This past weekend Ottawa fell to 0-2 despite a big time performance by a few of their players. Brandon Dandridge, and De’Montre Tuggle who each did their part against Calgary. It was curious coaching decisions and spotty defense that allowed the Stampeders to score 26 points. In week one Calgary mustered just 15 points.
Coming out of this game it’s clear Ottawa is wrought with issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Not least of which might be the quarterback situation. As of 6/14/23 Jeremiah Masoli’s stay on the injured list was extended once again leading me to believe we see Tyrie Adams get the first meaningful start of his CFL Career. Could this change the entire look of the offense?
Athletic Ability Led To Increased Rushing Output by Offense
With Williams, and Litre injured De’Montre Tuggle got the start for this Ottawa Offense. He proceeded to log 8 touches for 50 yards. Prior to this game I called for a run heavy approach to protect these quarterbacks from having to carry the offense. What we got done was even less rushing attempts with Adams and Tuggle in the game. This week it was just 10 rushing attempts for 39 yards. This can’t continue to happen if Ottawa has any hopes of winning a game without a rash of players returning from injury.
Despite Tuggle and Adams averaging 4.8 yards per carry or better, they only had 4 carries a piece. It seems as if Khari Jones a former quarterback, is leaning heavily on the passing attack and at times ignoring the run game. In week one they had just 16 attempts. Currently Ottawa is asking backup quarterbacks to throw the ball 73.5% of the time AND account for 30% of the teams rushing attempts as well that amounts to over 80% of the offensive production through two games. This has created a transparent approach to play calling allowing defenses to key heavily on the pass, daring the Redblacks to run the ball. A dare so far Jones seems hesitant to answer.
This has been odd to follow especially after Adams took over when the Ottawa offense actually ran LESS. In the first half the Redblacks ran just 6 times for 20 yards. In the second half they ran fewer times but saw better production with 4 carries for 19 yards an average of 4.75 per carry up from 3.33 in the first half. At this point the game was still in hand and game flow did not dictate the team abandoning the run.
Pass Defense Shredded
In the first half alone the Redblacks had allowed 4 receptions for 86 yards by Reggie Begelton, a 19 yard reception by Odoms-Duke, and a 14 yard reception by Henry. By the end of the day Jake Maier looked like a decent quarterback completing 22 of 33 for 332 yards, 1 td, 1 int, adding 2 carries for 5 yards and a touchdown.
Maier looked like a different quarterback against a banged up defense missing several members of the secondary. The question is how long can Ottawa continue to wait for injured players to return to the lineup? Off to an 0-2 start, the Redblacks will quickly find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture if they don’t start collecting wins this week.
Week Four Preview
There are two weaknesses when combined that make it nearly impossible to find victory. A lack of a run game, and a defense allowing repeated big plays. The Redblacks find themselves in that exact situation, a lack of dedication and production to the run game which has only compounded depth issues by keeping the defense on the field longer and more often.
Had Ottawa relied on a run game and cut down on offensive possessions by the Stampeders we likely see a victory in this game. The Redblacks already won the time of possession battle by nearly 4 minutes with just ten rushing attempts. Imagine what it would have looked like with even 15-17 attempts.
On top of this hurting the defense, it’s putting quarterbacks in a terrible position where the defense can pin their ears back up front and drop 7-8 in coverage focused on taking away passing lanes, with an emphasis on allowing the underneath routes, and limiting run after catch opportunities. Clear up either one of these two issues, and the entire team will come to life, no longer shooting themselves in the foot.
Perfectly Placed Bye Week
The Redblacks receiving a bye week as early as they have will be huge, and likely influenced the decision to extend injury stays heading into week 3. Knowing that if you hold guys like Masoli, Santos-Knox and others out just one more game they get a total of three weeks to get healthy and ready to return in week four.
Meanwhile Edmonton will play the defending Grey Cup Champion Toronto Argonauts in week three, and they will not see a bye until week 8. With Collaros, Adams, and Harris pacing the league in yards and touchdowns the barely above 50% completion rate, and 1 to 3 touchdown to interception ratio for “Corndog” isn’t intimidating anyone currently.
We will likely see a new quarterback starting this week with Kai Locksley released due to attitude issues, and “Corndog” headed to the bench. Tre Ford will be active, but Khalil Tate will take short yardage carries, with rookie Jarrett Doege getting the start. This has proven to be one of the most confusing quarterback situations in recent CFL memory. Ford was selected 8th overall last season, was given chances to start until an injury ended his year early. This season he has yet to be active, buried on the depth chart behind players that don’t have the same upside Ford offers.
It appears Tyrie Adams, and NOT Jeremiah Masoli, will be the starter in week 4. With Dustin Crum the QB2, and Nick Arbuckle penciled in as QB3. The truth is the Redblacks have three very different quarterbacks to choose from, and this could dramatically change how the defense is called in week four. With Masoli ailing yet again, the Redblacks can expect questions about his signing to linger given he has played in just 4 games since a dirty hit by current USFL player Garrett Marino ended his season, and prevented him from beginning this year healthy. Having already missed 14 games last season, and 3 games this year, we are quickly slipping closer and closer to the reality we may never see a 100% healthy Masoli suit up for the Redblacks at any point.
If Ottawa Was Hoping for a Quiet Week…
Where to Watch
This game featuring the 0-2 Redblacks, and the 0-3 Elks will be broadcast today at 7:30 pm ET on TSN, and RDS, as well as on CFL+ for the international fans.
Betting Odds and Predictions
With the quarterback situations on both rosters this game goes from a toss up, to a crap shoot. It’s extremely hard to predict which team will prevail in this game. My faith in Tyrie Adams, and his upside as a player, and his ability to escape the pocket will make the Redblacks more dangerous than if Arbuckle was the guy in this game. We will see if this spells victory in week 4 however.
Vegas and their odds have this game as a 2.5 point spread in the Redblacks favor. With the over/under set at 42.5 points, and the money line slanted toward Edmonton with +125 odds, and -145 for Ottawa.
My Prediction is right in line with this line by BET365. I have Ottawa winning 23-20 in this game, with the teams JUST barely topping the over at 43 points. Best of luck this weekend!
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