August 5, 2018

Nye: Stout defence alone won’t be enough for Riders

The Canadian Press




Those are the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ records against their own division over the last three seasons with Head Coach Chris Jones.

The combined record of 5-17 is nowhere close to being good enough for a team in year three of the Jones era in Saskatchewan.

The Riders have started a six-game stretch in which they play all four of their western rivals and they’ve sputtered out of the gate and are in need of wins when they get back to the field following this upcoming bye week.

‘Close’ was the phrase that comes out of the Riders’ locker room the most when talking about the offence.

‘Close’, as in they know they’re not good enough yet to outscore Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders or Mike Reilly and the Eskimos.

» Reilly, Walker push Esks past Riders
Images: Roughriders at Eskimos
By the Numbers: View Boxscore


We don’t know how they match up yet against the BC Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers but that knowledge will come by early September.

And I agree with them. They are ‘close’ to those teams but will they be able to surpass them this season?

The defence is unquestionably a championship calibre defence. The offence is having a hard time getting clicking.

Consider this.

After seven weeks last year, the Riders had four games in which their offence had scored more than 35 points. In fact they had six in their first nine games. The receivers were planning touchdown celebrations that were becoming the big thing in the CFL.

What will the touchdown celebration be this time was the question going into every game.

This season, many are wondering if the team will get to celebrate an offensive touchdown with just eight in the first seven weeks. This time last year the Riders had 20 offensive touchdowns.

They have zero games of more than 35 points, and only one scoring over 30.

The big thing for the Roughriders to do in their bye week is to figure things out on the offensive side of the ball to spark this team.

The defence will keep them in games. Any uptick in offensive production and the Riders will be able to surpass the Stampeders and the Eskimos.

Thursday night’s game in Edmonton was a prime example. The Riders lost by a touchdown, with a defence that kept Mike Reilly to below 50 per cent completion percentage and having trouble finding open receivers for most of the night.


Meanwhile, the Riders failed to get it into the end zone on four attempts from the one yard line.

Duron Carter returned to the offence and ended up in the end zone on an impressive catch. Jordan Williams-Lambert made big catches and was able to pick up yards after the catch. Naaman Roosevelt is one of the most underrated receivers in the league and the Riders are able to run the ball with success.

Why can’t they put it all together? It could be the fact Zach Collaros was just playing in his second full game of the season after missing four games recovering from a concussion. It could be Duron Carter has now only played two games on offence. It could be new receivers getting acclimatized. It could be more conservative play-calling from offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo.

Whatever the reason, the team needs more from the offence. And they need to figure it out soon.

The Riders will not win enough games to keep pace with the top three in the West by just playing stout defence.

That is what we’ve learned in the first two games of their important six game stretch, and with the halfway point of the season quickly approaching, it’s not like they have much more time to figure it out until their rivals start getting too far out in front.