CFL Pass

Ottawa Redblacks hope to get some W's and prove stats, rankings wrong

VANCOUVER – How low have the Ottawa Redblacks sunk?

Eleven games into their CFL season, the Redblacks – on a bit of a skid with eight losses in their last nine games – are 5 1/2-point underdogs for Friday’s game against the B.C. Lions. It’s not like the Lions come into the game with a lot of momentum, either – they’ve won just one game this season. So, yeah, there’s that.

Most people who watch the Redblacks have already written them out of the playoff picture, for good reason. Placed ninth in the CFL Nissan Titan Power Rankings, the Redblacks are given just a 0.18% chance of making the playoffs by the CFL Simulator, which predicts they’ll end up with a woeful 4-14 record. Their chances of winning the Grey Cup, according to the simulator, are just 0.01%, behind even one-win B.C., which is given a 0.02% chance of winning the championship.

A look at the stats shows how wretched the Redblacks have been, in particular on offence.

Ottawa has scored an average of 19.1 points per game, second-worst in the CFL. Its 17.4 points per game from the offence is tied for worst (with Toronto).

With 13 offensive touchdowns, Ottawa ranks last.

The net offence of 311.7 yards per game is second-worst.

Second-down conversions – at 40.8% – are last.

Average yards per play – 5.4 yards – is last.

With 194 first downs, Ottawa is last.

With 75 two-and-outs, Ottawa is last – by comparison, Winnipeg has just 35.

With a turnover ratio of minus-10 (10 more given up than made), Ottawa is last. The team’s 36 turnovers are also last.

With 19 interceptions thrown, Ottawa is last (Edmonton has five and Montreal has seven).

Ottawa is also last with 12 lost fumbles. (On the bright side, the Redblacks defence is tied with the Blue Bombers for tops in fumble recoveries with 11).

Opponent points off turnovers? The Redblacks have surrendered 110, 27 more than next worst Toronto and 81 more than Montreal.

Time of Possession (per 60 minutes) is last at 25:56 per game.

With 935 penalty yards, Ottawa is third-worst.

Yeah, so it’s not that hard to figure out why the team is scuffling to get any kind of momentum. And, yet, remember losses to Calgary and Edmonton? Yeah, they should have won both. Can you imagine this team sitting with a 5-6 record – as bad as they’ve been offensively?

Funny thing, though, as long as the odds are of them playing football in the post-season and with some kind of miraculous turnaround playing in their fourth Grey Cup in the past five years, there’s a way – a path that sees them likely having to slide past the Edmonton Eskimos, who in this scenario would be attempting to cross over from the West Division as the fourth-place team. And, there is still hope from within the walls of the locker room. As far fetched as it may seem from the outside, the Redblacks think (and really, as professional athletes they are trained to think this way) they can win a lot of football games down the stretch.

“There’s no pressure,” said defensive lineman George Uko. “Just win your week. One game at a time. The scoreboard says a lot – it’s the outcome – but it doesn’t dictate the kind of guys we have in this locker room. We all believe. It may not be showing up on the scoreboard right now, but we’re committed.”

Like the Argos, the Lions have played tough at times. The Redblacks can’t take them … or anybody … lightly.

“They’ve had multiple games they could have won,” said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell. “They’re like Toronto and even us where you’re kind of kicking yourself that you didn’t win. They should have beat Calgary in Calgary and they should have beat Hamilton in Hamilton. They’re definitely a capable team. Their record doesn’t reflect that, but they’re a good team with some good players.”

“We have to play as a team,” said punt/kickoff returner Stefan Logan. “Come with energy and know we’re going to win this game. They’re having a hard time, just like we are. What we can do as a team is turn it around, get that W and come back home against them on our home field and get another W. That’ll change the atmosphere. We have that bad taste of losing games. We just have to change the L’s and get some W’s.”

FREE-AGENT QUESTIONS?: It would be fair to criticize the Redblacks for the lack of impact from their Class of 2019 free agents. While the team lost QB Trevor Harris, WR Greg Ellingson, OL SirVIncent Rogers, RB William Powell, DB Rico Murray and DL A.C. Leonard as free agents and WR Diontae Spencer to the NFL, they brought in WRs Nate Behar, Ryan Lankford and Caleb Holley, DBs Chris Randle and Troy Stoudermire, OL Philippe Gagnon and QB Jonathon Jennings. What they brought in doesn’t equal what went out the door, but that wasn’t really the plan, either, according to GM Marcel Desjardins.

“It seems to be a misconception of us signing free agents,” he said. “When we signed free agents this time around, we weren’t trying to find a big fish. We were bringing in guys to come into camp and compete – then let’s see how it plays out from there. (At receiver) coming into camp, we felt pretty good about Dominique Rhymes, we felt good about Brad Sinopoli, we felt good about R.J. Harris. Really, there was one American spot (at receiver), maybe two, that were open. So we signed guys that had been in the league, guys we felt would be able to come in and compete. It’s no different than (offensive lineman) Philippe Gagnon or all those guys – none of them were brought in to necessarily be replacements. It was more a function of let’s add depth, let’s add experience and we’ll see how it plays out. Caleb wasn’t brought in to replace Greg Ellingson, that was never the premise and it wasn’t what we anticipated would play out.”

THE END AROUND: LB Kevin Brown left the Redblacks this week to attend to a “personal matter” – the death of his grandmother Marie Williams … Speaking about last week’s loss to the Argos, Campbell was asked about his players not giving a full effort in the latter stages of the game. “It got away from us,” he said. “When the score starts getting lopsided, you have to keep going in this league because you don’t know what’s going to happen. We need to be able to fight back and respond.” Asked about the play of Gagnon, who started at left guard, with Evan Johnson playing right tackle last week, Campbell said: “He did a really good job. We’ve liked him. We’re really fortunate with the Canadian depth on our O-line and he’s a prime example of that – he was a guy we didn’t have to play with earlier in the season because of our depth.”


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Source: montrealgazette.com