Scorched Earth

The strategy now should be Scorched Earth. Retreat and gather strength while leaving nothing for the opponent.

This team IS playoff bound. I expect BC to catch the Riders for third. Winnipeg is in tough however. They need to go 4-1 the rest of the way. It would take epic weirdness for BOTH of them to catch the Riders even if Sask doesn't win another game especially considering that they play each other in Week 19. 2nd, 3rd or 4th place makes no real difference. 2nd means a home game, 3rd means a road game in Edmonton which would essentially be a home game and 4th means a x-over against a weaker team. So let the chips fall where they may. The Riders are playoff bound.

Now I'm not saying that the Riders should throw any games at all. They should still execute on game day to win, but they should take this opportunity to circle the wagons. They need to play Scorched Earth.

The plan:

1 - Rest guys. Messam is nicked in some way. I know that it was mentioned a few weeks ago but the way he is playing and his limited role tells me that whatever is ailing him is still lingering. Let him sit one or two games. Getzlaf is obvious. He's playng so hard but he's really hurting. Sore foot, bad back. It is showing badly. Let him rest up. He is needed for the playoffs. I'm sure that there are others that we don't know about.

2 - Give as little new film as possible. Keep all your best secrets secret until the playoffs. Don't waste any new evolutions of the playbook or any trick plays for the next while. No one expects Sask to beat Calgary this week, especially Calgary. They have already rested a lot of their guys. They are getting healthy and they will be ready to give a beat down to the team that they hate the most. A loss by 40 is the same as a loss by 1. I'm not saying let them blow you out, but if you're going to beat them, do it in November. Let them get cocky and full of themselves. Same with Edmonton. Let them trash talk you in October and make them eat it in November.

This team knows how to win. This team is built for the playoffs. If they manage to win 2 or 3 games GREAT, but no one will expect a return to form in the playoffs if they limp in with 9 or 10 wins. By then they will be healthy and will have revealed no secrets and ready to smash some poor victim in the mouth.

Take this strategy week by week. Revisit it each game. Things will change. The standings will change. Guys will get healthy. Maybe Scorched Earth will only be needed for a couple of weeks, maybe all the way to the end.

The Riders have done a great job of winning games early in the year. Those wins count. Most people will tell you that the Riders' play drops off as the season goes on, this year and last year. I don't necessarily believe that. I believe that it's mostly because the Riders are better coached and prepared out of training camp than most teams. Most teams CATCH UP to the Riders level after 5 or 6 games. They are prepared to win those early games because those games count and now they have the luxury of regrouping and healing at a time of adversity. They earned this.

There's a lot of haters out there laughing it up right now. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. Let them laugh for a couple more weeks. It doesn't mean a damn thing because haters don't step on the field. They'll all be crying in November.

I 100% believe in this team come November and that's all that matters.

The only problem is if they have to go to Edmonton they will get killed. Riders have sucked big time playing there. Second the so called "weak teams" in the East are suddenly not so week. Hamilton is getting very strong and Toronto is starting to get healthy. A cross over may be the Riders best chance to get to the big game but it certainly isn't going to be a gimme.
AS far as giving anything away play wise I don't see that as an issue anyways as Tino and Doege are having a hard enough time grasping basic football. Resting the most serious injured or banged up is not a bad idea but in order for TIno,Doege, or Price to have any chemistry with them they need to play with them. Not much sense getting to the dance and then find out your dance partner is different. I never like the idea of playing dead. It only takes one or two games before you are dead for real. Sloppy habits start to creep in and once they do it's not like you can just flip a switch and say all right now we are going to play real ball.

Lets not kid ourselves here. If Durant cannot get back for the first playoff game I don't think there will be a second to worry about. Even with him back how strong will he be? I don't want to see him risk all of next season just at a long shot on this one. Our passing game all year has been brutal and as I said that doesn't just change over night.

As far as BC and Winnipeg is concerned with Harris out BC is in trouble. Winnipeg is starting to fade fast but the Eskimos and the Stamps are for real. Even with Durant we will be very hard pressed to win against either team. Its too bad they didn't have one more game near the end of the season against each other as It could determine who is first or second and the body count could have really started to pile up. That isn't the case and Unless Edmonton suffers a serious blow like losing Reilly then I think Edmonton will finish second.
As it stands right now this team isn't built for the playoffs. Yes getting Best and a few others back and possibly Durant is our best chance but as it stands right now we are in big trouble.

I love the riders and will stand behind them to the bitter end but one also has to be realistic. The Stamps and Edmonton as painful as it is to say are better teams then us right now. Still plenty of football to be played and yes injuries can change things as we know a teams season in the blink of an eye. If Durant didn't get hurt I would say we would have been fighting Calgary to the bitter end for second but again we know that isn't the case.

I say play to win as many games remaining as possible and see where the dust settles at the end of the day.

I look at it like this...there have been a few players who have hyping up how good practice was yesterday, some saying perhaps the best of the year. The team tanked hard against the Esks, and the Esks played a great game...bad combo for the Riders. The Riders were rolling in on a high after a huge comeback win and probably a little full of themselves in combination with not a lot of practice time (they Fd that up epically can't practice 1 time and win often, especially with a young QB). The Esks on the other hand were pissed off over there loss and had fire in their bellies, came home and had a few days practice. The rest is history.

Now the Riders have a choice...dwell and implode (don't see it), or come out with something to prove. The Stamps have not been playing as well as at other points in the season (though I admit that can turn on a dime), it is in Regina, it looks like some guys are being shuffled so people are motivated by job security while others by the sight of change and promise.

Practices and the attitude in them tel LOTS about the upcoming game in my experience. Good hard intense practices generally bring out the best, and one day in that is what hapenned thus far.

The Riders are 2 games back. they win and they are only 1 game back. They still control their own destiny. As low of a moment as last week was, a good hard kick in the nuts can go a long way sometimes.

I'm not a betting man, it has never been something I do ala Pete Rose, even for fun, but if I was, I wouldn't be betting stiff against the Riders this week.

I said back in week three that if the protection for Durant didn't get much better he is going to get hurt and I hate to say I told you so but guess what. All year the pass protection has been very suspect and given that situation I think the coaching staff should have been preparing a bit better for the worse to happen which it did. While its a luxury and ideal to bring in the second stringer to mop up in a blow out either way the good and the bad of it is there really wasn't any games I can recall that would have fallen into that category before Durant did get hurt. Still Tino being as raw as he was they should have come up with a set of plays for him to run and then stick him into a game and see how he did. Yes as I mentioned in most games there wasn't a lot of margin for errors so that does factor into it significantly but in order for the second guy to step in he needs to get his feet wet. The game against BC where he had to come in was both a good thing and bad as it wasn't a coaching choice but again Durant got banged up. Now the good part was that Tino looked solid and maybe that was where the coaches dropped the ball and thought "this kid is all right, we don't need to give him more playing time" but I thought in the following game they should have done just that. Get Tino involved more, expand the play options, leave him in for a couple or at least one set and see if the performance against the Lions was for real or just a fleeting moment.

I get that Durant hands down is our guy and no he like any starter does not want to come out but sometimes it even helps the starter to step back and watch a series and regain his composure. Not only that he has a chance to see what the defense is doing and how they line up in certain situations.

If out of all this I hope the coaching staff realizes that to rely on one guy as strong and as tough as Durant is can spell disaster for your team. Next year I hope they approach things differently in that aspect and get whoever is the second guy into more action and start having him more involved. In the end it can only pay dividends for your team.