In my 33 years alive on this planet I have never one time said what I’m about to say so to all you reading this, who are about to dismiss the following due to my loyal following of the team in question, I say relax, it doesn’t work like that here.
And trust me, in many ways, I’ll be just as appalled at this statement as you will be. Sure I’ve desired these words — no self-respecting green-bleeding Canadian would say otherwise — but I’ve never actually said them.
That is until now.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are without a doubt the best team in the CFL and there’s only one opponent in the whole bunch that even comes close.
I’ll admit I should have publicly announced these feelings on this blog before the season began — because rest assured I’ve had them since Nov. 29 of last year — but I was pretty busy ignoring my website for no particular good reason whatsoever and didn’t get around to it. But the boldness of this claim only loses a little merit after a 2-0 start when 16 games remain.
Because I’m not saying the Riders are going to have a good season and finish in first place in the West for the second-straight year. Who with half a brain isn’t saying that right now?
Let’s face it the Riders lost three players of huge significance — John Chick, Stevie Baggs and Rey Williams — and a fourth if you count the veteran leadership of Eddie Davis. But every team loses players to the NFL every season unless they totally suck. And the Riders lost not one player off an up-and-coming, potent offence and added more-than formidable replacements on defence in Barrin Simpson and Brent Hawkins.
So I’m not trying to join the masses by saying, ‘Well gee guys, the Riders sure have a swell squad this season.’
What I’m saying is by the end of this campaign — barring all kinds of injuries, which seem to have plagued this team throughout my life in ways that could only be laughed at, i.e. seven GD broken legs on starters in one GD year — the Saskatchewan Roughriders are going to be so far ahead of the rest of the West and any team in the East not rhyming with Flontreal that it’s going to be laughable.
Watching any other team so far this season has been nothing more than a showcase of who wants to lose more. The Riders, on the other hand, look like a well-oiled machine and when they get the ball, it just feels like they will score.
In about two plays and 90 yards I might add.
Let’s just look at the reality of this right now. The CFL is an offensive game. Period.
An offence is broken up into four categories essentially — quarterback, receivers, running backs and linemen — and the Green Machine is at or near the best in every category.
QB? So many will still say Darian Durant is fourth or fifth in the league right now but I think you’re kidding yourself if you don’t have him in your top-two already. Because this kid has NEVER ONCE shown a sign of cracking when it counts and he’s getting ridiculously smarter with every down.
Give him the best receiving corps in the league — sorry Ricky Ray, ya drunk, but it’s true — and easily the best O-line in the CFL with or without Wayne Smith — Bryan Chiu’s retirement from the Alouettes solidified it — and Durant will put up disgusting numbers against every team all year.
A running back tandem of Wes Cates and Hugh Charles might not be the absolute best duo possible but they’re both pretty flippin’ good and will never be tired EVER because they are only needed for a combined 15-20 touches a game.
Honestly, when you look at the starting 13, crap I mean 12 (sorry, standard Saskatchewanite error) it actually makes head coach Ken Miller’s goal of scoring 60 points in 60 minutes seem just a tad less senile. I’m willing to take any bet out there — with the stakes being an embarrassing act recorded and posted on this site — that the Riders amass the most total yards and most points in the league this season.
And it won’t be close.
Now, I’ll admit the defence’s 69 points against and sixth-ranked pass protection isn’t exactly something to brag about but most of that came against the aforementioned “team that comes even close” and most of THAT came in the first half of the first game of the year.
In week 2 Hawkins took the defensive player of the week honours in simply a precursor of a huge season to come. Simpson might not be Williams but he’s always been the best linebacker on whatever team he’s on so I don’t see that stopping now.
No one will run well against this front seven and I believe the defensive backs can only get better as the season progresses and even if they don’t they are the only weakness on the entire team.
With the best offence — by a long shot — and an up-and-coming defence full of unpredictable and confusing schemes I see just one game left on the entire schedule that I believe the Riders might enter as underdogs and that’s Aug. 6 in Montreal.
And that game will simply be a preview for the Grey Cup rematch every Rider fan wants (and needs).
If I were completely speaking as a fan in all this I would be making the cockiest statement of my sports-following life. And believe me, with every letter I type I’m becoming more and more sure this whole post will just turn out to be a death sentence for the team.
But I honestly don’t think I’m the only one out there thinking this right now and pretty sure that includes some non-Rider Priders as well. Because for once in my life they just might be THAT good.
They’re young, they’re fast, they’re deep, they’re extremely talented, and if you can even freakin’ believe it, they’re wearing green and white.