13 Thoughts on Ottawa’s Win at BMO Field

1) Just when I thought Trevor Harris couldn’t possibly play any better, he goes out and completes an insane 90.3% of his passes (28/31) for 392 yards while hitting seven different receivers. After four games, Harris leads the CFL with 1475 passing yards but even more impressive than the numbers themselves are the teams he’s put those numbers up against. Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto’s boast defences that are traditionally among the best units in the league. If they can’t slow Harris down, who will?

2) While much was made of Harris’ return to Toronto, OC Jamie Elizondo’s return flew under the radar. Elizondo’s unit continued to roll against his former team, racking up 455 yards of offence while averaging 8.3 yards per play.

3) Nic Grigsby had another solid performance in his second game as a Redblack. He averaged a healthy 4.3 yards per run, caught 2 passes for 13 yards and for the most part, picked up the blitz well. And, because apparently it mattered to some in Ottawa, the Redblacks scored their first rushing TD of the season.

4) Toronto found out the hard way what happens when focus your defensive game plan on stopping Chris Williams. The coverages he faced freed up Greg Ellingson for a monster day. Ellingson’s 218 yards are a franchise record and a reminder that while Williams needs to be accounted for, so to do the rest of Ottawa’s receivers. It’s worth noting that a big chunk of Ellingson’s yards were after contact and only possible thanks to great blocks thrown by his fellow receivers.

5) Speaking of the receiving corps, I loved Ernest Jackson’s game. As he has proven time and time again, he’s not afraid to go over the middle and get the dirty yards. His 35 yard catch late in the 4th quarter was the dagger that finished off the Argos.

6) After struggling to get to the QB over their first three games, the Redblacks more than doubled their season sack total by taking down Ricky Ray four times. Most encouragingly, DE Arnaud Gascon-Nadon had a breakout game, collecting two sacks by coming hard off the edge. In addition to the pass rush, the defence as a whole did a great job against the run, limiting the Argos to just 35 yards on the ground.

7) LB Antoine Pruneau had a whale of a game, making 5 tackles, knocking down 2 passes and sacking Ray once. His final stat line would look even better if not for a flag on Abdul Kanneh that wiped out a beautiful end zone interception. Aston Whiteside knows what that feels like since a flag on Jonathan Rose also took his interception off the board.

8) In general, Ottawa played an extremely undisciplined game, finishing the night with 19 flags for 149 yards. Those flags breakdown into six on the offence, seven on the defence and six on special teams. So far the Redblacks have been fortunate that penalties have yet to cost them a win, but if the sloppy play continues, sooner or later it will.

9) It only took three seasons, two coaches and 42 games, but the Ottawa Redblacks finally have their first return touchdown in franchise history thanks to Tristan Jackson. To me, the most impressive aspect of the return is that Jackson didn’t even catch the kick. Typically when a returner waits that long to scoop the ball, they’re surrounded and quickly taken down. Instead, Jackson broke no less than six tackles as he rumbled his way to the end zone. Looks like Bob Dyce’s hard work is paying off.

Tristian Jackson TD

10) While much will be made of the small crowd (12,373), those Argos fans that did show up deserve a ton of credit for making a racket when Ottawa had the ball. On the flip side, R-Nation once again proved it traveled well, with at least 100 fans in attendance, many of whom made the drive down from Ottawa.

11) While the tailgate was limited due to the Indy Car track being set up, it was still an extremely cool experience and one that should be copied by every CFL team around the league. When teams give fans what they want, everyone wins.

12) The tailgate wasn’t the only thing affected by the Indy Car, as exiting the stadium after the game was a huge mess due to the number of barricades in the way. Event staff forced fans to take long, roundabout ways out of the stadium that led to people hopping fences and walking down the race track. Whoever organized which areas were off-limits did an extremely poor job.

13) By beating the Argos in Toronto, the Redblacks move to an impressive 3-0 on the road this season. To put that in perspective, Ottawa won 5 games on the road all of last year.

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).