In anticipation of the inevitable collapse of the Roughriders’ 2021 season following two demoralizing, joyless and inexplicable blow-out losses to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Labour Day Classic and the Banjo Bowl (or Bowel; this is Winnipeg we’re talking about), I am taking this opportunity to write a few good things about the Saskatchewan Roughriders while I have the chance (i.e. before the bottom falls out of this team and none of this applies any longer).
Ashton Kutcher Doppelganger Quarterback Cody Fajardo
I believe I speak for every fan, player and coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders when I describe the Seven Stages of Triumph and Terror we all go through every time Mr. Fajardo chooses to run.
Stage One: Ah! Don’t do it! You’ll get hurt!
Stage Two: Oh shit, there he goes. Wait! Go! Go!
Stage Three: Okay, just slide. Just slide you idiot! Not headfirst! You’re going to get killed!
Stage Four: Touchdown! -or- First Down! Good job!
Stage Five: Please get up! Please don’t be hurt. Please-please-please….
Stage Six: Okay he’s up. Is he limping? Is he holding his arm? There goes the season. Why did he do that! Why!
Stage Seven: He’s okay. Thank you sprinkle of Jesus, or whatever.
Quite aside from his running ability, he throws a deceptively hard ball. You have to be watching near field level to really appreciate the zip he puts on a ball.
My only quibble is that Mr. Fajardo is playing so well, we may never get to see Offensive Coordinator Jason Mass lose his mind on the sidelines after something goes wrong. You could sell tickets to Coach Mass’s tantrums.
Where are they finding these guys? The Roughriders already had a stacked receiving corps, but this year’s additions to the team and the gameday lineup are remarkable.
I can’t think of a team that has ever had such a sudden eruption of Canadian receiver talent. Yes, the closest would be the Fantuz-Getzlaf-Bagg triumvirate, and the current crop of Canadian receivers will have to do a lot more before they can be considered in the same league as those legends, but this is a great start. The craziest part is that these guys keep coming.
So we have Brayden “Lucius Aurelius Verus” Lenius, who looks like he’s been playing professional football for five years already. Then Mitchell Picton, who I assume is part of the Picton Regina football dynasty that seems to have been around since Confederation. Next is Jake “Hot Head” Harty, who by all accounts could be a spectacular addition to the game day lineup if he could just avoid getting himself injured or ejected.
And then Kian Schaffer-Baker just pops up outta nowhere…
Kyran Moore, who always looks and sounds like a 12 year old boy waiting for a bowl of ice cream, remains an underappreciated superstar who just gets shit done.
Finally, cue Paul McRoberts Jr., whose names sounds like it belongs to an accountant, who the Roughriders decided to make the feature receiver in the second half of the game yesterday. Again, where do they find these guys? Damn.
Overall, Mr. Fajardo basically just has to throw the ball in the general direction of one of these receivers and they are coming down with it.
So 90% of the expected starting defense went down on the first day of training camp with blown hammies (or whatever happened). Enter Jonathan Woodard and Garrett (not Dan) Marino, he of the magnificent belly and hot girlfriend in a blue dress (if his Twitter feed is any indication). Again, nice scouting, Mr. Roughriders Scouting Guy.
And we can’t forget Micah Johnson, who gets triple-teamed and still pushes the entire line of scrimmage back five yards, generously allowing other players to go after the quarterback and get all the glory.
A.C. Leonard remains an all-purpose major pain-in-the-ass who always seems to pop up where you both least and most expect him.
This is the best set of defensive backs in the Canadian Football League.
The defensive line gets the sacks, but a solid majority look like coverage sacks, where the hapless quarterback has exactly zero receivers to throw to. At some point, these quarterbacks get frustrated and try to force something, and that’s when someone gets an interception. Even Old Man Gainey pulled one down yesterday. And Nick Marshall should be ashamed of himself, dropping those balls.
If this guy had his way, I don’t think the Roughriders would ever punt. Every time he comes off the field he looks like he just noticed someone ate the last turkey leg.
Anything I missed?
Yeah, there’s lots I missed:
Human wrecking crew and running brick William Powell; coaching staff including criminally underappreciated Jason Shivers; Jordan Williams-Lambert-Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Mountbatten-Windsor von Ribbentrop; Robokicker II Electric Boogaloo Brett Lauther; and fellow Sheldon-William alumnus Jon “I can’t stop kicking single points even if I wanted to” Ryan, to name a few.
This is the kind of collection of players that wins championships.
Apropos of Nothing; Hyphenated Names
So okay, this is addressed to people who give their children both their last names. Here is my hypothetical. Say Jordan Williams-Lambert’s daughter married Justin Herdman-Reed’s son, and they had a son who played football. How would they fit “Williams-Lambert-Herdman-Reed” onto the jersey?
At some point, do we sometimes need to surrender to what is practical?
It’s three weeks into a 14 game regular season, the undefeated Roughriders are in overall first place in the CFL and they have a bye-week to prepare for the biggest game of every regular season.
What could go wrong?
That’s right; nothing could go wrong.