Monday, 29 June 2015

Mailbag Monday

Mails In! 

Saturday was one of the tougher days a lot of the guys in the locker room will have to endure all season.  The loss of their leader on and off of the field was devastating, and they'll need your support now more than ever as they rally around each other and Kevin Glenn in order to push forward.
Here's the answers to your great questions, via the comment section or Twitter, during week 1. 

Via ProPerspective


Glenn is our guy now. Starter reps, game plan for his strengths etc, we should be fine. I wonder about Connop. With the hit on our CDN starters he will be a fixture on the Dline I imagine so how does he look to you? Thanks DJR


• Considering it was his first official start, I think Rory Connop did well.  His motor is always going to give him a chance, and as he goes along he is going to start to get comfortable reading Oline pass/run keys which will really help.  The Riders really need him to develop into a guy that is capable of maintaining the line of scrimmage and taking up two blockers at that nose spot, and with time, he’ll fit the bill.  It’s all about experience and increasing his CFL IQ right now.  There will be some good and bad moments, but he’s got the potential to be a stalwart there in that interior


Via ProPerspective


Some ProPerspective for us regular Joes on what it’s like to have nagging injuries, not bad enough to sit out of games, but still have to work out, practice, play all season and deal with it at home?


• The term, “play through the pain” is a phrase that professional athletes get to know far too well.  Nagging injuries are a part of the sport, and being a pro means that one has be attentive and get the proper treatment needed to continually perform.  In order to practise during the week, players must attend regular treatment times set out by team physicians in order to ensure that the injury that they’re playing with doesn’t get any worse.  Sometimes it seems like one is in various types of treatment all day, but guys will do whatever is necessary to remain on the field.  Obviously treatment protocol is different with every nagging injury, and team trainers meet with coaches constantly to update the staff on player availability for the week and heading into the game.  

Players also have to be smart about the situation they’re in.  The nature of the business, mixed with an athlete’s competitive fire can equate to guys pushing themselves beyond the limits that they should be setting for themselves.  Team docs and players need to pre-determine which drills they participate in (usually most team related drills) and which parts of practice they’ll use to rest (usually indy periods etc).  In some circumstances, a team will sit players out of one or two (at the most) days of practise in order to maximize rest, and then use the third day of practise to see how the players body responded to that rest, and determine whether he is good-to-go or not.  

The most important thing for a player to do during physically limited practises is to take everything in mentally, and get his reps during practise throughvisualization and film study.  Taking care of the mental side of the game mitigates the lost time on the field and is an attribute that separates good players from great ones. 

It would be nice to just sit out of a game or two when nagging injuries hit a players but it goes back to the mindset of a professional athlete.  If a player feels he can go, then nothing is going to stop him, unless a team doctor says otherwise.  Playing hurt can definitely affect a player’s on-field performance in the stat column, but most guys don’t care; players are willing to put it all on the line in order to help their teams win football games.

Sometimes fans notice that a player’s production is down, and they automatically assume that the player needs to pick things up or get replaced by someone else on the roster.  Before one goes to make any rush judgements on guys’ careers, first consider that there may be something going on behind the locker room walls.  The player may not be at 100%.  It’s all part of the sacrifice to win a championship.


Via ProPerspective


Is it hard to refocus and get back into the game after another player suffers a devastating injury, or when the pads start popping again you get right back into game mode?


• When a teammate goes down with serious injury the first reaction is to pray (if that’s your thing) that your teammate will be ok.  When it’s serious, everyone in uniform knows it right away, and depending on if they caught it on camera, the crowd recognizes it eventually as well.  Athletes are so conditioned to deal with adversity and move on to the next play, that getting back into the game is automatic.  The only thing one focuses on from that point is doing one’s job.  Obviously teams can’t help but notice the injured player’s absence, but the player that steps into the vacated role is expected to carry-on with as little drop-off as possible.  Once one hits the locker room at half-time, or the end of the game, the focus then turns back to the player that went down, and guys start to transition into realizing how much of a loss the injured player represents and who, or how, they’ll make up for the loss.  In game, there’s no time to think about it.  After the action is done, reality sets in and the realization is devastating sometimes.


Via ProPerspective


What is the definition of a starter for purposes of determining the requirement for 7 National starters?


• I don’t know the ACTUAL definition of a starter, but for CFL purposes, the guys listed first on the depth chart are your starters per say.  After that, if guys are substituted in and out, the balance in which the original depth chart dictated, needs to be withheld.  

EX:  If the Riders start Rory Connop in the middle (on the depth chart) he is one of the 7 (minimum) Canadian Starters…If they take Connop and another American out of the game on a passing down, then one of the substitiutesMUST be Canadian, but doesn’t have to play the tackle spot in which Connop just left.  

Hope that helps.   Not sure if I actually answered your question.


