Had the Riders got off to a good start in 2014 the bye they had last week likely would have been regarded by the team and fans as coming too early in the season. But since the Riders were slow out of the gate, and were obviously struggling to find replacements for key off-season departures at running back, receiver, linebacker and defensive line, the break was welcome in Riderville.
We’ll find out later tonight when the Riders take the field at Mosaic Stadium against the Argos if the coaching staff was able to find the missing pieces to the team chemistry puzzle that the Green & White will need if they’re going to compete in what looks like a pretty tough West Division in 2014.
On July 5, you’ll probably recall, the Argos pounded the Riders in Toronto 48-15. The photo above is from that game, and while Rider D-lineman John Chick had Ricky Ray well in hand on this play, the Argo QB lit up the Rider D the rest of the game for 407 yards passing and three TDs.
With his pin-point passing and quick release, Ray’s done that to a lot of teams over his career. But the Riders in particular have been susceptible to that type of nickel-and-dime, ball control offence over the last few seasons. If defensive coordinator Richie Hall and his charges don’t have an answer for Ray tonight it will be a long evening for the Rider faithful.
I say that because I don’t really see the Rider offence lighting it up against the Toronto D tonight. Inside receiver Chris Getzlaf is still out with an injury, and centre Dominic Picard is on the shelf as well. Utility lineman Dan Clark will start in his spot instead.
The biggest uncertainty is at running back, though, where the Riders will employ their third different starter in four games. Ex-Winnipeg Blue Bomber Will Ford gets the nod tonight, and he’ll be backed up by game 1 and 2 starter Anthony Allen, with Jerome Messam playing his second game at fullback.
In addition to veteran wideouts Rob Bagg and Taj Smith, the Riders will deploy three newcomers at inside receiver: Brett Swain, Dan DePalma and Chaz Schilens. If that trio struggles to connect with QB Darian Durant points will be at a premium for the Rider offence as they were in Toronto and in the team’s 26-13 home loss to B.C. on July 12.
Game time is 8 p.m., and TSN has the broadcast. For more information visit the Riderville website.