Saturday the Riders (who are riding a 4 game win streak) host the 3-6 RedBlacks (who have lost 6 of their past 7). These 2 teams last met in week 2 in an offensive shootout that cemented Cody Fajardo as a starting QB in this league. The more of the RedBlacks’ games I watch this season, the more I cannot fathom what happened in that game. It’s simply not the same RedBlack offense we saw in Week 2. Ottawa has just 8 big passing plays this year… 3 of them came in that game. I’m convinced that it wasn’t actually Dominique Davis playing in that game but rather a good QB disguised as Davis.
Davis’ stat line Game 2 – 77% completion, 354 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Davis’ state line in every other game he’s played in 2019 – 60% completion, 1469 yards (avg 210/game), 2 TDs, 11 INTs
Like, did Davis find a genie to grant him a wish when he played us or what?!? Whatever the explanation, we can’t let it happen again. The RedBlacks have failed to score more than 20 points in all but one game since they played the Riders. I get that some of that can be blamed on having to play Jonathan Jennings but he doesn’t account for all that awfulness.
So let’s start with our defense. Ottawa has 2nd least offensive yards, least offensive TDs (yes less than both BC and Toronto), 2nd most two and outs, 2nd most turnovers. Remember that time Ottawa made that questionable decision to deny their talented OC the chance to interview for a head coach job and then he ended up quitting before the season? Glad to see that decision worked out so well for them. This is a struggling offensive unit we are facing, so on our home turf we need to come out and set the tone early. This is a case where kicking them while they are down is not only acceptable, its encouraged… not literally of course. To their credit, Ottawa has realized their offense is terrible and turned to Joe PaoPao to try and fix things. With Davis struggling, he will likely start by looking to establish Crockett and the run game early. We need to shut that down and ramp up the pressure on Davis. Sure he torched us last time, but I would be willing to bet against that happening again. I would like to see us be aggressive and take the fight to them. It should lead to mistakes and turnovers. Looks like Johnson is still out but Leonard is back which should help. I expect Paopao to try and get back to basics, so in addition to a heavy dose of run, look for them to try and lean on Sinopoli to get their passing game going… or based on their past few games I should instead say: look for them to throw incomplete passes 2 yards behind Sinopoli more frequently.
Offensively you would usually fear taking on a Noel Thorpe defense. But this isn’t a typical Thorpe defense. 2nd most yards allowed, 3rd most points allowed. Injuries to Tindal and Rose in the secondary certainly have hurt them, as has the fact that the only way the O could provide less support is to kick their defensive teammates in the crotch as they are heading onto the field. Ottawa has the second worst run D (giving up 121 yards per game on the ground) that should mean Powell gets a heavy workload. Last game we attacked Chris Randle with Shaq Evans and I’d be all for that again. Outside of possibly Pruneau, no one in that secondary scares me. Evans and Moore should be able to have big gains. Add in some key conversions for Roosevelt and the token Manny catch. I’m OK with Fajardo using his legs when needed but I’d really like him to not get himself killed with a tough back half of the season left to go. Ottawa has forced 23 turnovers so we need to ensure we are protecting the ball. Ottawa allowed a combined 37 points to Edmonton and Hamilton in the last 2 games so they still have the ability to lock things down and make us work for yards and points.
Despite their struggles elsewhere, Ottawa does have very solid special teams. Lewis Ward may have recently proved he is human but can still kick. Leone is a great punter. Even without Dedmon their return game can be impactful. We can’t let our special team struggles be something that keeps Ottawa in this game. Honestly based on how well we have been covering kicks, I would not be opposed to a strategy of exclusively kicking through the endzone or out of bounds. Given that kicking out of bounds would require our punter to kick outside the numbers I guess we can only hope for the kick through the endzone option.
Ottawa is a well coached team and we can’t take them lightly. But right now, they are not a very good team. Unless Dominique Davis’ secret power is playing well exclusively against the Riders, I expect them to struggle offensively. I don’t expect an offensive onslaught from us but I don’t see Ottawa scoring 3 TDs so 21 points seems attainable on our end. Aggressive D, get the crowd involved, smart methodical drives on O. I would personally like to see Nick Marshall have a 3 pick revenge game (as honestly despite getting torched in Game 2 his coverage could not have been much better).
Riders by 10