Last year, the Riders opened the season at home against Hamilton. They won that game, but then lost their next two games to fall to 1W-2L. Fans were getting grumpy, but then the Riders had a bye week which seemed to rejuvenate them, as they proceeded to reel off seven straight wins to move to 8W-2L before Darian Durant suffered a season-ending elbow injury in the Banjo Bowl and they more or less collapsed.
This year, the Riders are off to a similarly slow start, and could likely benefit from a bye week to regroup. The team’s first bye this year, though, doesn’t come until week eight (which covers Aug. 13-15).
Before then, the Riders play a home game against Hamilton later today, then go on the road for games against Edmonton on July 31 and Toronto Aug. 8. Unless the team finds a way to turn things around, they could be 0W-7L at that point and you’d pretty well be looking at starting a rebuild for 2016.
A win today would do wonders for the team’s confidence and help soften the criticism head coach Corey Chamblin the rest of the Green & White have weathered from some of the more hot-headed citizens of Rider Nation in recent weeks. It’s not an insurmountable task, either. To begin with, the Riders haven’t played since the team’s 27-24 loss at home to B.C. on July 17 so they have had a mini-break. As well, with the Pan-Am Games on in southern Ontario, the Tiger Cats, like the Argonauts, are on an extended road trip to open the season. Hamilton doesn’t play their first home game until Aug. 3, and currently sit at 1W-2L with a blowout win over Winnipeg sandwiched between narrow losses to Calgary and Montreal.
All four Rider losses have been relatively narrow as well. A play here, and a play there, and the result might have been different. But it’s a truism of sports that good teams, even when they don’t play well, generally find a way to win, while poor teams, even when they play well, often find a way to lose.
Right now, the Riders obviously aren’t a good team. But I wouldn’t automatically say they’re as bad as an 0W-4L record would seem indicate. But until they notch their first W the pressure is only going to build, and when you consider that their regular season and playoff record since Durant’s Banjo Bowl injury last year is an abysmal 2W-11L, the frustration of Rider fans isn’t unjustified.
Game time at Mosaic Stadium today is 5 p.m. You can find more on the Riderville website.