Redblacks fail to overcome slow start (& 13 other thoughts)

Riding a three game win streak and at home vs the Ticats, expectations were high in the nation’s capital that the Ottawa Redblacks would add to their division lead. Instead, the team got punched in the mouth and failed to overcome a shockingly poor start, ultimately falling 26-22 to the visitors.

Here are all my thoughts on the game.

1) Tough to see Trevor Harris go down on a hellacious (but clean) hit. After a first half in which he looked a bit off, not seeming to be on the same page as his receivers, Harris was rounding into form and leading scoring drives when he was hurt in the third quarter. As inconsistent as Ottawa has been this season, the one constant has been stellar QB play, as evidenced by the fact that Harris leads virtually every passing category. There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that the more time he misses, the greater the odds the Redblacks miss the playoffs.

2) Thrust into action, Drew Tate did fairly well coming off the bench. His numbers weren’t great (8/13 for 114 yards and a touchdown), but he had little help. His offensive line was porous and his receivers dropped three balls by my count. Tate showed a willingness to push the ball down the field which bodes well given the weapons at his disposal. That said, if he is the QB for the foreseeable future, he’ll need to do better than throwing a four yard dump pass on 3rd and 12 with the game on the line.

3) You had a feeling the night might not go well for Ottawa right off the bat. On the first play of the game, offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo dialled up a reverse flea flicker that led to an 11 yard loss. The call was simply baffling. It’s one thing to be aggressive, but why take the ball out of the hands of your QB to let Josh Stangby throw it? The play set the tone for all the wrong reasons. Overall, the offence had a poor night, especially on 2nd down. The Redblacks averaged 3.3 yards on 2nd down and moved the chains only 42% of the time (11/26).

4) Mossis Madu continues to impress. In addition to picking up 54 yards on the ground (averaging 4.9 yards per carry), he also caught four passes for 52 yards, including an incredible 37 yard catch. With Harris out, Madu will be even more heavily relied upon to produce.

5) The look on Greg Ellingson’s face when Trevor Harris left the game said it all. Ellingson, more than anyone, is aware of what Harris means to this team. It’s worth noting that once Tate entered the game, Ellingson disappeared from it. In fact, Tate’s only completion to the Buds was a four-yard pass to Brad Sinopoli in the 4th quarter. If he’s going to be under centre for any length of time, Tate needs to look the Buds way early and often. As for the rest of the receiving corps, they could help Tate out by not dropping passes that hit them in the chest. I’m looking at you Stangby, Jake Harty and Dominique Rhymes.

6) Yet again, Ottawa’s offensive line was manhandled, only this time it cost them in the worst way. To be frank, this injury could’ve happened in Week One or Two or any of the games this season. That’s because all year long, Jon Gott and company have failed to keep their QB upright. Harris has taken dozens of shots and frankly, it’s a surprise and a testament to his toughness that he’s stayed healthy this long. Hamilton amassed four sacks to go along with another six QB pressures. Until the offensive line tightens up and provides a clean pocket with regularity, it won’t matter who is throwing the ball, because they’ll be on their back or running for their life.

7) For 30 minutes, Ottawa’s defence made Jeremiah Masoli look like Mike Vick in his prime. They had no answer for his legs when he tucked the ball and ran, nor his arm when he stretched the field with deep bombs. Defensive coordinator Mark Nelson deserves a ton of credit for his half-time adjustments. After allowing 23 points in the first half, the Redblacks gave up just a field goal the rest of the way. Nelson dialled up the blitz in the 2nd half and his aggressiveness paid off, leading to four two and outs. Although the defence gave up 6.6 yards per play, they only allowed the Ticats to convert on 42% of their 2nd down opportunities and held them to a pair of touchdowns on five red zone trips. LB Taylor Reed was everywhere, racking up 10 tackles and a sack.

8) If you go back and look at every Ottawa loss this season, you’ll find a few things in common. One of them is that Brett Maher’s foot left points on the board. Such was the case against Hamilton, as two Maher misses (from 25 and 44 yards out) cost the Redblacks four points, which turned out to be their margin of defeat. It’s hard to know what to make of Maher’s season. At one point he made 15 kicks in a row and yet he’s missed seven FGs and six converts. Those misses loom large because the Redblacks have only lost close games. Given how well he punts, it’s not likely the team cuts him, but it may be time for another kicker to be brought in for a tryout.

