Hewitt Commentary: Déjà vu all over again
Saskatchewan Roughriders helmet (Twitter/@sskroughriders)
As baseball great Yogi Berra so aptly put it, “It’s deja vu all over again.”
In a 2019 Rider game, that resembled a step back into 2018, the Saskatchewan defense scored two explosive touchdowns to lead the charge in a 17-10 victory over the Montreal Alouettes.
History was made following an hour lightning delay when the tilt was called with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter. It’s the first time a CFL game has been called because of a storm.
The new rule came into effect during league collective bargaining with the players over the off season, hence the call. The contest would not have been called, after an hour, if it had not yet advanced beyond the mid-way point of the third quarter.
The game itself resembled my grandmother's heavy old meat grinder.
It was physical, with both defensive fronts getting the better of both offensive lines. Neither side could run, as Riders William Powell gained four paltry yards on seven carries.
The Riders need the running game to click, at least to a certain extent, in order to have success passing the pigskin.
For Saskatchewan, no running game seems to equal no passing game.
If the Rider running attack can’t get the opposing secondary to move up for run support, the passing game is in peril.
On the other side of the ball, the Riders were playing Montreal’s backup QB’s, nonetheless, anytime a D scores two touchdowns, something is being done right.
The Roughrider defense repeatedly got away with cover zero.
Saskatchewan defensive coordinator Jason Shivers correctly gambled that the inexperienced Alouette pivots would not be able to take advantage of cover zero under pressure.
The Saskatchewan defense had not recovered a fumble all season, so the Green defenders turned that trend around quickly with two scoops and scores.
Enjoy linebacker Derrick Moncrief while we have him, the NFL should be calling next year.
Former Rider GM Chris Jones made a great choice when he drafted linebacker Cam Judge out of UCLA.
The Roughie D line should take a bow, missing three of four starters, the front limited Montreal running back Jeremiah Johnson to 38 yards on ten carries.
That was actually one of the biggest keys to the “good guy” victory.
Before the game, Johnson said he would “serve a five course meal” to the Roughrider defense.
Talk is cheap, it always has been.
Alouette returner Shakeir Ryan ran 101 yards for a major, the fourth return TD the Riders have given up this season.
Expect some personal changes on Rider special teams after their upcoming bye week.
Lions Ryan Lankford (twice) and Hamilton’s Frankie Williams also have return majors against the Green.
The Riders do not have a returner as fast as Ryan, Lankford or Williams.
Friday night Winnipeg returner Janarion Grant scored a pair of touchdowns on punt returns against Calgary.
The Riders do not have a returner as fast as Grant.
Rider GM O'Day got a good receiver in Kenny Stafford when he sent returner Christion Jones to Edmonton last week.
Jones gained 73 yards on five punt returns for the Eskimos Friday night against Ottawa.
With Jones gone, it says here that the Riders need a faster return man.
CKRM Radio’s Michael Ball opined last night, on his post-game call-in show, that fast returners are a plenty down south because the NFL has pretty much done away with kickoff returns.
The Riders need to go get one of their own.
For my money, when the Riders get into divisional battles with western rivals come this fall, not having a faster return man and one faster receiver will cost them.
Saskatchewan is now 5-3, tied with both Calgary and Edmonton in the CFL’s Western standings.
If you had told most Riders fans, including me, the current standing this past March, nobody would have believed it.
Don Hewitt started covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders for CKCK-TV in 1979.