How the 2015 season played out:
It was just one of those years in the Canadian capital. The Ottawa Redblacks went from a 2-16 expansion team in 2014, and turned it into a remarkable season that nobody in the Ottawa Valley is soon to forget. Ottawa were expected to have another year of building but instead turned the Canadian football world on its head, and won the Eastern Division title -the young franchise’s first.
40-year-old quarterback Henry Burris epitomised the Redblacks season by leading the league in passing yards and completion percentage, on his way to being named Most Outstanding Player.
The team was also well coached by Rick Campbell, where he led the team to scoring at least 20 points in 14 of the 18 games that season. Every time people from the outside tried to doubt the resilient Redblacks they would just keep winning. They carried this magic to the playoffs, where they had a miraculous final play win against Hamilton in the Eastern Final. But the magic couldn’t carry over to the Grey Cup game. The Redblacks lost to the Edmonton Eskimos in the first Grey Cup to feature an Ottawa based team since 1981.
Additions and Subtractions
One of the biggest additions that the Redblacks made this off-season was the addition of Trevor Harris, who had played previously with the Argos. This is the second time that a young Argos QB left Toronto after being under Ricky Ray’s wing. If Zach Collaros is any indication – as he too studied under Ray – then Trevor Harris will excel in Ottawa, finally getting a chance to start games regularly.
The Redblacks lost quarterback Thomas Demarco and running back Jeremiah Johnson to the free agent market, but they also lost offensive coordinator Jason Maas, who went to the defending Grey Cup champions – the Edmonton Eskimos – to be the head coach, after the departure of Chris Jones to Saskatchewan.
2016 Season Thoughts
The Ottawa Redblacks were able to shock the CFL with a remarkable turnaround last season. There will be an interesting QB battle between Henry Burris and Trevor Harris, which will be good for the offense. They look to be serious players in the East but will have to deal with the other teams getting their best players back from injury. It will certainly be a dog fight for the Redblacks to return to the Grey Cup.
It’s going to be tough to follow last season’s magic, but there is no better time than the present to mess with the rest of the Eastern Division’s plans. The East could be as wide open as it has ever been before this year.