The Saskatchewan Roughriders are the CFL's lone winless team but head coach Corey Chamblin has a message for the club's rabid fans — relax.
"The only thing that's been truly lost in this season is the ability right now to go 16-2 for the regular season," Chamblin told reporters earlier this week. "We haven't lost the Grey Cup, we haven't lost first place, we haven't lost home-field advantage, we haven't lost anything so no matter how you paint the picture at some point I knew we'd lose at least three games during the damn season."
Chamblin guided the Riders to a Grey Cup title in 2013, a championship delivered on home soil no less. But Saskatchewan is 0-3 heading into a rematch at Mosaic Stadium against the B.C. LIons (1-1), who rallied for a 35-32 win last weekend at B.C. Place Stadium.
In fact, the Riders have held fourth-quarter leads in all three of their losses, prompting some Saskatchewan fans to ask for Chamblin's head.
"There's two podiums waiting at the end of the year — a championship podium or a cross," Chamblin said. "I'm prepared for either one of them.
"If the fans want a new coach, they can get that. At the end of the day, I'll still work and I'll still be a great coach whether it's here in Saskatchewan this year or somewhere else the next couple of years. So to be honest, I don't give a damn about that."
After winning the Grey Cup, Saskatchewan stormed out to an 8-2 record through its first 10 games in 2014 before losing starter Darian Durant to a season-ending elbow injury. The Riders finished the year dropping seven of their final nine contests, including an 18-10 decision to Edmonton in the West Division semifinal.
Optimism was high in Regina this year with Durant's healthy return but the veteran quarterback suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the season opener. And although veteran Kevin Glenn has been solid as Durant's replacement — completing 56-of-69 passes for 748 yards with four TDs and two interceptions over his last two starts — it hasn't translated into wins.
Chamblin isn't fazed by the harsh criticism he's facing.
"They (upset fans) can come and stand here and boo me every day," he said. "At the end of the day I get a paycheque and I am doing my job.
"But the one thing about it is my body of work since I've been here has been commendable and that's what they have to stand on. If they're looking for more, they're looking for different, hey, do what you've got to do."
Pick — Saskatchewan.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus Montreal Alouettes, Thursday night.
Hamilton (1-1) not only comes off the bye week but with a win in its last game, a 52-26 decision over Winnipeg on July 2. Brandon Banks has returned punts for TDs in each of the Ticats' first two contests. Montreal (1-2) lost 25-23 to Winnipeg. Rookie Rakeem Cato was 22-of-31 passing for 317 yards with two interceptions but found veteran receiver S.J. Green six times for 180 yards.
Pick — Hamilton
Edmonton Eskimos at Ottawa Redblacks, Friday night.
Edmonton (1-1) looks to sweep the home-and-home series after downing Ottawa 46-17 in Alberta last week. The loss was the first of the season for the Redblacks (2-1) as starter Henry Burris was 20-of-36 passing for just 162 yards and an interception. Matt Nichols, replacing the injured Mike Reilly, completed 12-of-21 passes for 212 yards and three TDs for the Eskimos, who led 36-11 at halftime.
Pick — Edmonton
Winnipeg Blue Bombers versus Calgary Stampeders, Saturday night.
Calgary (2-1) comes off a 25-20 home win over the Toronto Argonauts on Monday night as Grey Cup MVP Bo Levi Mitchell completed 25-of-34 passes for 303 yards and two TDs. But the Stampeders lost offensive tackles Edwin Harrison (broken ankle) and Dan Federkeil (broken fibula) to injury. Winnipeg (2-1) beat Montreal 25-23 last weekend as Drew Willy was 20-of-29 passing for 251 yards.
Pick — Calgary
Last week: 2-2.
Overall record: 4-8.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press