There's been more dissection of this team the last three weeks than you see in a first year Biology lab. The three losses seem to have destroyed all the good feeling built up over the first half of the season. I find the most frustrating thing that even though the team's play has fallen off the last few weeks, tehre were moments where all three of losses were there for the taking, and had the tema made plays we could have been looking at 2 or 3 wins. I'm sure hte team is looking ahead to the next few games to right the ship. We might as well join them. Bring on the Alouettes.
Probably starters: Riders - Darian, Alouettes - Neiswander. Has Darian struggled in the last couple of weeks? Yes. Has his play contributed to the losses? Yes. But some of the complaining has gone beyond ridiculous. I really can't believe there are "fans" out there who waited silently for about 10 weeks, and then jumped in with the "see I told you's not that good" crap. He needs to pick up his game, and when he does Darian is more than capable of taking this team all the way. He needs to relax and just get hte ball to his playmakers. Don't try and do too much, an example of which was I think not taking the first down on the third down play where BC jumped offside by running for the first down and instead making an ill-fated pass after he crossed the line. Neiswander was first off the bench in Regina when Calvillo got hurt, but then got promptly replaced a week later by Tanner Marsh. He had a pretty nice day last week, albeit against the Hamilton secondary. He threw a decent deep ball. Ne's not as mobile as some of the QBs we've faced recently. Edge Riders
Probably starters: Riders - Garrett, Alouettes - Messam. Chirs Garrett was taking his first real snaps since the 2011 Grey Cup so it was hard to expect too much of him. Unfortunately some of the assignment problems like running into Durant had a huge effect on the team. I look for his timing to be down and be more effectice this week. He should be more assignment sharp too. WIth Whitaker out, the Montreal ground game is in Messam's hands. He's never regained that 2011 form since his return from the NFL. He's a big tough back, and our guys will have their hands full tackling him. Edge Alouettes
Probably starters: Riders - Dressler, Getzlaf, Simon, Smith, Bagg, Alouettes - Green, Bruce, Carter, London, Deslaurier. This is the one unit on the offense that is intact right now and not affected by injury. Unfortunately outside of getting open, they are the most reliant on the rest of the offense (blocking and passes getting to them). Too bad Geory couldn't set the record for all time receptions at home, but he'll get it Sunday. The last couple of weeks he's averaging 5 catches a game which translates to a 90 catch season which is more than the pace we probably expected for him. The only thing these guys need to do is ensure no dropped passes and don't go offisde. The Als found a nice third weapon in Duran Carter, son of NFL great Cris Carter. Arland Bruce hasn't really been a big play guy for them so they needed someone to step up alongside SJ Green. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Tyler, G - Heenan, Labatte, C - Picard, Alouettes - T - Perrett, Bourke, G - Bomben, Ola, C - Broduer- Jordain Ben Heenan is a welcome return. No Chris Best, but at least we have 4 out of 5 back. It might be surprising to some people that Heenan is coming back as guard with Tyler at tackle. It actually makes siense to me. Heenan did really well as a tackle but guard is his natural position. Tackle is Tyler's natual position so this probably makes the unit stronger as a whole. We need Picard and Labatte to step it back up becuase there has been too much pressure up the middle in general. One concern I have in the back of my head is that if I recall, Picard's play droped off last year too. I hope he doesn't wear down as the seaosn goes on. Montreal's line is not what they were with Flory and Woodruff out. When do you ever remember seeing the Als rank below average in yards per carry on the ground and sacks given up. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - E - Chick, Foley, T - Sholgan, George, Alouettes - E - Bowman, Lavarious, T - Klassen, Hopkins Well whatever happened to get George off the roster is over now, maybe out of injury necessirty. It wasn't till replays today that I saw how close Foley came to getting Demarco on that third down pass. Argh! When the Als played us the first time I was complaining about how the Als didn't update their depth chart and I couldn't find any info on the guy replacing Kuale at end. Well Aaron Lavarias has turned out to be quite a find for them, playing alongside John Bowman. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - MLB - McCullough (Kuale, Peters), OLB - Butler, Ferri, Alouettes - MLB - Emry, OLB - Cox, Hebert. Well we are not missing two of the three guys who were starting this year. The way Welson Brown was playing I think he is as big a loss as Rey Williams was. Diamond Ferrit does have experience playing in that spot in Montreal and is physical enough to play in the box. I added Peters and Kuale above because if we see the same roation as last week, Kuale and Peters will replace McCullough on passing downs. Linebacking is the strength of the Als defense. Chip Cox is being talked about as defenisve player of the year. Kyries Hebert got off to a great start, but then got hurt in the game in Regina. He's back now. Edge Alouettes
Projected starters: Riders - CB - Maze, Miller, HB 0 Anderson, Russ, S- Brackenridge, ALouettes - CB - Tisdale, Carter, HB - Brown, Parker, S - Edem. Thanks to shuffling from the Carlos Thomas injury we had a few guys out of position back here at the end of the last game with Brackenridge moving to linebacker. Macho Harris's inablity to stay healthy is starting to become a realy concern. Love his ability, but we can't seem to rely on him. Even with injuries, we are solid in 4 spots with Russ being the question mark. Our depth has been comprimised if we suffer any in game injuries. Geoff Tisdale is having a really solid season at corner for the Als. I think he's having a career year. Rookie Mike Edam has been a real good safety. Edge Alouettes
