Poor Play Calling Dooms Redblacks

By: Santino Filoso

In their first home game in over a month the Ottawa Redblacks found another way to lose in front of a full house. TD Place was sold out for the 6th straight time but Mike “3rd & 1 Shotgun Run” Gibson’s poor play calling lead directly to the Redblacks’ 9th straight loss, dropping their record to 1-11 on the year and effectively eliminating them from playoff contention.


– Once again R-Nation packed TD Place

– Much like TDs at home this season, a manufacturing fail meant that the plaids helmets were still missing in action. On a related note it turns out they’re being produced by same company that was in charge of building Tim Hortons field

– Fans arriving early at TD Place are treated to first class entertainment

– The South Side finally wins an in stadium challenge

1st Quarter:

– Redblacks receive but go two and out when Jeremiah Johnson (#27) drops a pass over the middle, after promising to never drop a pass over the middle

– Jovon Jonhson (#2) lets a pick six slip through his fingers

– Duane Ford calls the Redblacks the Renegades

– A screen that looks like it will go for days is snuffed out when OL Nolan MacMillan (#66) whiffs on an open field block

– Keeping it conservative the Redblacks punt on the ensuing 3rd and 1

– Jasper “Sticky Fingers” Simmons (#31) picks off Crompton for his team leading 3rd interception

– FB Patrick Lavoie (#81) drops a pass, Ottawa’s 2nd drop in as many drives but is saved by the flag when Montreal gets called for illegal contact

– A Wallace Miles (#84) catch + good running by Johnson and Henry Burris (#1) + a 15 yard flag for facemasking = 1st and goal on the 1 for the Redblacks

– The offensive line fails to get any kind of push on two consecutive QB sneaks, letting Burris get crushed in the backfield

– A run out of shotgun on 3rd and 1 gets stuffed for a huge loss. Positive takeaway from the play is that Montreal was offside, negative is Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) getting flagged for unnecessary roughness after the play

Montreal Alouettes v Ottawa RedBlacks
Who knew “Fear the Beard” also applied to his own team?

– Ottawa regains some ground with a Khalil Paden (#13) catch before Burris overthrows Henry² (Marcus Henry #16)  who stopped running in the end zone

Montreal Alouettes v Ottawa RedBlacks

– Faced with 3rd and 1 again and with the play calling stuck on repeat a run out of shotgun goes nowhere and adding insult to injury Johnson is hurt on the play; 9 plays in the redzone result in 0 points

2nd Quarter:

– Abdul Kanneh (#14) picks off Crompton for Ottawa’s second turnover of the game

– It’s now the Jonathan Williams (#23) show as he picks up a first down with a run and a catch

– The offensive line fails to protect Burris who is sacked and striped by Bear Woods. The ensuing fumble is recovered by DL Aaron Lavarias who smartly teams up with Chip Cox, handing the ball off for an 85 yard TD

Not enough plaid in this picture

– Carlton “Banks” Mitchell (#88) seems to set the Redblacks up inside the 5 yard line following a deep catch, but a weak holding call on Colin Kelly (#67) wipes out the gain

– Kanneh is flagged for pass interference, gifting the Alouettes 43 yards

Montreal Alouettes v Ottawa RedBlacks

– Sean Whyte’s 14 yard FG makes it 10-0

– Redblacks piece together a promising drive featuring catches by Henry², Miles, Michtell and Scott Macdonell (#83)

– After the Redblacks convert their first 3rd and 1 of the night on a QB sneak, Williams scampers 23 yards for the first TD at TD Place since August 2nd

Montreal Alouettes v Ottawa RedBlacks

– The logging team’s chainsaw is rusted and seized from inactivity so no wood cookie for R-Nation faithful at TD Place, we also learn that apparently fireworks go off when we score TDs

 – Montreal goes two and out to end the half holding a 10-7 lead


– Two thirds of the TSN panel absolves Burris of blame for Ottawa’s poor offensive showing, instead point the finger at his supporting cast

3rd Quarter:

– Als get a big return and start from their 45

– Brandyn Thompson (#25) nearly picks off Crompton

– Montreal extends their lead when Whyte punts the ball 54 yards through the end zone for a rouge

– Two runs by Williams set up a 3rd and 1 for the Redblacks. Burris draws the Als offside but Ottawa is flagged for a false start and forced to punt


– Kanneh leaves SJ Green wide open and a 1st down ensues

– Zack Evans (#92) gets a mitt on Crompton’s pass and nearly picks it off

– Whyte crushses a punt 65 yards for another rouge

– Under heavy pressure Burris throws to the drone hovering high over the field, leading to a two and out

– Strong tackling forces another two and out


– The Redblacks drive ends when Burris overthrows an open Paden

– Despite dropping the snap Brett Maher (#3) recovers to get off a 50 yard punt

– Montreal moves the chains a few times before the defence stiffens up and forces a punt

4th Quarter:

– Marter (Matt Carter #85) finally dares to show his face after his week 8 fumble against the Esks

– Whyte’s 16 yard FG makes it an 8 point game

– Chip Cox continues to terrorize Ottawa, sacking Burris and forcing the Redblacks to punt

– Jamill Smith fields the punt and runs East to West before being brought down for a short gain…..as always

– Burris gets sandwiched, face masked, triple teamed and pile driven into the turf

