Redblacks bounce back (& 9 other thoughts on their win in Montreal)

On the heels of a discouraging road loss (their first of the season), the Ottawa Redblacks travelled to Montreal looking to get their season back on track. A better effort in all three phrases of the game led to a convincing 28-18 win over the Alouettes.

Here are all my thoughts on the game:

1) A week after an incredibly poor performance, including the lowest completion percentage of his career (45%), quarterback Trevor Harris was back executing at the high level Ottawa’s grown accustomed to. Harris was surgical against the Alouette defence, putting together the 21st 300 yard passing game of his career, completing 28/42 passes (66%) for 342 yards and three touchdowns. And if not for a handful of drops, those numbers would read even better. Harris was confident in his reads and really stepped into his throws, a sharp contrast to last week against the Stampeders.

2) It was no surprise to see Harris have a strong game given that offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo put together an excellent game plan. A week after abandoning the run, Elizondo stuck with it, and had a healthy pass to run ratio of 42 to 28. A big reason why the Redblacks won the game was due to their production on 2nd down. Ottawa converted 19 of 31 second down opportunities (61%) and averaged 8.7 yards per second down play.

Loved that Elizondo got fullback J.C. Beaulieu involved in the passing attack. Drawing up a play which led to Beaulieu catching the game’s opening touchdown was a thing of beauty. It was Beaulieu’s first touchdown as a Redblack and clearly fired up the entire offence. Small things like giving a player a chance to score against his former team is something that is noticed and appreciated by the entire offence. Beaulieu also caught a two-point conversion.

If there was one negative aspect of last night’s offensive performance it was that from the middle of the third quarter on, the Redblacks failed to score a point. Some of that could be a result of taking their foot off the gas with a 20 point lead, but some of it is on sloppy execution too.

3) Is it too soon to call William Powell the best back in the league? I don’t think so. 23 carries turned into 138 yards but most impressive was Powell’s ability to rip off huge runs. Powell had three runs of 10-plus yards and two runs of 20-plus yards. That’s a quick way to demoralize a defence. It’s not a stretch to think the Redblacks might be undefeated if they’d fed Powell last week the way he was fed last night. Dating back to last season, in his last ten games, Powell has gone over the 90 yard rushing mark eight times.

4) Brad Sinopoli’s 11 catch, 148 yard performance served notice that he’s officially back into form. It was Sinopoli’s best game of the season and his first breakout game since last season’s injury. Of his 148 yards, 75 came after the catch and four of his catches moved the chains on 2nd down. He was also a beast getting down the field and blocking for the run game.

As for the rest of the receiving corps, rookie Noel Thomas snagged 6 passes for 56 yards and his first career touchdown, Greg Ellingson made 5 catches for 49 yards and Diontae Spencer had 3 for 29 yards. Spencer’s low production and issues with drops continue to be a concern. After three games, Spencer has 122 yards to his credit. That was a good half of work for him late last season.

5) Noel Thorpe’s “homecoming” went about as well as possible. In addition to completely shutting down the run, allowing just 43 yards on 13 carries (3.3 yards per carry), Thorpe’s defence limited Montreal to 280 passing yards, had three sacks and only allowed the Alouettes to convert 3/15 2nd down opportunities. With Kyries Hebert suspended, Avery Williams filled in and didn’t look out of place. A number of defenders looked sharp but Mike Wakefield really stood out, making five tackles and two sacks.

There were a couple of big hits throughout the game but hit of the night clearly goes to Montreal running back Tyrell Sutton, who absolutely steamrolled Corey Tindal.

6) In terms of special teams, Lewis Ward continues to be money. The rookie Canadian kicker was yet again perfect, nailing both field goal attempts. As for punting, Richie Leone’s ability to dictate field position is a weapon. Leone punted 9 times for 432 yards, averaging a net gain of 43 yards. Ottawa’s cover units were in fine form, as demonstrated by the four different players who finished the night with two special teams tackles (Teague Sherman, Anthony Cioffi, Brendan Gillanders and Kevin Brown.

