Rider LogoHad the Riders beat Calgary on Aug. 9 to run their record to 6W-0L this edition of RFF could’ve been subtitled “The Eating Crow Edition”. Not that Ron Mexico, Cal Corduroy and Earl Camembert predicted disaster for the Riders in the Kick-Off Edition. But they all had concerns about how some of the many off-season moves the Riders made would pan out.

But the Riders got off to a tremendous start, winning their first five games in convincing fashion. Hell, there was even talk about this possibly being the best team in Rider history. But last Friday the Riders got steamrolled by a charged up Stampeder team 42-27.

With one third of the schedule in the books, Cal, Earl and Ron are back to offer their thoughts on how things have gone for the Riders, and the CFL in general, in 2013.

In light of the Riders strong play up to the Calgary game, what observation(s) that you made previously are you most prepared to eat crow on?

RM: The two areas I will happily eat crow about are my disparaging comment about the offensive line and saying that the kickers were shaky. In fairness, the first forum ran after the home exhibition game against Calgary where the O-line line looked weak. My prediction of the Riders for second wasn’t totally out to lunch, but my projected 10W-8L or 11W-7L record is looking to be out to lunch. I think they win 12 or maybe 13. Always one to focus on the positive, I am proud of my initial comments about Geroy Simon, Ricky Foley, Taj Smith and Rey Williams.

EC: I was completely wrong about the Rider’s offensive line. Like Ron points out, though, the sample size of O-line play I had to go on was limited. Some may argue I should eat crow about Chris Milo given that he hasn’t missed a field goal yet. I repeat my observation that any kick over 40 yards is a complete turkey shoot as so far he’s only tried one from that distance (47 yards). Really, though, no one in the CFL tries anything over 45 yards anymore. Former Eskimo great Dave Cutler must be staring out over his single bar facemask shaking his head.

CC: Fricasseed crow tastes sort of like pheasant. Most people have probably never tried it. Unfortunately, I have to munch on a fair amount of it here. Up until the Calgary game, Darian Durant had been excellent, the O-line had been best in the league, the wide receivers had performed well, and Kory Sheets was (and still is) having an MVP season. On the other side of the ball, the vanilla Richie Hall defence has been very good, and Craig Butler has been solid at linebacker. At the end of the day, if it wasn’t for the Calgary game, I’d be on a steady diet of three squares of crow a day. 

How do you see the thumping the Riders absorbed on Aug. 9? After everything going perfect in the first five games were they due to stumble? Or do you think the game exposed some shortcomings?

RM: Not worried about the loss at all. At their worst by far this season, they were still in it until Jon Cornish scored his fourth TD with a little over two minutes left, and they erased a big halftime deficit. Three or four plays were the difference. From what I’ve seen this year, I have a hard time worrying that our run defence is a big shortcoming.

EC: I think the Riders were due to lay an egg. They have the best running back, the best special teams, and the highest scoring offence.  In the Calgary game they still ran for over 170 yards and threw for three TDs, even though they were behind the whole way. They’ve had problems in Calgary the last couple of years, although receiver Chris Getzlaf isn’t one of them. Three plays in about 45 seconds turned the game around. Jock Sanders inexplicably fielded a punt on the goal line and got tackled on the five instead of giving up a single, then Durant got sacked in the end zone for a safety, and then Ricky Schmitt (the best punter in the league) booted the ensuing kick-off out of bounds and the Stamps scrimmaged from mid-field.  The nine point turn around that occurred after Kevin Glenn passed to Fat Nik Lewis a few times and he eventually scored a TD killed the game. That, and the five or six roughing penalties the Riders took. I might add that the game left an especially sour taste in my mouth overall because Mexico stiffed me on the tab for the pizza we had during the tilt.

CC: They were due for a stumble, and I think many of us wanted the Riders to drop one in a fashion that would keep them humble… which this loss clearly did.  The problem is that Fat Nik Lewis, Jon “Cornish Hen” and the rest of the yappy Stamps were the ones to win. I still think the Riders have the best team in the league — the best balance and the best depth. The Riders have won all their previous games in the trenches but they got beat in Calgary on both sides of the ball. Having said that, Calgary has a good team of assholes and no one is going to go 18W-0L. 