– With Burris hurt Danny “Birthday Boy” O’Brien (#9) steps in at the helm for the Redblacks, he’s not the hero we need but the one we deserve

– Rod Black calls TD Place TV Place and laughs at his own mistake

– O’Brien completes a 4 yard pass, setting up 3rd and 1. With 2:36 left in the game and down by 8, R-Nation prays Gibson won’t call a shotgun run but of course he does and of course it goes absolutely nowhere

– Though the game should be over apparently no one tells the defence as they shut the door on the Als and force another two and out


– Showing a lof of heart, Burris shrugs off his injury to lead the Redblacks on one last drive

– Things get off to a promising start when Paden makes a 20 yard catch before Miles gets plastered by Chip Cox on a 13 yard catch; full credit to him for hanging onto the ball

– Flushed from the pocket Burris scrambles for a 10 yard gain and on the next play hits a wide open Marter for another 20 yards

– Atoning for his earlier drop Lavoie makes a 14 yard catch bring the ball down to Montreal’s 7 yard line with 2 seconds left on the clock

– Chaos reigns supreme as WRs struggle to get lined up, while Burris is trying to organize them Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) snaps the ball to Burris’ ankles, leading to a sack and killing the play before it even starts

– Redblacks go out with a whimper and R-Nation leaves TD Place extremely frustrated and disappointed

Final score: 15-7 for the team not wearing plaid

Key Stats:

Burris completed 25 of 32 passes for 253 yards with no TDs or INTs

Williams had 12 carries for 59 yards and 1 TD

Paden made 5 catches for 52 yards

Maher punted 8 times for 367 yards

Eddie Elder (#5) and Antoine Pruneau (#6) made 6 tackles each

Closing Thoughts:

Ottawa’s 9th straight loss was once again a frustrating one. On a night when they had to win to have any shot at making the playoffs, the Redblacks failed to take advantage of another strong defensive effort. While the offence was able to move the ball and string together a few first downs, poor pass protection and horrid play calling let another win slip away. Burris had a strong night especially when you consider the pressure he faced and the fact that he completed 78% of his passes (plus the drops) Williams had a strong game stepping in for the injured Johnson but what will be remembered about the run game is the offensive line’s inability to get a single yard….five times. The Redblacks faced 3rd and 1 six times and went a pathetic 1-6. Three times the Redblacks ran out of shotgun on 3rd and 1 and got stuffed. Mike “3rd & 1 Shotgun Run” Gibson’s baffling play calling left fans and players alike frustrated. It’s the OC’s job to put his players in a position to succeed, and running out of shotgun when you need a single yard is not setting his players up for success.


The offensive line had a bad game and struggled to give Burris any kind of time; he was hit on nearly every pass completion and was forced to scramble each time he dropped back to pass. The one positive that we can take away from the offence tonight is that Paden and Macdonell both looked really good. Watching Macdonell make tough catches over the middle and catching everything thrown at him makes you wonder where he’s been all season.

On the defensive side of the ball things were pretty much back to normal. After being gorged by the GREENWHITES in last week’s loss, the defence was back to it’s stingy ways, holding Montreal to 2 FGs and 2 rouges. This loss is the 4th time the Redblacks have held a team out of the end zone this season and lost, that’s gotta be some kind of CFL record. With two picks the defence did everything it could to secure the win, short of scoring.

Brett Maher continued to kick well, averaging 46 yards a punt against one of the league’s most dangerous returners. Jamill Smith’s routine of catching the ball and waiting for his blocks to set up, or running laterally while looking for openings is extremely ineffective. He plays with a lot of toughness for a guy his size but I honestly can’t remember him having any kind of memorable return at all this season.

While they’re mathematically alive, losing to Montreal is the nail in the coffin in terms of our playoff chances. This was a game the Redblacks HAD to have but unfortunately the team found another way to lose it.  Mike “3rd & 1 Shotgun Run” Gibson is going to take a lot of heat this week, and justifiably so. It’ll be very interesting to see if Head Coach Rick Campbell gives into pressure and finally sends him packing; though growing pains are to be expected, someone needs to be held accountable right? Up next the for the Redblacks is a home date with the slumping Bombers. Hopefully the Redblacks can build off their positives (a strong defence, a good kicking game, WRs like Macdonell) and finally reward their home fans for their patience with a big win.


3 thoughts on “Poor Play Calling Dooms Redblacks

  1. Great article! Did the Redblacks take a single offensive snap not in the shotgun? Really question the offensive game plan, play calling, creativity. When Montreal got into trouble with their offense they sent out flares and brought in a lot of help, not saying we should bring in a whole bunch of guys, but maybe a veteran CFL coach to help out on offense.

    I also agree we need a new returner, love Jamill’s toughness, but he is not effective! Playing receiver he did the same thing at the end of the game. In what is a common team error, he stopped at 9.5 yards. Given our ongoing difficulty in getting a yard, they need to correct this as well.

    Fans have been great, but the team needs to put up some points at home, big exodus well before the game was over (to be fair that just might be part of living in Ottawa).

  2. Man totally agree, the play calling sucks. The honeymoon is over and why is it with a couple of minutes left the offence seems to be able to march down the field only to have something happen and turn the ball over. Let Henry call his plays with some help from a new OC. I am sure he knows what play to call given the situation.

    Again great recap R2.

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