The events from last weekend included sudden unemployment for two Saskatchewan Roughrider coaches/fall guys. Football is a merciless game that has little room for weakness and the 2011 track record for the Riders exposed a large warehouse full of weaknesses.
Darwin would have found a lot of ammunition for his evolutionist survival- of- the- fittest argument in football. Right now the Saskatchewan Roughriders are a species destined for extinction as a competitive football team.
So the Andy Kim song title question abounds: ’Baby How’d We Ever Get This Way’? I was skeptical enough to pick the Riders for third place in the CFL West, but now even I appear to be a plucky optimist with that prediction.
However, based upon Einstein’s Theory of Extreme Mediocrity, the Riders still have a legitimate shot at a playoff spot because they are not alone in the CFL basement.
They have bad company.
The idea of Greg Marshall as a head coach did not seem that outlandish to me. Sure he shared the same name as Greg Marshall the first, a Canadian college coach that blew up his winning ways in the CFL.
But what’s in a name? A lot when it comes to Greg Marshall because both guys were poorly suited to a CFL head coach gig.
However the rise and fall of the Riders did not begin with the appointment of Greg Marshall as the new head coach. The problems with the team have been evident for the past few seasons and they were completely exposed in an Emperor’s new clothes way in 2011.
The biggest weakness was discussed in an earlier column: Darian Durant.
He is the epi-center of the problem in Riderville. Durant was unable to work with offensive coordinator Doug Berry and appeared to marinate in his own world of self-pity about his lot in life.
It’s clear that Durant was unwilling to change his relationship with Berry by actually attempting to communicate his concerns with Berry’s offense. He took a Generation Why Me? approach to the problem and looked sullen and disengaged during games.
Many people attempt to compare Durant to the legendary Ron Lancaster in terms of similar quarterback styles. That would create a need for a serious sanity test in my opinion.
Lancaster played two seasons early in his career for a head coach that absolutely despised him as a player.
The coach did everything within his power to make Lancaster an ex-Rider quarterback, but Lancaster handled the situation in a professional manner. He simply played his way past coach Bob Shaw’s plan to skid him.
Mercifully, Bob Shaw left the team long before Ron Lancaster and Shaw’s tenure as a Rider coach will always reflect his incredibly stupid game plan.
Darian Durant went down a different path when he chose to focus on the absence of receivers Fantuz and Bagg as a cornerstone of his 1-7 start.
Most good quarterbacks would choose to focus on the current receivers instead of the former receivers.
It just makes sense to establish a rapport with the new guys and develop some chemistry with them. Great quarterbacks can make average receivers into great receivers.
So now Durant has his way: the mean men who coached him are gone and kindly Ken Miller is back to prop up his team of sensitive new age players.
There are no more excuses for Durant in 2011.
Jim may be reached at email@example.com