File Under:http://tinyurl.com/atxpyokRiders season ends in amazing fashion.......That one last shot's a Permanent Vacation And how high can you fly with broken wings? Life's a journey not a destination And I just can't tell just what tomorrow brings You have to learn to crawl Before you learn to walk But I just couldn't listen to all that righteous talk, oh yeah I was out on the street, Just tryin' to survive Scratchin' to stay Alive It's Amazing With the blink of an eye you finally see the light It's Amazing When the moment arrives that you know you'll be alright It's Amazing And I'm sayin' a prayer for the desperate hearts tonightAerosmith---"Amazing" Well poop.As football games go, if you didn't have a dog in this hunt, you'd be hard pressed to find a better example of playoff football. With apologies to the dude on crack from Krakow, I don't give a rats arse whether these were two 4 and 14 teams, or two undefeated squads. That simply was a damn fine game all around.It's probably unfair to single out Terrell Maze for letting Romby Bryant get behind him on the winning TD, but I think it's fair to say he, his teammates, and the rest of Rider Nation are going to spend the next little while wondering just how in the hell he let a receiver get behindhim in the last minute of the game. I've rewatched the play a few times and it seems like he expects help over the top and releases Bryant. It's easy to say he bit on the out, but I'd like to know just what the scheme called for in that situation. Ironic that probably our most steadydefensive back all year ends up wearing the goat horns. Regardless, there were plenty of things to single out in this one that ultimately cost the Riders a trip to Vancouver. A lethargic start offensively, a mind numbing 60 yards worth of penalties on one drive to facilitate a Stampeder TD. Oh no Mr. Tate, by all means, just feel free to just put the ball at our one yard line. We'll just let Bo Levi take it in from there. A botched PAT attempt that wound up in our own endzone for a safety, and the resulting kickoff pooched to the 30 yard line. That ball either had to be drilled deep or squibbed. Was there any doubt who was getting the ball at that point? Letting Cornish have a long run resulting in the field goal by Paredes at the half was inexcuseable, and I believe Coach C has to look at himself and his coaching staff in the process of evaluation. So there's plenty of blame to go around, but blame isn't really where this organization or its fanbases head should be at right now. Think back to precisely one year ago and this column isn't even being written. A dismal season had just ended and the purge had only just begun. We were without a head coach and burdened with a talent base that could stand no more recycling. Fast forward to today and what needs to be taken away from this year as a whole can be encapsulated into one word:maturationThis team busted out of the gates with enthusiasm and fearlessness as most teams too young and dumb to realize that the CFL season is a marathon and not a sprint tend to do. They were brought back to earth with some key injuries, youthful mistakes, and pushback from some other good teams. But they had the wherewithall to make a push to attain a playoff spot. They did falter down the stretch, but I don't buy into the notion that coach was sandbagging with an eye to the playoffs. I think some key elements of this team hit the wall and just couldn't perform at that high of a level. I give them credit though, they brought pretty much everything they had and stood toe to toe with the Stamps in their house. I said weeks ago that I thought this team had to learn to lose before they learned to win. I think there is merit in that line of thinking, and I also think that the experience they gained in this game will hold them in good stead to start next year.Special TeamsNot much to say here. They really did nothing spectacular either way, and neither did the Stamps. Can't really evaluate Ricky Schmitt after only one outing. He booms his punts high, but I don't think his distance was particularly above average. As mentioned, the final kickoff before half needed to be better. Will we see him at camp next year? It's anyone's guess. Stamp cover team did well to negate Weston and Brandon West. Color me nonplussed by the play of West. He runs too upright and lacks the elusiveness of a Tristan Jackson or Jock Sanders. I don't expect to see a tonne of change in this area as long as the coaching staff remains stable. DefenceI'll throw it out there and not be the first to do so: have we reached the zenith of the Richie Hall defensive era? I'm not saying that Richie should be blamed for the loss or even that he needs to be replaced. But I've seen this play out too many times in the same way. Lack of pressure up front, unimaginative blitz schemes (how many times can Butler run headlong into the center of the offensive line and be swallowed up?), linebackers in trail position, and db's that don't react to the ball in the air? Maybe it's just the product of a young squad, but I need to see improvement next year with a couple additions to the linebacking corp and the defensive line. Even though he made the critical error, I still think Terrell Maze is going to be a valuable player for this team over the next few years. On the other side I also see Macho Harris as an emerging talent. James Patrick, for all the flak he's taken had himself a pretty good game. The coaches seem to think he grades out well so we'll likely see him back again in this defence. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Milt Collins and can Woodney Turenne deliver on the promise he showed early before his injury?The linebacking corp will likely need an upgrade as I think Lobo was a stopgap measure. Looking forward to a full year of Tbrack and Kromah together. Shomari, well, maybe they convert him to a punter or something with less downside. The defensive line has to be better. They fell off coming down the stretch. Will O'dell re-sign and can someone please put out an APB on the Hawk? One last thing to Tey George. When your coach tells you to go out and "smack 'em in the mouth", don't take it so literally, ok? OffenceDoubles said it himself; they're running out of time. In this one, you can't really blame the offence. For the first time this year, the offence mounted a comeback to take the lead with under a minute left in the game. As bad as they started, they figured out a way to contain the pressure the Stamps were throwing at them and isolate their skilled receivers (namely Weston Dressler) one on one with the Stamp db's. Using misdirection they also found a way to utilize the playmaking ability of Kory Sheets. The rushing numbers were paltry, but I think they planned for that to happen. Also found Greg Carr a few times and used his size to their advantage for once. Interesting to see if he returns next year. Really missed the versatility of Jock Sanders down the stretch and hopefully he will spark the offence again next year. Weston Dressler is the heart and soul of the receiving corp and the offence would be lost without him. Chris Getzlaf just needs to catch the damn ball and he'll be fine. Scott Mchenry seems to have found a spot, but they really have yet to find that replacement for the departure of Cary Koch. I think the offseason wants and needs will include finding that dominant (or at least consistent) import receiver. I want to see Brooks Foster come back to camp next year hungry and see what he can contribute. Talked about hitting a wall, and I believe the offensive line, particularly the right side hit a wall down the stretch. With a less than mobile DD, that spelled trouble. I think Heenan and Neufeld will be fixtures for years to come, but right now they need some down time and then start training for the grind again. I expect them to come back hungry. Fulton is a fixture at left tackle, and dare I say it?Brendon Labatte has to be better. There I said it. Flog me with a wet noodle all you Weyburnites. Drew Willy has to take the next step to become the heir apparent to DD, and I'd like to see them bring in another crop of young guys willing to be groomed. I just don't understand what JT O'sullivans role on this team was. Learning to lose to learn how to win. If there is any justice in the universe, we will see this team take the next step in 2013. This time at home. Dare to dream people
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