Going into the 2022 CFL season, there was a lot of talk around the Ottawa Redblacks. Yes, the previous two seasons were not great, and going into 2022 they were 6-26 since their 2018 Grey Cup appearance, but with Shawn Burke in charge of the front office, and the pieces he had brought in, things looks very promising in the nation’s capital. The team looked like legitimate Grey Cup contenders entering week one, and we can very honestly say that they opened up the season very strong, playing two very good football games against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a defending Grey Cup Champion team, but it was the Redblacks’ week four game against the B.C Lions where things began to go downhill and worries started to surface the fan base. It was a close game, a 34-31 final score and it was certainly a game that the Redblacks could have won, but it was also a game that showed a lot of weaknesses within the Redblacks team.
After two strong outings against Winnipeg, the Redblacks’ offence wasn’t able to get the job done whatsoever, and was limited to 253 total yards, going up against the Lions’ 509 total yards, more than double Ottawa’s totals. Two big plays that won the Lions the game offensively would have been a long Nathan Rourke rushing touchdown and a Rourke to Keon Hatcher connection down the middle of the field late in the third quarter. Those two plays, alongside the mistakes on Ottawa’s offence were just signs to what was to come for the remainder of the 2022 CFL season for the Redblacks.
The following week the Redblacks traveled to Saskatchewan where starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli suffered which led to be a season ending injury on an ugly late hit by Roughriders lineman Garrett Marino. Masoli’s injury was a big blow to what was Paul LaPolice’s offence at the time. It led Caleb Evans to start a chunk of the team’s games and with the acquisition of Nick Arbuckle, Arbuckle had a lot of playing time as well, but neither of the two quarterbacks were able to get the Redblacks to where they’d like to be, in Grey Cup playoff contention.
Ottawa finished the season at 4-14, not winning a single game at home, and finishing the season with an interim head coach in Bob Dyce following the firing of Paul LaPolice after a 3-11 start to the season.
When the team wasn’t performing well throughout the season, as they do a lot of the time, the fingers were pointed towards that head coaching position, which at the time was filled by LaPolice. It wasn’t fair for all of the blame to go on him at times, but as the head football coach of a non successful franchise two seasons in a row, it was expected, and what was also expected was the change that was made. The firing of Paul LaPolice gave experienced special teams coordinator Bob Dyce the opportunity to prove himself to the Redblacks franchise past being just a coordinator.
As the interim head coach, Dyce finished the season with a 1-3 record going into the off-season, and is starting the off-season as quite the candidate for the Redblacks’ next head coach.
When asked about the upcoming off-season and his plans though Shawn Burke mentioned that it will be a “search” and they will interview other candidates. He told the media, “we’re doing a head coaching search, so that will be the focus this month. We’ve had exit meetings with our players, exit medicals, a part of my management style is definitely to get feedback. Its a relationship business and although myself and coach Dyce are lead with the blue print leading the organization, we’re all colleagues at the end of the day and we require a lot out of our players and to not get the proper feedback from them is just a waste of time for us.”
When it comes to players feedback, all looks good for in house candidate Bob Dyce. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli said, “coach (Dyce) has shown us a lot for sure in the short time, I don’t have as much experience with him as a lot of the other guys, but he gets all 5 star recommendations from all of the guys here that you would trust, that have been here, veterans that have won before, they all love him, played on special teams for him, I see him as a high quality, high character guy and you can trust what he says and on top of that he knows his CFL football from roster building to managing different egos within the room, the schemes and working with his coordinators so I’ve seen him behind the scenes, massaging some positions and it was a good look, I love coach Dyce as a head coach, I hope we get him back.”
As for Bob Dyce now though, he is still going to have to go through the interview process with the Redblacks, and will have to be hired to be able to move forward, and there is no question he wants to get hired as the head coach in Ottawa. When asked, he said, “certainly.” explaining, “I’m not going to sit here and lie. So yes, I want to be the head coach of the Ottawa REDBLACKS.” When he talked about the players, it was clear there is mutual love, and Dyce will be the best candidate for the Ottawa REDBLACKS kicking off the 2022-23 off-season.