Reviewing Training Camp Predictions

With the Redblacks on a bye and waiting to see who emerges from the East Semi-Final, now is the perfect time to look back at some of the predictions I made for the Redblacks’ 2015 campaign back in June.

While it’s easy (and fun) to make predictions, what isn’t always so enjoyable is going back and seeing how they stood the test of time. Sometimes fortune favours the bold but mostly you just end up with egg on your face.

When I posted the piece I caught some flak for being too optimistic, but let’s take a closer and see just how accurate I was. Each prediction will be rated as follows:

Nailed it: Like a Henry Burris pass to Brad Sinopoli, this prediction was spot on.

Shanked it: Like every kick made by a Redblacks’ kicker not named Chris Milo, this prediction was way off the mark

Almost got a hand on it: Like Shawn Lemon rushing the QB whenever he’s not held, this prediction was nearly spot on.

Without further ado, the review.

1) What I said: The Redblacks will have a top 3 offence 

“The additions of OC Jason Maas, OL Coach Bryan Chiu and WRs Chris Williams, Ernest Jackson, Maurice Price (just to name a few), gel and make Ottawa one of the best offences in the CFL. It might take a few weeks to get clicking, but soon enough the Redblacks will be giving defensive co-ordinators sleepless nights.”


What actually happened: No offence in the CFL racked up more yardage per game than the Redblacks’ 408.4. The addition of Jason Maas at Offensive Co-ordinator worked wonders, both on the scoreboard and in the way he totally erased all memories of Mike Gibson’s inept 2014 unit. Receivers Chris Williams, Ernest Jackson, Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli all had 1000 yard seasons.

Prediction score: Nailed it

2) What I said: Henry Burris will turn back the clock and throw for 5000 yards and 30 TDs

A new offensive system that plays to his strengths, combined with proven veteran receivers and a reinforced offensive line make Burris look 5 years younger and work wonders for his stats. Not only will Burris start every game (barring injury), but he’ll also average 2 TDs and 275 yards per game.”

FBO CFL Lions Redblacks

What actually happened: Burris had the best statistical season of his career as he put together a record setting MOP season. Not only did Burris hit both the 5000 yard and 30 TD marks, but he in fact bettered them, leading the CFL with 5703 yards and 33 TDs.

 Prediction score: Nailed it

3) What I said: Jeremiah Johnson will be the feature back by Week 5

“I love Chevon Walker and think he’s an extremely talented back, but he simply doesn’t bring the same elements to the running game that Johnson does. Johnson is a violent downhill runner whose style is perfectly suited to pounding the ball up the gut. Walker is an explosive, speedy, slasher type, better at making defenders miss in open space. Too often Walker gets stuffed in short yardage situations as he doesn’t hit the hole with conviction and instead tries to dance around looking for a seam. Johnson on the other hand, puts his head down and bowls people over. Furthermore, Johnson averaged 6.3 yards per carry last season vs Walker’s 4.5 yards. It’ll be difficult for the coaching staff to make this change, as Walker is being paid like the top running back, but if Johnson keeps producing when he’s getting carries, it’ll have to be done.”

Jeremiah Johnson

What actually happened: Walker struggled out of the gate, lost his job to Johnson in Week 9 and was cut a few days later. When Johnson took over, Ottawa’s run game came alive as he pounded defences with his hard, downhill style. Before getting hurt, Johnson was 5th in the CFL in rushing and had 97 carries for 448 yards and 9 TDs.

 Prediction score: Almost got a hand on it

4) What I said: Ernest Jackson will lead the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns

Though he hasn’t had the same amount of hype as Maurice Price, Greg Ellingson or Chris Williams, Jackson is more a complete receiver. He’s bigger, stronger, has great hands in traffic and runs crisper routes. He’ll quickly become Burris’ safety blanket and with his size, he has the durability to make it through a strenuous 18 game schedule.”


What actually happened: While Jackson put together a highly respectable season of 84 catches for 1036 yards and 5 TDs, his numbers were slightly lower than some of his teammates. Chris Williams made more catches (88) and had more yards (1214) and Greg Ellingson hauled in 9 TD catches.

