Hope for Riders but season on wrong path

Estevan Mercury
October 7, 2011 01:00 AM

As long as there's still a glimmer of hope, there's no use examining where this 2011 season for the Saskatchewan Roughriders went so horribly wrong. But we're getting close to that point.
In another game that the Green & White could barely afford to lose, they were blown out again this past weekend. A week after suffering a devastating 42-5 home loss to B.C., the Riders were pulverized 40-3 by the Stampeders in Calgary Saturday afternoon.
Things looked good early when the Riders won the coin toss and got the ball to start the game. However, as has become the custom, the team couldn't get anything going on offence and they were unable to stop the opposition on defence. Back-to-back fumbles in the second quarter directly led to 14 points for the Stampeders who had a 23-3 lead at halftime. The Stamps were allowed to put themselves into cruise control in the second half as they sailed to the lopsided victory.
The loss dropped Saskatchewan's record to a West Division-worst 4-9 and has left them in a position where they need to win their final five games to have any hope at making the playoffs for a 10th straight season.
"It sucks, to be honest with you," said Rider kick returner/cornerback Tristan Jackson. "This is a great organization. It sucks. It really, really does. It's just one of those seasons. We got five games to go. We have to look forward, not look back."
The team has really no hope of catching Calgary or B.C., and now their only chance at the post-season lies in catching 7-6 Edmonton whom the Riders will visit twice in October including this Thanksgiving Day Monday at Commonwealth Stadium.
However it's this blogger's fear that this team is going the wrong way as they plunge down the home stretch. They seemed considerably uptight going into the Calgary game, perhaps too focused on the mountainous task that lay before them. It also appears they may even be doubting their own abilities, which is a first around here for a long, long time.
"You gotta go home tonight and check yourself in the mirror and make sure you're playing your heart out," said Rider slotback Chris Getzlaf after the game. "A lot of guys are. We have to regroup, obviously."
Orchestrating it all is Rider vice-president of football/head coach/offensive co-ordinator Ken Miller who seemed as much at a loss for an explanation as anyone else after Saturday's game.
"No it wasn't a pretty sight," Miller stated. "We got beat on both sides of the ball. We couldn't stop'em on defence and then we moved the ball but couldn't score. It has been two games without a touchdown, and that's intolerable."
And that's where things have gone so intolerably wrong. Miller fired coaches Greg Marshall and Doug Berry with 10 games left and replaced them with himself. If the team had put forth a gutsy effort in each game under Miller's guidance, perhaps missing the playoffs could be excused by the team's 1-7 start under Marshall.
However the blow-out losses eclipse any defeats suffered under Marshall and the powers-that-be are now scratching their heads looking for answers. While there's still a chance, that's all the club can cling to. But all signs point to an early winter.
"There's always next week, but we have to find a way to get this team playing to the level which it's capable of," Miller said.
It has left us wondering just what this team is capable of.
(Rod Pedersen is the voice of the Riders on CKRM radio)

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