Photo by Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.ca
It was a day that fans of Saskatchewan Roughriders will not soon forget.
The fourth anniversary of the Riders, in which Receiver Weston Dressler and defender John Chick were released, has come and gone – January 14th. It has led to various discussions about Riderville. The riders apparently even shaped the day by signing the long snapper Jorgen Hus. Ok, not really.
In the world of football, four years seems like a good time to look back on that day and see what it led to. In general, soccer seems to have a four-year cycle. This could be because college and university soccer or shorter careers and guaranteed contracts lead to more sales in key positions.
Regardless of this, one can say with certainty at this point that the then head coach and general manager Chris Jones took the right step by standing out from the long-standing fan favorites.
At the time, it was certainly a difficult pill for many to swallow. There could even be some who still have hurt feelings. There is nothing wrong with that, there are many ways to be a fan of a team, and none of them are wrong.
The first season with Jones without Dressler and Chick was not going very well. However, this decision was never made in view of the 2016 season. It was about the future, it was about signaling that a new era of equestrian football was here. We didn’t really know what this era would look like or whether it would be successful, but the chapter about the 2007-2015 era was closed.
It was time for something new. A new way of thinking. A new way to play the game.
This would have been true if Dressler and Chick had continued to be successful in the CFL in the long term. Now that we’ve reached the four-year limit, it’s pretty clear that these and many other steps after the fateful day were the right decision.
To use a college football term, 2016 was a lot of “year zero” for Jones and the Riders. It was about getting the players, systems and everything in position. Any success would have been a bonus. Since then, drivers have improved every year with a crossover playoff venue that features a west semi-final and a west final.
Saskatchewan was a bit lucky to sign Cody Fajardo like a year ago, but you will need a little luck and smart planning to be successful.
While drivers must be satisfied with their success over the past four seasons, they still haven’t achieved their ultimate goal – continued success. Only time will tell if they can achieve it.
To get there, another day like January 14, 2016 will come back. That is just the nature of the game. If this is the case, the team should not miss a beat with the right planning.
If not, drivers haven’t really learned anything in the past four years.