Heading into Friday night’s game, expectations in the nation’s capital were low, but nobody saw a 31-1 smackdown looming.
While some may point to injuries and a shuffled roster as an excuse, the reality is the Blue Bombers beat the Redblacks handily in all three phases of the game.
Here are all my thoughts:
1) Since training camp there have been those clamouring to see Jonathan Jennings behind centre. Granted, he was up against a tough defence, but it’s clear that as soon as Dominique Davis is healthy, Jennings will be back to holding a clipboard on the bench.
There’s really no sugarcoating how horrific Jennings’ night was. In the three quarters he lasted before getting the hook, Jennings went 6-of-15 for a paltry 45 yards. Average quarterbacks in the league throw for that on a good drive. There was also a pick-six, no touchdowns and his longest pass of the evening went for just 13 yards. 11 of the 12 drives he led ended in punts (the other was an interception), with 10 possessions lasting four plays or less.
OTT 0 | WPG 7 pic.twitter.com/71tagJDCym
— CFL (@CFL) July 20, 2019
To be fair, Jennings didn’t get much help from his offensive line or his offensive play calling committee. That said, for someone who was supposedly a 1B quarterback option, he looked anything but. R-Nation better hope Davis is healthy soon.
2) Utterly embarrassing performance by Ottawa’s offensive unit. Receivers coach Winston October is responsible for overseeing one of the worst offensive outputs in franchise history.
The Redblacks finished the game with 175 yards of net offence, 12 first downs, two turnovers, a 14 per cent conversion rate on second down (3-of-21), slightly more than 23 minutes of possession and zero points. Their fifteen offensive drives were textbook examples of how not to play offence.
It’s early in the season but it’s evident the Redblacks are a team without an identity. Until their offensive coaching committee solves that, they will struggle to maintain drives and score points.
3) If there was one bright spot in the 30-point loss, it was John Crockett’s performance. Handed the ball 15 times, Crockett responded by averaging 5.9 yards per carry and busting off three runs of 10-plus yards against a stout Winnipeg defence that’s proven tough to run on. Crockett wound up with 88 yards on the ground to go with another 20 in the air. Hope Mossis Madu is comfortable on the bench.
4) Officially they gave up three sacks, but Ottawa’s offensive line was clearly outmatched against a fierce Blue Bomber pass rush. Jennings (and later Will Arndt) were under siege whenever they dropped back to pass. Although the unit did a solid job opening holes in the running game, their pass protection was lacking. The simple fact that the Bombers were regularly able to collapse the pocket while only sending three is a big concern.
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) July 20, 2019
5) Quiet night for the receiving corps, which is to be expected when the running game totals more yards than the passing attack (103 to 102). Noel Thomas had a game-high nine targets, finishing with four receptions for 39 yards. The only other receiver to finish with more than a single catch was Brad Sinopoli, who made two receptions for 18 yards on four targets.
6) Noel Thorpe’s defence needs to be better. They continue to hemorrhage untimely big plays and haven’t generated an interception or fumble in two games. That said, it’s hard to dump on the defence when they’re on the field for almost 37 minutes, as they were against Winnipeg. Having your defence play that many snaps is not part of any winning formula.
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) July 20, 2019
The Bombers’ offence carved up Ottawa’s defence, passing for 302 yards and rushing for 147. They averaged 9.6 yards per second down play, completed 19 consecutive passes at one point, and converted 48 per cent (12-of-25) second down opportunities. Winnipeg also went 2-for-3 in the red zone.
7) After being shifted from his regular position in the middle of the defence to the weak side linebacker spot, Avery Wiliiams responded by having a whale of a game in a losing effort, leading all players with 11 tackles. As for the new man in the middle, Jerod Fernandez made the most of his first career start, amassing seven tackles.
8) Richie Leone is going to be sore. Not only did he score the Redblacks’ lone point, he was also one of Ottawa’s busiest players, punting 12 times for 578 yards (48.2 yard average).
As for the rest of the special teams, Lewis Ward wasn’t called upon because the offence was never in scoring position. Devonte Dedmon provided a spark in the return game, looking every bit as explosive and exciting as he did in the pre-season, but needs to hang onto the ball after fumbling twice.
9) Does anyone actually like TSN’s split screen?
10) It’s still early in the season, but the way the Redblacks are trending has to be a concern for the coaching staff. Losing is one thing, getting blown out and (basically) shut out is another. Rick Campbell’s squad is battling through injury issues (with a dozen new starters since Week 1), but so are other teams around the league.
Things won’t get any easier this week, with a tough Calgary team heading to town. Campbell needs his team to come up with some answers quickly, especially on the offensive side of the ball.