Ottawa Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins had a pointed message for anyone betting on his team to finish last in the CFL once the 2021 season is completed.
Bodog Canada set the win total for his team and it’s the lowest of any franchise in the three-down league at 3.5. That line seems to have been influenced largely by the Redblacks CFL-worst 3-15 record in 2019. Desjardins had a stern warning for any bettors placing a wager on the under.
“You’re free to put your money down so you can lose it — we’ll prove you wrong,” Desjardins said on a videoconference.
Ottawa ranked last in the CFL in nearly every major offensive category the last time football was played, including points scored at 17.3 per game. That was a main reason why Desjardins hired Paul LaPolice to be the Redblacks head coach. The man more affectionately known as “LaPo” has been tasked with making the offence actually offensive.
“We’re going to focus on the things that we think successfully wins football games, teach those things, put players in positions to make plays and those things take care of themselves,” LaPolice said.
“The people who will make the most difference in our success are going to be the players in the room and the coaches. If we play better than the opponent, we’ll win. If we don’t play better than them, we’ll lose. I have high expectations for this year.”
LaPolice admitted he didn’t know what “Bodog Canada” is, but he’s been in situations as a bench boss with Winnipeg when the Blue Bombers were picked to finish last in the East Division. In 2010, the blue and gold finished 4-14, which was the worst record in the league. The next year LaPolice and his Bombers produced a 10-8 mark, placing first in the East while making a Grey Cup appearance.
“I’ve been in situations as a head coach previously with a team that was picked last in the East and won first in the East. The noise outside the building is irrelevant to us,” LaPolice said.
“That’s why you play the game,” quarterback Matt Nichols said. “We’re focused on who is in this building and what we want to do on the field this year.”
LaPolice was hired as the Redblacks bench boss in December 2019. He had spent the past four seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Blue Bombers. Winnipeg’s offence flourished under LaPolice, helping the team earn four consecutive playoff berths along with a Grey Cup victory in 2019.
Nichols was with the offensive guru for the last four years in the Manitoba capital and the pair have joined forces with Desjardins in Ottawa to try and rebuild the Redblacks reputation.