Running Attack

My question is can you win a GC without a running attack? Riders seem to think that as long a we have the Canadian Airforce and DD throwing for over 400 yards, we'll win games. Of course other teams know this (TO just beat us). By my calcs, since labour day(6 games) Riders are averaging 75 yds per game (one game was 31 yds, and two in the 50's). Why isn't Charles playing? Something positive always seems to happen when he's in there. On a frozen field in Nov, don't you want a running attack? If you need a spark when DD isn't on his game, don't you want a running attack? Seems like Millers loyalty is getting in the way of playing your best players or sitting out a game to get some perspective. Cates is hired to run the ball, not to block or catch the ball. Miller use to have a revolving door for QBs, but after 8 or so lack luster games by Cates, not even a hint of shaking things up, just to see what happens. Dorsey was "retired to 9 game injury list" for lack of production, why not sit out Cates one game? 8)

A bunch of very good points. I don't think you need to sit Cates, but Charles and even Foord could be used, even sparingly. For whatever reason, Miller does not seem to ever overule Berry or Daley, and heaven help us if Berry is our HC in 2011.
See my new thread on Oline.

There are several interconnected parts that work together, each one of them being a factor in why the running game is not working.

  1. Coaching - My own impression is that, for better or for worse, the coaches have decided that our offensive philosophy is that we will be a pass-first (maybe even a pass-only) offence. That has nothing to do with Cates so I think it a bit superficial to focus on Cates alone. We have empty backfield sets on first down as often as not. It's kind of the opposite philosophy of TO, really. All the rest flows from this one ...

  2. O-line - Because we are pass-first, blocking schemes, practising of them, etc., are probably afterthoughts, or at least not the focus. So, guess what, we do not excel at run blocking. No matter how much a Cates-hater one might be, you gotta admit that there are rarely holes to run through based on the designed play.

  3. Play calling - The obvious thing is that there are so few called running plays at all - because of the pass philosophy. Even the biggest Cates haters have got to admit that 7-8 touches, including running attempts from the opposing 1-2 yard lines for TDs, is insufficient to establish a running game. One can argue that coaches don't call many running plays because they don't believe Cates can get it done, but that's gotta be baloney. How does that explain the first 4-5 games?? I just don't think it's their focus, no matter how good of a back they have. Put another way, you can't really tell how good of a back you have with this philosophy.

  4. Play diversity - I would wager to guess that 70-80% of the running plays we do call (i.e. 6 of the 8 touches) are up the middle. There aren't that many sweeps, laterals, etc. called. Easy to defend against a single

  5. Establishing/Integrating the run game - We saw it more in the first 5-ish games where the run would set up the pass; you know, running off tackle, then running the other side, then doing play action that worked because the run was a real possibiliy and kept the D honest. There just is no methodical establishing of the running game, not for its own sake nor even to facilitate or supplement the passing game.

  6. Talent - I honestly don't get people who think Cates doesn't have it anymore. Were you not watching the firsrt 4-5 games? In my view, the coaching philosophy simply moved away from the run, even as a means of improving the pass. While it may be good sport to want the backup, looking objectively, there is no evidence that Charles or anyone else would do better in the same philosophy. Sure Charles got a TD on that one run a few weeks ago, but with the rare hole that the o-line created on the left side for him, . Other than that, where is the empirical evidence that Charles would do better? He had some good plays last year while Cates was injured, but he also got stuffed alot. People only remember the spectacular plays, but not all plays were spectacular I can assure you of that. I am not at all against Charles getting in there for a few or more than a few reps, but not because of some perception that Cates ain't got it.

Those are all fair points, but IMHO, part of the problem is that our HC will not intervene and overrule our OC. In fact, watching the bench which I regularly do, one rarely sees Miller speak with Berry.

I love, LOVE, Wes Cates (even think he would be MVP material if he had more rushing yards) but it is time to get Hugh Charles into the game.

Even though we will always be a pass-first offense, Charles and Cates should be mixing it up the way Keith and Holmes used to. Here's hopin.

What's the point though if there are only 8 run touches the whole game? To give 4 of them to Charles? When Keith and Holmes were there, they shared 25+ touches between them. My point is that there is only marginal benefit in bringing in Charles without also changing the philosophy to a more balanced attack.

