It's disappointing enough for the 'Riders to lose to Calgary at home. But it's doubly so to manage the feat while playing about as well as could possibly be expected in two phases of the game - leaving huge questions about an offensive unit which was supposed to be the team's strength.
On the bright side, Saskatchewan's defence was superb until the middle of the fourth quarter. In effect, the secondary looks to have taken a page out of the Stamps' playbook, pressuring receivers and jumping routes at every turn while making sure tackles when the ball did arrive. Meanwhile, the defensive line kept consistent pressure on Henry Burris. And the result was another game where one of the CFL's top offences was prevented both from finishing long drives, and from beating the 'Riders with big plays.
Meanwhile, the special teams finally seem to be performing consistently. Brandon West had the top single runback of the day, but both he and Tristan Jackson regularly generated positive yardage on kick returns. And Eddie Johnson's combination of booming kicks and frequent trips downfield to try to recover the ball figure to have given him a strong chance to hold onto his job even if Luca Congi returns healthy (particularly if the 'Riders do in fact prefer having one player handle kickoffs, punts and field goals).
But then there was the offence.
Yes, the 'Riders managed a few scattered big plays, and looked fairly decent by the numbers. But even when they were able to put points on the board, they did it more through stunts and lucky breaks than through any sustained control over the ball. And perhaps most problematically, the biggest issue facing the 'Riders this season still seems to be entirely unresolved.
There was never much doubt that Weston Dressler would be Saskatchewan's key receiver this season, and he's more than lived up to the title. But the 'Riders seem no closer to deciding who should join him as a go-to pass-catcher than they were at the start of the year. And with Jason Clermont moving far too slowly to get separation from most defenders, Terrence Nunn dropping what should have been a momentum-builder early in the game, Efrem Hill again pairing a single solid catch-and-run with a damaging penalty and Chris Getzlaf still looking inconsistent, the answer looks more and more to be that the 'Riders won't find what they're looking for on their current roster.
Fortunately, the end of the NFL's lockout raises the prospect of a Fantuz return and/or an influx of talent from south of the border before the CFL season is done. But if the offence can't figure out how to produce more consistently in the meantime, the 'Riders will have a huge hole to dig themselves out of once that talent arrives.
[Edit: fixed typo.]