REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders are in the playoffs.
Plain and simple.
And after the season they were forced to endure in 2011, they’ll be the first to admit that regardless of how the 2012 campaign ends, it will be deemed a success by both fans and team management alike.
However, by no stretch of the imagination are the Riders simply satisfied to just be in the post-season. Their sights are still set on hoisting the Grey Cup once the final whistle sounds inside Toronto’s Rogers Centre on Nov. 25.
In order to have that exclusive opportunity, however, there is still plenty of work to be done in Riderville.
The Riders are in the midst of their first slump since they suffered five-straight losses through Weeks 4 through 9, as consecutive losses to the Eskimos and Alouettes have left the Green and White frustrated.
But according to Head Coach Corey Chamblin, the Roughriders are still focused on the task at hand.
“They were fired up,” said Chamblin of his team’s effort in their Week 17 34-28 home loss to Montreal.
“The bigger picture is that we’re 8-8. We’ve had some ups and downs, we’ve had a winning streak and a losing streak, so we just have to go back and see what it’s going to take this time to get out of the two-game deal to make sure we do what we need to do and move forward,” he added.
But the Roughriders are still a force to be reckoned with.
Over the past month, their offence has erupted, scoring an average of 32 points-per-game over their last four outings – the highest total in the league over that stretch.
During that same span, they have received All-Star caliber performances from the trio of Darian Durant, Weston Dressler and Kory Sheets, all of whom have racked up yards and touchdowns in more-than-impressive fashion.
However, even their improved play hasn’t been able to translate into victories in the past two weeks, forcing Chamblin to think it’s time to go back to the fundamentals.
“One of the things right now, I think in the last two at least, is we just have to make sure that we’re on the same page,” said Chamblin.
“What I mean by that is defensively, everyone has to be able to communicate, and go back to the fundamentals, like tackling. On offence we have to start blocking well, catching the ball. So it’s one of those things where we have to go back to the fundamentals,” he added.
While the offence hasn’t been having trouble finding the endzone as of late, the defence has had their fair share of problems in keeping opposing teams out.
In their two most recent losses, the Riders have allowed totals of 34 and 37, which is the second time they’ve allowed 30 or more points in consecutive games this season.
Despite the increase allowed points, Chamblin continues stress the importance of focusing on the positives, regardless of how hard it might be.
“You have to eliminate the negative play,” said Chamblin.
“And we have to make sure we bring out the positive play, which is something that we’ll sit down over the next 24 hours and see what we need to do to go forward.”