Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May the only turkey you expeirence this weekend be the one on your dining room table and NOT this game on Monday. As much as I hate losing, particularly to Calgary, I was surprised at how I wasn't as upset as usual. I think it may have been because at halftime I had re-signed myself to the fact that our whole season rested on Darian coming back and then having to do it in the playoffs on the road...again. But Tino's second half has re-ignited that hope, and then there's the Kerry Joseph thing. Well, off to Montreal for our only non-Alberta team game down the stretch.
Probable starters: Riders - Sunseri, Alouettes - Crompton. I will be re-writing this if Chamblin does the unthnkable and start Joseph or Doege. If Joseph gets any significant action anytime soon, that's a bad thing because it means Sunseri has regressed again. I hope his second half last week means maybe things are coming together for him. He found secondary targets and was decisive. The Riders didn't see Jonathon Crompton in the first meeting between these teams. I don't know if he's that good or just looks good compared to Troy Smith and Brink. He is moblie and has a good arm to get hte ball deep to some decent receivers. Edge Alouettes
Probable starters: Riders - Allen, Alouettes - Sutton. The days of the three headed monster appears to be over with Allen being the main ball carreir with Messam coming in the odd time. Montreal put Brandon Whitaker on the 6 game list which effectively ends his season. He has given us fits in the past when playing in Morntreal. Tyrell Sutton will start for Montreal. He's in that usual mold of Montreal skilled position guys. Lots of speed. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - DePalma, Bagg, Dressler, Getzlaf, Swain, Alouettes - Carter, Green, Stala, London, Rogers. Myabe it was due to Tino getting them the ball, but it was good to see the Rider receiver outside of Dressler show some signs of life last week. The most intriguing guy to me is Brian DePalma who in limited time has shown the ablility to turn ordinary plays to into big one. Early in the third quarter I was being very critical of Swain to say the least, but he made some plays after that. Carter and Green are the two guys to watch in Montreal. I wonder what their numbers would be with decent QB play all year. Green has expressed his frustration with the situation. James Rodgers is a speedster. Slight Edge Montreal
Probable starters: Riders - T - Adcock, Heenan, G - Best, Clark, C - Picard, Alouettes - Bourke, Parrett, G - Bombin, Matte, C - Brodeur-Jordian. The good news is Chris Best being back. There is no doubt after two years how much of a difference he makes on our line. The bad news is Brendan Labatte is out. I have heard from people who know the position much better than me that his play has not be good recently. I wonder if he's fighting a nagging injury and we were waiting for Best to return to give Labatte some rest. With Adcock in again this week is Fulton getting Wally Pipped? Through all their other turmoil, the Als still maintain a good offensivel line. They might have the best set of tackles in the league. Slight Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - DE - Chick, Foley, DT - George, Guyton, Alouettes - DE - Bowman, Lavarias, DT - Cash, Paxon. Derrick Walker is out this week. Quietly he is having a good year and is a loss when not in there. I imagine that means Beaudreaux and Algahyere will stay on the roster. Whether it's because of Chick getitng so much attention or not, George has been great the last few weeks. Bowman gets the attention, but Lavarias is a good DE as well. The Als have a very good front four that flies under the radar. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - MLB - Hurl, OLB - Peters, Brown, Alouettes - MLB - Woods, OLB - Venable, Cox. Based on the depth chart, Sam Hurl moves back into the middle. Actually since they had Peters listed there early in the year, I guess this might be Sam's first action there. I would love to see him take this job and run with it. I was not a big fan of the penalties Diamond Ferri took last year, but there is not doubt he will bring some sandpaper to our linebackers. Bear Woods is probably the best name in the league. The Riders catch a break with Kyries Hebert out. Edge Alouettes
Probable starters: Riders - CB - Williams, Jackson, Maze, Harris, S - Brackenridge. Alouettes - CB - Tisdale, White, HB - Brown, Parker, S - Brouillette. I thought the Rider secondary had a good week overall. The one thing that has be lacking in recent weeks has been turnvers from our secondary. With the offense struggling we could use some big plays from them. It's ironic that after that big play by Green last week in the secondary he probably gets replaced by a healthy Legree this week. Monthreal's secondary plays it aggressive like the rest of their defense. Lost of stablity at halfback where Brown and Parker have played together for quite a few years. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Dressler, Jackson, Alouettes - Rodgers. Lots of explosive returners in this one. Dressler and Jackson have both taken kicks to the house for the Riders. Rodgers hs done the same for Montreal, and we saw first hand what Carter can do on missed field goals. With Ferri and Legree in the lineup, I expect our kick coverage to be better than in recent weeks. Even
