The fact that the Ottawa Redblacks were soundly beaten 29-9 by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers isn’t surprising. Rain came down in buckets, their third string QB started and they were coming off a short week to face one of the CFL’s best teams. Not exactly a recipe for success.
All that being said, the Redblacks did themselves no favours with sloppy arm tackles, drops from usually dependable receivers, turnovers and undisciplined flags.
Here are all my thoughts on the loss:
1) Ryan Lindley won’t have fond memories of his first CFL start. The weather was ugly and so were his numbers. Lindley completed 44% of his passes (16/36) for 151 yards and an interception. For nearly the entire game, Lindley looked uncomfortable, even when not under pressure. To be fair, many of his high, off-target throws can be chalked up to a lack of playing time and unfamiliarity with his receiving corps. At the same time, on more than one occasion he rushed his reads. Even when Lindley was on target, a catch was no sure thing, as his receivers dropped a total of six passes. All in all, Lindley deserves credit for not being afraid to try and push the ball downfield, but if Ottawa wants to get back into the win column, it looks like they’ll need Drew Tate or Trevor Harris back under centre.
2) For the second consecutive week, William Powell crossed the 100 yard mark. Powell averaged 7.6 yards per carry and finished the game with 107 rushing yards. On a night when offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo leaned on the run, Powell rose to the occasion, running hard and showing agility on cutbacks and strength in running through arm tackles.
3) Given how consistent and reliable he’s been the past three seasons, it came as a shock to see Greg Ellingson drop four passes in a single game. To be fair, the rain was certainly a factor, as was having a new QB throw the ball, but still, it’s weird not seeing #82 catch everything he gets a hand on. Ellingson wasn’t the only receiver to record a drop, as both Diontae Spencer and Kevin Elliot couldn’t hang on to passes that hit them in the numbers. All that said, Ellingson still finished the night with a team-high six catches for 63 yards. The only other receiver who showed any kind of “chemistry” with Lindley was Canadian Jake Harty, who finished the night with three catches for 27 yards.
4) I’d never argue that Jon Gott isn’t missed, but after another game without giving up a sack (and conceding just two QB pressures), it’s safe to say that the Redblacks patchwork offensive line is getting the job done. Jake Silas displayed no rust in his return to the right tackle position while Alex Mateas and Evan Johnson both played well in their second career starts at centre and left guard respectively. Just like last week, the offensive line held their own in pass protection and on the ground, paving the way for another big day for Powell. It’ll be interesting to see who winds up on the bench when Jon Gott and Nolan MacMillan are healthy enough to return.
5) After initially holding the Bombers to field goals, Mark Nelson’s defence fell apart, done in by lazy tackling and blown coverages. The Bombers averaged a stunning 8 yards per 1st down play as they racked up 27 first downs and 513 yards of total offence. Ottawa’s defence was torched both in the air (giving up 361 passing yards) and on the ground (being gnashed for 192 yards). Poor tackling form was on full display from a number of defenders, but especially from DBs Nick Taylor, Corey Tindal and Jonathan Rose. The unit as a whole also seemed caught off guard by Winnipeg’s up-tempo pace on 2nd down.
6) If you’re looking for small defensive positives, the Redblacks held Winnipeg to a single touchdown on four red zone trips and also only allowed the Bombers to convert 50% of the time on 2nd down (13/26). I also have to mention MLB Taylor Reed for making a game-high 11 tackles. He was everywhere on the field.
7) The game would’ve been a much different one if a few Ottawa defenders could’ve hung onto the ball. Sherrod Baltimore, Adrian James, Kevin Brown and Nick Taylor all got their hands on passes, yet all failed to make an interception. On a night when the offence was struggling to get anything going, a turnover could’ve flipped field position and provided some much needed momentum. Maybe said linebackers and defensive backs need to take catching notes from defensive end Jonathan Newsome.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 23, 2017
8) With the game being out of reach, it really didn’t matter, but it was still nice to see Brett Maher’s excellent onside kick recovered by Sinopoli. That, combined with his 53.4 yard punting average, makes up for his missed 46 yard field goal.
9) Speaking of special teams, who decided to have Quincy McDuffie replace Spencer as the punt returner? Even though Spencer returned two missed field goals for touchdowns in the last four games, it was McDuffie who was back returning kicks early on. I don’t get that logic. Following two muffed McDuffie punts, Spencer was eventually inserted back to the punt returner role. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
10) With the loss, the Redblacks season record falls to 5-8-1. While it isn’t time to panic, especially given the state of the East Division, Ottawa desperately needs to get back into the win column to keep pace with the Argos. Realistically, the Redblacks need to win two of their four remaining regular season games to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. That, in theory, would ensure they finish ahead of Montreal and Hamilton and worst case, host the East Semi-Final against a Western crossover team. But before the team can start looking that far ahead, they’ll welcome Saskatchewan to TD Place next Friday night. If head coach Rick Campbell’s post game comments can be taken at face value, it seems Ottawa’s offence (and odds of winning) will get a big boost with a healthy Drew Tate likely to start.