Top 10 Tuesday: How To Fix The Saskatchewan Roughriders (Starts With 2 Letters)

Well it has been an interesting 24 hours in Riderville. Yes, the Saskatchewan Roughriders cleaned house after an oh-and-nine start to their season.

Many in Rider Nation were calling for Head Coach Corey Chamblin’s head after the club’s blowout loss in Ottawa on Sunday. However, many were perhaps surprised that the Riders also cut ties with General Manager and Vice President of football operations Brendan Taman.

I won’t lie to you it was with mixed emotions that I read the news. First thought was that it had to be done. It was quite obvious in watching the game on Sunday that the team had given up on their leader and it may have all come down to the removal of Quarterback Brett Smith from the game after an end zone interception. The dismissal of Taman was perhaps more of a shock. While, I was not privy to the conversations within Mosaic Stadium Taman stuck by his guy on the outside and it’s hard to believe that he would turn on him after the contest in the Nation’s capital. With that being said that decision may have necessitated his dismissal.

The second thought was for the people that Taman and Chamblin are. Both were very kind to me in my dealings with the club and I hold the upmost respect for both of them. Having your life changed overnight is tough and I wish nothing but the best for them.

So where do the Riders go from here? Here is today’s top 10 ways to fix the Riders, in no particular order:

10 – The team has to upgrade their Canadian talent. Unfortunately Canadian players are becoming regionalized throughout the CFL. More frequently players around the CFL will get drafted only to return closer to home once they have established themselves as a bonafied player in the league. (i.e. Craig Butler returning to Hamilton after honing his trade in Saskatchewan, or the Riders signing Brendan Labatte away from Winnipeg) That being said it starts with the draft and after trading down or picks in the Canadian draft the Green and White need to upgrade their nationals and do it the patient way.

9 – The future has to start now. Looking at the roster no one can become untouchable if there is an offer that can help the club down the road the team has to look at it.

8 – A new O’Day? With Jeremy O’Day getting a chance to guide the ship for the remainder of the season he has a chance to lay out a plan to Rider Brass to fix the team as he sees fit. It was a similar situation in Edmonton when the Eskimos handed over the keys to Ed Hervey. Yes an argument can be made that the best personnel decision that he made was hiring Head Coach Chris Jones but he did bring in Mike Reilly and has assembled one of, if not the, top defence in the league.

7 – Time to bring back Kerry Joseph? Now before you jump all over this one I am not talking as a player. Instead I am talking about K-J the coach. The knock that some in Rider Nation have put on the team is their inability to develop a quarterback behind Darian Durant. Interesting that most are forgetting that the Riders did that with Drew Willy but I digress. One thing the Riders have been missing since their Grey Cup victory in 2013 is a Quarterback Coach. Following that season Khari Jones left the club to join the B-C Lions as their offensive coordinator. Since then the Riders have not brought in a mentor for Tino Sunseri, Keith Price, Brett Smith, et all. The time may be now to bring in K-J, who many will credit Mike Reilly’s success to when he essentially served as a player coach, to mentor the next Rider QB’s.

6 – The O-Line. What a mere season ago was a point of strength has now become a sore spot. The departure of both Ben Heenan and Dominic Picard in the off-season has not been rectified. Time for quarterbacks in the Rider pocket is non-existent. It may be time to look at revamping the line.

5 – Changing of the guard. The time to overhaul the leadership of the group may have arrived as well. The loss of their leader Quarterback Darian Durant has been huge over the course of the last two seasons. However, there hasn’t been anyone seemingly to step up aside from Weston Dressler. Have Rob Bagg, Chris Getzlaf, John Chick and Tyron Brackenridge lost their voice in the room?

4 – Secondary is primary. One of the downfalls of the Riders this season seems to have been their inability to confirm to the new no-contact-in-the-secondary rules in the Canadian Football League. The defensive backs have been a banged up bunch but their inability to stop the short passing game has been the team’s Achilles heel. (Sorry Darian Durant)

3 – Get healthy. This probably should be bolded, highlighted and italicized. How many times early in the season did the Riders have to send out news releases announcing that a player had been lost for the season? Darian Durant, Weldon Brown, not to mention long term injuries to Keenan MacDougall, Shea Emery, Kevin Glenn, etc. Injuries in professional sports are not an excuse but when a team has upwards of 15 would-be regulars on the long term injured list it makes it pretty tough no matter who is coaching or managing especially with small CFL rosters and practice rosters.

2 – Play to your strengths. This goes without saying in any organization. However, for whatever reason the Riders seem to stray away from them. Whether that be moving John Chick to the interior of the defensive line or not handing the ball off to Jerome Messam out of the backfield, or even benching Anthony Allen. The Riders are not far off they just have to reevaluate what makes them tick.

1 – Recognize your place. The Green and White are coming up on a stretch where they host Winnipeg, play in Winnipeg and host Ottawa. All three are winnable games. That being said the club needs to recognize that they are 0-and-9 and not going to make the post season. The future for the Riders starts now so finding players that can step in and play is paramount. Mistakes are going to happen on the field but ensuring that poor personnel decisions aren’t made in the next three months is paramount.