After throwing for 191 yards and 3 scores while rushing for 59 yards in his professional football debut last week against the Edmonton Elks, Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Caleb Evans was given a lot of praise. The 23 year old impressed the entire CFL with his debut and he was on track to have a similar performance in his second start against the Toronto Argonauts, getting off to a great start, connecting with his receivers and even establishing quite the run game himself early on in the game but soon found himself making a few rookie mistakes, which is expected early on in a quarterback’s career. Evans still surpassed the 300 yard marker against the Argonauts, finding receivers Ryan Davis, RJ Harris, Anthony Coombs and Kenny Stafford on a number of occasions, having a total 23 completions over the four quarters. He also ran for 54 yards on 6 scrambling attempts but the yards didn’t impact the game as much as the three interceptions thrown, including two pick sixes. The first of the two defensive touchdowns came on a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage, not Evans’ fault by any means, however the other pick six and interception came on bad reads, which considering he is just 23 years old and was making his second career start is okay. Caleb Evans, like all young quarterbacks is expected to make some mistakes and make questionable reads, it was just a matter of time before he made them and now he will learn from them.
Fortunately, he can learn from his mistakes with some help. A great coaching staff led by Paul LaPolice and Steve Walsh on the offensive side of the football know what they are doing in this league and adding player help from veteran quarterbacks Matt Nichols and Dominique Davis to the list, Evans is in a perfect position with the Ottawa Redblacks where he will be able to rebound from a bad game against the Argonauts. His next game will come on Monday in Montreal where the Redblacks and Alouettes will kickoff for the second of four times this season. The last game against the Alouettes, Dominique Davis threw for two scores and ran for one. Ottawa’s thanksgiving Monday matchup will look to be a big test for the young quarterback but he and his offence will not be doing it all alone against the Alouettes. Mike Benevides’ defence and Bob Dyce’s special teams unit combine together to be the best help in the CFL for Caleb Evans and demonstrated that once again against the Argonauts on Wednesday night.
Other than a 63 yard score from explosive running back DJ Foster, the Argonauts offence, which pre-season was given a lot of praise was shut down by the Redblacks’ defence. They were held to just 253 total yards and had three forced turnovers, one block punt, one fumble and a turnover on downs. Both the special teams and defensive units kept the Redblacks in it throughout the game when the offence had it’s struggles and will continue to do so as they move forward with the season. Keep all eyes on defensive stars Abdul Kanneh, Avery Ellis, Micah Awe, Don Unamba and Davon Coleman as the Redblacks move on with their season, looking to get into the win column once again with help from Benevides’ defence.
One part of the Redblacks’ game plan that will need to improve moving forward though would come on the offensive side of the ball in the run game. Caleb Evans has been killing it over the last two games, throwing for over 500 yards and rushing for an additional 113, and while he continues to progress and develop as a quarterback in the CFL he will need help in the run game. Consistent 5+ yard runs and big plays on the ground can make a major difference in an offence and for a young quarterback with limited professional experience, it is clearly needed for Caleb Evans in the Redblacks offence but the run game, other than the plays he makes himself are next to non existent. Running back Timothy Flanders has made some plays here and there this season, including a great receiving touchdown a week ago against the Elks, he’s had a few 10+ yard carries to extend drives but it is clear that this Redblacks offence needs more of that. Flanders will need to get more touches to help the Redblacks’ offence pick up more first downs and drive the ball down the field easier for Caleb Evans, or perhaps they can use one of their other running backs, De’Lance Turner or Justin Davis in addition to Flanders. It is a perfect opportunity for a 1-2 punch in this Redblacks’ offence if they are able to make it work with the Canadian ratio. Both DeVonte Dedmon and Anthony Coombs have been able to take snaps at running back previously and may also be included more to establish the run game, but if that run game works and they are able to gain more than 100 yards and get consistent first downs using the run game the Redblacks have the opportunity to make some big plays this season, there is indeed 6 games left on the schedule and there may be an opportunity to get into the playoffs with other teams across the league struggling still.