A dozen thoughts on the Redblacks’ pre-season opener

For the first time since winning the Grey Cup last November, the Ottawa Redblacks took the field for a game at TD Place. The beautiful summer night was contrasted by fact that last time the Redblacks played at home in front of R-Nation, heavy snow was falling and a berth to the Grey Cup was on the line.

Although the stakes were not nearly as high this time around, for many of 77 players dressed and participating in their first game in an Ottawa uniform, there was much worth fighting for.

For fans (and more importantly, Ottawa’s coaching staff), it was a chance to see how the replacements would fill in the gaping holes left by the departures of players like Ernest Jackson, Chris Williams, Mitchell White, Forrest Hightower, Cleyon Laing and company.

Here’s all my thoughts on Ottawa’s win.

1) New season, same old Harris

Henry Burris might be gone, but as Trevor Harris’ short performance demonstrated, the quality of QB play in Ottawa has not regressed one bit. In the two series he played, Harris was surgical and had the offence clicking on all cylinders. He completed 80% of his passes (12/15) to seven different receivers for 145 yards and a touchdown in half a quarter of work. Granted the Ticats were missing some key starters in their secondary, but still, Harris shows no signs of rust.

2) New team, same Tate?

Before leaving the game with a likely concussion, Drew Tate came exactly as promised. Reputed to be a backup capable of stepping in at a moment’s notice and winning games, Tate seemed comfortable under centre as he directed the Redblacks’ offence on a quick scoring drive. Unfortunately, Tate also has a reputation of being injury prone, and though the late hit that knocked him out of the game was no fault of his own, the reality is that if he is unavailable for any length of time, Ottawa’s QB depth behind Harris suddenly seems extremely thin.

3) Lindley’s long look

Pushed into action due to Tate’s injury, ex-NFL QB Ryan Lindley had the longest audition of any newcomer on the night. Though he started off shaky, Lindley deserves credit for battling his way through the game, going 16/25 for 133 yards and a touchdown. Despite not always being on the same page as his receivers, with several passes falling to the turf without any Redblack in the vicinity, Lindley flashed good arm strength as he led Ottawa to the win with two 4th quarter scoring drives. One area of concern is the number of his passes which were batted down at the line.

4) Backs look healthy

Breathe easy R-Nation, even if William Powell, Shakir Bell and Mossis Madu are all coming off season ending injuries, the trio look healthy. Each of the backs displayed strength, quickness and soft hands out of the backfield, which won’t make Rick Campbell’s life any easier but bodes well for the team. As well as the American backs played, the longest run of the night went to Ed Ilnicki, who rumbled for a 21 yard gain in the 4th quarter. Drafted to replace the departed Kienan LaFrance, Ilnicki looked good carrying the ball and on special teams.

5) Crowded receiving corps

With 16 different players catching a pass, it’s safe to say that Ottawa’s QBs don’t lack for weapons. There were a number of strong performances, but of the newcomers to the team, Daje Johnson, Joshua Stangby and Riley Wilson stood out. Tori Gurley also looked sharp in the slot, but left the game due to injury. I wouldn’t say that anyone played their way onto the team, but the coaching staff certainly has some difficult decisions ahead.

6) OL depth takes a beating

Despite solid play from his offensive line, OL Coach Bryan Chiu won’t enjoy watching film of this game. With Matt Albright, Pierce Burton and Randy Beardy all leaving the game due to injury, the Redblacks may be forced to reconsider their ratio going forwards. Although Beardy’s injury doesn’t seem as serious as the knee/leg injuries sustained by Albright and Burton, Ottawa’s offensive line depth took a serious hit. The team sorely needs Nolan MacMillan (who didn’t play due to an injury of his own), to get healthy soon. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that in limited reps, 2017 1st round pick Evan Johnson didn’t stand out, which for an offensive lineman, is a good thing.

7) Ends steals the show

American defensive ends Darryl Paulo and Avery Ellis balled out. While Ellis had the bigger night on the stats sheet (3 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble), both displayed high motors, regularly making a mess of things in the backfield and forcing Ticat QBs to throw before they were ready. On one play, Hamilton QB Everett Golson completed a pass for a 12 yard gain, yet instead of a DB making the tackle, it was a hustling Paulo. Canadians Nigel Romick and Ettore Lattanzio also both looked good, with the latter picking up a sack.

8) Fish out of water

It was only one play in the first quarter, but new LB Khalil Bass did not look comfortable at all in coverage as he was badly beat for a Hamilton touchdown. In Winnipeg, Bass occupied the middle of the defence, in Mark Nelson’s Ottawa defence, Bass plays the weak side linebacker role and will be asked to drop back in one on one coverage more often. His play in space is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

9) The DB factory continues to churn out playmakers

If there’s two things the Redblacks have become known for under GM Marcel Desjardins tenure, it’s drafting offensive lineman in the first round and finding young American playmakers for his secondary. Given a chance to start, 2nd year pro Imoan Claiborne continued to build off his strong showing in training camp. Other notables in Ottawa’s secondary were rookies Sherrod Baltimore (who finished the night with five tackles) and Corey Tindal (who snagged the game’s only interception).

