What bugs me most about the Riders...

... is the seeming inability to groom younger players to take over when the veteran guys age. We had no adequate replacements for Lancaster or Reed, and it showed after they both retired. Even when Austin and Burgess were around, we did not groom a QB to take over. This year, the inability to groom a QB for the future came back to bite us in the butt big time. Even in 2006 a QB should have been groomed, Durant was around then, so why not give some playing time during that season, and give him a little more in 07 and have him ready for 08? We could have released Crandell in 07 or have him around as a 2nd or 3rd stinger this year. It never seems to happen with this team.

Its not the just the QB position that this is a problem. Who is going to replace Eddie Davis and Omarr Morgan? How about Cates? It seems that we just figure a player will just come out of thin air. The only place where the Riders seem to have people waiting in the wings is on the Oline(Shologan, Best). Its time the management addressed this--or we could see more seasons like the 2-14's of the late 70's.

We're a little deeper than just O-line depth (and Shologan's a d-lineman, by the way). We have tons of Canadian slotbacks. As for DBs, James Patrick is a player. And other than Eddie and Omarr, the rest of the group is relatively young, so we're pretty good there.

And, we groomed 3 pretty nice LB's to take over from Smith, Mitchell and Hunt (who himself stepped in for what's his name that ended up in Calgary), and we have another player in Rey Williams who will be a stud very soon. Throw in Stancil who injuries drailed and we've had a nice progression there.

What seems to be more the case I've always found is that each team seems to have a knack of developing a steady stream of good players at certain positions, and not at others. For Sask, other than Austin, we haven't developed a QB in 40 years. Even Ronnie wasn't really our find. Compare that to Edmonton, who, from Wilkinson on, has been sick at that position. No one is even close. There was a point in the 90's when Edmonton's depth chart read Dunigan, Allen, Ham. Yikes! But since about Jim Germany, Edmonton can't manufacture a tailback to save their lives. The only good ones they had came from somewhere else.

However, we've always seemed to be able to find good slotbacks, going back to the Joey Walters, Chris DeFrance, Elgaard, Fairholm days, right up the present. Calgary too. Wideouts for us - not so much. Winnipeg has always had a ton of those, though. Kick returners - we're never any good finding those. The one we did we gave away. But Edmonton, BC and Montreal seem to get new star returners every year.

I could go on, but I've always been curious about this - regimes change, but some organizations are just better at finding good players for certain positions than others.

My mistake on Shologan. I still stand by my contention is that we don't seem to find guys to groom at key positions. Its been that way for as long as I can remember. Even though Lancaster was acquired through trade, the Riders should have found a QB to groom around 10 yrs into his stay here. The same goes for Reed.

Well, what about all of the examples I just gave?

I agree, we're horrible at developing QB's. And I'll agree that there wasn't a ready replacement for Reed.

But to say we don't develop anybody at any position isn't a totally fair statement.

I don't think that the Riders do any worse in this area than any other team.

I'm more concerned about the free agent signings coming up this winter than I am about the development of young talent.

It is an accurate assessment of the Rider management style of the past. However, I believe the Riders now have a system of continual renewal and improvement at all positions. It showed itself this year with the depth of talent at all positions when injury replacements were required. As to the QB position - we have three young players in the wings anxious to be the starter and to win. This was not the case in the past as we relied on signing other teams rejects to replace free agents or retirements. I am extremely optimistic about the long term health of the Riders and excited about the young talent we have on our roster after having observed their talents this past season.

hahahahahaha. You want to talk depth? They may not have had a stable quarterback but I think Durant looked good before he got hurt and wasn't really given the chance to be given the reigns again with the Bishop acquisition. Jyles also looked good at the end of the season with some more playing time. But Durant stepped in at the quarterback and went 4-0 so he must have been prepared just a little. The riders this year finished 12-6, the same record as last year where we also had a home playoff game and won the Grey Cup in case some people forgot haha. The amount of injuries we've had (8 broken legs!!) to keys players and other players position players. 20+ people on the injured chart sometimes. So for players (who apparently haven't been developed) to come in and fill in the spots of the first line and finish with the same record as last year (a far less worse of a year for injuries) i think that is pretty good and shows the depth that this team really has. Can anyone say rookie of the year?

You guys are missing the point here a bit.. yes we have some good young players, but unfortunately, it took injuries to see what kind of quality we had here. The fact is, if someone had the foresight to bring Durant along, he could have been the starter for this year, or be better prepared to start for next year. As of right now, I don't see us winning two-thirds of our games next year, that is a bit unrealistic. Durant only showed that he is capable of starting, but leading us to another 12 wins or better win season will be a surprise.

i can safely say that lancaster was replaced by austin, and reed was replaced by Cates.

so why did we go so long missing the playoffs in between Lancaster and Austin?

If not for injuries how else would one determine what kind of quality we had until they worked their way up to starting positions?

Well if Durant is better than both Crandell and Bishop, which I believe he is why wouldn't we be in a position to at least equal next year (speaking strictly from the QB position and not including any possible dratic changes in other areas of the team).

Sambo, I agree with you in the past the riders have not done enough developing, but then again not many teams do. With a limited roster it is difficult to double up and impossible to triple up at each position. So it makes it difficult to make plans.

Add to that when a team makes significant off season moves that dramatically impact the ability of the team develop players. This year it was Hunt, Perry, Joseph were key moves. Some would say that Hunt became expendible because of the emergence of the young linebackers we had in camp including Stancil. However, the problem with getting rid of that type of experience is that always doesn't work out the way it did this year where the linebackers were solid. For example last year when Eddie D went down, the loss of his leadership showed in the secondary.

