Are the Saskatchewan Roughriders hot garbage? They are if they can’t develop the mental toughness it takes to win football games in the CFL. I wish it weren’t true. It would be phenomenal if the Riders were so stacked with raw talent and masterminds on the sidelines that they just rolled over opposing teams. That’s not the case. It rarely has been in 106 years.
Saskatchewan Roughriders Hot Garbage?
One Player Does Not Make a Team
One example of the lack of mental toughness is the attitude that the Riders “can’t win without Darian Durant“. You’ve already lost when those kind of negative thoughts are uttered by media and fans. This attitude creeps into the Riders locker room faster and more often than with any other pro team due to the spotlight they live under in Saskatchewan. It’s really simple. Stop saying it.
Football is a team sport. This isn’t equestrian, where a bad day for either horse or rider dooms the essential synergy that is necessary to have a fault-free round. Any football team that’s worth a top billing can overcome a tough day on the field by a single individual. On good teams, sometimes even two or three guys can have a stinker of a day and still win.
Many argue and point to the Riders’ record without Durant. Yes, it is utterly horrendous. It would be the same for any individual on a team without an adequate back-up quarterback ready to step in a lead the team to victory. Look at the quagmire the Hamilton Tiger Cats currently find themselves in while starter Zach Collaros heals from a fall 2015 injury. There are many “good” options behind Collaros, but nothing “great”.
There are twelve men on the field at all times in the CFL. There are 22 players on the other side of the thick white stripe that you need to be able to rely on when you call their number. Teams have to be able to play through injuries. First, in their minds as they go through their preparation and mental repetitions. Teams pay big money to have sports psychologists shift focus away from these negative thoughts.
Second, on the field through solid execution from all players on the game day roster. The Riders’ new assistant general manager John Murphy or anyone that has watched the Calgary Stampeders over the last few years can tell you. You simply aren’t a good team until you can achieve success no matter who is on your injury list.
Opening With Turbulence
A second example where the Riders needs to be mentally tough right now is when they look at the standings. Any team can open the season with turbulence and make the playoffs. The 0-6 B.C. Lions won the Grey Cup in 2011. If the Riders can somehow grab a playoff spot, it’s a brand new season. Many coaches break the 18-game season into two nine-game seasons. Maybe the Riders coaches can convince the players that they can be a .666 team over their first nine games.
Other coaches break it into thirds. The Riders should have the mindset that they can play .500 football in the first third. They must have this outlook because the power of a positive mindset can be the difference in the CFL. If they don’t employ one starting tomorrow we’ll continue to see breakdowns in coverage. We will see a low percentage conversion rate in short yardage scenarios. We’ll witness a continued inability to capitalize on oppositions’ mistakes.
Roughriders Hot Garbage
The thing the Riders can’t do is have any flashbacks to 2014 or 2015. Keep the expectations high. Everyone with a stake in this team could pack it in right now, or after a few more losses, citing that this team is being built for the future. No. Expect to win now. That’s what will give this team, and future teams, the edge that we witnessed in the era that former club president and CEO Jim Hopson drove the bus.
The Riders are in the midst of of special season, win or lose. It’s the last year the club will play their home games on Taylor Field at Mosaic Stadium. Let the history books say what they will when the dust settles, but please don’t let them say we folded like a cheap tent on some future consolation prize. That would be embarrassing. The Riders are not hot garbage.
The team should stick with the game plan. Tweak the systems and personnel as needed. Fans should continue to buy tickets, merchandise, and raid the concessions more than ever. Show this team you’ve got their backs by showing up and cheering loud and proud. Above all, don’t even think to yourself (let alone utter) that this team can’t win without Darian Durant. They can, they will, and you’ve given up if you think otherwise.