The calendar has flipped to 2020 and we can finally put the 2019 season behind us. Moving into the new year, the REDBLACKS will have a lot of work to do to get back to the level they were once at, but what do they need to do? Here are some of the most important steps for the REDBLACKS to get back to being Grey Cup contenders.
Sign Nick Arbuckle
On January 3rd, the Ottawa REDBLACKS made a move to bring in pending free agent in a trade with the Calgary Stampeders. The REDBLACKS sent a 3rd round pick to Calgary, but if Arbuckle signs, the teams will swap first round picks.
What the REDBLACKS give up in this trade is irrelevant to me personally. The key to this trade is what happens with Nick Arbuckle. Arbuckle (26) threw for 2103 yards on 238 attempts to go along with 11 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Arbuckle will become a free agent on February 11. Arbuckle has been tagged as the guy who is the next big thing and that doesn’t always work out, but he proved that he can get the job done in his handful of starts last season.
Get Arbuckle some help
As good as Nick Arbuckle could be for the REDBLACKS, if he doesn’t have some weapons around him it will end up much like the 2019 season did. There are some big names out there that could help out including S.J. Green, Darvin Adams, Namaan Roosevelt, and many others. If you look back to the years where Ottawa was one of the best teams in the CFL, the QB had weapons, and lots of them. Ellingson, Sinopoli, Spencer, and Harris have provided many options for whoever the QB was.
Last season, the offence was pitiful. Most people put it on the QB play, and rightfully so, but the lack of weapons really hurt the REDBLACKS. Tom Brady couldn’t do anything with his offence this season. I doesn’t matter how good the QB is, if they don’t have any help, they won’t look good. This is critical for Ottawa this off season.
Put pressure on the QB
The Ottawa REDBLACK seem to always be around the bottom of the league in sacks. In 2019, the REDBLACKS finished tied for second last with only 28. Far too often the opposing QBs are able to throw the ball with a clean pocket and make easy throws. Getting pressure on the QB is a must to have a better defence in 2020. I’m not asking for the big names, but a guy like Willie Jefferson would be wonderful to have in Ottawa. The secondary would look so much better if they didn’t have to play coverage for as long on each play. Pressure makes everything easier for the whole defence, and having a solid defensive line would make the REDBLACKS defence a force to be reckoned with.
If nothing is done about the poor play on the defensive line, particularly from the defensive end position, the REDBLACKS could be looking at a tough year on the defensive side of the ball. Considering a new offence is being built and we don’t know how that’s going to work out yet, having a excellent defence should be a priority for GM Marcel Desjardins.
What can be done off the field to make fans happy?
Football isn’t just about what’s happening on the field, but it’s also about making the fans happy. I don’t often talk about off the field matters, but after a terrible season the REDBLACKS need to be people pleasers to make sure the fans are coming to games. Here are some of the things they could do.
One of the things that separates the NFL from any other sport is the tailgating. It’s odd to me that with so much room there is no tailgate. I’m not asking to park my own car there and make my own food, but just have a designated tailgate area and have $5 beers and $3 hot dogs. Below, circled in red is where I would do this if I was in charge.
I know they have that little area near the score board, but it just doesn’t work for me. I feel as if this could help bring in some of the casual fans and boost the overall fan experience before REDBLACKS games.
One of the best things that ever happened for halftime at REDBLACKS games was the Thursday night music series. I’m not a person who needs to see a big show at halftime, but what ever happened to the North vs South battle? Sitting around for 15 minutes during halftime is a missed opportunity. Seeing a North vs South competition at half time would get me excited and would keep my focus off of Twitter at half time. We all know the less Twitter the better.
Giving things away is always a difficult topic. The Big Joe bobble head and the REDBLACKS jersey lunchbox were cool and could entice the casual fans to come to games. Giving away bigger things such as season tickets or game worn jerseys to season ticket holders could also be just one extra benefit to entice someone to buy season tickets for the first time.
There is plenty of work to do both with the team and with the fan experience. The REDBLACKS have said they are committed to excellence and we have seen bits and pieces of that since the season ended. We can only hope that trend continues and things only improve from here.