After struggling right from the starting gate versus Calgary last week the Redblacks offence bounced back with an inspired first-half effort in Montreal on Friday night.
Up by seventeen at the break, the Redblacks offence could have pummeled the Alouettes, but as is there downfall and signature they took their foot off the gas and let the Als sneak back into the game. If Ottawa has any plans to make a mark once November rolls around they are going to have to start producing consistent performances over a full four quarters.
The night started with a 6 play 82-yard drive that chewed up three minutes on the clock and culminated in a 47-yard tight end fly release to J.C. Beaulieu for his first TD of the season. This was his first TD since June 25, 2015, when he was incidentally a member of the Alouettes.
Trevor Harris, for the most part, overcame the accuracy issues that plagued him in Calgary as he went 19 of 26 for 244 yards in the first half. He was able to plant his feet and make solid mid-range throws to slice through the Alouettes defence.
Running back William Powell had to battle for yards as the Alouettes schemed to stop the run between the tackles. Offensive co-ordinator Jaime Elizondo adapted quickly by running Powell off the edge out of tight-end sets. This allowed Powell to work off tackle which opened up the middle again. A key 26-yard scamper through the heart of the Alouettes defence in the waning moments of the second quarter was the outcome of this offensive scheming.
Brad Sinopoli went over the 100-yard mark for the first time in over a year as he recorded 11 catches for 148 yards and one touchdown. The Redblacks worked hard to move Sinopoli around in space and utilized him on hitches, slants and intermediate routes. What the stat line will not show was his yeoman’s work in the backfield in two back set. He was utilized in the blocking scheme and also to drag across the formation to give Trevor Harris time in the pocket. This allowed him to disguise himself and paid dividends as he was unaccounted for in the Alouettes defensive accounting. Greg Ellingson was used mostly as a clearing decoy for Sinopoli but still managed to record five receptions for 49 yards. Truth be told, Ellingson would have had more but was the victim of a few excellent tips by Montreal defensive back Mitchell White
The Redblacks seem to have found another threat in rookie receiver Noel Thomas II who has come with a reputation for making the difficult catch seem routine. He did not disappoint as he racked up 6 receptions for 56 yards and one touchdown. Giving the rest of the league one more offensive threat to think about is never a bad thing.
For all the good that the Redblacks engineered in the first half, they struggled to definitively put the Alouettes away in the second half. Quarterback Trevor Harris summed it up best when asked by TSN reporter John Lu what Montreal did to slow down the Redblack offensive attack in the second half. He stated “we’ve got to be able to put the nail in the coffin, we’ll rectify that”
The second half saw Harris go 9 of 16 for 98 yards and no touchdowns. The Redblacks punted on their last six drives and continually gave the ball back to the Alouettes. The offence became predictable and lost the dynamic flair that kept the Als defence on edge in half number one.
The offensive line was exposed on a number of occasions throughout the game as they struggled as a unit to contain the stunts the Alouettes threw at them. This rushed Harris and led to the offence stalling in the second half. Jason Lauzon-Seguin returned to the depth chart as a backup but was called into duty with the injury to Jon Gott at right guard. Hopefully, Nolan Macmillan will be able to return next week; his return will allow Ottawa to play their most experienced players and develop some continuity.
The short-yardage unit has struggled in all three games the Redblacks have played thus far and in reality, has been a source of concern going back to 2017. Every 3rd-and-short play is an adventure and all too often the first down yardage is only gained on the second effort. Last week in Calgary their inability to get a yard on 3rd-and-goal may have cost them the game. There is little push as the offensive line as a unit are submarined and short-yardage quarterback Dominique Davis tends to drive way too high and stops moving his feet, choosing instead to dive on a wave of tacklers heading in the opposite direction. This tendency must be addressed.
Next up for Ottawa is a home date against Calgary on July 12th. The last two meetings between these teams at TD Place resulted in ties.
Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Images