- FREE AGENCY
TORONTO — The Ottawa REDBLACKS made a pretty strong statement in Week 1.
After many had counted them out, Rick Campbell’s squad went into McMahon and unseated the defending Grey Cup Champs, starting the season 1-0 in unexpected fashion.
At least, unexpected for those outside of the organization. Ranked eighth in the season-opening power rankings and shut out in the first set of writer picks, the prognosticators weren’t giving Ottawa much of a chance.
It wasn’t a perfect outing — Dominique Davis threw four interceptions and the team trailed throughout most of the contest — but the REDBLACKS showed resilience, a dominant defence and a chip on their shoulder in a big win to open the season.
Have the detractors changed their minds? The writers weigh in with the latest from The Weekly Say:
Don Landry: The result, I think, showed something that everyone should have expected and that is that defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe’s veteran group will be a factor in every game. On offence, I’ll remain cautious until I see that Dominique Davis can stop throwing picks.
Matthew Cauz: Any time you beat Calgary in Calgary you have to take notice. It was a great win for Ottawa and I’m thrilled for the team and their fans. Nothing better than being able to shove it into the collective face of us evil media. However, this team lost so much of their offence and key members from their coaching staff, that’s where the rankings came from. Loved what Ottawa’s defence did but those four interceptions by Davis is a concern.
Jim Morris: It was a great win no doubt, but there is a long season left. By the end of Week 7 Ottawa will have played Winnipeg twice and Calgary again. Let’s see what their record is then.
Chris O’Leary: Imagine the bare bulletin boards, an existence with un-chipped shoulders or the twiddling of a social media manager’s thumbs if we lived in a world where the pick makers always took the REDBLACKS. Just to keep things on course: The win over Calgary was impressive but one week won’t sell me on any team. There are questions around these REDBLACKS that only time will answer.
Marshall Ferguson: No, based on Dominique Davis‘ reckless tendencies it just makes me wonder more about where Calgary stands.
Donnovan Bennett: No, it changed my mind about Calgary.
Landry: For Reilly? 10, of course. Because it’s always 10 for Mike Reilly, I think. For the Lions? Lower than that as it is just game two of a long season for a team that underwent many changes during the off-season.
O’Leary: Six. Reilly’s return is a good storyline, but it won’t say that the winner is the better team or that the loser is the worse team overall. The most important thing for Reilly and the Lions this week is avoiding falling to 0-2. The West should be extremely tight again and there’s not a lot of room for teams to fall behind in the standings.
Morris: I’d say about a six in importance. Using a coaching cliché, any win is important. I think Reilly and the Lions are still figuring each other out. A win this week would be great but I don’t think a loss is catastrophic.
Cauz: The number would have been a zero if they had beat Winnipeg in Week 1. I still think its low because of all the usual reasons — long season, crossover to the East — so I will give it three strictly for the pride factor. Any way you look at it though this will be a fun game.
Ferguson: One, Reilly will only improve as the season progresses, he’ll be ready by the time he has the Lions in the playoff hunt.
Bennett: 0.5. Last time I checked the season is 18 games long. It’s Week 2.
Landry: They can if that defence of theirs rises to the occasion and plays dominant football, as I expect they will. Can’t just keep running William Powell all day, every day, though. Fajardo, Harker, Bennett… someone needs to find at least a decent passing groove to augment the run.
Cauz: I would say yes because of their defence and William Powell, but when you look at the quality at quarterback for the four other teams in the West you really have to wonder just how they will remain competitive.
Morris: I’d say no. Even with Collaros the Riders were in tough. After Ottawa this week Saskatchewan faces Toronto (a game they should win), then Calgary, BC twice and Hamilton. You’d think they would be lucky to be 2-5 at the end of this stretch. Of course, a lot depends on what the team around them does, but you’d think Calgary, Winnipeg, BC and Edmonton will all have better records.
Bennett: No. With how competitive the West is it wasn’t guaranteed they’d be able to stay in it with him. Craig Dickenson is in a tough spot to start his career as a head coach.
Ferguson: No, the West is too talented to have Cody Fajardo out gunning Trevor, Bo, Reilly and Nichols for the three West playoff spots and a likely crossover slot.
O’Leary: Unless Isaac Harker or Bryan Bennett are full of surprises, no.