It's been a while since the Riders had such a decisive win over the Stampeders. I think you have to go all the way back to the 2009 Western Final. Before that you have to go back to a couple of dominant performancs we had against them in 2007. It all added up to an great way to start the home season at Mosiac. We have a bit of a short week going into Toronto, but it's not as bad as a couple of the turnarounds last. There's no time to rest. After fnishing off the team many called the best in the league to this point, now it's a date with the defending Grey Cup champions.
Projected starters: Riders - Durant, Argos - Ray. George Cortez has done a great job with the playbook, game plan, and play calling. Dairan deserves a lot of credit for the efficient way in which he has executed the game plan. Even though it went incomplete, I still like the way Darian kept his head up and found Getzlaf in the back of the endzone. There really isn't more to say that we haven't talked about already. Ricky Ray was his usual precise self in Week 1 as he took the Hamilton defense apart. He had more trouble with the Lions defense who put a lot of pressure on him and seemed to take the deep pass away. It looked to me like the Lions also took away his deep ball. There's not a whole lot to choose between how these guys have played thsi year. Based on overall careers I will grudingly give Ray his due Edge Argos
Projected starters: Riders - Sheets, Argos - Kackert. Like Durant, there's not much more to say about Sheets that we haven't said already. He's shown is the ability to find holes, accelaret through, and use his strength to break tackles. He isn't exactly a brick wall when he blocks but he usually cuts the guy which is getting the job done. There are a lot of good tailbacks in this league, and the Riders see another one this week with Kackert. His main strength is he never stops working. His legs are alway going and is a load to bring down. He's a big part of the Argos passing game too. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - Dressler, Getzlaf, Smith, Bagg, Riley, Argos - Owens, Inman, Drurie, Watt, Barnes. If you look at the top of the CFL yeardage numbers, you will see Dressler and Getzlaf at 2 and 3. By the way, Owens is leading the league right now. We've used Taj Smith on mostly underneath routes so far, particularly crossers. We've only used Rob Bagg on short routes as well. Owens is a threat from anywhere. Inman is a deep threat and has the height to win jump balls. Barnes, Drurie, and Watt are no slouches either. Just my opinion, but if we weren't 2-0 I think Simon would have played this week. With the 2-0 record and another 10 days after this for the hamstring, I think we are erring on the side of caution. Even
Projected starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Heenan, G - LaBatte, Best, C - Picard, Argos - T - Rogers, King G - Van Zeyl, Jones, C - Parenteau Ben Heenan has survived playing against some of the premier ends in this league. That's been the big story and has overshadowed how well the whole unit has been playing. The interior of the line have been road graders against the run and forming a nice pocket against the pass. We need to recoginzied the accomplishment of Dan Clark coming in as a Tight End. It's one thing for Cortez to design the play, but Clark has to execute as well. The Argo offensive line struggled last week against the Lions after doing well versus the Tiger-Cats the week before. That is probably a sign of the talent they were facing. They have a couple of new import tackles who are new to the league. Lastly, a big thanks to go_riders for helping me out with the starting Argo line. The depth chart they have up on their site was out of whack. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - E - Chick, Foley, T - George, Shologan, Argos - E - Lee, Brown, T - Mitchell, Williams. I listed the starting 4 for the Riders but it's worth mentioning that McElveen and Davis take a lot of reps as well. Davis had a sack last week and also made a big play sniffing out a screen to Nik Lewis which helped force a Calgary punt from deep in their end. The two things I liked about our line last week are how they took care of Cornish when Calgary did try and run, and the fact they seemed to get stronger as the game went on. The sack numbers may not be there but these guys are collpasing pocket. Toronto has a completely new defensive line. The most familiar name is Khalif Mitchell coming over from BC. He's probably their best lineman and causes lots of trouble in the middle. Of course we know that he can be a detriment to his own team too. I don't know a whole lot about the new guys. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - MLB - Williams, OLB - Butler, Brown, Argos - MLB - McCune, OLB - Isaac, Ball. Suitor commented during the broadcast on Friday that Coach Chamblin rebuild our defense to beat Calgary. That was interesting consideirng when we heard about the plan to use converted DBs as linebackers, it was Calgary's running game that concerned us the most. So far after two weeks, it's working. To think, we still haven't seen much of Kromah in the lineup. I was pretty meh about Williams coming back at MLB, but boy has he played well. When people talk about wanting defensive players who are mean and hit hard, they describe the Argo linebackers perfectly. Brandon Isaac is a guy who walks on the edge; I will not condone his helmet to helmet shots. I thought Ball was all over the field even in a losing cause last week for the Argos. Even
Projected starters: Riders - CB - Harris, Miller, HB - Anderson, Thomas (Turenne), S - Brackenridge, Argos - CB - Watkins, Robinson, HB - Carter, Jackson, S - Black. I put Turenne in brackets after Thomas because the depth chart shows Thomas ahead of Turenne at HB but we have nothing official yet. We could go Harris on the corner, Turrenne at half and sit Miller too. One thing for sure is that Maze is still out. I am still not sold on Thomas. Outside of the early breakdown by Miller, I thought our secondary played well last week. There were a couple of completions where the coverage wasn't bad but Tate made a perfect throw. I think we are seeing why despite his injury trouble, the coaches stuck with Macho Harris and kept him aorund last year. The Argo secondary lost Evan McCullough (free agency) and Jordan Younger (retirement) from last year. Janzen Jackson at half and Jamie Robinson at corner are new. Black is a new starter at safety. As expected with the changes, they had some big breakdowns against Hamilton. They were better against the Lions. Big Patrick Watkins on the corner is their best cover guy, imo. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - Sanders, Argos - Owens. Bring your popcorn. These two guys could put on a show. One guy just won the special teams player of the week and the other guy is the reigning CFL MVP. The Argo return game is interesting. They get big ones from Ownes but they have been known to give up a few too. One thing to look for is that Owens always giving the extra effort to break tackles has made him susceptible to fumbles. The Riders have a cover team these days that go after the ball. Sorry Jock. Edge Argos
