The Journey: reviewing episode three of Behind the R

Screengrab courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks

The third episode of Behind the R captures the viewers attention from the jump.

Canadian receiver Nate Behar opens front and centre and when asked how he feels about the last season, he responds that the only thing that really needs to be said is that at one point, he was under centre.

It’s a startling reminder of just how absurd the Ottawa Redblacks’ 2021 campaign was.

From Behar’s response we immediately cut to a shot of players cussing and shouting, heading into the locker room following yet another loss. It’s interesting to note that the entire episode is uncensored, so if you’re easily offended just use your mind to bleep out the colourful language.

For everyone else, the unfiltered emotion is a reminder that as much as R-Nation was frustrated — and they were incredibly frustrated — players and staff were even more pissed off. The musical strings in the background do an excellent job of adding to, and building tension in Behar’s opening monologue.

Before continuing on with this review, I want to take a minute to say that OSEG would be smart to continue to feature Behar and allow him to show off his strong personality. Be it taking over the team’s Twitter account during the Super Bowl or the articles he’s written on everything from racial injustice to the CFL’s relationship with its players, the Carleton alum is an interesting guy with tons of charisma.

Following the opening scene, the episode cuts to head coach Paul LaPolice chatting with new quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. As the two cut up tape and review game film, just as he did in Episode Two, LaPolice mentions to his quarterback that his main job is providing hope for the building, which will come naturally as a result of his good play.

As they look at film, running back William Powell joins them, presumably because he lives in Ottawa and wants to get a jump on the playbook. His brief speech on winning-minded people and determination is Powell’s series debut.

Speaking of first appearances, big cliché guy and arguably the best punter in the league Richie Leone makes a brief appearance, along with defensive back Sherrod Baltimore, who mentions he wishes that it was possible to fast-forward to training camp. Surely many in the nation’s capital share that sentiment.

Much of the episode revolves around LaPolice going over some of Ottawa’s biggest free agent additions, but what stood out to me is when he talks about how crucial it was for the Redblacks to retain their special teams core before free agency kicked off.

LaPolice notes that locking up Leone, kicker Lewis Ward, long snapper Louis-Philippe Bourassa, Nigel Romick, Kene Onyeka, Brendan Gillanders, Marco Dubois and Shaheed Salmon was huge for his squad.

And he’s right. Special teams are too often overlooked by fans, but getting strong special teams play is an integral part of any winning team’s success. As ugly as things have gotten at times in the past few seasons, Bob Dyce’s special teams units have never been anything less than stellar. Obviously losing DeVonte Dedmon to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins hurts, but 2022 should be another strong year for Dyce’s group.

Overall this episode of Behind the R lacks some of the in-depth access we saw in the previous two videos — there’s no general manager phone calls or texts, no raw Zoom meeting footage between OSEG Partners or cool wall signs — but there’s still a taste of it in the form of Dubois addressing the team at practice and when we learn LaPolice is a plant at his desk kind of guy.

Screengrab courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks

Behind the R is the brainchild of Josh O’Connor, a video dude and content creator for OSEG — and much like F1’s Drive to Survive — takes fans behind the curtain to show what goes down in the team’s front office. Click here for a review of Episode One and here for a review of Episode Two.

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).