Good points all. I think Oline needs major improvements in the offseason. Old and slow. No gaps means it's difficult to get yardage but an explosive back like Boyd at times makes his own gains by keeping those knees pumping. I agree we need more touches in a game but speed will make the sweeps more viable when the gaps are not being produced by the Oline. I just think with the lack of production in the last 6 weeks we have to make some adjustments to shake things up. The time to do this is now and not at the very end of the season. If it doesn't work well move to plan C. Time for Miller to show some leadership. The players want to win a GC and will support any adjustments. I just want to see us moving in a positive direction with play-offs around the corner.

I was in the unusual position(for me) of only being able to see about the last 10 minutes of the game live...then listened to the post-game radio. Frequent complaints were made (though not as much by those calling in) about lack of a running game. Later I watched the whole game on TSN2, while keeping this comment in mind. I noticed that we fairly regularly ran the ball on first down (almost universally Cates, of course) with what I would say were variable results. Very few running plays called on 2nd down in this game; tendency was to pass, even when yardage needed was relatively short. So, I really have to wonder about this complaint...but I am surmising that it has been made because the perception was that running did not seem to get us good yardage--or perhaps it was the perception that the Argos' running plays were achieving more success than ours? Use of a running attack in some ways is relative, I would think...that is, if you have such great receiving talent, and have had success throwing both short and long--wouldn't you want to play to your strength? (And if you didn't do so...wouldn't a lot of people complain as to why you weren't using all those talented receivers that you have?)

GDD: Running plays do more than get yardage. They keep a defense honest, so that they cannot pin their ears back and play almost primarily to shut down the passing game. Since you listenred to the postgame show, did you hear Weston Dresslers' comments? The Argos in the second half played cover two almost exclusively, with two deep safeties. This made it very difficult for the Riders to throw long, as one defender playing safety was deeper and the other shallower, and it was hard for Fantuz and Weston to get open deep, and the game plan was that they would be the primary receivers. It didn't help that our Oline stunk up Taylor Field, and Darian had no time. I cringed when Toronto only rushed three, and still beat our six in maximum protection. Cates, Clermont, and Getzlaf all took turns blocking in our pass protection schemes. Did Jason or Chris make one catch?
And of course it was a striking contrast to the Argos run game. Boyd is the very best tailback in the CFL right now, And the Riders run D. is very weak!

We do NOT have a run game. Cates has no burst and seems to be slowing down when he is about to be contacted. He has been a great Rider but his "best-before" date has long passed.

Sure he has a lot of TD's but I am pretty sure that Charles ,if given the ball, could have scored on those opportunities as well.

Charles needs to get the ball............but stubbornness by our Coach will not allow it.

Charles our savior. The man must walk on water.

Reynolds got all of 21 yards on 8 carries (11 on 7 carries before his last one). I believe he has had less than 140 yards in the last 4 games. Here's what a Calgary fan might write:

"We do NOT have a run game. Reynolds has no burst and seems to be slowing down when he is about to be contacted. He has been a great Stamp but his "best-before" date has long passed.

Sure he has a lot of TD's but I am pretty sure that Cornish,if given the ball, could have scored on those opportunities as well.

Cornish needs to get the ball............but stubbornness by our Coach will not allow it."

Come on, man. Our offence went away from the run in like Calgary's has - don't matter who's in there, they ain't gonna shine.

Glad to see people actually ready to question our coaching, yes were at 9 and 5 but it has been an amazing arm and great hands that got those wins playing with grit and determination. Coaching has done nothing , when faced with tough decisions nothing was done or incredibly stupid plays were called(the punt, field goal fiasco). Everyone is quick to say the players love playing for Ken, But had to all tow the company line very quickly after that incredible game. Would have loved to know how many players loved playing for these coaches when the punt came up short. This team used to preach you have to play 60 min I dont think we have played 60 min yet this year because our players are trying to understand what on earth our coaching staff is doing. Every game we play to the caliber of the the team were playing, the need to play 60 min and look at the scoreboard when there done. Win or loose this is the team and coaching staff we desperatly need at the nextgame

How will we know if Charles is our savior? We never see him play. He's a rookie that will take time to develop so it's better to start now (actually 3 games ago) then wait until later. I NOT saying to sit Cates unless the ratio can't be worked out. But he needs a chance to shake things up. What if he is like Reid in Winnipeg? They'll have to respect the run. Opens up SO many more options and coverages that the opposition have to scheme. If all we rely upon is the throw, we won't be going to the GC. Clagary and Montreal are much more balanced.

