The Ottawa Redblacks opened up the 2021 CFL season with a big win. They shocked the entire league and those around it in a 16-12 win over the Edmonton Elks who came into the season looking like one of the league’s top competitors led by former Redblacks’ QB Trevor Harris but since then they have lived up to the expectations set for them during the off-season and pre-season. Those expectations were that they were going to struggle again like they did in 2019 when they went 3-15. Ottawa didn’t quite start out the season as bad as they finished last season, going 1-15 to close out the final 16 games of 2019, however 0-4 is a bad losing streak and Redblacks fans have began to move on to the 2021 NHL season and cheer on the city’s Ottawa Senators but the Redblacks have not even thought about moving on from the 2021 CFL season.
During their second bye week of the 2021 CFL season the Ottawa Redblacks broke headlines. They signed former NFL receiver Terrance Williams just a day after their 45-13 loss to the B.C Lions. Williams who has over 3,000 receiving yards with the Dallas Cowboys to his name was signed by Ottawa alongside 5 others including veteran CFL receiver Kenny Stafford who is known from his time with the Edmonton Football Team and running back De’Lance Turner from Alcorn State that same day. The Redblacks’ front office led by general manager Marcel Desjardins had then brought in quarterback Devlin Hodges the following weekend to close out the week 7 bye. Devlin Hodges, known as “Duck” because of his infamous duck calling abilities started at quarterback for Samford University, throwing for well over 14,000 yards and 111 touchdowns while even rushing for 300+ yards and 8 touchdowns in his senior season with Samford. The time spent at Samford was also spent with Redblacks’ linebacker Shaheed Salmon who came to the Redblacks in 2019 while Hodges moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers after signing with them and eventually taking over for both Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph, starting 6 games for the Steelers, throwing for over 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns and leading the team to a 3-3 record under himself. Hodges became a free agent after the 2020 NFL season was spent on the Steelers’ practice roster, played the 2021 NFL pre-season with the Los Angeles Rams, tried out for a few teams including both the Patriots and Giants in the NFL and has now found himself signing a 3-year contract with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks.
Hodges, Williams, Stafford and the others signed by the Redblacks’ including offensive lineman Trevon Tate who was signed on Monday may not make a big impact on the 2021 Ottawa Redblacks. That should be clear for everyone watching the Redblacks because some of these players brought in will now have to learn the entire Canadian football game midway through a CFL season and are essentially being thrown into a fire which has already been lit over the past 5 games of the Ottawa Redblacks’ 2021 CFL season, but with that being said each of the moves are great moves by the organization moving forward. Both Kenny Stafford and Terrance Williams are experienced wide receivers. Stafford has a great CFL career to look back on while Williams looks back at 6 seasons spent with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Tony Romo. They both are well known in professional football circles and are bound to impact the 2021 Ottawa Redblacks receiving core, whether that be on the field making plays or mentoring the young talent within the organization. The 2021 Redblacks have 24 year old Ryan Davis, 25 year old DeVonte Dedmon, Daniel Petermann and 26 year old Nate Behar, Jordan Smallwood and Wesley Lewis at the receiver position along with young 25 and 26 year old Justin Davis and De’Lance Turner at running back who all have plenty of potential and having some veteran guys like Stafford and Williams to add to what is already there with R.J Harris, Brendan Gilanders and Timothy Flanders at the playmaker positions can only help these guys improve and have success moving forward in their careers. Bringing in a 25 year old quarterback in Devlin Hodges for 3 years, it is clear that Desjardins and his team is looking at the future and are now making moves that can not only help the future of this Ottawa Redblacks team but also help them in the present as they look to win back to back home games starting this Wednesday against the Tiger Cats and then again versus the Elks next Tuesday.
It is not confirmed whether or not any of the newcomers will dress for the week 8 matchup against the Tiger-Cats as Hodges remains in his 7 day quarantine after making the trip to Ottawa on Saturday and the others have just begun practicing with their new team but this will definitely be a hungry Ottawa Redblacks team that R-Nation will have eyes on at TD Place on Wednesday night. Expect to see quarterback Dominique Davis to have a big bounce back game after losing his first start of the season on the road to the B.C Lions. In just 7 quarters of football Davis has thrown for over 620 yards and 3 scores, beating out Nichols’ 476 yards in 4 starts. He has had an easy time moving the ball for the Redblacks, finding targets Nate Behar, Ryan Davis, RJ Harris and Daniel Petermann a number of times alongside the rest of the Redblacks committee at receiver and against the 3-3 Hamilton Tiger-Cats who they have yet to play this season Davis should repeat himself in the air and throw for another good game under centre while playmakers DeVonte Dedmon, RJ Harris, Ryan Davis and Nate Behar continue to move the chains with help from Petermann, Coombs and Flanders that had good outings in B.C in week 6.
To get points on the board and stop the Cats from doing the same, Paul LaPolice and his coaching staff will have to incorporate a lot of versatility into the play calling against the Ti-Cats. The only Redblacks win this season was a “boring” game. Ending in a 16-12 Redblacks win the game was missing the big plays, except for an Abdul Kanneh interception return for a touchdown which the Redblacks have been missing out on since. Ottawa will need to add in some electricity for the Redblacks’ and the fans at TD Place to gain momentum early on in Wednesday’s game. That would include feeding the receiver trio of Anthony Coombs, DeVonte Dedmon and Ryan Davis as much as possible on the offensive side of the ball, getting to the Ti-Cats’s quarterback consistently, sticking to the Tiger Cats’s talented receiving core and winning the special teams game. Each of these strategies have helped the Ottawa Redblacks stay in games and even win the opener against the Elks early on this season and if they are put into the game plan on Wednesday night at TD Place and the game plans moving forward this season the Redblacks will be able to stay contenders and possibly make their ways to the top of the eastern division which has seen their own ups and downs this season with the Hamilton Tiger Cats and Toronto Argonauts at the top of the division with a 3-3 record.
Ottawa will still be without both Abdul Kanneh and Sherrod Baltimore on the defensive side of the ball but will be with Brendan Gillanders for the first time of the season at running back and on special teams alongside DeVonte Dedmon who missed the last Redblacks’ game against the B.C Lions on the road. The additions to the lineup should help the Redblacks out and although the lineup is yet to be confirmed the Redblacks’ may be playing against a Tiger-Cats team with David Watford under centre and without Brandon Banks and Bralon Addison at receiver which may help Mike Benevides’ defence. Stay tuned as the Ottawa Redblacks will have one practice on Tuesday and are set to kickoff against the Tiger-Cats on Wednesday night at TD Place, looking to go 2-4 and put the Ti-Cats at 3-4.