In the next six weeks the Riders host Montreal on Aug. 17 (TSN, 2 p.m.), then travel to Edmonton to play the Eskimos on Aug. 24, then comes the annual Labour Day/Banjo Bowl home and home with Winnipeg, followed by home games against the Argos on Sept. 14 and B.C. on Sept. 22. How do you see those games unfolding?

RM: I see the Riders winning the first four games and then splitting the Toronto and B.C. games — not because Toronto or B.C. are better, but because they’re going to lose some more games. Nothing wrong with 10W-2L at the end of September though.

EC: Another observation I’m not eating crow on is my comparison of Anthony Calvillo to George Blanda.  Sorry Anthony… one year too many. Riders kill Montreal. As for Edmonton — Kavis Reed, Greg Marshall, Kris Sweet — are there any bigger coaching boobs in the league? No.  Another kill job.  Winnipeg… losers, and that city is a dump. The Bombers rank right up there with the Rider teams in the mid ’80s of Bill Quinter, Spanish Johnny Herrera, Reuben Berry, Walt Posadowski, etc. Toronto at Mosaic will be tough, but the Argos only win if Chad Owens runs a kick back for a TD.  The Riders’ cover teams have been the best in the league so I can’t see that happening. B.C. might be tougher by late September, but the Riders will have a big time record at that point and the fans will be revved.  I don’t see B.C. winning here. A lot can happen in a month though.

CC: I’m hoping they’ll go 5-1, but I don’t want to fall prey to John Lynch-style “the Riders will win every game for the rest of eternity!!!” boosterism. We should be able to beat Montreal with Cavillo’s wheelchair showing rust; Edmonton reeks (I’ve received a call to play QB — they may be looking for a coach by then… Mexico, are you available?); Winnipeg is pathetic (I despise them almost as much as Calgary, but I will refrain from saying anything more and just let them demonstrate their patheticness [assuming that’s a word] on the field); and I think the Riders will split with Toronto and B.C. Although it would be tougher if the Riders were on the road for those two. 

In the Kick-Off Edition you predicted B.C. would be the team to beat in the West. They still sport a winning record, but haven’t been dominant. How do you see the division shaping up now?

RM: I don’t understand why the Lions aren’t quite in the Riders’ and Stamps’ class. Remember the B.C. team of 2011, though, which started out 1W-6L and then went on a huge roll and finished first in the West and won the Grey Cup. I still think they will be heard from. Travis Lulay (QB), Andrew Harris (RB), Adam Bighill (LB), Solomon Elimimiun (LB), and their offensive tackles are still real good.

EC: B.C. is nowhere near as good as I thought. They struggled to beat those boobs in Winnipeg. Riders win the West, Calgary second and B.C. third.  Edmonton isn’t even on the same planet.

CC: I think it’ll be a dog fight between the Riders and Calgary (led by Fatso and Buttcrack) for first, with B.C. finishing third and Edmonton wondering how the hell Ed Hervey was named their GM. By the way, John Hufnagel is a complete dick. The Stamps have been the biggest assholes in the league for years. Even with the departure of players like Henry Burris, Dwight Anderson, Sandro DeAngelos and Brandon Browner that remains true. The common denominator? Hufnagel.  Grow up you dink. Sorry, what was the question again? 

As far as the East goes, you all picked Toronto to be class of the division. That seems to be the case, but is the East as a whole weaker than you expected?

RM: Toronto will be like Johnny Rodgers in the ‘70s and cruise into first place running backwards. Yes, I am surprised that the East is this bad. I thought Hamilton and Montreal would be credible. I love that genius Kent Austin is struggling. By the way, I booed his contract breaching ass when he came to Regina. The Leader-Post pushed for him to get a standing ovation. What a joke. This is a guy who walked away from two contracts with our team. For the apologists who point out that he won a Grey Cup for us in 2007 before bolting, my response is this… thanks, but in his contract he promised to try to win us a few more.

EC: I thought Montreal wouldn’t be as good but my God they reek. So does Winnipeg. Hamilton gets the Smartest Guy In A Class Full of Boneheads Award and finishes second. Then a huge battle for third between Montreal and Edmonton on the crossover will be waged over the last half of the season.

CC: It is. I thought Hamilton would be tough, and I suspect they’ll get better as the season goes on. But it’s great to see that tit Henry looking up at the crevices of Calvillo and the Alouettes and Ricky Ray and the Argonauts.  As for Winnipeg, they’re a laughing stock.