Weather aside, there wasan't anything more that we could have asked for from the home opener. Don't buy the talk that this was a nothing opponent. The Cats finished 10-8 last year, went to the Cup and added some pieces to improve their defense. Just because the Riders beat thim convincingly isn't a reason to suddenly think they are terrible. Same thing with our next opponent, Toronto. The Argos got beat very convincingly in Winnipeg despite being one of the pre-season favorites in the East. They will be looking to bounce back against the Riders this week. Let's check the match ups.
Probable starters: Riders - Durant, Argos - Ray. This worked out quite well for the CFL in that the QBs rated near the top of the league go head to head in Week 2. This was very controversial in Saskatchewan having Ray voted ahead of Durant. I will be honest, it didn't bother me that much. Ricky Ray was having an outstanding year before he got hurt and on a record setting pace. When he is on his game, there isn't a QB that is more precise. But yes he did get hurt and missed a lot of time. Also, he can't take a team on his shoulders and run for a win like Dairan did in the WSF. To me these guys are even. We'll let week 1 performance, and my homer tendancies be the tie breaker. Slight Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Allen, Argos - Steele. It's pretty hard to compare the running backs for these teams based on game 1 just due to the very different circumstances. The Riders got the quick jump on the Cats and in the bad weather, rode their running game to the win. The Argos fell behind early and put the ball in the hands of Ricky Ray for most of that game. The Argos gave their backs 7 carries which might have been what Allen had in the firs quarter. Based on one game, there is no reason, none whatsoever, to take Allen out and give someone else a look. I will write off that fumble due to conditions. I will be concerned if we see that again this week. There still isn't much of a body of work to pick a winner here. Even
Probable starters: Riders - T. Smith, Bagg, Swain, Riley, Smith, Argos - Chiles, Watt, Owens, Drurie, Barnes. This is the area of the team that is being hit the hardest with injuries. I am guessing that Getzlaf will only be out this week or at most one more week with a bye coming up after that. Chilens is out which should come as no surprise to anyone who saw his leg bend on his reception. Hopefully he is not out long term. The big thing that stood out for me in week 1 for receivers was how Swain seems to have made a nice adjustment to the CFL, and seems to already have something going with Darian. The Argos' receivers are better than the numbers they put up last weekend. Let by Chad Owens this group is athletic, can get deep, and also have the ability to break tackles. He's not listed as a starter but the Argos used Darwin Adams last week too. Edge Argos
Probable starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Heenan, G - Labatte, Best, C - Picard, Argos - T - Van Zeyl, Rogers, G - Holmes, King, C - Keeping. The Rider offensive line, along with Allen was the talk of the game. That was a dominant performance. Remember, this was a Hamilton d-line that was getting batter as the year went on and added a stud in Ted Laurent. The Riders made them look completely inneffective. The Riders will face a much better offensive line in the Argos than they did with the Cats, although the Argos line didn't really show it last week. That might be bad news for the Riders if they show up in a bad mood. The Argos line also put two guys in the CFL top 50 (Van Zeyl and Keeping). Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - DE - Chick, Foleyl, T - George, Walker, Argos - DE - Gibson, Okpaluago, DT - Thomas, Harrell. Again, it's just one game but the question mark at DT replacing Keith Shologan seems to have been answered. Derek Walker had a good game with a couple of sacks. Guyton didn't have the numbers but seemed to get pressure. Foley and Chick were absolute dynamite off the edges and Foley turned his performance into Defensive and Canadian POW. How green is the Argos' front line? Well when you look up their profiles on their team site, they don't even have pictures of them in Argo uniforms. All the pictures are in their formal NFL and college jerseys. I have never seen a team line up 4 newcomers like that. Maybe these guys will turn into a formidable group, but it should take time. Hopefully they don't gel this week. Okpaluago is a newcomer this week. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - MLB - Peters, OLB - Hurl, Brown, Argos - MLB - Emry, OLB - Robinson, Horton. This is going to sound like a broken record, but onne again some new starters stepped in and eased our minds for now. Peters and Hurl both played well. Peters showed great speed chasing guys down side to side. Hurl might have found a home as a blitzer. You have to time those right to not give it away and let the blockers adjust. He did that well. This is the most experienced group in the Argos defense and will have to hold the fort. Shea Emry is the key guy here. Jamie Robinson is out this week and replaced by Antwuan Molden playing in his first CFL game. Even
