The pressure may be growing around the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but General Manager and Vice-President of Football Operations Jeremy O’Day isn’t ready to panic.
With the Roughriders stumbling to a 6-8 record after a promising 3-1 start and O’Day and Head Coach Craig Dickenson’s contracts with the team expiring at the end of the 2023 season, questions have developed about the organization’s future.
On Wednesday, the O’Day spoke to the media.
He says that with most of the team’s coaches and players on short-term contracts, it’s hard to assess anybody’s status within the football club, including his own.
“We’re so enthralled in the season and try to do things right and win football games.”
O’Day isn’t ready to hit the panic button quite yet.
“The sky is not falling.” said the Riders GM. “You’re in a rut and you want to pull out of it, but the guys are just focused on the next week and try to win a football game.”
While he isn’t satisfied with the team’s current record, the Saskatchewan General Manager doesn’t believe it’s due to a lack of effort from the coaching staff and the players.
“I do get a little upset when people talk about people’s effort, because people don’t understand what the players put in for effort.”
It’s been an up and down season for the Roughriders, O’Day explained. Noting, the green and white have shown flashes of promises at times but have also faced some struggles. Consistency is something he feels that the team needs to improve on.
“A lot of that is controlling turnovers.”
The Riders GM pointed out that in their recent 36-28 loss in Ottawa, it seemed like Saskatchewan was in control before the REDBLACKS picked up two turnovers that gave them 11 points at the end of the first half, which ignited Ottawa on their way to the win.
Saskatchewan is in danger of falling into a similar path of the 2022 team that ended with the green and white missing the playoffs. Despite similar records, the Roughriders GM thinks this year’s team is more of a close-knit group.
“I think they hold each accountable but they don’t point fingers.” said O’Day. “I think there’s high character guys,” adding, “there’s a lot of alphas in our locker room and it’s tough to hold your tongue when you’re mad, so there’s going to be frustration, but the frustration hasn’t been with each other.”
Playing for the Roughriders is something that O’Day admits comes with high expectations.
“You’re expected to win.”
In the three seasons since O’Day took over the General Manager duties on a permanent basis, the Roughriders have a record of 34-30.
He also served as the interim general manager during the second half of the 2015 season when the Roughriders finished the year with a 3-6 record.
O’Day provided an update on Quarterback Trevor Harris saying his recovery from his knee injury going well, but couldn’t provide an exact timeline on when Harris would be able to return to the Roughriders, but said that a return to the team this season hasn’t been ruled out.
The Roughriders also released their injury report following practice on Wednesday.
RB Jamal Morrow will miss his second straight game despite practicing this week, Frankie Hickson will likely receive his second straight start.
DL Anthony Lanier II (hip) is listed as doubtful after being a full participant on Tuesday. Lanier II was limited on Wednesday.
DBs Deontai Williams (hamstring) and Trumaine Washington (finger) will miss this week’s game.
Centre Peter Godber (knee), Micah Johnson (illness), and LB T.J. Brunson (ankle) are listed as questionable.
S Jayden Dalke, DB Amari Henderson and OL Philip Blake are not carrying any injury designations for Friday’s game.
Earlier in the day, the Roughriders announced they have released American WR John Ursua. The wide receiver joined Saskatchewan earlier this month with the expansion of the team’s roster.