First place is but a fleeting memory for the Riders with their loss to the Stampeders on Friday, Oct. 11 in Calgary.
The Riders have yet to prove they can beat the 2019 Stampeders. They have now lost to Calgary when Nick Arbuckle and Bo Levi Mitchell quarterbacked the team.
In their first meeting of the season Cody Fajardo had his worst game as a Rider starter, completing only nine passes for 89 yards and throwing two interceptions.
After the win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a week ago, he spoke of Calgary as the first zone team he had faced and the problems he had with their coverage.
As emphasized on the game broadcasts from last weekend going against zone coverage requires patience and intelligence.
Fajardo said he would be more ready for his second start against the Stampeders. He did have a better game completing 20 passes for 209 yards and throwing one interception.
If only he could move a little better within the pocket. Mitchell remains the master of shifting just enough to avoid the rush. His blockers know if they can keep rushers going one direction Mitchell will move to have the rush go by him.
Against Winnipeg, it had rarely seemed Fajardo’s vision came off the side of the field to which he was throwing. For much of Friday night it was easy to know where the ball would be going for Stampeder defenders. Safety Royce Metchie took advantage to move across the field to intercept a long pass for Shaq Evans.
Late in the game Fajardo adjusted looking to the right and then back to the middle to find a wide open William Powell for a touchdown.
Craig Dickenson has commented that Fajardo needs to see the field better.
It will be interesting in the final three games of the season to see if Fajardo can hold defenders and then look to where he is going with the ball.
Fajardo needs to do better with clock management in the final minute of a half or game. On Friday the Riders got off four plays in the last 34 seconds with a penalty on one of the plays stopping the clock. Fajardo so often takes time after the team is lined up over the ball. The best teams in the closing minute get the ball snapped immediately after the play is blown in.
Despite his flaws Fajardo once again displayed the fourth quarter poise that has the Riders convinced they will win if they have the ball and time. The Riders scored a field goal and a touchdown on their fourth quarter drives. Had the defence stopped the Stampeders with two minutes to go, every Rider fan was confident Fajardo would get them close enough to kick a winning field goal.
This coming weekend the Riders play in B.C. The Lions are out of the playoffs and without their starting quarterback, Mike Reilly. The Riders are clear favourites. So far, the 2019 Riders have not let down when favoured. They appear to follow the lead of their coach who never gets too high or too low. Naaman Roosevelt expressed the player’s appreciation of their coach when he said they don’t need a screamer of a coach.