Probable starters: Riders - CB - Williams, Jackson, HB - Maze, Anderson, S - Brackenridge; Argos - CB - Smith, Agnew, HB - Carter, Underwood, S - Gabriel. Our secondary played as advertised last week. I assume from Collaros had to hang onto the ball because guys just weren't open, and Hamilton has good receivers. They will have a bigger test this week, because Ray will thread the needle and not be afaid to throw the ball in tight coverage. Keep in mind, our guys missed two picks by running into each other! This Argos secondary really struggled in Winnipeg last week It was ridiculous to see the Bomber receivers running free. The guy I really noticed having a tough day was Underwood. We have seen defensive backs struggle in this league early and then develop but right now, there could be a lot of growing pains for the Argos, and now they have injuries to deal with. One of the few experienced guys they have, safety Matt Black is out and replaced by Jermaine Gabriel. I don't know if Agnew is replacing Ware at corner due to injury or performance. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Green, Smith; Argos - Owens. The Riders came out 50/50 here. Green didn't have a big day returning, but on a day like that fielding the ball was an adventure with the rain and wind. He tried to make a big play a few times but ended up losing ground. Ryan Smith on the other hand made a big play on his only return. Green gets credit for a big block he made on that return. If you can, watch the replay, and you will see Green put a Cat on his behind opening up the big hole in the middle. Chad Owens's long return for a TD was one of few bright spots for the Argos. Smith took one a long way as well which I believe set up the Argos first TD. I wanted to mention Dylan Ainsworth who had 3 special teams tackles in his debut. Edge Argos
Probable starters: Riders - Milo; Argos - Waters. Too bad that Milo gets a miss on his record for that kick that died in the wind. Waers didn't attempt a FG in Winnipeg so I will use last year's percentage as the tie-breaker. Milo was at 88, Waters at 72. Edge Riders
Probable starters Riders - Bartel, Argos - Waters. Bartel had some short ones into the wind where he had a 31 yard average early. He finally got to boom a few with the wind in the 4th quarter to get his average up to 37. His kicks to pin the opposition are different from Schmidt. Schmidt relied on backspin after kicking the ball high. Bartel seems to like kicking it out of bounds. I got used to Schmidt's hangtime so not having that makes me nervous against returners like Owens. It was a smaller sample size but Waters did lead the league in average last year. Edge Argos
When the Riders have the ball
It's been a while since I have been so impressed with a 136 yard passing performance but in those conditions, Durant executed the game plan perfectly. The challenge this week will be continuing what they did last week with two starting receivers out. Because of that and the success on the ground last week, look for hte Riders to try and establish the run early. The Argos run defense was not good last week with Grigsby running for 122. Considering our offensive line is superior to Winnipeg's, you would think this would be successful. That will help wear down the Argo defense.
The passing game presents a challenge to the Riders with the injuries at receiver. Fortunately for them, the Argos' secondary was dreadful in Winnipeg last week and has at least one injury replacement. I wish we were healthier and slotback because I would love to have seen Getzlaf line up on Underwood. It's going to be Swain or Riley getting those chances tomorrow. Here's another way in which Ryan Smith's career is mirroring Weston Dressler. After not being in the startling lineup to start in 2008, injuries early in the year gave Dressler his chance. Sure enough, injuries early in the year are going to give Smith more opportunities tomorrow. Rider fun fact - receivers Taj and Ryan Smith are not related. I know it was only one week, but based on what I saw in Week 1, there really isn't a place in the Argo secondary that I think Darian needs to avoid. The Argos played a lot of man last week, poorly mind you, but a lot of man. This helps the Riders' lack of experience at receiver since if you are playing man coverage, you just look to run your pattern and beat your guy, rather than reading and having to find the open area in the zone. Drew Willy had a lot of time to throw last week, so we may see the Argos come with more pressure.
When the Argos have the ball
Even though the Argos offense struggled last week, playing against a Ricky Ray led offense is always going to be a challenging task. I've seen a lot of games where he gets into a zone and cannot be stopped. The easiest way to stop this from happening is for the Riders to get the kind of pass rush they got last week. It will be more difficult against a better offensive line and a QB who will read and get rid of the ball quicker. If the Riders can get through, Ray will be easier to track down than Collaros. Maybe it was because they were down early but the Argos pretty much abandoned the run against the Bombers with their backs only getting 7 carries. You would think they will try and run the ball to slow down the Rider pass rush. This is where the Rider defense is supposed to be vulnerable, and I thought Steele looked good in his limited action last year. This game will be a better test than last week for the interior of the Rider defense. If Brian Peters took reps in practice at corner last year, he has to have above linebacker speed. We will see how he tracks down Steele, on handoffs and out of hte backfield in the passing game.
The Argos receivers are good at yards after the catch. Ray will be looking to hit them in stride to make that happen. WHen the completions do happen, our tackling on guys like Owens and Drurie has to be solid to stop them from turning those routes into big plays. The good thing about playing against a big play group of receivers like Toronto? The secondary one of the major strengths of this team.
Yes the Riders looked great last week, and the Argos looked awful. But we have seen a couple of games this weekend that shows Week 1 results may not matter in predicting week 2 results. The Argos should be much better at home than they were on the road and have had more rest than the Riders. They have big play guys and with a guy like Chad Owens returning kicks, they can put 7 on the board in a hurray. The Riders need to contain him on special teams and not give the Argos big plays on offense. If they play fundamentally sound football, they are a better team and should beat the Argos. I think we will see a win, but I get a sense I am not quite as confident as the rest of you.
My score: Roughriders 31 Argos 23
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