Prediction score: Almost got a hand on it

5) What I said: Antoine Pruneau will make 70+ tackles, have 5 sacks, force 5 fumbles and make 5 interceptions 

“Last year Pruneau was a rookie, though you’d never be able to tell from looking at his stats. Those numbers become even more impressive when you take into account that he only began starting games in Week 6. With a year of experience under his belt and an off-season spent bulking up and working his agility, Pruneau will become the main defender opposing teams game plan for.”

FBO CFL Lions Redblacks

What actually happened: Though he certainly avoided the dreaded sophomore slump, Pruneau didn’t quite meet the lofty goals I had envisioned for him. Pruneau finished the regular season with 55 tackles and 2 interceptions but failed to record a sack or force a fumble. One area that he did excel in was special teams, as he led the Redblacks with 18 special teams tackles.

 Prediction score: Shanked it

6) What I said: Justin Capicciotti and Marlon Smith will both have double digit sack seasons

“Fresh off his 11 sack season in 2014, Capicciotti follows up an impressive first season in Ottawa by pulling off a repeat. Smith is a bit of a dark horse on the defensive line but flashed potential in this year’s pre-season game vs the Alouettes when he picked up 3 sacks in a little more than two quarters of work.”

Winnipeg Blue Bombers v Ottawa Redblacks

What actually happened: Capicciotti did his part to stock local food banks (thanks Purolator!), by improving on last season’s 11 sacks and finishing the regular season with 12. As for Smith, he made only 3 of Ottawa’s league leading 61 sacks.

Prediction score: Shanked it

7) What I said: The Redblacks will lead the East Division in interceptions

“In 2014, the Redblacks entire secondary were rookies. Despite that handicap, the group was a strength, rarely allowing receivers to get behind them for big plays. Familiarity breeds success in football and as Brandyn Thompson, Jermaine Robinson, Abdul Kanneh, Jerrell Gavins and Brandon McDonald are another year wiser, these talented ballhawks will be the beasts of the East.”

Jerrell Gavins Cory Watson

What actually happened: Abdul Kanneh, Jovon Johnson and Jerrell Gavins made 6, 5, and 4 INTs respectively and were selected as East Division All-Stars. The Redblacks finished tied with the Ticats for the most interceptions in the CFL (and obviously East Division) with 26.

 Prediction score: Nailed it

8) What I said: Neither of the kickers on the Redblacks roster will be on the team by the end of the season

“Nothing against Anthony Alix or Delbert Alvarado, but with Calgary carrying three kickers (Tyler Crapinga, Rene Paredes and Rob Maver), and Montreal’s Sean Whyte still battling Boris Bede for a job, and veterans like Paul McCallum and Hugh O’Neill out on the street as free agents, at the first sign of inconsistency, they’ll be replaced.”

Winnipeg Blue Bombers v Ottawa Redblacks

What actually happened: The Redblacks cycled through 8 different kickers before settling on the dynamic, and more importantly Canadian, duo of Chris Milo for field goals and Ronnie Pfeffer for punting.

 Prediction score: Nailed it

9) What I said: Ottawa’s record will be 7-11, good enough for 3rd in the East and will win a road playoff game

“I’m quite aware that I’m aiming high here, but I think that with Ricky Ray being out for 6 weeks and Montreal’s Jonathan Crompton still looking underwhelming and with the average age of Montreal’s wide receivers being over 30, the Redblacks have a serious chance to make some noise, especially early in the season. I think Montreal finishes 4th and Ottawa heads to Toronto for their first playoff game since 1994. Backed by a loud contingent of R-Nation who follow the team down the 401, the Redblacks turn that momentum in a playoff win.”

What actually happened: The Redblacks finished the regular season on a 4 game win streak (the first of it’s kind since 1991) and with a 12-6 record, good enough for 1st in the East. They’re currently awaiting either the Argos or Ticats for the first playoff game at Lansdowne since 1983.

 Prediction score: Shanked it (and couldn’t be more pleased)


Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).