7) I get the appeal of live mic games to some and I understand that they lead to increases in TSN’s viewership, but I’m simply not a fan of the way things are currently done. As it stands, I don’t gain any enjoyment or insight from what is being shown. To me, it’s an interesting concept, but I’d much prefer to have the focus on player interactions (aka trash talk), as opposed to hearing QBs audible at the line by repeatedly yelling the same word. In Ottawa’s Week One matchup with Saskatchewan, much was made of the back and forth that went on between Duron Carter and Diontae Spencer, THAT would have been entertain to hear. Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, scrap the live mics and invest that money into more cameras for better replay angles.

8) Bad sign for the Alouettes if their first home game following a win in ages only draws 16,178. Montreal’s struggled to put an appealing product on the field for a few seasons now and it’s starting to reflect in the stands. Shutout to those members of R-Nation who made the trek down 417 to Montreal for a Friday of tailgating, football and other festivities.

9) In their first game of the season against an Eastern opponent, Rick Campbell’s team took care of business. Any win against a division opponent is worth more than just two points, and the Redblacks have an early leg up on Montreal in the season series (a potential tiebreaker down the road). With the win, Ottawa moves to 2-1 and back atop the East division, pulling ahead of the 2-2 Ticats. With Calgary heading to the nation’s capital next week, the Redblacks will have a chance to prove last week’s loss was a fluke and that they deserve to be seen as early season contenders.

Santino Filoso

Santino Filoso

Born and raised in the 613, Santino has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know.)
Santino Filoso
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Santino Filoso
About Santino Filoso (222 Articles)
Born and raised in the 613, Santino has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know.)

12 Comments on Redblacks bounce back (& 9 other thoughts on their win in Montreal)

  1. I’m wondering if Spencer should no longer be returning kicks. He seems to have lost his mojo and I’m wondering if the extra punishment is affecting his play as receiver. I’m trying to remember, but I thought they had some rookies do kick returns in the pre-season games who showed great results. Make Spencer 100% receiver and I’m sure you’ll see many less drops.

  2. rogieshan // July 7, 2018 at 12:25 pm //

    All the glory to Thorpe’s stellar defensive unit so far this season. Team would be 3-0 if the offense hadn’t gone missing in Calgary.

    Perhaps Spencer is somewhat miscast as the homerun guy at WR. He had success in Toronto running the short routes and utilizing his speed for YAC. Would hate to see him turn into a Chris Williams with all the drops.

    • Ottawa played a great game and you want to focus on one guy? seriously? do you remember week 1
      Move on. It’s likely he bounces back next week. Every player can have a bad game.

  3. bill dehoog // July 7, 2018 at 3:31 pm //

    HI All. Watched the game in Serbia as I am vacationing. I think we take down Calgary next week. Wondered also why Shelton isn’t given a try. Thought receiver Harris might be more involved. Loved that Powell is getting the touches, and receiver Thorpe is looking good. Love the improved defence. Good work Marcel!

  4. One of the myths about Anthony Calvillo was that the Alouettes were doing fine until that Ricky Foley hit. Looking back at the 2013 season, by the time week 7 was done, the Alouettes were 2-4 and floundering pretty badly. Anthony Calvillo was apparently done as a CFL quarterback. And for the first time since the 1999 season, his quarterback rating was below 80 at 78.7.

    After the loss to the Argonauts, August 9th, 2013, Jim Popp managed to sign Troy Smith August 13th. Smith a former Heisman Trophy winner, had been on the Alouettes neg list for some time. I spent years chronicling Calvillo’s emotional fragility when it came to more athletic possible replacement quarterbacks. From Marcus Brady to Adrian McPherson and beyond, Calvillo had spent much of his career protecting his QB job like a hen jealously guarding her precious and fragile eggs.

    So it was little surprise to me that 3 days after the Alouettes signed a potential replacement, Calvillo was permanently dropped on a nothing-looking hit by Ricky Foley. I expressed my reaction. I wrote that I would dance a jig over Calvillo’s leaving the field. Now I was not, I made it clear, celebrating Calvillo’s injury. Rather, I was more than pleased that some other quarterback, ANY other quarterback, would FINALLY get a chance to play.

