Champions are defined by the adversity that they overcome, and while teams can’t control the things that go on around them, they can definitely control the way they react to them.
There are currently 12 guys on Saskatchewan’s 6-game injured list, and the most disturbing part of that is, going into the 2015 season, 5 of those players (Brown, Legree, MacDougall, Emry, Green) were vital components in the way that Corey Chamblin was going to deploy his defensive scheme.
We’ve talked at length about Shea Emry. Losing him was a Rhonda Rousey right hook to the X & O’s of the Green and White D. With the amount of coverage/blitz ideas that the Riders installed during training camp, it was clear that the team was going to need a player with tremendous physical ability, but also a guy that would be mentally sound and capable of getting guys lined up and squared away with what the defense wanted to get done. Without Emry, the Riders have been faced with a “plug and learn” scenario at 2 LB spots that were central to what the defense wanted to accomplish this year.
Having Marshay Green, Mark Legree, and Keenan MacDougall all go down at various points in the early phases of theseason was also a humongous shot in the foot to what the Riders could do scheme-wise. We spoke on this a bit last week. Regardless of who was going to start and where, that trio of DBs was going to play a massive role within the substitution and personnel packaging in Saskatchewan. Being able to threaten teams with multiple looks, personnel and coverage possibilities was important to a unit that wanted to rely on speed and aggressiveness, but it also required a group that was able to communicate together efficiently; teams only get that connectionwith guys that have a feel for each other.
To put the final touches on a detrimental string of events here in Ridernation, the team just lost one of its best all-around football players in Weldon Brown. What’s now left of this promising core group of defenders is a mix of new faces and CFL INexperience
Sadly, what this is forcing the Riders to do is go from “attacking” to “teaching”. Throughout the rotation there are questions rather than answers. Tisdale, and Dan West just got off the plane, Hollins is a promising rookie, Webster is adjusting to a bigger role, and Michael Carter is a guy with all the talent in the world minus the consistency of an accountable vet. Even the defensive line has a key position being filled by new-blood…
Adversity is taking full swings at the jawline of the Green and White.
Now comes the hard, but manageable, part. And it speaks to all levels of the team, and not just the players; the coaching staff as well.
The way in which the defensive unit, and the rest of the team,reacts to this adversity will define the 2015 season.
Saskatchewan can either look at all of this as an ominous mountain to climb, or an exciting opportunity to conquer. In one of my favourite books, Mind Gym, there is a quote from Scott Hamilton that essentially states, ‘that under adverse situations one can perform 15% better or 15% worse’.
Let that soak in…
There’s ZERO external pressure…All the negative attention is being cast on Coach Chamblin. Every player on the active roster is being given the opportunity to put 100% of their focus on getting better.
With Chamblin willingly taking on all the criticism, 15% better seems like a favourable outcome, and Riders will need to be!
After critiquing the first installment of their home-at-home with the BC Lions, there were a number of obvious corrections that needed to be addressed during practises throughout the week. Those amendments should have been looked at in a positive manner, and not approached from a pessimistic scope.
Parts of the game like missed tackles need to be rectified as part of the grand scheme of things, and not looked at as an individual breakdown.
The news of Weldon Brown no longer being able to participate, should have supported a players chance to step up, instead of underlining another colossal loss.
At this point, focusing on the negative aspects of anything that hits this squad is a step backward.
Now I’m not talking about the team burying their heads in the sand, but the Roughriders need to play to whatever potential that they have, and that means avoiding any distractions (small or big) along the way. When a team is as close to success as the Green and White have been over the last 3 games, it’s that 15% mentioned above that makes all the difference.
It’s literally impossible to outperform the way a team views itself.
That’s why the way in which the Riders react to everything that is going on is so important to the bottom line.
If the approach from here on out is one of gloom and desperation, then that’s what will be reflected on the field; gloom and desperation.
If the attitude is a unified front that’s prepared to start fast and FINISH strong, then the results will begin to swing in the favour of Canada’s team.
It sounds incredibly simple when one sits and types it out, but it only works when everyone from the top down is committed to getting it right.
If adversity is going to define a champion, then this 0-3 start is not something that should scare anyone within the confines of Mosaic stadium. Some of the greatest football stories have been forged through struggle.
If the Saskatchewan Roughriders are looking at things through the right lens, it’s an exciting opportunity to add to the history of a franchise that is getting used to competing for Grey Cups...
It all starts by finishing against the BC Lions.