Last week, I wrote about the REDBLACKS offence and who they should keep. This week, I am keeping with the same theme, but this time I will be looking at the defence.
Many believed the defence was going to be among the elite groups in the CFL at the beginning of the season, but that hasn’t been the case for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons include injuries and players not preforming up to standards. You certainly can’t place all of the blame on the shoulders of the defence considering the offence has forced them to play for more than 30 minutes on multiple occasions, but just like the offence, there is improvement needed on the off season.
Just like last week, players will be sorted into two categories; must keep, and who they could go either way with. And once again, this list will be in the order of the roster listed on the REDBLACKS site. Contracts will not be taken into consideration.
Anthony Cioffi: Cioffi has looked good since coming to the REDBLACKS last season, and other than one poor game where he was plagued by penalties, he has looked just as good this season. Cioffi is only 25 years old and already looks like a solid CFL caliber player
Corey Tindal: Remember when Tindal started in Ottawa and everyone wanted him out? It’s a good things Marcel Desjardins didn’t listen because Corey has proven that he is a good player. Tindal has 46 tackles in 11 games so far this season, and he has really grown nicely into his role on Noel Thrope’s defence.
Avery Ellis: It’s true the pass rush hasn’t been good enough for the REDBLACKS this season, but that isn’t to be blamed on Avery Ellis. Ellis has steadily gotten better in his 3 years with the REDBLACKS, and if he can be surrounded by better players on his side, he will become a disruptive force for the REDBLACKS.
J.R. Tavai: Tavai has been an absolute animal this season, racking up 41 tackles, 5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in 13 games. J.R. seems to be in the backfield rather often and plays with a high level of energy other player could emulate.
Michael Wakefield: Big Mike Wakefield gets his mits on a lot of passes at the line, and even has an INT to his credit this season. He also has 4 sacks to his name so far, but just like Avery Ellis, having a big time end could open up some holes for him to get in the backfield more frequently.
Jerrod Fernandez: Fernandez is a 25 year old, high energy line backer who has spent the last few weeks on the injured list. He came back and made an immediate impact on the game. Fernandez is making the most of his starts and leaving me impressed with his play every time he steps on the field.
Antoine Pruneau: Now we walk into the obvious, and to the point of the injuries hurting the REDBLACKS, the next 3 players are arguable the 3 best players on defence, and they are down the list so far because they are injured. Pruneau has been fantastic for the REDBLACKS since he was drafted in 2014, and has emerged as a leader on the defence in that time. It’s a no-brainer to keep this guy around
Jonathan Rose: Rose has been missed on this team, and you don’t realize how good he is until he’s gone. He has only played 3 games this season, and we probably won’t see him play another this season, but he does have an INT in those 3 games. In 2018, he had 5 interceptions.
Avery Williams: Avery is the best player on this REDBLACKS team in my opinion. He has been beyond impressive this season. At the age of 25, Avery Williams could be a player to build this franchise around. He is probably going to get looks from NFL teams this off season, but the REDBLACKS should be doing everything in their power to keep this star in the making on the roster.
Sherrod Baltimore: I like Sherrod, but he hasn’t been getting the same playing time as he was the year he came to Ottawa. I could see Sherrod being offered a starting role elsewhere, and I don’t think Ottawa could make the same guarantee.
Jean-Phillippe Bolduc: J.P. is a good special teams player, but hasn’t been given much of a chance with the defence. Considering he will be 29 next season, you have to wonder if the REDBLACKS would rather go with a younger player and develop him into more than a special teams player.
Randal Evans: Evans hasn’t been terrible by any means this season, and he is good enough to start, but he has been burnt a few times this year. He has gotten better as the season has progressed, but if he is back, I would suspect it would be in a back-up role.
De’Chavon Hayes: Hayes has shown some promise this season, and he is on this list because if his 2 interceptions in 6 games. He would be a decent depth player should he be brought back next season.
Chris Randle: Randle started the reason not so great to say the least. Since then, he has been much better. Despite that, he hasn’t found that level he was at in Winnipeg.
Kevin Brown II: Brown has been in a diminished role this season with the emergence of Fernandez and Williams, but that doesn’t mean hes a bad player. KB has been a solid special teams player this season, and when called upon, gets the job done on defence.
Jeff Knox Jr.: Knox has already been released once by the club, and is now on the 1-game injured list. The 27 year old had 112 tackles in 2015 with Saskatchewan, but hasn’t found that MVP level since. If he stays, and finds that level, the REDBLACKS will have struck gold.
Michael Klassen: Klassen hasn’t been bad this season, but it is concerning that he is missing so much time in his career. In 7 seasons, he has only played 18 games 1 time, and that was in 2013. The bonus for Klassen is he is Canadian, and his hair is cool.
George Uko: Uko only has 11 tackles this season, and doesn’t currently have a sack, but Uko has been disruptive enough in my opinion to make the REDBLACKS consider making him part of their future plans.
And that’s the defence. Just like the offence, there are moves to be made in the off season to fill some gaps, but the core to the defence seems to already be in place. Adding an elite defensive end has to be the number one priority for GM Marcel Desjardins in the off season, and adding some pieces to the secondary would benefit the defence for sure.
If I missed something, or if you disagree, lets chat on Twitter. You can find me @FrankieVideo and on the @613_Sports.