10) Kickers clutch

Both Ray Early and Zack Medeiros were perfect on the night, going a combined 5/5 in FG attempts. Each also average over 40 yards per punt. That’s why it was a bit surprising to see the Redblacks bring back former kicker Brett Maher this morning.

11) Setting the tone

Wins in the pre-season are like Donald Trump’s word, both count for absolutely nothing. Still, it’s good to see a sense of urgency and resiliency in this year’s group of Redblacks.

12) Loud crowd

Even if some of the the announced crowd of 23,252 weren’t on hand, those members of R-Nation who did take in the game did a fantastic job of being their usual noisy selves. Ottawa is known for being a rowdy crowd and it’s good to see that holding true even in the pre-season.

Santino Filoso

Santino Filoso

Born and raised in the 613, Santino has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know.)
Santino Filoso
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Santino Filoso
About Santino Filoso (218 Articles)
Born and raised in the 613, Santino has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know.)

19 Comments on A dozen thoughts on the Redblacks’ pre-season opener

  1. Cam Levack // June 9, 2017 at 2:18 pm //

    The game was remarkably un-sloppy for a pre-season contest. Ottawa’s passing game looked effective all around, although I still believe we’ll miss Earnest Jackson’s dependability. Trevor Harris will be playing with a lot of guys he’s familiar with, including present Redblacks and former Argos. Finally, it was fun seeing the team on the field after a long winter. Now it feels like summer!

  2. mrnehnehincognito // June 9, 2017 at 2:45 pm //

    way too much focus on east teams not enough on west

    • gogades // June 9, 2017 at 3:56 pm //

      Yea, we need *more* Saskatchewan coverage. It’s ALL ABOUT the Riders.
      /s

    • And just which western teams were playing last night? According to the schedule all of the eastern teams played in their first preseason game last night. You think that should be ignored?

      • mrnehnehincognito // June 9, 2017 at 4:45 pm //

        It’s not that. I’ve notice far more post game articles on Redblacks and Ticats than I did the Stamps and lions on Tuesday

        • GoCats! // June 9, 2017 at 4:55 pm //

          Then convince more Western writers to write or start a fan authored section.

          I doubt 3downation is going to turn down the offer of more articles.

    • George Fogarty // June 9, 2017 at 4:55 pm //

      Then stop reading about east teams, pretty simple.

      • GoCats! // June 9, 2017 at 5:06 pm //

        Agreed … though that is the lazy way out IMO compared to recruiting more Western team writers or being a fan who writes articles.

  3. yo Pony Boy what relevance does your comment have to do to this article? I’ve read you many times, too many in fact where you berate others for the same thing. If you want more content on the west then email Drew directly. Pretty sure no one writing these articles reads the comments cause more than half are yours.

    • mrnehnehincognito // June 9, 2017 at 4:47 pm //

      Well I’m glad I at least have a fan in you Shon. Do you want to subscribe to my fan club?

  4. I’m a Rider fan and I like to come on here and read about other team’s players, plays, etc. We, in Riderville, also would prefer it if mrnehnehincognito would just stick to his Stampeder articles. I guess if we have to put up with him, then so should you.

    • mrnehnehincognito // June 9, 2017 at 4:48 pm //

      So you are Ridervilles spokesperson?
      I don’t want to brag but if you haven’t noticed participation on most stories as increased since I started posting

      • Or maybe you just started posting as participation was increasing.

      • BleedzGreen // June 9, 2017 at 9:52 pm //

        “participation on most stories [has] increased since I started posting[.]”

        Um ya, trolls can certainly have that effect on a forum, but it’s hardly anything to brag about IMO.

  5. GoCats! // June 9, 2017 at 5:05 pm //

    The part that makes me nervous about Harris is not the early going or middle of the season but the end/playoffs. This year may be the year when he is able to prove he can keep his level of play up for the late season/playoffs … or not.

    I also think that the “missing some key starters” is understating it as I had understood only two starters were there with few of the defensive players having any CFL game experience.

    Tate being having an injury is also a concern, I would think.

  6. Enrico Della Penta // June 9, 2017 at 10:39 pm //

    Thanks Santino, Good to see the depth the Redblacks have this year. Going to be in tough as Hamilton and TO look good. Great to see the competition in the CFL.

    Where are you Robin (fromtheCity)?

  7. Dick Dinelle // June 10, 2017 at 2:12 pm //

    Is there any way that your sign in page can show the Redblacks logo instead of the dearly departed Renegades?

    • GoCats! // June 12, 2017 at 8:42 am //

      Is another group putting a sign in page before 3downnation?

      Closest to a sign in page I have seen in the last three years is having to put a name/valid email address/math question answer to post a reply.

      I have seen Renegades logos for articles about the Renegades era but recall more RedBlacks logos as there’s more articles about the RedBlacks era.

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