Projected starters: Riders - Jackson, Alouettes - Carrier. Too bad that injures changed plans because I am really ready to see Jock Sanders back returning kicks for us again. Jackson just doesn't seem to have it anymore. Montreal is really struggling with finding a decent returner as well. Tyron Carrier took one back 78 yards in the first quarter of the year. Since then, he's probably averaging about 7 yards, and he's put the ball on the ground. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Milo, Alouettes - Whyte. Even with 3 kicks off the uprights, Milo is still at 91 %. He's litterally about a foot total right now from still having his perfect year. You know, someone could give him 50 footballs and say they will pay him $1000 to put three off the uprights and he wouldn't be able to do it. Sean Whyte is having a decent year at 88% Edge Riders
Probably starters: Riders - Schmitt, Alouettes - . Sean Whyte is struggling enough that he almost got replced this week. Edge Riders
When the Riders have the ball
On first glance this is not a good matchup for the Riders. THe Riders have had trouble handling pressure over the last few weeks and the Als play a pressure defense. If we haven't found a way to solve that problem it will be a long day. The Als have a good run defense, they were the first team to hold Sheets for less than 100 this year, but the Riders need to get the runnin game going. Garrett needs to get more than 9 carries, in my opinion. Last week was his first game action in a long time. I expect his timing and overall play to be better this week. He's a little more of a speedy shifty guy than Sheets so I wouldn't mind seeing some toss plays to get him outside. We can combat the Als blitz by getting Garrett out of the backfield on some passes too. Calgary burned the Als doing this earlier this year.
The passing game will come down to the protection Darian gets, and him finding receivers down the field. The Als will send Cox and Hebert on passing downs. Rather than just keeping extra guys in to block, the odd time I would mind seeing us send an extra guy out in the pattern t osee if we can get an uncovered or wide open receiver. We saw from the big play to Taj Smith last time that if you get time to throw you can take advantage of the Als' aggressiveness by getting them to bite on double moves. I wish we still had the bubble screen in our playbook where the QB flips it out a receiver or running back immediately with a blocker or two out front. Darian is going to have to do his part to comabe the pressure too. He's got to be decisive in his reads and get the ball out quickly. If he sses man to man coverage trust your receiver to make the play for you. What we can't do is get into that pattern where all our routes are those little 5-10 yard hooks. Much like the Lions did last week, their secondary will run down field and limit those plays to small gains or worse, jump the routes and pick them off. On that note, it's been turnovers that have been killing this team recently. We are giving away points with the turnovers, and the offense isn't playing well enough to over come them. The especially maddening ones are when the other team doesn't even have to make a play to get the pick, like dropping a snap or a receiver running a wrong pattern.
When the Alouettes have the ball
Once again the Riders go up against a young QB. I think the defense has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the "we keep losing to rookie QBs" line. These last few games have really empphasized the point that football is a team game. Those young QBs for the most part have not had to do much to win the game. In all these games all these guys need to do is put two drives together in the entire game to win it.
I imagine the Als will try and get Messam going. He's averaging less than 5 yards a carry, and outside of the one drive against Toronto, the Riders have shut down opposing tailbacks since the 2nd Calgary game. If we can contain Messam and put the ball in Neiswander's hands it will go a long way towards a win. He had some succees last week throwing deep routes to Green and Carter. Based on that, and with a banged up back end, teh Riders might show a bit more zone to try and confuse the young QB. He's thrown 5 picks so if we do that, our secondary should be able get one. SJ Green is will be Montreal's main target and being the short side slot for the majority of the snaps, you'll probably see him vs Anderson a lot. The Als do move Green around so you might see him move to the wide side slot position to go after Eddie Russ. I think our secondary can do the job on all the Als receivers with Russ being the only question mark. If we don't give up big plays, I don't see Neiswander having the ability to march the ball down the field.
One thing our defense needs to be aware of reverse plays to guys like Bruce, Carter etc. When teams have run this on us this year, we've really been caught flat-footed and given up 10+ yard gains.
If the Riders want to keep first or second place in their sights, this losing streak has to stop now. The room for error is goine now and with games in BC and Calgary coming up, this game is a lot more critical. We're not going to explode for big points on this Alouette team, which means that we can't give away points on turnovers and special teams. We'll need to grind out a low scoring game. It will be a lot like the first matchup between these teams. I keep waiting for this team to go back to winning the turnover battle, taking less penalites than the opponent, and plaing a solid game. If we get back to it, we'll see a win tomorrow.
My score: Roughriders 24 Alouettes 21
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