    I had no idea Calvillo was done forever. My thought was that despite McPherson’s absconding to Arena Ball, furious that he never received the playing time he’d always been promised, at least some playing time would be accorded Alouettes backups. I thought that we would finally begin the process of allowing the next generation of quarterbacks to receive the precious field time they needed to grow and develop, without having the entire franchise thrown on their backs. After all, Calvillo was still there, and perhaps would share the load.Or at least AC would impart his 20 years of playing wisdom to the new guys, as he continued to recover.

    Boy was I wrong. Or rather, RIGHT in a previous prediction: that Calvillo would hog the field until it was crystal clear to him he could no longer play, and then abandon the team, leaving his teammates and any potential replacement to their own devices. As a player, Calvillo to me was the ultimate in selfishness. He let no other QB talent outshine him, and he sucked every second of playing time to himself and his quest for records and accolades, at the expense of the fans and franchise that gave him so much.

    And while the sequence of events, including Calvillo simply quitting the team despite a completely trashed and broken line of succession at his position, lends itself to this very obvious interpretation of the man and his ultimate character…very few Alouettes fans have had the clarity to even consider the possibility. It’s one of the major reasons why Calvillo/coach, was hired and promoted as he was. Which the, in turn, is what has brought us to this unenviable position: seemingly on an inevitable slide to dissolution.

    I blame Ownership. I blame management. I blame Jim Popp and Marc Trestman and more recently, the incomprehensible hire of “GM” Kavis Reed. And I blame all the blind Calvillo-worshippers who had me booted from CFL Forums, accusing me of everything in the book to protect their AC love, when my ONLY POINT was that we needed to develop Calvillo’s replacement, and give them enough time so they’d be ready by the time AC left the team.

    We’ve seen the results. Results that Calvillo himself then managed to seal in amber, as one of the worst offensive coordinators in league history.If this team goes under, I would have predicted it a decade and a half prior to that hellish outcome. I hope everyone involved at least knows what they’ve done, and suffers the guilt they so justly deserve. And yet, in my heart of hearts I know. Fools never do.

    • Oh. And before anyone starts mentioning Calvillo’s 3 GC victories may I point out: before Marc Trestman, Calvillo was 1-5 in GC appearances, and quite probably about to be booted from the team. Sure, Trestman and Calvillo won 2 Cups together. All they had to do is play Calvillo 100% of the time, and sacrifice the long-term future of the team. We’re still paying for their obssessive and selfish personal ambition and lack of foresight.

      • NO one is going to mention Calvillo’s 3 GC because it’s ancient history move on, get over it, we are not interested.
        If you want to see a QB who is more exciting, more accurate than Calvillo just look at Trevor Harris.

    • So what does your silly rant have to do with how Ottawa played? maybe you missed the title of the article and didn’t read it.
      We couldn’t care less about Cavillo, the guy is retired.

  5. MR. Green // July 7, 2018 at 5:50 pm //

    IMO, Ottawa has the smartest receiving group in the league. I don’t think playing Zone against them is a good idea, Harris will pick you apart with his guys. To beat Ottawa I feel you have to get consistent pressure while playing the bump an run on his guys.

  6. Now don’t get too giddy Filoso – they WERE playing the Alouettes who haven’t looked ver dominant in a LONG time!

  7. George Fogarty // July 9, 2018 at 8:41 am //

    Good game not great. RB struggled in the 4th and should have put the game away, but DB played a little loose.

    Still not sold on Elizondo’s play calling, enough of the screens and outs to the sidelines, more up the middle and slant in Jamie. Short yard passes, give the ball to WiPo and let him run.

    Next up Choke-steders.

  8. Don Mtl. // July 9, 2018 at 12:15 pm //

    I was at the game…Ellingson and Spencer dropped a lot passes in the second half…made a big difference… alot of 2 and outs and stalled drives…

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