BC Place, where faint playoff hopes go to die

By: Santino Filoso

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The man almost single handedly responsible for killing Ottawa’s playoff chances

Riding high after last week’s huge home win, the Redblacks headed to Vancouver attempting to do something exceedingly rare in Ottawa’s CFL history, win in BC. Unfortunately with their backs against the wall, they laid a complete egg, coming out flat and getting their ass kicked on both sides of the ball.

Pre-Game:

– Just in case you were getting over the fact that Ottawa hasn’t had a CFL team for 17 of the last 20 years, the league’s twitter feed did their best to reopen the wound

– The Redblacks arrive at BC Place in style, after doing a quick grocery run

– In a somewhat surprising move, Ottawa dons their slick black home uniforms on the road for the second time season

– Henry Burris (#1) makes his 200th career start while Keith “I like hitting people” Shologan (#74) makes his 100th

1st Quarter:

– Ottawa receives to start the game and after stringing together a few first downs with strong running from Jonathan “CFL Offensive Player of the Week” Williams  (#23) and a beautiful 28 yard catch from Henry² (Marcus Henry #16),  the drive stalls when Khalil Paden (#13) can’t hang onto a pass that hits him right in the mitts

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– Ex-Redblack and current BC Lion Kevin Glenn hits a wide open Ernest Jackson for a 40 yard gain but goes down hurt as Moton “The Motivator” Hopkins (#95) levels him.  Glenn breaks a nail and comes out of the game for a few plays

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It’s a little known fact but every trainer on BC also doubles as a manicurist

– Former Rough Rider and 12 time grandfather Paul McCallum opens the scoring for BC with a 30 yard FG

– Burris moves the chains three times with catches made by Roy Finch (#19) and Henry² before back to back drops by Marter (Matt Carter #85) force Brett Maher (#3) to punt

– Eddie Elder (#5) lowers the boom as the defence settles down and forces the Lions to go two and out

– Finch looks quick as he busts a 17 yard run and John Delahunt (#49) picks up 18 yards on a beautiful play actions pass

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He got very few chances but when he did get the ball Finch looked as good as advertised

– A catch by Dobson Collins (#80) is wiped out by a holding call and finding himself all alone on the goal line,  a wide open Paden drops a TD. The Redblacks are forced to once again punt

2nd Quarter:

– Heavy pressure forces a quick BC two and out

– Williams picks up 5 and 8 yards on back to back running plays before Wallce Miles (#84) drops a deep pass and Burris is sackedHenry Burris, Cord Parks

– Kanneh Abdul (#14) is flagged for pass interference and BC busts a big run as the Redblacks’ secondary realizes shoulder tackles don’t work.

– A second questionable pass interference call, this time on Jerrell Gavins (#24), moves ball to 1 yard line and is quickly punched in

– Scrambles by Burris, a 26 yard catch by Miles and a 7 yard run by Finch lead to Ottawa’s first points of the day as Maher nails a 34 yard FG

– Sloppy tackling lets BC convert a 1st and 20 before Gavins gets torched by Jackson, allowing him to blow by for a 60 yard TD catch and run

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When your DB is a dozen steps behind the WR, you’re gonna have a bad time

– Ottawa responds by going two and out

– 17-3 for not Ottawa after 30 min

Half-time:

– TSN’s panel fawns over Finch and deep in the bowls of BC Place OC Mike Gibson decides to completely abandon the run

3rd Quarter:

– BC receives and marches down the field and scores a TD as a surgical Glenn shreds Ottawa’s defence, going 7/7 for 82 yards on the drive; apparently he passes the ball as well as he passes the blame for his twitter account being “hacked”

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– Redblacks go two and out as Mike Gibson ignores Williams and Finch

– Ernest Jackson continues to dominate Gavins, making a 40 yard catch that leads to Paul “Granddaddy” McCallum’s second FG of the night

– Henry² makes a 7 yard catch for a 1st down but the ball is spotted 2 yards short, but instead of challenging the Redblacks come out in a weird ass formation before burning a time out and QB sneaking the ball for a 1st down

– A few plays later Marter lets another pass bounce off his hands, forcing a punt

4th Quarter:

– Glenn leads BC on another touchdown drive and I hate him that much more and wonder why I’m not in bed

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– Down 34-3, Burris is pulled and Danny “Boy” O’Brien (#9) enters the game for Ottawa in time to hand off the ball to Williams who quickly picks up 8 yards though once again the drive stalls

