Hewitt Commentary: QB Cody Fajardo belongs in Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo (7) celebrates a touchdown during first half CFL action against the Ottawa Redblacks, in Regina, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. To move atop the West Division standings, Fajardo and the Saskatchewan Roughriders will have to do something no other CFL club has this season: Beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at home.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith
Published Friday, September 6, 2019 7:53AM CST
In one of my earlier columns, I wrote that when Jeremy O’Day and Craig Dickenson took over the Roughriders, we, the fans, got our team back.
These two individuals seemed more like the rest of us here — living smack dab in the middle of the Canadian flatlands.
Hard working, humble and polite.
We like to wear blue collars and get dirt on our overalls.
Rider Quarterback Cody Fajardo fits us folk like a glove, living and playing in Saskatchewan. Fajardo even has a blue collar style of playing football.
When Rider Head Coach Craig Dickenson mentioned on Wednesday that very early talks had begun between Fajardo’s agent and Rider GM O’Day, for a possible contract extension, it made a lot of sense.
Unfortunately we do not live in a pro football bubble here in Saskatchewan, and what is transpiring south of the border defies some sense.
It will be a crazy CFL off-season, as the well-funded XFL will begin play in February featuring eight U.S. based clubs.
The XFL will eventually suffer the same fate as the disastrous AAF. Fans in the U.S. only care about college ball and the NFL, and that will never change, but the XFL has financing in place to likely last two seasons.
Wrestling kingpin Vince McMahon, who is the XFL’s chief investor, is apparently willing to spend $500 million to make the league work.
As we speak, players who have recently been released in the NFL are being recruited by both the CFL and XFL.
Fajardo’s agent is based in the U.S., with 20 NFL players as clients.
The Regina Leader-Post has reported that Fajardo’s agent is Jason Bernstein, who no doubt likes the greenback over the sad and sorry Loonie.
There are other CFL teams who would love to have Fajardo too, unless his play falls off a cliff, which I don’t think will happen.
This scenario means that Fajardo, who will be a free agent in the off-season, is not necessarily a lock to return to Saskatchewan.
One big factor in the Roughrider’s favour is that Fajardo knows he belongs here, his dad knows he belongs here, fans know he belongs here, the players know he belongs here, the gophers know he belongs here.
When the puzzle fits, it often makes a nice picture for everyone.
The 8-3 Blue Bombers are slight favourites over the 7-3 Roughriders for Saturday’s Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg.
As we all know, sweeping a CFL back to back is difficult, it’s one thing to sweep the BC Lions, quite another to sweep the Bombers.
Except for the last three minutes, the Riders got their butt’s kicked in the second half against Winnipeg last Sunday, the Bombers had the ball for over 20 minutes.
The Rider coaches will be scouring the video from that second half and will make adjustments.
Rider run defense will have to stiffen. I thought stout defensive tackle Jeremy Faulk would be a needed addition, but he’s now on the six-game injury list. We’ll see what Rider defensive coordinator Jason Shivers can come up with, without the addition of more beef on the hoof.
Red Zone scoring will have to improve, Saskatchewan squandered three major opportunities for more points in the first half last Sunday.
That won’t work in Winnipeg.
After giving up five sacks on Sunday, the Roughrider offensive line will have to play their best game of the season to snag the coveted Banjo.
Willie Jefferson will be loaded for bear.
The special team cover squads were outstanding last Sunday, their best game of the season, but they’ll have to be just as good. Saskatchewan’s special team’s return game isn’t scaring anyone.
Have a good weekend everybody, enjoy the last days of summer.
Don Hewitt started covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders for CKCK-TV in 1979.