Paul LaPolice considered pulling Matt Nichols vs. B.C. after offence’s ‘unacceptable’ start to season

The Ottawa Redblacks struggled on offence again in Saturday’s 24-12 loss to the B.C. Lions, which led Paul LaPolice to consider pulling quarterback Matt Nichols late in the game.

“Certainly late in that game, but we’ll evaluate,” LaPolice told TSN 1200 post-game. “We have a lot of things to evaluate after three games, what we can do better as an offence because this is unacceptable.”

Nichols completed 23-of-37 pass attempts for 206 yards and an interception in Ottawa’s home-opener and has yet to throw a touchdown pass through three games this season.

“We were moving the ball, we felt, but we’re not creating explosive plays,” said LaPolice. “We’re just not executing well enough and when you don’t get an explosive play, it’s hard to score touchdowns.”

Ottawa’s offence is dead-last in many key statistical categories this season, including yards per game (198.7), points per game (10.7), passing yards per game (151.0), passing yards per attempt (5.6), rushing yards per game (63.3), rushing yards per attempt (3.8), and sacks allowed (13).

The Redblacks have scored just one offensive touchdown this season, which came on a three-yard carry by DeVonte Dedmon in Week 3’s loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“I think we’re close, but we have to create our own explosives and we also have to finish in the end zone,” said LaPolice. “We need more points. Certainly you’ve gotta make sure you can get your sevens.”

Ottawa has been criticized for being conservative on offence this season and not pushing the ball deep down the field through the air. LaPolice said that passing plays are designed with the option of going deep, though it ultimately depends on how the opposition chooses to defend those plays.

“I wouldn’t say we’re not going to take big shots. It depends sometimes on where the coverage is and how things break down from the coverage standpoint. You have deep shots called on each thing. If they’re in zone, you have opportunities. If they’re in man, sometimes you don’t,” said LaPolice.

Nichols recognizes that he and the rest of the offence need to get better moving forward if the Redblacks hope to improve on their 1-2 record.

“All of us need to be better, get back to work, and I think we’re still taking steps in the right direction. This was a step up from last week and that’s what you want, but obviously felt like we had some good opportunities. We were marching the ball and just not finishing off drives — not good enough,” said the veteran quarterback.

“We just need to find a way to make some more plays. Whether that’s me putting the ball down the field more or us breaking some more tackles and creating some explosive plays, the opportunities are there for us. We just need to keep working hard and those things will start to show up. I think everyone takes these losses personally and what can they do better, I know I do,” he said.

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