– NFL reject John Beck enters the game at QB for the Lions and I mentally zone out as I no longer care

– The comedy of errors continues when a bad snap snails over Maher’s head on 3rd down, leading to a massive loss and setting the Lions up on the Redblack’s 13 yard line. Predictably they score

– O’Brien is picked off but the Lions fumble and the ball is recovered by Scott “Why Am I So Low on the Depth Chart When I Actually Catch the Ball?” Macdonell (#83)

– Nothing else worth mentioning happens

Final score: 41-3 for BC

Key Stats:

Burris went 12 of 21 for 143 yards with 0 TDs and INTs

Williams had 10 carries for 42 yards

Henry² made 3 catches for 52 yards

Travis Brown made 7 tackles

Maher punted 9 times for 343 yards

Closing Thoughts:

While this might not be our most frustrating loss, though we’ve had our fair share of those, it might be our most disappointing, especially after the promise we showed last week. In a game that Ottawa simply had to have and one in which many thought positive momentum from last week would carry over against a banged up Lions squad, the Redblacks simply shit the bed. This was a statement game for Ottawa and they came out without a pulse and proceeded to embarrass themselves and their fans.

On the offensive side of the ball Burris was simply pedestrian, not having a stellar game but also not losing it for his team. As we’ve come to expect, he had a few throws he’d like back but at the same time his receivers dropped a number of easy passes, including a few that could have swung momentum in Ottawa’s favour. Khalil Paden dropped a pass at the goal line and Miles and Marter looked terrible with drops of their own. In an extremely telling stat, no wide receiver made more than two catches, other than Henry² who had a whopping three. The CFL’s reigning offensive player of the week, Jonathan Williams, was MIA though through no fault of his own. You can’t pick up 5 yards at a time (as he was) when you’re never even handed the ball. Newcomer Finch showed good burst and also averaged a healthy yards per carry but was also ignored from the middle of the 2nd quarter on. Williams finished with 10 carries but that’s deceiving as he had two carries to run out the first half and also two in garbage time late in the 4th. Which means that Mike Gibson put the ball in his hands six times when it mattered. Ignoring the run game when playing a strong defence such as BC’s is simply criminal. Looking back the Redblacks will be frustrated as they actually did move the ball early on, but drops and flags killed any chance they had of scoring.

On the other side of the ball, the defence blew, showing no spine and getting pushed around all night long, giving up 548 yards of net offence. The front seven failed to put any kind of pressure on the QB, which allowed Glenn and his band of scrub receivers to torch the secondary. Stats don’t lie; Glenn racked up 345 yards and 3 TDs and completed 74% of his passes. Ernest Jackson alone accounted for 195 of those yards yet the Redblacks never switched their man coverage, even as he continued to haul in gains of 40+ yards. Ottawa’s lost a lot of games this season but it’s rare to see their defence pushed around the way it was last night, they even gave up 170 yards on the ground.

Special teams coverage was fantastic containing the league’s most dangerous returner and Maher made his one FG attempt with ease. Some incredibly weak PI calls helped the Lions sustain a few early drives and lead directly to points but that’s pretty much come to be expected as CFL referees continue to influence games with bad calls.

With the loss the Redblacks season will officially finish their season in Toronto on November 7th. After one brilliant game Mike Gibson was right back to his usual inept and incomprehensible self, ignoring the run game and failing to call plays that play to his players strengths. With the Redblacks now out of the playoff race he should be unemployed ASAP. Head Coach Rick Campbell will have to find a way to motivate his players for the remaining 4 games because they simply cannot have another game like this. Next up is a date with the Ticats at Tim Horton’s Field, where they are currently undefeated. The game will be a real test of the character of the guys on the team, as R-Nation will easily be able to see who mails it in and who still gives it their all. Expectations need to be realistic for an expansion team, but there’s no way fans will tolerate the team laying eggs like this.

@RedBlackGade

P.S.

One thing that drove me nuts last night was the fact that Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor kept mistakenly saying Ottawa didn’t want Glenn and so he was motivated to prove a point, which is completely wrong. As we’ve covered before here on the Defend the R, Glenn wanted the starting job handed to him on a silver platter, despite the fact that Marcel Desjardins said he’d add competition from the day he picked Glenn in the expansion draft. It’s understandable that Glenn felt upset but it’s wrong for anyone to paint him as some wrong done by QB who got his revenge against the team who didn’t want him.

