There was a time when the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their loyal fans were happy with a playoff appearance.
Heck, if the Riders had a 9-9 record it was a “good” year.
But those days are over. After three consecutive home playoff dates, and a fourth coming later this fall, it is fair to say that expectations in Rider Nation have changed, a lot.
Despite the fact that the Rider brand is the hottest one in sports these days (their own loonie can attest to that), this season has gotten a little sour as of late. Three straight losses have the locals demanding answers and, quite frankly, I don’t blame them; I want answers too.
When Kent Austin was coaching this team, there was enough accountability to keep even a Canadian minority government under wraps. Now, coach Ken Miller has taken the approach of making it team accountability, rather than individual player accountability.
Just a short time ago the team in green was coming off three straight wins, had a record of 9-4 and seemed poised to make another push for a Western Division title. Then they blew it against Toronto. Then they blew it against Calgary. And then they really blew it against Edmonton on Oct. 23.
Now at 9-7, it seems like a 9-9 record could be imminent. Have we really gotten back to the days of mediocrity around here?
I’m mad just like everyone else. I’m mad that the Riders can’t stop the run, can’t run the ball, have the worst special teams in the league, have an anemic offence right now and have a general disinterest in the game.
What’s worse is it seems like many of the players who are supposedly leaders aren’t stepping up. It makes me wonder how this team ever secured a home playoff game to begin with. There better be some good solid answers fast or it could get ugly in a hurry.
Now, all that said, the Roughriders have done enough to secure a playoff game in the friendly confines of Mosaic Stadium where opposing teams just do not win. And I’ve covered football teams long enough, this team included, to know that they don’t get nearly as worked up after a loss, let alone three in a row, to warrant panic within a locker room. It’s the media’s job to get people talking about what’s gone bad with the Riders and it’s the fans job to perpetuate those problems. Let’s just say both sides do a damn good job doing that.
Whether or not the Riders win another game in the regular season is trivial; it’s a moot point as far as I’m concerned. And while I did fire out many expletives at the team Saturday night when they were taken to the barn by the Edmonton Eskimos, I’m over caring about the team’s performance until it matters. I know there’s such a thing as momentum going into the post-season and all that jargon but this is a veteran squad that came a play away from winning a championship last year. Trust me, as validated as we feel knowing what’s best for the team, they know much better as to what it takes.
So whether it’s Jim Daley’s horrible special teams or Doug Berry’s horrible play-calling or Darian Durant’s inability to find Andy Fantuz doesn’t really matter until Nov. 14 when the Riders host either the B.C. Lions or Edmonton Eskimos in the Western semi-final.
Everyone just take a collective breath with me and gear up for the playoffs.
If we’re down a lot of points with not a lot of time left in that game, then panic.