With a 1-5-1 record it’s hardly surprising that frustration is starting to set in for the Ottawa Redblacks, but the defending Grey Cup champions believe they have plenty of time to turn the season around.
Finding a way to beat the undefeated Edmonton Eskimos (6-0) Thursday night at TD Place would go a long way toward silencing some of their critics, including their former star quarterback.
The Redblacks were still dealing with the sting of dropping a 33-30 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the dying minutes of the game last Friday when former quarterback Henry Burris released a number of tweets on Twitter Sunday afternoon that seemed to question the team’s current leadership.
Burris tweeted: “You can’t take the leadership of a team away and expect the same results. This is not the same Redblacks team from the last two years!!!”
Needless to say, his comments didn’t go over well. Burris tried to backpeddle and say it wasn’t a shot at the current leadership group, but was more of an observation on the number of veterans that had signed elsewhere.
“I wasn’t a big fan of the whole thing,” head coach Rick Campbell said. “I know it wasn’t meant exactly how Henry said it, but we have some really good guys and even their response to the whole situation gives some insight on to what our guys are about.”
Regardless of how Burris meant for his comments to be taken, they definitely rubbed a few players the wrong way.
“We’re still together in this locker-room and we still have the leaders who are going to bring us forward,” receiver Greg Ellingson said. “We’re going in every week to win and a tweet isn’t going to change anything. People can say what they want.”
The Redblacks know they will have their hands full with the Eskimos, but are confident they will find a way to avoid the mistakes that have continuously cost them games this season.
Both teams have consistently found themselves in competitive contests, but the Redblacks constantly find ways to lose games late, the Eskimos are finding ways to hold on to victories with the game on the line.
“I give them full credit, they’ve made plays at the end of the game to get it done,” said Campbell. “You can think of multiple games of theirs this year where they’ve won it on the last series of the game. You can look at us and say we lost it on the last series of the game. We’re close and we need to find a way to get over the hump.”
Players are well aware of the late game breakdowns and need to find a way to eliminate them.
“It’s as simple as not letting it happen to be honest with you,” said receiver Brad Sinopoli. “It’s just one of those things where we need to try and not put ourselves in that position in the first place. I think a lot of it is just focus and mentally not doing things we know we’re not supposed to.”
The Redblacks are the last team to have beaten the Eskimos going back to last season’s East Final, where Ottawa knocked off Edmonton 35-23.
The timing could be right for an upset as the Eskimos are dealing with a number of injuries.
“We’ve been in every game this season and so I don’t think it will take that much to turn things around,” said safety Antoine Pruneau. “We need to play for 60 minutes and play to win every snap. If we can win this game I think it would reassure our fans and maybe quiet some of the people who are doubting us.”