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Recap of the Ottawa Redblacks 2014 Draft

By: Santino Filoso

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On Tuesday night the Redblacks threw the media and their fans a curveball half an hour before the draft when they traded their first ever 1st overall pick and the rights to recently retired OL Marwan Hage to the Calgary Stampeders for 28-year-old divisional all star OL Jon Gott. Last season, Gott played 15 games for the Stamps, 14 at guard and one at centre. Redblacks GM Desjardins justified the move saying:

“Trading for Jon Gott was by far a better option for us than making the first overall selection. Our coaching staff is familiar with Jon as a player and as a person, so we know he’ll be a strong performer and a good teammate. Jon has proven himself to be a reliable, responsible and durable CFL player and we’re happy to have him in the REDBLACKS organization.”

Some people were a bit miffed by the move, but as noted by one of the funniest CFL accounts on twitter:

In all seriousness though, while it would’ve been fun to watch Lavertu blossom into a starter and pancake guys for the next decade, Gott addresses an immediate need and will start from Day One. He’s an experienced all-star with a number of playoff games (including a Grey Cup win) under his belt. Not to mention he’s got the best beard in the league.

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Also for those worried about Hage getting traded back to the Ticats and suddenly unretiring, we’d at least get a conditional pick from the Stamps.

It’s interesting to note that Gott was in Ottawa during the draft, which may mean that this deal was done days ago.

While R-Nation was settling in to wait for the second round Desjardins got rid of a major headache and traded back into the 1st round by dealing QB Kevin Glenn to BC for the Lions’ #5 overall pick.

That pick and the 10th overall selection were promptly flipped to the Montréal Alouettes for the 4th (and 13th) pick, which was used to select DB Antoine Pruneau. Pruneau was the top ranked DB in the draft and thought by some to be the best all-around football player available. He immediately improves Ottawa’s secondary as he’s an effective player who can play safety or corner.

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Managing to trade back into the 1st round at the cost of a disgruntled backup QB can’t be seen as anything other than a coup by Desjardins. I can’t wait to hear R-Nation give Glenn the welcome he deserves when the Lions visit TD Place.

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See ya soon Glenn! At least we’ll always have the expansion draft!

Best of the rest:

– With the 13th pick, the Redblacks selected WR Scott MacDonell, a 6 foot 5 inch 230 pound playmaker. He figures to be a depth player at this point but could blossom into a serious threat.

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– At 23rd overall the Redblacks took DL Nigel Romick. At 6’5″, weighing 242 pounds and running a 4.72 in the 40 yard dash he figures to be a key special teamer.

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– The 28th player picked in the draft was 6’5″, 295 pounder OL Aaron Wheaton 

– Redblacks finally drafted a Laval OL at 37, only he was named Hugo Desmarais (6’6″, 305 pounds) and not Lavertu. 

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– DL Stephon Miller from Windsor came off the board at 46

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– Laval DL Vincent Desloges, McGill LB Alexandre Bernard and McMaster LS Kevin Malcolm were taken in the 7th round

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To sum up, the Redblacks made a real splash in their first-ever CFL Canadian Draft, with three trades in the first round, adding an all-star in Gott and a blue-chip prospect in Pruneau who can step in and play meaningful snaps right away. At the same time Desjardins was able to flip depreciating assets Hage and Glenn for a positive return. The Redblacks draft focused on the trenches as they needed to build Canadian depth. And while they can’t sit comfortably yet, they’ve put in place a solid foundation.

CLASS OF 2013

In addition to today’s trades and picks, it’s worth remembering that the Redblacks participated in the CFL’s 2013 draft, selecting four Canadian NCAA redshirt juniors (i.e. players still having a year of NCAA eligibility remaining) at the end of each of the first four rounds. With those picks the Redblacks selected Nolan MacMillan (OL), Connor “The Barbarian” Williams (DE), Kalonji Kashama (DE) and Tyler Digby (TE). These players are now all available to join the Redblacks for their inaugural training camp at the start of next month, though they may not all be there.

While Kashama, MacMillan and Williams all went undrafted during last week’s NFL Draft, it looks like Kashama has received an invite to Detroit Lions rookie mini-camp and the others may yet get camp invites of their own. Redblacks GM Desjardins has indicated that he is willing to be patient with his 2013 picks, saying:

“It’s the NFL dream, you can’t force your will on them. We anticipate if the process has run its course, they’ll probably be relatively eager to sign with us. We haven’t gotten into any serious dollar discussions with anybody. It’s not to that point yet.

