Well, week eight is off to an interesting start, isn’t it? The banged-up Hamilton Tiger-Cats made the trip to Ottawa to take on the lowly Redblacks in a rainy affair. It was probably the ugliest game in the CFL this season and it was very hard to watch, but for the second week in a row, the Tiger-Cats offence did just enough to win them the game. Another defensive battle for the Cats, and another game where the Redblacks weren’t able to move the ball. Here are the takeaways from the game.
Redblacks’ Terrible Offence
It’s no secret that the Ottawa Redblacks’ offence is bad, but their week eight game may just have been one of the worst offensive performances in franchise history. It yielded only 197 yards of total offence, and shockingly, it’s not the lowest output on the season. In fact, it’s not even close. Week one was the worst week of the season for the offence who picked up just 127 yards, but this game was somehow worse when it came to the smell test.
The hard thing to decide is why this is happening. Is it the players? Is it the coaching? Is it the general manager? It’s probably a mix of the three, but what needs to be done to fix things?
The short answer is that there probably isn’t a fix to be had this season. There probably isn’t a way to make this offence good enough to go toe-to-toe with some of the league’s best. Can it be made at least mediocre? Maybe, but many things have to go right.
The biggest shortcomings have been at the quarterback spot. Neither Dominique Davis nor Matt Nichols has been able to move the football and score touchdowns consistently, especially Nichols who is yet to throw a touchdown pass this season.
Fans have been asking what would change if the team had kept Nick Arbuckle for the season, but he hasn’t been great this year either. It may have been a little better, but in Toronto, his supporting cast is much better and he still hasn’t been great.
A share of the quarterback struggles has come down to a poor offensive line and a sub-par receiver room. There is plenty of talent around the locker room, but they lack the game-breaking players that the Hamilton’s, Saskatchewan’s, and Toronto’s of the league have.
The Ottawa offence is just broken and a fix now doesn’t seem realistic. The team is frustrated, the players are frustrated, and the fans are frustrated, especially considering this is the second consecutive season with an offence as poor as Ottawa’s.
The 2 Quarterback Rule Needs to Go
Ahead of the 2021 season, the CFL implemented a rule that stopped teams from dressing three quarterbacks, presumably to save a little bit of cash on one of the most expensive positions in the sport. In theory, the rule is great, but on Wednesday night in Ottawa, it reared its ugly head and made the game a farce.
After an interception that led to a Tiger-Cats touchdown, Davis came up limping and Nichols came into the game. Not too long after, Nichols rolled out of the pocket and took a big hit on a run just short of the first down. With neither quarterback healthy enough to play, the Redblacks were forced to turn to Nate Behar at quarterback.
The CFL and sports, in general, are in the business of entertainment, and something about an emergency backup quarterback isn’t very exciting. It hurts the competitiveness of the game, and after the original excitement of watching a non-quarterback throw the ball, you start to realize that it’s not fun to watch. The CFL needs to scrap this as soon as possible. It’s shown that it can hurt the product, and it hurts the development of young quarterbacks.
As for the development of players, the third quarterback for the Redblacks in this game would have been Caleb Evans, a player that could possibly be the starter in a week’s time. He will come in with no reps in the CFL whatsoever, and getting him into this game or even one earlier in the season would have been nice for the Redblacks. This will happen again, and when it does, the same conversation will be had.
Ti-Cats Need Injured Players Back
In back-to-back weeks, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have escaped from close games with a win, but it is beyond clear that they are struggling and happened to run into the Calgary Stampeders and the Redblacks, two of the worst teams in the league. Offensively, the Tiger-Cats are missing so many pieces that take their offence to the next level. Not only are they missing their two best quarterbacks in Dane Evans and Jeremiah Masoli, but they are also down Brandon Banks, Bralon Addison, and DeVier Posey.
They might be 2-0 since losing Evans and Masoli, but they really shouldn’t be. David Watford has not been very good in either of his starts and looked particularly poor in Ottawa going 15/25 passing for just 115 yards and overthrowing countless receivers. It was enough to get the job done, but that mostly comes down to excellent coaching and a defence that held Ottawa’s offence to zero points.
The really good news for the Tiger-Cats is that in the absence of their star offensive players, the team earned back-to-back wins, wins that are critical for them in the race to win the East division. At some point, you expect the Cats to put it all together, and if/when that happens, they are in a spot where they can be very dangerous for not only the East division but to win the Grey Cup.
Passing Yards: David Watford (HAM): 115
Rushing Yards: David Watford (HAM): 54
Receiving Yards: Ryan Davis (OTT): 37
Touchdowns: Steven Dunbar (HAM), DeVonte Dedmon (OTT), Jumal Rolle (HAM): 1
Tackles: Avery Williams (OTT): 11
Special Teams Tackles: Nick Cross (HAM): 5
Sacks: Simoni Lawrence (HAM), Mason Bennett (HAM), Randall Evans (OTT): 1
Interceptions: Jumal Rolle (HAM): 1
13th Man Sports’ Player of the Game
POTG: Avery Williams