With the Saskatchewan Roughriders playoff hopes fading away like the summertime heat, many in Rider nation have wondered, what has exactly gone wrong for the green and white in 2022.
Earlier this week, Luc Mullinder, former Roughrider and current color analyst for Roughrider broadcasts on 620 CKRM joined Michael Ball on the SportsCage and gave his thoughts about the current state of the Roughriders.
One area that Mullinder finds concerning, is the teams leadership and the ability to guide the team.
“One of the things successful teams have is a purpose and a goal. ” He added. “In 2007 we knew what the goal was. We knew when Kent Austin walked into the first team meeting after camp. He said that if anyone didn’t believe that they could win a Grey Cup to leave, period.”
Mulliner explains why each team’s plan should contain a purpose and a goal.
“It gives base to the players that get it. ” He added. “It give those players a platform to lead.”
The former Rider thinks that the leaders inside of the Riders locker room haven’t been on the same page.
One piece of evidence of that according to Mullinder is some comments made by quarterback Cody Fajardo.
While he feels it sometimes hard to single out Fajardo, he wonders how the team can buy in when the quarterback is spending time discussing himself and not the team.
Mullinder referenced to a Cody Fajardo’s Thanksgiving tweet as a sign the QB should be focusing on the team. He added quarterbacks like Darian Durant, Anthony Cavillo, and Kerry Joseph would use the social media platform to not discuss supporting themselves, but rather supporting the team.
Happy Thanksgiving 🇨🇦 there is a lot to be thankful for and God has blessed the Fajardo family incredibly. I’m thankful for the good times & bad, as the good turn into good memories & the bad turn into good lessons. For the ones that haven’t stopped supporting me THANK YOU! 🦃 🍁
— Cody Fajardo (@CodyFajardo17) October 10, 2022
Across the league there has been a lot opinion recently that BC Lion quarterback Nathan Rourke should still be considered a legitimate contender for the Most Outstanding Player Award. The Canadian QB was the clear cut choice for the award during the first half of the year before being sidelined with a foot injury that has kept him out the lineup since August.
The Riders colour analyst believes that analogy should be used for defensive players as well, like Roughriders defensive tackle Anthony Lanier. The 29 year old has also been out since August due to an injury, and unfortunately for Saskatchewan, his absence has been noticeable.
“The defence has done a total 180 since Lanier has not been on the roster,” said Mullinder.
He gave a lot of high praise to the Roughriders defensive tackle, as he compared him to Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams for his ability to create pressure from the interior of the defensive line.
Before suffering his injury, Lanier was among the league leaders in sacks, but the former Rider believes the sack total doesn’t tell the whole story about the defensive tackle’s impact, as the entire defence was able to generate pressure when Lanier was in the Riders lineup.
Lanier’s talent required plenty of attention from offensive blockers according to Mullinder, which allowed other opportunities for his teammates, which is something that his replacements at defensive tackle have been unable to do.
On a positive side, Mullinder believes the Roughriders playoff hopes have increased after witnessing the Ottawa REDBLACKS defeating the Montreal Alouettes on Monday since the Tiger-Cats close out their season with a pair of games against Ottawa. He cautioned that it’s hard to be optimistic about the Riders postseason chances right now, since they don’t have control over their own destiny.
If the green and white are unable to make it into the postseason, the former Rider believes that changes are needed.
“This regime looks liked they were in a position in 2019 to do some damage, they were a play from going to the Grey Cup. ”
He says that while he admires general manager Jeremy O’Day and has plenty of respect for head coach Craig Dickenson, he points out that football is performance based and says the on field, the Roughriders have regressed. With the team regressing, Mullinder says that someone has to be held accountable.
Unless the Roughriders are able to turn this season around and make it into the postseason, he says that this year will go down as one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history considering there was an expectation of competing in the Grey Cup since the game is being held at Mosaic Stadium this November.
The Riders are currently on their bye week, their next action is Saturday, October 22 against the Calgary Stampeders.
The game can be heard on 620 CKRM, with the opening kickoff at 5:00, featuring Mullinder and Michael Ball.