Football is back, baby!
After an excruciatingly long wait, R-Nation will finally have a chance to wash the taste of a miserable 2019 season out of their mouths.
Since the Redblacks last took the field, fans in the nation’s capital have seen two off-seasons worth of free agent additions and departures, three drafts (two national, one global), and big changes among the coaching staff and at quarterback.
With all that said, here are my thoughts on the Redblacks’ 2021 schedule.
Welcoming the Elks
After one year, nine months and six days off, Ottawa’s football team will kick-off their season on Saturday, August 7th versus the Edmonton Elks. Not only will it be Edmonton’s first game since dropping their old moniker, it will also feature a number of names that R-Nation knows well with over a dozen former Redblacks on their roster.
The most prominent of these former Redblacks are receiver Greg Ellingson, quarterback Trevor Harris and head coach Jaime Elizondo. Elizondo was Ottawa’s offensive coordinator for three seasons before bolting to the XFL after the Redblacks prevented him from interviewing for a head coaching job. His late departure in April 2019 led to the train wreck of a decision to go with an offensive coordinator by committee (with predictably disastrous results).
Although not technically a revenge game, Ottawa will be looking to put the league on notice with a strong performance in Edmonton and become the answer to a trivia question as the first team to ever beat the Elks.
Bye week blues
It’s kind of strange that of the Redblacks’ three bye weeks, two are before Week 8. On one hand, that’s less than ideal but perhaps in a shortened season with a diminished training camp and no preseason games, the early weeks off will provide LaPolice and his staff valuable time to work on systems and make any necessary adjustments.
The Week 15 bye week might be crucial in getting banged up players healthy just in time for a potential playoff run.
Home opener features a familiar face
Ottawa’s home opener will come on August 28th versus the B.C. Lions. If Ontario’s vaccination rates keep going at their current pace, there’s a good chance there will be a significant number of fans in the stands, which should bode well for home team.
R-Nation will be raring to go given it will likely be the first live sporting event with fans in attendance in the nation’s capital since the Ottawa Senators played the New York Islanders on March 5, 2020.
Having former head coach Rick Campbell return to Ottawa on the opposing bench should also add a little extra spice to the game. Overall, the Redblacks’ home schedule features one game on a Tuesday, one on a Wednesday, two on Friday and three on Saturday. Five of the seven games are evening contests, with both afternoon tilts coming on Saturdays.
The Redblacks don’t play an East Division opponent until Week 5 when Montreal visits TD Place, but finish the season with seven of their final nine games against division rivals. Even if they get off to a slow start, they’ll control their playoff fate down the stretch.
A short week and a pair of roadies
Week 10 is a strange one. Ottawa plays in Toronto on Wednesday, October 6th, and just five short days later, find themselves in Montreal taking on the Alouettes on Monday, Oct. 11th. Two games in five days is never ideal, especially when both contests involve travel.
In a bit of a scheduling quirk, the Redblacks won’t play the defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers unless they meet in the playoffs. If LaPolice and Nichols were hoping for a revenge game, they’ll have to book a Grey Cup berth for it.
Of Ottawa’s six games versus West Division teams the breakdown is as follows: Edmonton twice; B.C. twice; and Saskatchewan and Calgary once each. Of their eight games versus East Division teams, Ottawa plays Montreal four times, and Hamilton and Toronto each twice.
There’s not much to say here other than kudos to the Redblacks’ social media team for putting this together.
Welcome to Hot R' Ones, the show with hot schedule releases and even hotter wings.???? pic.twitter.com/TNtvd1575x
— Ottawa REDBLACKS (@REDBLACKS) June 15, 2021
Ottawa Redblacks’ full 2021 schedule:
Saturday, August 7th, Ottawa @ Edmonton, 10 p.m.
Saturday August 21st, Ottawa @ Saskatchewan, 7 p.m.
Saturday August 28th, BC @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, September 3rd, Montreal @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 11th, Ottawa @ BC, 10 p.m.
Wednesday, September 22nd, Hamilton @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, September 28th, Edmonton @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 6th, Ottawa @ Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, October 11th, Ottawa @ Montreal, 1 p.m.
Saturday, October 16th, Montreal @ Ottawa, 4 p.m.
Saturday, October 23rd, Ottawa @ Hamilton, 4 p.m.
Friday, October 29th, Calgary @ Ottawa, 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 6th, Toronto @ Ottawa, 4 p.m.
Friday, November 19th, Ottawa @ Montreal, 7 p.m.
*East Semi-Final — Sunday, November 28th, 1 p.m.
*East Final: Sunday — December 5th, 1 p.m.
*Grey Cup; Sunday — December 12th, 6 p.m.