The Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders kicked off week 13 of the 2021 CFL season on Friday night at TD Place and after a long week for the Ottawa Redblacks which began with the firing of long time general manager Marcel Desjardins, the team fell short at home to the Calgary Stampeders in a 26-13 loss. Ottawa’s loss marks the team’s 10th on the season and now have back to back CFL seasons a double digit number in the loss column, but there continues to be bright spots to the Ottawa Redblacks and things to look forward to for the R-Nation fan base.
In Friday night’s loss, we were able to get another look at 23 year old rookie quarterback Caleb Evans. Despite losing to the Stampeders in his 6th start of his CFL career, one bright spot taken away from the game was that it was the first game since his win over Edmonton in which he hadn’t thrown an interception. Evans made good decisions throughout the evening, throwing the ball away and deciding to take sacks instead of throwing the ball into coverage throwing it into space and once again he was able to use his legs to extend plays as well as drives. He ran for 68 yards on the ground to add to his 173 yards in the air and Caleb Evans was also able to find Kenny Stafford in the end zone for an 11 yard touchdown. The touchdown marks Evans’ 5th passing touchdown on the season and his third to Kenny Stafford. Stafford has now played in 6 games with the Redblacks, 4 home games and has 3 touchdowns at TD Place. The 31 year old receiver has proven to be a good pickup for the offence and is a great veteran presence to play alongside developing receivers RJ Harris, Ryan Davis and Nate Behar.
Caleb Evans found Canadian receiver Nate Behar on 5 occasions against Calgary as well, including one 50 yard gain in a throw on the run, combining for 98 yards on all 5 receptions. The Redblacks’ offence also ran the ball quite well in the first half prior to losing De’Lance Turner to an injury. Turner ran for 55 yards on 13 rushes and caught 2 passes on Friday as he continues to prove himself and make room for himself on the roster moving forward. Ottawa recently signed running back Patrick Carr out of Houston who had 1,546 yards and 10 touchdowns over his collegiate career. There is a chance we see Carr in the lineup at some point in the next two games, or possibly Justin Davis if he returns from injury to see where the running game stands for the 2022 CFL season while Ryan Davis, RJ Harris, Kenny Stafford and Nate Behar continue to make their mark in the pass game.
On the defensive side of the football Avery Williams had yet another great game, making 8 tackles, forcing and recovering a fumble against the Stampeders while defensive backs Brandin Dandridge, Ranthony Texada and Randall Evans each had good performances of their own. Dandridge made a number of plays on the ball, breaking up passes, same with Texada and Randall Evans made 6 tackles from his half back position. One thing that was missing for the Redblacks though, was the pressure on the quarterback. The Redblacks did not get a single sack against the Stampeders and did not win the battle in the trenches. That was a large part of the success that Calgary had on Friday night, Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 242 yards and had just 7 incompletions while his tail back KaDeem Carey ran for 103 and a score. Calgary’s defence had 5 sacks on the night and clearly had an impact on the game, when the Redblacks’ defence finds a way to get to the quarterback consistently and take away the comfort that quarterbacks have in the backfield they will see success, especially with the linebacking crew and secondary they have growing.
Another bright spot from Friday night’s game of course comes from the special teams unit, and it should now be clear league wide that Bob Dyce’s special teams unit in Ottawa is the best in the CFL. Justin Howell continues to make his presence felt on the punt team, making two special teams tackles on 8 Richie Leone punts and kick returner Terry Williams made his mark in place of the injured DeVonte Dedmon. Dedmon is irreplaceable, and without him for two games now that is proven however Terry Williams is making a great first impression on the CFL. He gained 131 yards on 9 returns on Friday, giving him 259 return yards over two games and one thing that has opened the eyes of a number of Redblacks fans is his insane burst of speed when he catches the ball. As soon as the ball is in his hands he is ready to make one break, and depending how long Dedmon is sidelined, Williams may just break one return for a touchdown. If he does indeed do so, that could help solidify himself a spot on next year’s Ottawa Redblacks roster, as we look into the future of the Ottawa Redblacks, having Terry Williams and DeVonte Dedmon back to return kicks and having their speed on the offensive side of the ball can be dangerous to all CFL defences.
The next Redblacks game is next Saturday at home against the Toronto Argonauts and marks the Ottawa Redblacks’ 2021 home finale.