Throughout the 2021 CFL season, the Ottawa Redblacks have been in games. They have had leads at half-time, or stayed kept the majority of games within one possession a number of times, proving time after time that they can indeed play in this league, no matter what the people from the outside say. One thing that the team has struggled with this season though, has been making adjustments. Those leads, and those close games all fell a part because the team they were playing was making adjustments towards the game plan of the Ottawa Redblacks while the Redblacks themselves were not.
Seven of the Ottawa Redblacks’ 11 losses on the 2021 CFL season were in games where the Redblacks either had leads or were within one possession at half-time. If they were to have finished those games how they started them, with some adjustments they would be on top of the CFL’s eastern division with a 10-4 record. Yes, it is a lot of “what ifs” now that you look back on the 2021 season for the Ottawa Redblacks, but outside of the trouble on the offensive line this season and the inconsistency from the play on both sides of the football, this Redblacks team does not look like a 11 loss team and they will be hungry to show exactly that next season like they did Friday night in Montreal.
On Friday, the Redblacks beat the Montreal Alouettes 19-18, coming back to win after being down 18-3 at half-time, it was the first time all season where Redblacks fans saw a better team come out to play in the second half of a game. Ottawa’s 23 year old quarterback Caleb Evans was given the start and managed the game well for the Redblacks offence, throwing for 173 yards on 18 completions while rushing for 56 additional yards on 10 rushing attempts. Evans scored two touchdowns on the ground and threw for two 2-point conversions to R.J Harris to go up 19-18. Timothy Flanders had himself a game as well, going over the 100 yard marker for scrimmage yards, racking up 62 on the ground and 67 through the air, including a 39 yard screen pass on the game winning drive, all set up by a Davon Coleman fumble recovery. The fumble recovery marked one of three that the Redblacks had in the second half, and one of the two Davon Coleman takeaways which led to points. While the Redblacks did not turn the ball over a single time over the four quarters of the game, it showed to the Redblacks that winning the turnover margin could result in success.
Alongside Coleman on the defensive side of the ball was Justin Howell who made 5 tackles and forced two of the three fumbles, Avery Williams who had 6 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, Micah Awe who had 5 tackles and a sack and Frankie Griffin who sealed the game with the final fumble recovery on the game’s final kickoff and also made 4 tackles on the night as a starting SAM linebacker.
The Redblacks were able to get a good look as to who they may have returning for them in the 2022 CFL season next year over the last couple of games, and if this game did anything for anyone it should have given players like Caleb Evans, Timothy Flanders, R.J Harris, Davon Coleman, Justin Howell, Frankie Griffin and Micah Awe something to carry over into the off-season and the following season as some do not have contracts for the 2022 CFL season just yet or find themselves in a position where they could have a starting job when they come back to the capital in 2022.
It will be an interesting off-season for the Ottawa Redblacks, from the decisions that they make regarding the general manager position, the coaching staff, with the holes that it may have with running backs coach Charlie Eger out of the picture, and of course the roster itself, but R-Nation will not have to wait very long to get answers. The 2022 end of season press conference will be Sunday, when Ottawa Redblacks players and coaches will speak to the media regarding the season this year as well as the 2022 off-season. Be on the lookout for any Redblacks news over the next few weeks, as there will likely continue to be action in Ottawa’s front office.