Probable starters: Riders - Milo, Alouettes - Whyte. With only one attempt, and that being a chip shot, in recent weeks, there is no way to evaluate Milo right now. In fact, with a shutout in Edmonton and going for 3 all three times last week, he has not attempted a placement in 10 quarters. Whyte is having a solid year for Montreal at 85%. Edge Alouettes
Probable starters: Riders - Bartell, Alouettes - Whyte. With the issues we are having on returns right now, Bartel is a welcome return. On a side note, I saw a little bit of practice on Saturday and Quinn Price can really hammer the ball. Bartel's numbers are close to Whyte's but potential rust swings the pendulum here. Edge Alouettes
When the Riders have the ball
One thing interesting last week to me was that Calgary did not come after Sunseri with a load of bitzes. Even after we were we down and in obvious pass situations. Don't expect that this week. Montreal is a blitzing team, even when they are facing veteran quarterbacks. I am thinking DC Noel Thorpe is really going to release the hounds tomorrow. A running game can slow down that rush. They aren't an easy team to run agaisnt either as they attack and cancel the run gaps. Hopefully things don't go downhill on us early so that the team can stick with the running game. I would think against a team like this, swing passes or getting the ball outside to the running backs could be effective.
The thing I like about swing passes etc is they can get us some yards on first down leaving second and managable. Is I mentioend above, if the Riders are 2nd and long regularly, Montreal will bring the heat. We are going to have to be prepared to beat that blitz. If the game plan is going to be for Tino to hang in the pocket waiting for guys to get open, it's going to be al long afternoon. We have to get hte ball out of his hands quickly with hot routes, bubble and hitch screens etc. The Als will run a lot of zone drops too where they will bring linebackers and then drop Bowman and Lavarias into coverage. If Tino blindly throws slants or hooks into the middle he could throw it right to one of those dropping linemen. The best way to pay the Als for blitzing would be if he can throw one up deep and let our receivers run under it for a big play. It's going to take a team effort to beat that Als blitz. The line has to pick it up, and the receivers have to read and adjust their routes. There is a lot on Tino's shoulders too. If the Als outnumber the number of blockers, and they will bring the all out blitz like that, Tino has to recognize it and get the ball out. In general Tino has to realize he does not have all day and either ball out and run or take his check down. From the looks of the depth chart, this is Tino's game all the way. If it gets to the point we go back to Doege afer last week's game, we might want to change the channel. KJ is #3 and it came from the coach's mouth that he is not ready.
When the Alouettes have the ball
A solid game by our defense will allow us to be patient and not put too much pressure on Sunseri tomorrow. Sutton has only had 22 carries, so I don't know if the Als game plan will involve giving him as many touches as they usually would with Whitaker. Former NFL bad boy Chris Rainey may make the lineup as a backup and see some action. I know what you are saying; "NFL bad boy" is not specific enough. The Als really aren't much of a running team, averaging the 2nd worst per carry in the league. Crompton hasn't taken off much as the QB with only 80 yards. The Riders need to shut down the Als running game and force Crompton to beat them.
Crompton has put up pretty modest numbers since taking over as the Als starting QB. The best game he had was going 20-28 with 2 Tds against Calgary. The key to success on defense will be forcing him to beat us through the air. This game will be on the corners as Montreal's best bets at receivers are their two wide outs. They will move SJ Green around so he could end up matched up on one of our inside guys sometimes. Covering those two will be a challenge as they are good receivers. Tackling, although always important, will be critical. Carter and Rodgers in pariicular are good with the ball after they catch it. Look for the Als to screens to those guys and let them run with it. We need to have guys swarming to the ball and not missing when they get there. Some of those deep jump balls will be scary with those tall receivers got at going and getting it. I would prefer to see Brackendridge patrolling the middle vs blitzing so he can help on those deep throws.
Yes, looking at past history Montreal has been a graveyard for us. But remember this is not Anthony Calvillo and company we are going in to face this time. Yes I know we lost to Tanner Marsh last year, but you know what I mean. Montreal is an opportunistic team that thrives of turnovers and big plays. Their only TD last time came from the missed FG. The Riders can win this one. We Tino to pick up where he left off last week. Combine that with winning the turnover battle, no special teams points against, and the Riders can come out of this with a win setting themselves up for the Alberta showdowns.
My score: Roughriders 17 Alouettes 14
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