The Saskatchewan Roughriders just lost there second game of the season and have now dropped to 2-2 on the season. Many fans are very quick to blame the young quarterback Darian Durant for our recent woes, but he should be the least of us Rider fans' worries.
Durant didn't play fantastic, but he led the Riders to 24 offensive points, he had 238 yards, 1 passing touchdown, 1 rushing touch down, a 57% completion percentage and threw no interceptions. It wasn't a great game, but when you consider how little time he had that entire game, it was quite, quite good. The Roughriders' offensive line has been absolutely pathetic this season, Durant has had no time, and Wes Cates, who is one of the top running backs in the league, has bad numbers due to the fact that he has had no holes to run through. The o-line is decimated by injuries, but Eric Tillman should really get a big import from somewhere who is good, and get him playing, fast.
Cates' lack of yardage this season isn't only the fault of the offensive line. It seems that the only running plays the Riders run are right up the middle out of the shot gun. All the running plays are very predictable and with an offensive line that can't push people around, we need some creativity. Their offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice really needs to start calling much better plays to free up Wes Cates, (screen passes, counters and tosses) and plays that better suit our offense. With the players on offense that they have, (quarterback with weak arm, amazing slot backs and weak outside receivers) the Riders should be running quick crossing patterns to Andy Fantuz, Weston Dressler and Jason Clermont who are all great receivers and will be able to get some yards after the catch. The play calling has been been sub par and really needs to improve.
On the other side of the ball, the Riders' biggest problems are their defensive tackles and Canadian corner Donovan Alexander. Both of our defensive tackles are too slow, and are getting pushed around. Marcus Adams is not strong enough and is constantly getting pushed forward instead of getting to the quarterback, and whenever Scott Schultz breaks through the offensive line, he is way to slow to catch up with the quarterback or running back. The inside tackles on most teams are usually the ones who are getting double teamed, but on the Riders, Stevie Baggs and John Chick are constantly being doubled because Schultzy and Adams can be covered easily with one guy each. Donovan Alexander is also a problem as he was heavily exploited by Ricky Ray in their last game, he gives way to big of a cushion to the receivers and then goes for the big hit and misses instead of breaking down and tackling like you should.
Coaching isn't going well either, the Riders' new kick return formation is terrible and doesn't work. The wedge formation needs to be improved to give Darian Durant and the rest of the offence good field position. Also, little things like having Johnny Quinn, an import slot back who is slow and average at best in the game, instead of Canadian Chris Getzlaf in is just a bone headed move. Becuase of this, speedy back Hugh Charles can't dress because there would be too many imports.
Although this article has been very negative, the Riders do still have a shot to do well this year if their injured offensive lineman return. Gene Makowski will be back for their week five game against Calgary which should give the Riders a boost.