9) Coming into the game, Keelan Johnson led the league with 17 special teams tackles. He padded his stats with another three vs the Ticats. Johnson’s coverage skills might not be noticed by the casual fan, but you can bet teammates and coaches appreciate the tough work he does.

10) Fantastic to see Henry Burris honoured at half-time. OSEG knocked it out of the park. From having Russ Jackson on hand to unveil the banner, to carving a wooden Grey Cup out of the leftover end zone log from the 2016 season. Pure class all around.

While some around the country may not understand or agree with the team retiring his number, nobody in the nation’s capital is against the move. Retiring his number isn’t about the stats he put up or the championship he won. Rather, it’s because Burris rekindled Ottawa’s love affair with CFL football, restored a city’s pride and reminded its inhabitants that not only can football work and flourish in their hometown, but that even decades of despair, frustration and embarrassment can be wiped away with a moment of glory.

11) Another sold out crowd, another home loss. You’d think that having 24,901 rambunctious members of R-Nation on hand would count for something. Apparently, you’d be wrong.

12) It’ll be interesting to see what GM Marcel Desjardins chooses to do at the QB position. Tate will obviously be under centre for as long as Harris is out, but will the team feel comfortable with Ryan Lindley as his backup? If not, Desjardins could sign a guy like Jacory Harris or try to swing a trade. Maybe he gives Eric Tillman a call and sees what the price is for Zack Collaros (I kid, but crazier things have happened).

13) With the loss, the Redblacks drop to 4-7-1 on the year and the East division is officially wide open. Even the Ticats, who as recently as two weeks ago looked dead to rights, are only four points out of a playoff spot. Given that the Redblacks face four Western teams in the next five weeks, next Sunday’s game in Montreal is a must win.

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
Santino Filoso
About Santino Filoso (192 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.)

20 Comments on Redblacks fail to overcome slow start (& 13 other thoughts)

  1. Ottawa may now find out what it’s like to play without a starting quarterback.

    Something other teams in the east have had to deal with over the last few years, while they benefitted.

    Karma can be a wonderful thing.

    • How quickly we forget. They lost Burris in the first game last season. He returned too early following an injury Harris and sucked. In the game that Harris got hurt in, Brock Jensen ended up playing all but one drive, I believe, in Saskatchewan.

      Just because Harris played well as a back up, and they made an effort to have depth at the position, doesn’t mean they’ve been immune to injuries at the position.

  2. And this “rambunctious” group starting booing them as soon as they saw some things they did not like. Fickle for a crowd you call “r nation”.

    I guess, not in the mood for “lucky” Burris appreciation night.

    • I’m not the booing type but I fully understand why the crowd got fed up.

      The team’s home record is something like 4-14 in the last 18 home games. They constantly go flat in the 4th quarter but when they don’t, they fail to show up in the first. We keep being told “We have to find a way” to get over that then they don’t. So it wasn’t this one game. It’s an accumulation of several weeks of lack of focus.

      we can’t win here. When we’re happy about a cup, we get reminded that the team sucked in regular season. When we dare get frustrated at their lack of discipline, we’re “fickle” and spoiled. It can’t be both ways.

      But at least the Burris thing was pretty great. He was even classy enough to acknowledge Hamilton regardless of how terrible fans like you have been to him post-departure. Good for him.

  3. They gave the job of unveiling the banner for the average quarterback in Burris to a great champion in Russ Jackson.

    What a ridiculous situation.

    • I understand the feelings about Burris… I’ve criticized him myself for being pouty sometimes and a “me” guy others. But his resume speaks for itself — a great career, the Grey Cup wins (including being game MVP twice), MOP awards, and the stats to put him up there with the best. He’ll be in the CFHOF very soon with good reason.

      That was a nice thank-you from the RedBlacks organization, and Hank was gracious and classy in the words he had to say (including toward Hamilton and us Ticat fans). I think he deserves some respect.

