‘I’ll be honest: We’re not very good’: Craig Dickinson gives candid assessment of cyclists

Image Courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Saskatchewan Rogriders coach, Craig Dickinson, is totally honest.

The 51-year-old set winning records in his first two seasons as a coach for the riders’ bench, but he’s in danger of going under 0.500 in the year Saskatchewan hosts the Canadian Football League Championship game.

“Mostly it’s the same group that started the year 4-1, but we didn’t play with anyone at the start of the year,” Dickinson said.

“I’ll just be honest: We’re not very good. That’s an obvious statement, but we weren’t that good even at 4-1. I felt like we jumped a little bit on people. We didn’t play to our abilities.”

Such was the case in the Roughriders’ 26-24 loss to Edmonton in Week 15. The Elks secured a hard-fought win as Chris Jones returned to Regina after leaving his duo with the Green and White to take a job in the NFL. With the Cleveland Browns in January 2019. Saskatchewan faltered with its third straight loss and sits fourth in the Western Division at 6-8.

“Disappointing. Poor. Definitely not up to our standard. Not what we plan to do. Not what we strive to be. We have to figure out a way to change it because there are four games left and we’re not sure there’s a watershed point at this point,” Dickinson said.

“This team has been through a lot of adversity and is a bit exhausted now. The guys there are getting beaten up, they are tired and we are not playing well. When you add all these factors, in a group that was already behind, their confidence drops.”

Dickinson assured Rider Nation that he, general manager Jeremy O’Day, and assistant GM Kyle Carson will “work hard” during farewell week to see where the team can improve. Saskatchewan’s remaining games in Winnipeg, in Hamilton, at home against Calgary, and a return visit with the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium to finish the usual schedule.

“Duke (Williams) had some words for the group that was really strong and very smart. I was very proud of Duke and liked what he said. He said, basically, we have six weeks to fully commit to this season and see how far we can go,” Dickinson said.

“I hope these guys do it, and I know we’re going to do it as a team. We’re hosting this thing this year and we want to try to be in it, any way we can, but we have to play better going forward to get there.”

Offensively, the line must step up its protection for quarterback Cody Fajardo. He was sacked eight times against a three-man pass in Edmonton. The double-threat hub was able to complete 20 of 27 passes (74.1 percent) for 230 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions while leading the team in a 47-yard dash over six runs.

“I know this: If we hit our ticket in the playoffs, a lot of teams are going to be afraid of us. I’m sure he knows. This team has some talent. The guys in the locker room are trying to stay together. The worrying part is not letting the team fall apart,” Fajardo said. And he’s trying to be together for each other.”

“We’ve been through just as much adversity—maybe I’ll write a book one day—because I don’t think you guys know half of what’s going on in the locker room this whole year. The way these guys have responded and continue to stay together has been so inspiring.”

Fajardo must rally the Raiders if the Green and White want even a chance in the post-season race to a Gray Cup at home.