afford to fall too far back and be playing catchup the rest of the year. Yes we have injuries, but all teams do. The guys who are out there have to play sound football. I really believe it's the things like drops, penalties, missed tackle etc hurting this team. Clean that up and the Riders should win tomorrow. This is not a dominant team like the 2013 team showed on occasion. But it's still a good team. They need to show it on the field.
My score Roughriders 21 Argonauts 17
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