Via ProPerspective


I have heard many scouts and general managers talk about drafting a smart quarterback, and others talk about having a quarterback with incredible talent. I know you would love your quarterback to have both sides. My question is would you rather take a quarterback with incredible game knowledge and decent talent or a quarterback with incredible talent but a mediocre knowledge of the game.


• Personally, I’ll take a smart QB over an athletically gifted QB every time.  With schemes getting more complex with the looks that they employ, teams need a QB that can actually read a defense and expose soft points within their complexities.  

Case and point:  In 2008, Michael Bishop was brought into QB our team over Darian Durant who was more than ready, and it didn’t work out at all.  Bishop was an unreal athlete that had an absolute cannon for an arm but our offence was inconsistent with him at the helm.  All the athletic attributes in the world can’t help a QB if he can’t read a defence, or diagnose how they are scheming against the installed game plan.  During the Western Semi-Finals that year, we were ousted by the BC Lions, and I’ll never forget talking to one of their DBs during warm-ups. During our convo, he claimed, very matter-of-factly, that all they planned on doing was sitting back in different zones and look and waiting for Michael Bishop to throw them the ball.  

That’s exactly what they did…I can’t remember how many picks were thrown, and how many two-and-outs there were during that day, but even a great defensive effort wasn’t enough to put us in the position to win.

I’m not placing the blame squarely on Bishop, but I am trying to illustrate how tough it is to win without a cerebral QB.

Another point to be made is that one’s athleticism fades eventually.  Father Time is undefeated, once a QB starts slowing down athletically, they need their IQ to increase.  Anthony Calvillo didn’t play all those years at a high level because he could escape the pocket throw 70 yards on a rope.  AC was one of the greatest because he could sit in the pocket and know where his best options were going to be.

The greatest off-set to this argument is great coaching.  A great QB coach, like Trestman, Milanovich, Austin and Hufnagel will always be able to find a way to extract every drop of talent that their QB has, no matter what that talent is.  The best example, that Ridernation will get, is during 2007.  The things that Kent Austin did for Kerry Joseph were a work of art.  Austin used KJ’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly.  There was nothing complex in what KJ was asked to do, and there was always an opportunity for Kerry to his athleticism in order to get him out of a jam.  The coaching that KJ received in 2007 really earned him the league MOP award.  On the field, and more importantly, in the locker room, KJ was our leader, and much of that can be attributed to Joseph being calm and relaxed due to the outstanding job that Kent Austin did for him as a player.


Via Twitter


Should the Riders go International at MLB if Emery is out for any length of time?


• There’s no way to replace the value that Emery brings to the Riders.  That LB group was one the thinnest positions going into camp in terms of experience.  Kevin Regimbald did ok when he took over for Shea, but there’s nobody on the roster that has the ability to manage the defense the way Emery can.  If Emery is out for a lengthy amount of time, I don’t know what the Riders options are going to be.  Someone is about to get an amazing opportunity, and the coaching staff will have to do whatever it can to facilitate that players adjustment.


Via Twitter


What do you think of the “Aggressive D” (Bomber vs. Rider game)?  The Secondary looks soft.


• Don’t mistake missed tackles for being “soft”.  The roughriders missed too many tackles in general against Winnipeg, and it wasn’t just the DB group.  Saturday was one of those games that will be tough to watch on film, but encouraging in the same respect, because players will see that everything that went wrong during the game is very fixable.  The team will need to shore up its fundamentals, and that will mean not going for the highlight film big hit, but getting one’s helmet in the proper position and wrapping up the ball carrier.  

There’s no need to do any extra tackling circuits this week, or have a big long players only talk, the guys just need to come out and work hard to correct their mistakes from Saturday.  If we’re into week 5, and the same mistakes are being made, then it may be time to address toughness and player positions.  I for one still think the secondary in SK has a chance to be one of the best in the league, but they’ll have to work hard.  Nothing will be given to them.


That’s it for the mailbag this week folks.  Keep lighting up the comment section and twitter (@lucmull95) as your questions make for some great conversation, and really help others out.  I anticipate a lot of the questions to start focusing on the league and different teams now that we’re rolling in the CFL year so I think the mailbag will be a great idea moving forward.  

Have a great week Ridernation...

DESTROY your Monday!



  1. I really enjoy your blog. My question is: how do players feel about being released and then called back later? I'm sure it depends on individual circumstances, but does the ego ever come into play making them not want to come back? I imagine the general relationship with the team and how the release was conducted would also play a part. Thanks

  2. You have likely watched film of the game and can comment better about the tackling issue in game #1, but may it be the case that fans are not giving Paris Cotton enough credit for an outstanding performance at running back, and their O-line and receivers for some excellent blocking. On the flip side, the stats didn't look better for Winnipeg's defense, however, along with great performances by Messam and Anthony Allen, the O-line seemed quite efficient in opening holes. It also must be said that Dan Clark and the O-line did indeed protect the QB's as evidenced by the stats on offense.

    Old Hank