In terms of developing a quarterback is that you can't always develop and groom a player. Sometime you need to recruit someone. Having said that, we had Glenn and traded him away when we knew we would lose him. Another challenge with developing instead of acquiring the expertise is that you run the risk of having a papercut on your team. For two years we had the next greatest quarterback, in fact some were claiming Tate could start before Durant, now after two years, he is not mentioned but Bell is.

The team needs to focus on having the ability to acquire the players when necessary and having sufficient back up in place so that if one player goes down the team doesn't miss a beat. Back in the old Ford years, the riders were not a team that most players wanted to play for and if they were drafted were looking to get out as soon as free agency would allow, because they didn't get paid what they are worth. If we keep up the "oh we can't afford an elite paid quarterback" it may start to go back to the that type of era where it will be hard to attrack quality players.

I think this is a pretty unfair statement being made by sambo. Reed has been replaced by players like Mike Saunders, Wes Cates, Kenton Keith, Darren Davis was pretty good when he played here etc. Running back has always been a position where we have been able to fill pretty well. Defensively, look at John Chick and Fred Perry. The only thing it seems the Riders have had a hard time replacing is quarterback, or when they do replace players they are weak at other postitions which causes them to lose. I think with Shivers putting the building blocks in place to rebuild the Riders, and now Eric Tillman who is taking the team to a whole nother level we will be able to put up another Grey Cup under Tillman. The Riders are no longer the lovable losers, and will be in contention for quite some time as long as they continue to make the right decisions at the top.

Well, how is it G&W that the Eskimos brought in QBs that made huge impacts in this league. They found quality guys at other positions, all this while making the playoffs 34 yrs in a row. While its tougher to keep and develop players as mike pointed out, the fact is that the Eskimos proved that it can be done. Allen, Dunigan, Ham, Ray, Moon, Wilkinson. The Eskimos were a virtual QB factory. They also came up with good talent at other positions as well. BC is following in that vein, and they have a team that has the potential to be Cup contenders every year. So if Durant falters, who is next? Jyles? Bell? Bell hasn't even played a down and it seems he will be anointed as the next saviour.

Edmonton also what seemed like unlimited money in those 32 years and no properly enforced salary cap. How good has Edmonton been the past three years since we have had a salary cap that has been enforced? 2 playoff misses and one crossover. I do agree that quarterback has been one of those areas where we just can't seem to develope a key guy, but we have developed players in many other positions. Right now, I would say we have a pretty well-rounded team going into next season as long as we can get back at least two of our linebackers who are free agents. Even if we don't, we have guys like Renaud Williams who can step in. The Riders will be a force for quite some time.

greenandwhite, I will agree with you that during the non-cap years edmonton was able to spend more on quarterbacks. In fact most teams were able to spend more on players and it impacted big on the league. But the difference between Edmonton during 80s / 90s was Edmonton was prepared to go out and get the players. Sask didn't under the Ford years and it almost ruined the team because the fans left.

The problems with edmonton over the last 3 years has had more to do with Danny and the fact that Hughie left then it does with the inability to spend money.

That is true, Ford was a bum and should have been dumped long before he was. That was the Riders of old tho. Right now we have the money to spend on good high quality scouts and stuff like that. I like the position we are in now with the coaches and players we have, and I suspect Tillman will continue to do a bang up job trying to fill in the holes (there aren't really a whole lot on this team minus the question at quarterback but Durant looked good last season and if he stays in Riderville, I suspect he will be the quarterback of the future.) I am confident we will be competetors for at least the next five seasons, and will win another Grey Cup within the next 3 to 5 season.

finding young talent is the gm and scouts.
We have been doing good i think the last few years.
Dressler, Bell, Durant, etc.
I also feel our drafting has been good too with our canadian talent.
But obviously the main focus is the quarterback position.
Hard to believe a few years back we had Glenn,Burris,Butler and they got away for whatever reasons (money, wanting #1 pos.)
We have the horses now at qb, Mr Tillman panicked this year, this was going to be a building year at qb but the team started winning so he made a bad choice with Bishop.
All we need to do is sign Durant,Jyles and Bell and we will be fine
AND do not hit the panic button (ET or us fans) if we dont win.

A side note, didnt a while ago, players young and old didnt want to come play in SK.
This has changed so I feel our days with 4-6 wins a year should be over

snow and green, I agree with you that the riders have done a good job recently recruiting. I think there are still very big question marks around Durant, Jyles, Bell and I will even include papercut in the mix.

Having said that, if we can’t a bonafide starter by next year, those players like Flick and/or Fantuz and other that have performance pay will start to look other places if we don’t have a top notch quarterback. This starts with management making a committment to a top notch quarterback and paying the salary if needed.

What would your suggestion be then? Joseph was good when he was here, but you sooner or later you have to look at somebody who will be in for the long term. From what we have seen of Durant at the beginning of the season, I would say that with the right players around him (which I believe he has), and the right coaching (again I believe he has that as well, they just made one mistake and that was keeping Bishop in this season as long as they did) he can win a championship. If we can keep Ritchie Hall as our defensive coordinator, our defense will be top notch again. All our quarterback will have to do next year is limit the turnovers, and get the ball into the hands of the playmakers such as Dressler, Cates, and Fantuz and we will be up around the 12 win mark again next season, and hopefully this time we can get first place.