October 29, 2012

Pedersen: Are the Riders contenders or pretenders?


There are very few positives one can take out of the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ current three-game losing streak.  

Really, the only one which comes to mind is the fact they ARE on a losing streak, which will eventually end, a winning streak could be just around the corner.

Chamblin confident in team
Brandon Isaac and Darian Durant

Having already secured their spot in the post-season, Roughriders rookie Head Coach Corey Chamblin is confident his team will stop its losing streak and get back on track in time for their Semi-Final matchup.

It had better be, because the playoffs start in two weeks!

The latest defeat was another close one, 31-26 to the visiting Toronto Argonauts at a frigid Mosaic Stadium on Saturday. It was minus-9 with the wind-chill but it felt a lot colder.  

However, it was the Argos who came out hot, jumping out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and refused to look back.  They were in control all the way.

The loss dropped the Riders’ record to below .500, forcing them to win their final game against the Lions on Saturday to ensure Head Coach Corey Chamblin doesn’t finish his rookie campaign with a losing record.

Quite honestly, that’s all that is at stake, semantics, because the team will be going on the road to either Calgary or Toronto for a Division Semi-Final.

A radio show in Toronto asked me last week if the Roughriders are legitimate Grey Cup contenders.  The question caught me off-guard because I’d never stopped to think about it.  The point of the question was, will the 2012 Saskatchewan Roughriders be content just to make it to the playoffs in this rebuilding year or will they not be satisfied without the ultimate prize?

No one can answer that right now.  The fact is they’re not playing like a championship team as of late as teams have been able to move the ball on them at key times. They’ve lost the turnover battle during their recent skid, and kicker Sandro DeAngelis has had some costly missed field goals.  

To his defence, it must have felt like he was kicking a cinderblock, but there’s still one more outdoor game to go, possibly.

Despite all this, now is not the time to be panicking.  

The fact of the matter is that they’re in the playoffs and their success will come down to who’s better on that given Sunday and Chamblin knows he needs to keep his group upbeat.

“It was one of those games where they got points early,” Chamblin told CKRM radio.  “Our guys did a good job of fighting to the end.  I told the guys I was proud of how they fought and this team will be ready when it’s time.”
Really?  Can you be sure?

I think he definitely believes it, but at the same time this streaky team has proven to be so unpredictable.  It is possible to flip the switch when the games start to matter more but is this team veteran enough to do it?

“We’re in the playoffs and we’ll be ready to go,” Chamblin advised.  

“Football and winning streaks have been around longer than me so I can’t explain it. But I’m waiting on the winning streak.”

Realistically they can afford one more loss but that’s all.  After that, it’s all over for the Green Riders.