      • Along with that honour,. Henry Burris also received the key to the city “in recognition of his outstanding contribution and dedication to professional sport and his community leadership and support for local charity.”

        I’m sure his detractors will say he only does the charity bit because he’s so image conscious though.

    • Karma my ass. Give it a rest. Burris was cut by Austin for Colllarus, and made him the highest paid player in the league. Austin out as coach, Collarus is benched, and Burris is retired as a champion, MOP, and Grey Cup MVP.

      Congrats to the Tabbies for a good game. Comments like yours are nothing but sour grapes.

    • George Fogarty // September 10, 2017 at 8:15 pm //

      Wha Wha Wha be happy you won. Stop your whining and be positive that your team had a good game. Just in case you forget Russ was an Ottawa Roughrider. Maybe some yoga and mediation will help put you in a better mood.

      • Hey, you be a very, very funny guy…any relation to John by chance? Oh, so sorry…his is Fogerty.

  4. William DuBroy // September 10, 2017 at 12:02 pm //

    Good article. Your 5th point is absolutely true. Couldn’t help but notice Tate throwing to lesser lights at crucial times. Ellingson was not targeted and Sinopoli only once after Tate came in. When we had to have a catch in the last series we were throwing to Rhymes, a backup who, by the way did not make the catch. Very poor performance in the first half but what is showing itself to be a poor team. 4 of the next 5 are against the west and they need to win 4 of 6 to get the same losing regular season record as last year. 4 wins in their last 16 home regular season games is unacceptable

    • Generally agree with the lessor lights.

      Not that it is much different but Tate had an incomplete pass to SinopolI as well as the catch.

      Rhymes however was a first down throw that would have at worst, set Ottawa up with a short 2nd down. Next play for the first down was to Spencer.

  5. I can’t disagree with your point#2 more. Tate’s TD pass and the Madu long catch were made with incredible adjustments by the receivers on badly thrown ball. There’s a reason that Tate remained on teams to remain a backup QB; he doesn’t have the snuff to be a starter.

    With Elizondo’s pitiful play calling, I doubt we’ll adjust our offense to match Tate’s abilities(?). It will be a long wait for Harris to return.

    • Sure he has the snuff (or do you mean stuff)…just ask him yourself…he’ll tell you…just like he’d tell you when he was a Stump…or Roughrider…or Ram…

  6. Maher is beginning to fade down the stretch just like he did in Hamilton last year.

  7. Forget getting Collaros – you couldn’t afford the price! And Hamilton would be CRAZY to trade him to a division rival!

    • You could afford the price…just advertise it as a TC Fire Sale…everything MUST go! Think the reluctance of trading a player to a division rival, whether football, hockey, or baseball is grossly over exaggerated. Get what can fetch the best price and help your club in the now. If you are worried about tomorrow then today will bite you right in the ass.

      • The reluctance to trade to a division rival is over blown?
        I doubt it.

        If the traded player does good on the new team, something like facing them two times in the regular season and once in the GC is likely job security.

        Like all trades, the question is what is needed/offered and is there a drop off between the divisional offers.

        Either way – Desjardins has improved tremendously in his second go round as GM so I doubt he is going to over pay for Collaros.

        He did bring in Tate for this situation. Tate needs more time with the starters but looked fine with the TD to close the gap.

        That’s without considering what the Cats would want for Collaros.

        • But what if the player traded does bad for the new team? Quite possible as well. For argument sake, can you name a TC player in recent memory that was traded and came back to haunt them, not just in the east but west as well? I can’t.

  8. Ted Kennedy // September 12, 2017 at 4:36 pm //

    Jamie Elizondo should be canned today – he is useless and has been already given enough time to get his act in gear. Any current coach could step up and do a better job ( which wouldn’t be hard)

    Campbell is supposed to be a players’ coach and you see it in the way he lets “his”players get away with undisciplined garbage on the field Defensive backs encouraging the crowd to cheer louder instead of focussing on their jobs is one example A receiver could be giving a “tell” on the way he lines up and our guys couldn’t see it if it bit them in their collective butts Focus on the game stop the chirping and jiving and play football.I am looking at you Rose and Gavins act like the pros you are instead of oversized highschoolers.

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