‘Rider 2005 Recap: Part 2

Well, let’s jump right in with my evaluation of the Offence and Special Teams.

Quarterbacks

The quarterback situation as it stands now for 2006 will be the same as 2005, Nealon Greene and Marcus Crandell sharing the duties. Basically, neither QB currently can carry the team through a whole season or to consistent above .500 seasons and home playoff game and ultimately Grey Cup victory. I give the Quarterbacking an F.

However if the buzz is correct and not just ‘Rider hype to sell pre-Christmas ticket packages, the ‘Riders are on the lookout for a QB. First the rumours were that trade negotiations with Ottawa for Kerry Joseph were underway. This seemed logical considering the lack of support ownership and General Manager Forrest Gregg had given Joseph, but then Ottawa extended Joseph’s contract for 5 years and a total of $2 million for an average of $400,000 per season. Even if Ottawa was still shopping him, this would probably scare the ‘Riders off for an unproven QB who has not won more than seven games in Ottawa.

The next rumour is that Dave Dickenson will be coming to Regina. Dickenson has expressed a desire to be traded if Casey Printer is resigned in B.C. The B.C. Lions must first retain Printers, who is currently shopping himself around during his option year window. Only then will Dickenson be available, and Saskatchewan certainly won’t be the only party bidding on him. If the ‘Riders do happen to acquire him, he is not a long term solution, being 32 years old and banged up a lot in the past few years.

My concern is that again the ‘Riders are looking for a QB solution from a CFL cast-off. Why can we not develop our own QB? Going back through the last 30 years I cannot name any QB which as developed and had success in Saskatchewan. Even Kent Austin was developed and seasoned in the USFL before he came to Saskatchewan. He would be the only non-CFL cast-off that I can think of having any success though.

Running Backs

The ‘Riders depth at Running Back paid dividends this year, with Corey Holmes filling in early for an injured Kenton Keith and racking up massive yards in the ‘Riders first three wins. When Kenton Keith returned, rushing production dropped. Keith returned to form later in the year but his production seems to be tied to how well the team is doing, how late in the year it is and how much he is a key in the offence. He needs to adopt a better attitude and be prepared to perform when ever and how ever often he is called upon. If Keith can play with a solid attitude throughout the season I give the RB’s an A-. Otherwise I would shop him around and feature Holmes as a primary back.

Receivers

The ‘Rider receivers were exposed when the big play man Matt Dominguez went down for the season in Week 4. No other receiver was able to replace him as a viable deep threat. Without a deep threat the remainder of the season was left to outs and curls by the remaining receivers. Travis Moore, who played sparingly late in the season, caught more deep balls and passes over the middle the rest of the receiving core combined.

The ‘Riders need to add another legitimate deep threat and beef up their inside receivers. CFL defences have gone to smaller linebackers and defensive backs to cover the leaner, taller, quicker inside receivers employed in the CFL over the last 10 years. Now is the time for someone to return to the big, fairly quick Ray Elgaard type. Someone like Jeff Samardzija out of Notre Dame would work. Some different style/capabilities in your receiving core would help open up what you can do in a playbook. Overall I give the receiving core, with the return of Dominguez, a C. Adding one or two receivers with some specialty skills could move them up to an A+.

Offensive Line

The offensive line was solid and consistent for the whole season. What more can you say about a unit that boasts two outstanding lineman award winners. The o-line gets an A+.

Special Teams

The return game gets an A. Corey Holmes started the season by returning the opening kickoff and topped it off by winning the Outstanding Special Teams Player award. Would only like to see more schemes that try to spring Holmes instead of him having to do it all by himself.

As for the kicking game, it is in decline. Paul McCallum is adequate on pleasant days as a punter, but really lacks the technique and leg strength to kick in windy Saskatchewan for a team that needs the field position advantage. His field goal kicking has also declined, where his outside kick is creeping inside the 45 yard line. The ‘Riders should be bringing some real challengers this training camp other wise they may find themselves in need of a kicker in a big hurry with no prospects ever being evaluated. Overall I give the kicking game a D.

Next – Part 3: Defence and Conclusion.

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OC Jottings

No jottings in the last 7 days. Here is a random jotting.

  • September 24, 2007
    Frank Clair Stadium Faces Partial Demolition → Demolition without rebuilding will certainly eliminate any possibility of CFL expansion to Ottawa. There will be strong voices that will want the whole structure demolished so the land may be re-developed. Another possibility, though more expensive, is to reclaim the stadium land for re-development and build a whole new stadium at an alternative location. If that provides the stadium experience to attract fans to soccer and football events it may be worth it. #
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