Friday October 31, 2014

Saskatchewan ready to fast-forward through CFL playoffs

Cey What?
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“In this province green is the colour,” said Brad Wall in his speech from Swift Current after the Saskatchewan Party dominated the polls Monday night in the provincial election.

Fortunately for the Saskatchewan Party green was the colour for the election, but for our beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders, who were first to paint Saskatchewan green, the only highlight last week was offensive lineman Gene Makowsky is a new MLA for the Saskatchewan Party.

There were few thrills from the Saskatchewan Roughriders final game of the CFL season in their tilt with Edmonton.

There will be no playoff games, no celebration parades and looking back on the 2011 season there are few things fans want to remember. If there is one positive I suppose it would be the Riders won the Labour Day Classic and the Banjo Bowl.

Now, the changes to the team’s coaching staff and management group should come in a short time, as they get a head start on looking for a head coach, an offensive co-ordinator and vice-president of football operations, as all three positions were vacated by the Ken Miller at the conclusion of the season.

It is too bad Miller couldn’t ride off into the sunset after back-to-back Grey Cup appearances, but he forced himself back into action after the horrible start to replace Greg Marshall. Now he leaves after one of the worst seasons in a decade.

Not only did the Roughriders win just three games at Mosaic Stadium, a cathedral were many in Saskatchewan plan to spend a weekend or two during the CFL season, but they were 0-10 against the West Division. The Roughrider didn’t have an answer for Edmonton, Calgary or B.C. all season.

That, among other things, is why this season’s CFL playoffs are could be the hardest to predict.

An 11-7 record doesn’t seem good enough to earn a bye to the CFL West Final, nor does it seem bad enough to clinched third in the division and be on the road for the first week.

In the East, a 10-8 mark gets a first round bye and for the first time in four years in isn’t Montreal sailing through the East.

Injuries and inconsistency are the major topics heading into the playoffs this season, which was a strange one. Instead of trying to make predictions for the playoffs after looking at the head-to-head matchups, home field advantage, injuries, stars and whatever other formula you can work in, I found a better way to determine who will win the Grey Cup.

I sat at my desk, wrote the names of all six playoff teams on a small piece of paper. I put the first two opponents in a hand, tossed them on the desk and picked one.

In the first round, Hamilton will beat Montreal and Calgary will beat Edmonton – so much for home field advantage in the semifinals.

Next, in the East division final, through the luck of the draw Hamilton will continue their momentum and beat Winnipeg while Calgary will win in B.C. to go to the Grey Cup – I didn’t see that coming, but it is the CFL and anything can happen.

The winner of the 99th Grey Cup will be the Hamilton Tigers Cats.

I just saved Saskatchewan fans a month of pretending to pay attention to the CFL playoffs when all they really want to do is forget this season and start the cleansing, optimistic process for the new team.

Expect a new look to the Roughriders, which should include a list of changes to the roster. First of all there should be a backup capable of pushing Darian Durant and creating some healthy quarterback controversy.

Staying on offence, a new running back that can run to the outside and be a big gain threat. If he can return kicks and punts that wouldn’t hurt.

The Riders will give any potential pass rushers available an opportunity to make the Riders’ defensive line. They need help, since all their better pass rusher are developed in Saskatchewan before moving to other teams of the NFL.

Expect a healthy Rob Bagg back at wide receiver, but Jason Clermont officially moved into a coaching position. Fantuz will likely be back for the entire season with the Green and White and that is something to be excited about, if he is healthy.

I’m not even going to wager a guess, as to who the new head coach will be, but it won’t be Richie Hall.

Those are just a list of some of the small demands I have for the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the off-season. Here’s to hoping the 2011 season was just an ‘off-season’ for the Roughriders.

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