George Alexander sports column

George A Portrait thumbnailIn just two short seasons, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have fallen from the CFL’s Grey Cup Champions only to become the absolute doormats in all of professional football. The descent has been rapid and painful for the team and fans alike. There are tonnes of excuses and reasons why the Riders have failed miserably over the past couple of seasons, but the blame has been focused primarily on coaching and management. Certainly the players themselves have also contributed vastly to this woeful mess in Riderville.

The Riders board itself had to make a tough but necessary choice to oust a popular and triumphant coaching and management team this season. Head coach Corey Chamblin fumbled his way right out of job this summer. He stumbled and bumbled with bad choices both on and off the field. The team faced an obvious rash of injuries starting with franchise QB Darian Durant going down in just the first game of the season. Things quickly spiralled out of control from there. Before we knew it, the Riders were 0-9 heading into the Labour Day Classic. General Manager Brendan Taman made things no better as he could not provide the essential replacements to field a competitive team.

The Riders new regime has been no better, matter of fact. Head coach Bob Dyce was a failed special teams coach for a few seasons now and has certainly has no hope of continuing as a field boss. GM Jeremy O’Day is certainly a bright young guy but seriously lacks the experience and connections necessary for legitimate success in the CFL. Again, the board will have to make some difficult choices as to what changes need to be made in the off season.

GA Nov 2 15 Riders Dressler vs Ticats July2615

Dressler TD grab vs Ticats July 26, 2015. Photo credit by George Alexander.

The Riders team itself has been downright dreadful. A 2-15 record speaks for itself. The Riders are at the bottom of nearly every statistically category too. The offence has been offensive. Once DD went down, the Riders QB carousel turned into a circus. They even parted ways with their geriatric backup, Kevin Glenn who was shipped off to Montreal. There is a ray of light in hoping Durant can come back healthy but if not Brett Smith and Keith Price do show potential. The Riders OL has been porous and erratic. Upgrades loom. The running game was Jerome Messam but he was given away to Calgary. The receiving core had growth and talent but was vastly overrated.

The once mighty and proud Riders defence has also become an epic fail. The D has been torched through the air and the ground all season long. The group is old and not very talented. A lone bright spot has been LB Jeff Knox Jr.,  who will certainly be a CFL All Star. D lineman John Chick has had a decent but certainly sub par year for his standards. Of course, special teams have been generally shoddy across the board too. A new kicker, Tyler Crapigna, is in the fold.

Things certainly do not bode well for the Saskatchewan Roughriders as they head into a long and painful off season. The team will have to make tough and difficult choices across the board. No one is safe in coaching, management or personnel. With the new Mosaic Stadium set to open in 2017 fans will expect and demand improvement. There were a lot of empty seats in the stands down the stretch and a big amount of revenue will be lost in all other avenues too. Rider Pride is down but certainly not out. There’s only one way to go and that’s up in Rider Nation.

Follow George Alexander on Twitter @Big_G_09




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