Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Morning 'Rider Blogging

Earlier in the 2013 season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders looked like they could control games with a ruthlessly efficient offence.

Two thirds of the way through the season, that theory seems to have broken down - with last week's loss to B.C. serving as just the latest evidence. But the Lions did leave some opportunities open which the 'Riders plainly weren't inclined to take - and as the season reaches its home stretch, it may be time to take a second look at the 'Riders' goals on offence.

In particular, the last few games have seen some worrisome trends developing: more of Darian Durant's passes are being batted down at the line, fewer receivers are managing to create space anywhere on the field as long as Durant stays in the pocket.

But those problems look to have a common solution. If the 'Riders' offence is easily controlled when Durant stays in place, then surely there's a ready response available by ensuring that he moves with the ball more often.

And Durant has made clear that he still has the athleticism to break tackles and find open space. The problem is that in recent games, he's used that skill mostly to earn another steamboat or two behind centre rather than to expand the field or gain yardage on his own - culminating in a final-drive illegal forward pass penalty on a play where Durant could comfortably have picked up a first down on the ground.

Of course, there are risks involved in forcing a quarterback to take more hits than he can avoid, and Durant's propensity for fumbling is also a concern. But he hasn't exactly avoided those issues in recent weeks behind an increasingly shaky offensive line.

Which means the 'Riders may need to ask Durant to spend more time using defensive aggressiveness to his own advantage, rather than hoping to control the game from the pocket. And if he can succeed changing the angles opponents have to control in coverage and moving the chains himself as a backup plan, then a quick, high-precision offence is far more likely to work when it counts most.

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