Thursday, September 01, 2011

All eyes on Miller in Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Roughriders return to action this weekend with their annual match up with their prairie cousins the Blue Bombers, a highly anticipated Sunday afternoon game for the usual bragging rights and perhaps this time a little bit more.

For the Winnipeggers are sporting the league's best record and no shortage of winning attitude these days, sort of the complete opposite of what  the lads from Regina have showcased thus far.

And with the return, a new man at the helm, though perhaps not so much new as familiar, as former head coach Ken Miller returns to the sidelines after the mid august purge of Greg Marshall and Doug Berry from the Rider Nation.

The dismissals of the head coach and offensive coordinator made up much of the football talk in Saskatchewan in the dying days of August, their departures a sacrifice of sorts to the gallery of Rider fans, but departures that still leave some very large questions unanswered.

Among them, is this team as assembled by General Manager Brendan Taman, really up to the challenge this year? And towards an answer questions as to whether the Rider offence can finally find some connection and start to put points up on the board in a consistent manner and will the defence be able to provide enough of a chance in the remaining games for that offence to succeed?

For Marshall and Berry it seemed that this collective weren't listening and if the departing comments from the former coaches are any indication, those players may have been receiving mixed messages from management with the spectre of Miller looming large just over the sidelines of the field.

Former Rider coach Doug Berry speaks out
Fired Riders coach didn't like the boss hanging around
Greg Marshall fires back
Ex-Riders coach Marshall sounds off on firing

If the intimations of the two are correct, it would appear that the Riders coaching staff weren't hearing  Green is the Colour, but rather this song, as the pre game warm up music...

All in all it would seem that the always present Miller made for an uncomfortable presence it seems, and that with him just over the horizon it appears to have undermined the authority of both Marshall and Berry as they tried to right their listing ship, to no avail as things turned out.

Whether those suggestions of interference have much weight remains to be seen, but now the onus is clearly on Miller to turn around this team and do so quickly with but nine games remaining in a regular season that has gone terribly, terribly wrong in Saskatchewan.

Miller is in full view now, no longer  in the shadows, his return seemingly welcomed by those players on the field that couldn't get it done for the previous regime.

Nine games will tell if the problems really were with the coaching staff or if perhaps, there might have been a wee bit of accountability required from those that pulled not he pads for each of the previous nine weeks.

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