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May 1, 2021. Could Kessler oust Fajardo at Roughriders?

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have not been able to get over the hump in the CFL post-season in their four attempts, including in each of the last three campaigns. In 2017, the Roughriders were the outsiders after finishing fourth in the West Division. However, they defeated the Ottawa Redblacks with a stunning upset before being ousted in the East Division Final by the eventual Grey Cup winners the Toronto Argonauts.

The 2018 season was a different story in the post-season as the Roughriders themselves were beaten by a lower seed in the form of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West Division semi-final. Under new head coach Craig Dickenson, the Roughriders dominated the West Division and finished top of the standings with a 13-5 record. However, their old foes the Blue Bombers emerged in the West Final to defeat Saskatchewan on their way to winning the Grey Cup.

Future Plans.

After the 2020 season was cancelled, Dickenson and his team have had time to prepare for the new campaign and they have bolstered their ranks with talent. Former NFL receivers Sammie Coates and Demarcus Ayers arrived at the team in the off-season. They should allow the Roughriders to enjoy another outstanding season in the passing game, complementing Shaquelle Evans on the outside.

Saskatchewan received quality play from the quarterback position in the 2019 season. Cody Fajardo was exceptional in his first year with the club, earning the 2019 CFL West Division Most Outstanding Player award along with All-Star berths. Fajardo threw for a CFL-high 4,302 yards, while also connecting with his receivers for 18 touchdowns along with another 10 scores on the ground. However, he failed to rise to the occasion in the post-season against the Blue Bombers, which has given Dickenson pause for thought.

Could Kessler Make An Impact?

Reports suggest that the Roughriders have added former Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler to their negotiation list for the 2021 campaign. Kessler was part of a laughing stock at the Browns in two seasons where they won only one of their 32 games. The 27-year-old was only the starter for a handful of those defeats, and did show promise in his college career at the USC Trojans, along with being around quality programs in the NFL, including the New England Patriots.

The Browns are a completely different team to the one that Kessler left, being backed at +1800 in the NFL odds on bet365 to win the Super Bowl next season. Those odds should not be a reflection of Kessler’s struggles at the Browns, and perhaps more about the state of the franchise during his time in Cleveland. Should Kessler accept a deal with the Roughriders, he will have ample talent around him to flourish just as he did during his time with the Trojans.

Kessler does not boast the same dual-threat ability a Fajardo, but he has a quick release and is accurate throwing downfield. He has the ability to get the best out of Carlos Henderson, Coates, Ayers and Evans to allow the Roughriders to remain one of the most potent offences in the CFL. His standard of play is more sustainable through the elements in the back end of the campaign, which could lend itself to stronger performances in the post-season. Weak offensive play has been the death knell of the Roughriders’ CFL Cup bids over the last three years.

Kessler could provide the answer with his style and capitalising on the talent at receiver. It should make for an interesting training camp at the least in a battle with Fajardo for the starting spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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