Redblacks are looking forward to a turnaround in the tenth season after four dismal campaigns


OTTAWA – After four years of disappointment, the Ottawa Redblacks are looking to turn things around in their tenth season.

OTTAWA – After four years of disappointment, the Ottawa Redblacks are looking to turn things around in their tenth season.

Ottawa has compiled a dismal 14-54 record over the past four years, but with new quarterback Dru Brown at the helm, the Redblacks are optimistic heading into their anniversary campaign.

In Brown, the Redblacks hope to find consistency, reliability and longevity, all of which have eluded Ottawa in recent years.

Brown understands that he will have high expectations.

“I think the biggest challenge for any team is understanding how to win and how to win consistently,” Brown said. “We’ve talked about that every day and there’s never a moment where we don’t look at the process of what it means. takes to win.”

Brown, who was impressive as Zach Collaros’ backup in Winnipeg the past three seasons, is expected to be the starter, but Dustin Crum remains eager to prove he can expand his CFL skillset after filling in admirably last season.

Veteran Jeremiah Masoli, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, and Tyrie Adams, the 27-year-old quarterback who was impressive before suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear, could also compete for playing time.

Whoever emerges as the No. 1 in Ottawa, the most important thing will be providing long-sought stability.

The Redblacks suffered their first major loss before the campaign even started when running back Devonte Williams suffered a torn Achilles tendon during offseason training. He probably won’t play in 2024.

Ryquell Armstead, Kylin Hill and Ronnie Brown want to fill the void. Armstead was a fifth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2019 NFL draft and appears to be the frontrunner.

“It was great to know there was an opportunity here,” Armstead said. “But I will say that when you get the opportunity, you have to take it and that’s why I’ve been working hard. This offseason has been a grind.”

There will be some familiar faces among Ottawa’s receiving corps, with Jaelon Acklin, Dustin Hardy and Bralon Addison returning for another season. Dominique Rhymes, a free agent acquisition, will make his return to the nation’s capital and provide some additional depth.

Aside from Brown, one of the most impressive additions was the signing of linebacker Adarius Pickett. Last season, he had career highs in tackles (105) and sacks (six) and special teams tackles (19).

Pickett said the opportunity to reunite with defensive coordinator Barron Miles factored into his decision to sign in Ottawa. Miles was Pickett’s defensive coordinator in Montreal in 2021 and part of 2022.

“I always thought this was a very talented team, despite their record,” Pickett said. “I feel like bringing me and a few other guys in to help change things.”

On paper, the new additions seem to indicate that everything bodes well for the Redblacks, but fans have seen it all before and are sorely disappointed.

The Redblacks’ top priority this season is to get off to a solid start. Last season, Ottawa started with a 1-3 record. After reaching a 3-3 record on the night, the team went into a spiral, losing seven straight games.

Ottawa, in particular, needs to improve its home performance. With just five wins at TD Place in the past four years, the Redblacks have failed to capitalize on their home field advantage.

“We have to take the field with the mentality of dominating,” Pickett said. “We have to make sure that when people come here, they know it’s not going to be an easy game.”

The Redblacks have a Week 1 bye and open the season at home against Winnipeg on June 13.

Record from 2023: 4-14, fourth, East Division

Did you know?: In 2023, the Redblacks failed to secure a single win against East Division rivals.

Most important additions: LB Adarius Pickett (Toronto), WR Dominique Rhymes (BC), QB Dru Brown (Winnipeg).

Main losses: RB Devonte Williams (Achilles injury), LB Adam Auclair (Saskatchewan), safety Douglas Coleman III (Chicago Bears).

Players to watch: Brown, Pickett, DE Lorenzo Mauldin, WR Justin Hardy

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2024.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press