The Roughriders are picking up the pieces this week after being dropped 40-17 at the hands of the Ottawa Redblacks. They weren’t alone as the Alouettes, Eskimos and Argonauts all suffered double-digit losses in a strange weekend for the CFL. The good news is the Riders’ return home this weekend with a few days extra of rest against an Alouettes team that appears to be in complete disarray just two weeks into the season. Here are Saskatchewan Roughriders keys to return to the win column in Week 3.
Re-establish the Run Game
Last week saw the Winnipeg Blue Bombers pile on a team rushing total of 245 yards, including 98 yards from starting pivot Chris Streveler on the Alouettes. The Riders’ should be looking to do much of the same in Week 3 with Jerome Messam and co. The Roughriders only put up 94 yards rushing as a team against the Redblacks. The Riders’ will be receiving a much-needed boost from Marcus Thigpen, who is expected to return from his two-game suspension. Though, it remains to be seen what kind of role Thigpen will have upon his return, re-establishing the run game should be on the top of the Riders’ agenda this week. It is unrealistic to expect Collaros to go for 98 yards, however, this is one of the Saskatchewan Roughriders keys that should be easy to implement against a vulnerable opponent.
Protect the Football (And the Quarterback)
Zach Collaros had thrown two interceptions before he was taken out of the game with a concussion, Brandon Bridge came into the game in relief and added one of his own. Add in a fumble and the Riders’ committed four turnovers to Ottawa’s one. However, the blame has to be evenly shared amongst the entire Riders’ offence. The Riders’ offensive line allowed “only” three sacks. Yet, many pressures and sacks eventually knocked Collaros out of the game and had Bridge scrambling from his first snap. The deficiencies on the offensive line have been pointed out since training camp. Whether it’s simply waiting for the group to gel or a severe lack of depth, improvements need to be made by this group. It doesn’t matter how good the Riders’ receiving core is if the offensive line doesn’t do its part to protect the quarterback.
Bring Duron Carter Home
Speaking of the Riders’ great receiving core, Duron Carter plays an instrumental role in that equation. Questions were raised if the Riders’ offence missed Duron Carter more than originally anticipated. Former Roughriders General Manager Brendan Taman made a good point in his article stating:
The discussions are ongoing publicly about the Roughriders’ Duron Carter and where he should be playing — receiver or cornerback?
As a general manager, I would say this to my coach:
Is he going to be an all-star receiver? Likely.
Is he going to be an all-star cornerback? Well …
Do we have an impact receiver to replace him on offence? No.
Can we not find another cornerback who can be as efficient, if not more so? I’d hope so.
Answer: Leave him on offence.
It was noted going into the 2018 season that the Secondary was a glaring weakness. This is not to take anything away from Ed Gainey, Crezdon Butler or Jovon Johnson. However, the Riders failed to find any suitable defensive backs to provide depth to the starters and have instead turned to star receiver Duron Carter. The unfortunate injury to up-and-comer Nick Marshall has left the Riders’ resorting to Plan B early on. This may be the most important of the Saskatchewan Roughriders keys in righting the ship early.
The Last Word
It’s a no-win situation on both sides of the ball for the Riders by having Duron Carter on defence. The offence suffers by removing its most dynamic and productive playmaker and in return, they are plugging in an offensive player into defence, his second position. Yes, Carter registered a pick-six once again and it makes for a nice highlight reel. However, it is evident how much the Riders missed Carter on offence. Beyond his spectacular catches and trash talk, Carter draws attention away from Roosevelt preventing double coverage on either receiver. This is an impossible task for a rookie receiver such as Shaq Evans who is still earning his stripes in the CFL.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders keys to returning to the win column are simple enough, it’s just a matter of executing on them. Many fans will be expecting a blowout victory over the hapless Als however, the Riders should not take this game lightly and work at correcting these deficiencies before a home & home date with the Tiger-Cats and showdowns with the Eskimos and Stampeders in the weeks following.
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