The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 25-13 loss on Sunday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field wasn’t a shocker. In fact, despite the two club’s separation in the standings, it was somewhat predictable because of how the Riders underperformed in previous weeks.
Since losing to the Calgary Stampeders 42-27 on week 8, the Riders squeaked by the Montreal Alouettes and Edmonton Eskimos by three points in each games. They didn’t compete for 60 minutes and looked like a far cry from a contender. But since they went into Winnipeg with an 8-1 record and a victory over them the week before, most viewed the contest as an easy win for the Green and White.
The fact of the matter is the Riders set a deceiving tone early. They aren’t as strong as they seemed in the first four games. However, they also aren’t as weak as their last couple of performances would suggest. They are somewhere in the middle, not quite at the Stampder’s level, but right in the mix with the B.C. Lions, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts as the second best team in the league.
Darian Durant’s 15-for-33 passing percentage makes him the easy target to blame. But that would be using ignorance to find a scapegoat. In fact, Durant didn’t even have that poor of game when you consider he only had three seconds to throw the ball most plays.
Where was the offensive line? It’s understandable they wouldn’t be at their best with Chris Best out of the lineup; however, it makes you wonder if this offensive line lives and dies by Best or if his replacement, Patrick Neufeld, is just simply not strong enough to play in this league.
The Blue Bombers’ Justin Goltz threw for the same amount of yards as Durant, 129, with more time to toss he ball. So it’s not as though Durant lost the quarterback battle.
Kory Sheets had his worst game on the year with 65 yards on the ground, but he was only given the ball 14 times so it’s not exactly totally his fault. He was used more as a slot back, catching six passes for 57 yards.
It is fairly common for teams to go through a slump in the middle of the season so there is no need to sound the alarm.
Ricky Foley isn’t worried about it.
“The middle of the season is where teams find their groove, they figure out who they are going to be and what style of play they are going to establish,’’ said Foley to the Leader-Post. “Winnipeg has found that now and there won’t be easy games from this point on. We faced our adversity and we’re not going to face a louder crowd than that until the playoffs. We won’t face more adversity than giving up our first touchdown on special teams. We have to bounce back.’’
The win, which gives them a 2-8 record, was the Bombers’ first in their new stadium.
The Riders are now tied with the Stampeders for first in the Western Confernce with an 8-2 record.
Saskatchewan’s next battle is against Toronto on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Mosaic Stadium.