The worst collapse in the Ottawa Redblacks short history leads their fans to ask the question, where do they go from here?
Disaster by the Lake
At halftime of their Thursday night match-up with the Toronto Argonauts, the Redblacks held the world in their hands. They were about to solidify their grip on first place in the East division and put any notion that the Argos had of overtaking them this season on ice. Instead, they allowed the Argos to climb not only back into the game but also into the playoff race.
What happened? The quick answer is that the Redblacks stopped playing “their game” on offence, defence and special teams. Defensive back Jonathan Rose stated that they began to play “too loose”. Safety Antoine Pruneau admitted they, at least defensively, “became too cocky”.
Reams of copy could be written outlining the specifics of the loss. Briefly, The offence did a terrible job of managing the clock with a lead and abandoned the running game at the most crucial time. The defence became passive and lost the aggressiveness that had forced the Argos into mistakes in the first half. Finally, the punt cover unit gave up a long return to the Argos that set up the winning touchdown.
Reasons For Hope
A loss like this in October could define your season, this loss in November could define your franchise (see the Redblacks NFL twins, at least colour wise, the Atlanta Falcons who blew a similarly large lead. In the Super Bowl). For Ottawa, there is time to rebound and put this loss in the proper perspective.
The Redblacks enter Week 9 of the Canadian Football League season still in first place in the East Division and in complete control of their own destiny. They have five divisional games left including the regular season finale against Toronto at TD Place on November 2nd. An Ottawa win over Toronto in that game by two points or more gives the Redblacks the season series and tiebreaker.
This loss was more so a product of Ottawa collapsing then the Argos finding a second gear and establishing themselves as the superior team. Macleod Bethel-Thompson will likely be a good CFL quarterback. He remained poised and did not seem to allow the first half to diminish his confidence. Ottawa did not give him the respect he deserved in the second half when they called the dogs off and for the most part, dropped into vanilla zone coverages. This was not Bethel-Thompson “solving” Noel Thorpe’s defence.
A Glance Ahead
The Redblacks play two of their next three games against the Montreal Alouettes. Johnny Manziel will likely be a more formidable adversary to the Redblacks then he was to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in his CFL debut. Even so, the Redblacks are the superior team across the board and should delight in the opportunity to re-stoke their confidence this coming Saturday. The caveat, of course, is that they have learned their lesson and take the game to the Alouettes for a full sixty minutes.
The Redblacks need to have short memories and channel the negative feelings associated with the Toronto game into a drive and determination that powers them forward. Losses such as this one can either divide or unite a dressing room. This loss will be a define their season one way or another. Next Saturday at TD Place the Ottawa Redblacks will show which direction they are turning.
Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Images