Projected starters: Riders - Milo, Argos - Prefontaine. So far so good for Chris Milo. He is perfect from inside 40 which is what you ask for. He hasn't had to attempt a long one yet. This projection may be inaccurate, but a couple of those 30+ kicks would have been good from further out, so he just needs to keep the same stroke. The Argos are in the same boat (pun intended). Prefontaine kicked well last week, but he is still coming off a major injury. Even
Projected starters: Riders - Schmidt, Argos - Prefontaine. As far back as the playoff game last year, I expressed my concern on burning an import spot as a punter/ kicker spot. I figured to justify it, you'd better be sure that your guy is either the best in the league or close to it. I know it's early but at this point, Schmidt is showing that he may be the best in the league. 49.3 average? Wow! Just a guess but on his last punt that went into the endzone, I am thinking he was told to go for the point vs pinning the Stamps deep to make it a 15 point game (adding a two point convert to the math). Anyone else notice that instead of two upbacks, we have 4 guys back to protect the punter? It was bugging me that i couldn't get a camera angle to see who they were. I finally got a look for those interested, the four are Steinhauer, Willams, Stephenson, and McHenry. I guess I should say something about Prefontaine. Ummm, he's left footed. Edge Riders
When the Riders have the ball
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I don't see any reason for the Riders to go away from trying to establish a running game with Sheets the same as the last two weeks. As well as Calgary's first half went last week, I think they made a mistake going away from running the ball and pounding it. The Argos gave up over 100 to Andrew Harris last week, and the week before even though Hamilton didn't run much, their average per carry was pretty high. We should be able to run the ball tomorrow. The key will be to get Mitchell blocked in the middle. We can take advantage of inexperience up front for the Argos. Darian might be able to get ouside on the read option if they crash down too hard. BC had success using the end around to their receivers too. We haven't seen it in the regular season, but we know the Riders have that in the playbook with Dressler and Smith. Jock Sanders can be used on a play like that. I love the play-action dump pass to McHenry that we are using once or twice a game when teams bite on the run fake.
Chris Jones was the architect of the defense in Calgary where he moved Brandon Browner inside to cover slots like Fantuz and Richardson. He has a Browner clone in Watson, but I don't anticipate him moving Watkins inside to cover Dressler or Getzlaf. I am confident if he does, Cortez will use motion and formations to shake those guys lose. Since Jackson is the new halfback in the secondary, that's probably the guy we will try and attack with our slots. We can also try and catch Ball being overaggeressive and catch him on that same crossing pattern that the Riders caught Hefney with last week. I think Taj Smith is going to have a tough time shaking Watkins down the field. Look for him on more crossing routes. We hit him a few times last week, but Calgary did a good job in coverage to limit the gain.
All eyes have been on Heenan and how he has handled the ends the last two weeks, and he's been fine. He's going to face a new challenge this week. The Argos do a lot more stunting and blitzing off the edge than the Stamps or Esks. They particularly like that delayed blitz with Isaac off the edge and scheme it well to get him loose. Heenan is proving to be a quick study so hopefully the coaches have him prepared. Chris Best will be able to help him out. I already mentioned the read option earlier and look for that for the Riders to counter the Argos aggressive linebackers. Harris had a big day catching passes last week as well so Sheets could have a big day there too. You folks may have noticed that I don't bring up protecting the foootball etc anymore this year. I realized that's so freaking obvious I don't need to say it.
When the Argos have the ball
The Riders did a decent job on Jon Cornish, but no rest facing Chad Kackert. This guy went for over 100 in the Grey Cup and in game 1 vs Hamilton. He didn't get going in BC, so look for him and the line to want to come out and change that this week. The thing that always stands out to me about Kackert is how he never stops his legs from moving and because of that is a load to bring down. Our defense will have to swarm to him to stop him from getting extra yards and making big plays. Ray likes using him in the passing game too.
Playing against Ricky Ray always scares me. When he's on his game, you are in for a long night, even if your defense is having a decent night. When he's on, he is so accurate, your defenders could have excellent coverage but he will drop the ball into the perfect spot to complete the pass. To control Ray, our D is going to have to do exactly what the Lions did last week, and that is get pressure on him so that he can't get comfortable. If he's on the run or got heat, like any QB, he won't be as accurate. Ray is not a big threat to run so we need Shologan and George to get a good push in his face up the middle. If Foley or Chick can get free from the outside, I have faith in those guys to run down Ray. We need to get to him with the front four.
The Argos move Owens around a lot so it will be tough for the Riders to put one guy on him. I exepect the Argos to try and line him up on Thomas. The Riders could try and double him with Brown and / or Brackenridge. In general I think that Thomas is the guy Ray will try and attack with Owens / Barnes/ Drurie. I'd like to think our corners can handle Spencer Watt. I used to fear guys like Inman who are big and can go up and get the jump ball. It's still a concern, but I feel good about our corners being physical enough to not get beat like our db's used to in the past.
This game scares me more than I think it scares a lot of you folks. I just sense that coming off such an emotional win vs Calgary, that going on the road, our team won't be able to match that same intensity level. Hopefully it's an invalid concern, and our guys will come out jacked up. I think man for man we are as good if not a better team than the Argos. What we need to avoid is gving up big plays to Owens, whether on special teams or in hte passing game. We need to get pressure on Ray so that he can't make plays down the field. If the Riders avoid the big mistakes giving the Argos easy points, they should win this one.
My score: Roughriders 30 Argonauts 24
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