I honestly dont get all of the Miller haters. The Riders, with an acception in the last game, find ways to win the close ones. Thats the sign of a good coach. We have two recievers over a thousand yards at this point in the season. That has to say something about the play calling, and the effectiveness of our offense. Cates has the most rushing touchdowns in the league. He might even break a record this year. If we werent passing the football people would be complaining because we have 4 or 5 really good recievers not seeing passes. We do not run the ball as much, and now people have issues with that.

Guess what? Maybe Cates isnt seeing the football as much because we are in the playoffs. Anybody who has played running back knows the amount of punishment your body takes over the course of a season. Could it be that the coaches are saving Cates until the playoffs; a time where you need a running game if you are going to have any success?

As much as I loathe to say the Riders could learn from Calgary, wouldn't it make sense to do the same with their running backs that the Stamps do with theirs? I think Cates in for two and Charles/Foord or even Grice-Mullen in for one would do the same that Reynolds/Cornish does in Calgary and switch things up so defences don't get used to one style of running.

The running play calls also need to be switched up a bit as pounding it up the middle again and again and again only works for getting three yards or less and it becomes dangerous when defences completely expect that very call when the Riders are in the short yardage situations.

Darian and Wes also need to work on the shovel pass scheme more. My heart usually skips a beat when I see the shovel pass this year 'cause there have been a few times this season when the only way Wes would have been able to catch it is if he caught it with his butt.

I've raised the same point that uncltravlinmatt makes in past comments. You don't "rest" Cates for the play-offs when you have two caple RBs that the coach said in training camp where so close that he had to go with the vetran in a tie breaker. We are currently in 2nd spot. Having the western final in your home stadium improves your odds of winning the west dramatically. You do what Calgary does play both backs. Either rotating so you always have fresh legs out there in EACH series or as the NFL does where the two RBs provide extra blocking to give QB more time to throw. Miller is loyal and I do admire that BUT this is a business and winning has huge spin-offs to the team and community. It's getting late in the season to throw Charles to the Lions with next to NO touches thru the year. I find it hard to fathom with all our Canadian receivers that we can't have two import RBs.

My suspicion is that it doesn't really have to do with "resting" anyone, but that the running game - rightly or wrongly - is just not part of the game plan, game after game. And because it is not part of the game plan, no use having more RBs. Not saying that it should be that way, just that, if I could read the coaching staff's minds, that's the vibe I would get.

I think that Cates and our rushing game has been okay so far. The stats show that up to this point, he has 156 carries for 820 yards, so he could very well reach 1,000 yards for the season this year. That's pretty decent in my opinion. He's not leading in those stats (except for TDs), but at least he's in the thick of things with other running backs in the CFL.

I think that some other posters have it right when they touch on the fact that the ball has been fairly well spread out this year, and it has to be for us to be successful. Undoubtedly, our rushing game is complementary to the passing game, which is a good recipe for success in this league. While I think that the combined use of Cates and Charles would maximize our rushing attack, similar to what Calgary has done, there's no guarentee that it would improve our offence.

Just finished reading the LP article about our poor running game. Based on the comments quoted, I think legal beagle has it right. Infact here is one of Berry's quotes:
“I’m a former O-line coach. I want to run the ball. I love running the football. I’d love our tailback to get 150 yards a game. I’d be more comfortable if we were running the ball 15 to 18 times a game. That’s what I want to do. But you have to start out and demonstrate that you’re capable of running the ball. We have not been able to get that accomplished yet.?
Sadly it sounds like he's really honestly saying that we are not capable of running the ball. That makes it so easy for opponents to concentrate on the pass. Hopefully the article is a smoke screen. Obviously it's a known problem so you'd think the staff is working HARD to correct it. One obvious thing to try is what has been discussed in this blog, using Charles, run sweeps, etc. After 6 wks I hope they try something. Go Green....