Roughriders may need help from above to save 2022

Less than two weeks ago, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were just a lock on securing a playoff berth — albeit a tour of the East.

That is until they went on to lose to the Edmonton Elks in front of a raucous home crowd on September 16.

Cody Fajardo didn’t appreciate the boos, but fans who paid to watch this display were treated to some kind of release.

Despite losing seven of the last nine games, the odds of going past the regular season are still in Saskatchewan’s favor, but this year’s Riders seem to have a knack for ruining it all. Or at least stir up the drama.

The organization has been through the Marino saga, the Duke Williams helmet toss, COVID and Norwalk, as well as several serious injuries.

The latest episode is a DUI charge for the third string quarterback.

A quick look at what’s left of the schedule shows that making the playoffs isn’t that simple.

Most league teams go through some sort of adversity on a journey to the cup. The Riders certainly ticked that box, but does that make them a championship-caliber team?

It’s been a mind-boggling season for Riders head coach Craig Dickenson, who has faced one distraction after another in 2022. (The Canadian Press)

Apparently, we don’t even know half of the issues surrounding the Riders, according to Fajardo.

He suggests we’ll have to wait for the book to find out what happens next. As if someone is going to buy it now.

The locker room rallying cry this week is to eliminate outside noise.

« Everyone knows social media, the devil, » said Duke Williams, who spoke to the team after the Edmonton loss.

Williams says the fans and the media can only talk, but it’s up to each player whether they accept it or not.

“If we were 15 and 0, they would want to come to our house and have a drink with us,” Williams said.

Cody Fajardo has spent most of 2022 watching from the ground. The Riders quarterback has personally been sacked 54 times, 30 more sacks than Zach Collaros in Winnipeg. (The Canadian Press)

« Mental toughness – I’ve never seen anything like this in the dressing room from the guys and what they had to deal with, » Fajardo said after training this week.

« If we end up in the Gray Cup and win a Gray Cup, it will be one of the greatest stories in franchise history. »

Otherwise, Gray Cup week in Regina will be dominated by talk of the changes that await the franchise.

General manager Jeremy O’Day will come under fire for assembling a leaky offensive line that saw Fajardo sacked 54 times. I’m still waiting to be reminded what the CFL record is. I think it must be close, and Fajardo’s body must be in a constant state of pain.

I said before Craig Dickenson even got hired that he was too nice to be a head coach. He’s great to work with from a media perspective, and I’m sure the players love him. Unfortunately, discipline has been the main issue for riders this year.

Coach Dicky was as critical as he ever was after the loss to the Elks.

« We’re not very good and that’s an obvious statement. We weren’t that good even at 4-1. We’re just a bit ahead of people I felt. We didn’t play at the height of our abilities. »

This week he backtracked on some of his comments, saying « we’re not very good at the moment, but we certainly think we can be a good team going forward. »

A loss to the Edmonton Elks two weeks ago made the Riders’ playoff goal harder to achieve than it looked. (The Canadian Press)

As for the quarterback, Fajardo will be out of contract at the end of the season. Not the right time.

He has a new baby Luca to feed, he just had his worst season as a starter and there will be other options.

The Stampeders will try to get Bo Levi-Mitchell out of Calgary, and Vernon Adams may not like playing second fiddle to Nathan Rourke in Vancouver.

But before the Riders sell the farm, there are still four games to play, starting Friday night in Winnipeg.

The Bombers are coming off a loss to Hamilton and are unlikely to lose another.

Fast forward to the final two games of the season, a home-and-away against the Stampeders. I don’t like Saskatchewan’s luck either.

That leaves us with a game in Hamilton a week from Friday.

The Tiger-Cats are the team the Riders will need to hold on to clinch a crossover berth, making the game in Tim Horton’s Capital a big game.

If the Riders haven’t won a single game in their last four games, Hamilton only needs to win two to claim third place in the East.

If that happened, the Riders organization would be left with a whole lot of questions and finger-pointing in the offseason.


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