The true wildcard of this group though is Vancouver Stealth’s lacrosse forward Tyler Digby. Since being drafted by the Redblacks, Digby was selected 20th overall in the National Lacrosse League draft and has enjoyed an impressive rookie season, scoring 22 goals and 58 points in 18 games. The Stealth are expecting Digby back next year and it’s not known if the Redblacks would be willing to let him be to a two-sport athlete. Things get even more complicated when you factor in that Digby’s natural position is TE, one rarely used by most CFL teams.

As training camp draws near, the Redblacks are better now than they were yesterday and if they can get one or two of their 2013 picks signed in time for camp it would be the cherry on top of a successful 2014 draft.

@RedblackGade

Redblacks QB NON-troversy

By: Santino Filoso

Talk about the kind of press the Redblacks didn’t need. On Feb. 11th, just hours into CFL Free Agency, a couple of angry messages came from Ottawa QB Kevin Glenn’s Twitter account:

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Shortly after the tweets went out, Glenn claimed his account was hacked. The offending tweets were also eventually deleted.

Believe what you like, but it appears Glenn simply committed a social media faux pas and accidentally tweeted something that was meant to be a direct message (DM).

Not exactly the kind of news Ottawa wanted to make on opening day of free agency. The Redblacks subsequently took a lot of (unwarranted) heat for how they have treated Glenn to date, warranted or not. There is definitely more than one school of thought, but let’s take a look at the facts (as I see them, anyway):

1. In Glenn, the Redblacks took the best QB available in the expansion draft.

2. Had Henry Burris been released before the expansion draft things would’ve played out much differently.

3. You cannot fault Redblacks GM Marcel Desjardins for trying to improve the team in adding a QB like Burris, a sure-fire Hall of Famer coming off a Grey Cup appearance. That’s his job.

4. Desjardins probably shouldn’t have anointed Burris the starter at his introductory presser. Some things are best left implied.

5. Glenn woke up the morning the Redblacks signed Burris to find out he’d gone from being a starter to a backup and trade bait.

6. With that said, Glenn was not told he wouldn’t be challenged, ever. Glenn has been around the block long enough to know better.

7. You can’t blame Glenn for being sour; Pro football is a cut-throat business, but these guys are human beings too.

8. While it’s easy to understand why Glenn is upset, for him to let it slip in public is unacceptable, especially on the opening day of Free Agency.

As mentioned, Glenn quickly denied any wrong-doing with the “I’ve been hacked” defense, as below.

On an unrelated note, Glenn’s dog also ate his homework… and playbook.

Some local reporters gave Glenn the benefit of the doubt, but Twitter wasn’t buying it.

I suppose the biggest unknown in all of this is what Glenn may or may not have been promised by Redblacks brass. Seems really unlikely that assurances of a starting job were given. The following comes from the Globe and Mail report on the Expansion Draft:

Although he now has Glenn and DeMarco in tow, Desjardins said he’ll be active in free agency to land other quarterbacks. Toronto’s Zach Collaros, Saskatchewan’s Drew Willy, Hamilton’s Henry Burris and Edmonton’s Matt Nichols are all slated to become free agents in February.

“There’s a couple of good options out there and we’re certainly going to pursue those,” he said. “There’s no reason why we can’t be aggressive in that area.

“We’ve got a veteran, (that) doesn’t mean we can’t add another one. We have a young guy, (that) doesn’t mean we can’t add another. There’s three or four obvious guys out there and we’ll certainly reach out to all of them when the time comes.”

Not sure how much clearer that could be…

Though he might still be upset, Glenn’s best bet is to bide his time. If he ends up staying with Ottawa at some point he’ll get playing time. It’s almost unheard of for a single QB to play an entire season. Or maybe another team loses their starter to a significant injury and the Redblacks feel comfortable enough with DeMarco’s growth to trade Glenn.

As it currently stands, the Redblacks are blessed to have two great QBs in their inaugural season, a luxury the Renegades were denied. They’ve arguably got the strongest depth at QB of any team in the CFL with Burris, Glenn and DeMarco. Good QBs in the CFL are what good goalies are to NHL teams; you can never have too many of them.

In my opinion, this whole episode is a whole lot of fuss about nothing. It’s not as if a player never mis-used social media before. And it certainly isn’t the first time a starter was supplanted by a free agent signing. Glenn should be enough of a pro not to let this kind of thing happen again, and besides, he’s only a play away from being “the guy”.

@RedBlackGade