With general manager Marcel Desjardins being let go by the Ottawa Redblacks on October 25th, some final thoughts (posted earlier this week on Twitter) on why it happened and where the franchise goes from here.
First off, as much as this was absolutely the right decision for the franchise, there’s no celebration here for a guy losing his job. These guys aren’t millionaires and getting fired always sucks.
In the end, it was Desjardins’ decision after the 2018 season not to prioritize replacing the ‘four-headed monster’ of Trevor Harris, William Powell, Greg Ellingson and SirVincent Rogers with suitable talent that did him in. Simply too much talent lost too quickly.
Few teams could be expected to absorb such losses at marquee positions without taking a big step backwards. In Ottawa’s case, it was a massive step. The swagger from the Grey Cup teams gone overnight, and casual fan interest dropped off noticeably.
It’s very odd, looking back, that Desjardins strayed from building his teams around an elite QB. Winning in the CFL is nearly impossible without one, not to mention the recruiting aspect a big name brings.
The Nick Arbuckle signing looked to be a renewed focus on winning, but the subsequent decision to let him go prior to this season felt like a GM that was either second-guessing himself or lost control. Either way, a confidence-killer.
Desjardins can’t really be blamed for the retirements that contributed to this awful season. But the fact remains the roster was already deficient. Too much had to go right for this team to even compete for a playoff spot. That’s not how you build winning programs.
Ottawa football fans absolutely owe a debt to Desjardins for what he accomplished here, but change had to happen – and probably should have happened a season ago. By the sounds of Desjardins on Monday, he was probably ready for a change of scenery too.
The good news is that there are lots of nice pieces to build around with this Redblacks roster, in spite of its shortcomings. But finding an answer at QB and rebuilding the OLine are obviously critical in returning to competitiveness.
My hope for the next Redblacks GM is someone with CFL front office experience, though not necessarily GM experience. There appear to be a number of great candidates out there, which helps. The speculation will be fun to watch.
Thanks for reading!