The Ottawa Redblacks are 2-0. After their defence came up big to shock the Stampeders on the road in the season opener, the Redblacks offence could not be stopped in last night’s victory over the Roughriders.
They have a talented roster full of experienced playmakers, but the offensive stars lost in free agency helped create a narrative that Ottawa could not compete this season. Now, after an off-season of answering questions about what they lack and a perfect two-game start, it is clear the Redblacks not only hear the outside noise but are embracing their ability to come together in spite of it.
They seem to have developed an ‘us against the league’ mentality. Starting quarterback Dominique Davis epitomizes the underdog status of this season’s Redblacks. After years spent as a backup in the CFL, he is finally getting the chance to lead his own team for the first time. He has more doubters than perhaps anyone else on the Ottawa roster. But Davis has answered questions about it with maturity and grace.
“We keep everything in-house and we stick together. You know, it’s a lot of people out there that doubt us but we don’t listen to the outside stuff. We just worry about what happens in-house,” said Davis following the week one win over Calgary.
Last Season’s Doubters and This Season’s Cynics
I’m not sure you could find a single CFL fan or media member who had the Ottawa Redblacks undefeated through two weeks of the season. Although it is certainly magnified now, they were doubters last season too.
The Canadian football world seemed ready to hand the East Division to the young and exciting Hamilton Ti-Cats in 2018. The league’s own simulation gave the Ti-Cats as high as a 92.04 per cent chance at winning the East last season. Hamilton finished second, losing all four games to the Redblacks, including a blowout in the East Final.
It is in the power rankings however where true feelings on the Redblacks’ roster are found. The CFL releases power rankings of the nine CFL teams following the conclusion of each week’s slate of games.
Heading into the first week of the 2018 season, the CFL ranked the Redblacks the fifth best team in the league. Again, they proved their initial doubters wrong. Ottawa ended up leading the East Division following the conclusion of the regular season. Two weeks later they won they advance to the 106th Grey Cup.
CFL fans doubted Ottawa even more heading into the 2019 season. The CFL’s official power rankings had them as the eighth best team in the league. Only the Montreal Alouettes, a team without an owner and who fired their coach weeks before the start of the season, were ranked lower.
Now, not only are the Redblacks undefeated, but they have beaten two playoff teams from last season. The East Division still goes through Ottawa.
The Last Word
The mentality of feeling slighted can be a powerful motivational tool in sports. Don’t be so quick to give the Eastern crown away just yet. Games aren’t won on paper and the division title will have to be taken from the Ottawa Redblacks. The outside criticism is immense at times but Ottawa is comfortable fighting to surpass expectations.
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