2021 CFL Preview: Ottawa RedBlacks

by Sean Murphy

We've saved the worst for last? Few are expecting the RedBlacks to contend for a Grey Cup title in 2021 but there are also reasons for optimism in the nation's capital. Here's a quick look at what to expect from Ottawa this season.

Paul LaPolice takes over head coaching duties after a successful term as offensive coordinator in Winnipeg. He'll be tasked with turning around a RedBlacks squad that lost 15 of their final 16 games in 2019. 

Gone are the days of an ultra-efficient RedBlacks offense led by Trevor Harris and Greg Ellingson. Veteran QB Matt Nichols hopes to provide some stability at the quarterback position. He obviously has a good rapport with new head coach LaPolice from their days together in Winnipeg. Nichols won't have all that high of a bar expectations-wise after Dominique Davis struggled mightily two years ago. Keep in mind, LaPolice was able to get a ton of production out of what was perhaps a mediocre offense, at least talent-wise, over the years in Winnipeg. 

No team boasts fewer household names on the offensive side of the football. The likes of RB Timothy Flanders and WRs Nate Behar and Terry Williams will be tasked with lifting the offense following a disastrous 2019 campaign. With that in mind, it's not difficult to understand why most are picking the RedBlacks to finish last in the East Division. 

The defense could turn out to be the strength of the team with some notable returning talent, keyed by DL Avery Ellis, but again, this is a unit lacking starpower and there are more questions than answers entering the new season. 

The RedBlacks will look to hit the ground running in their opener as they hit the road to face the Edmonton Elks.

As I mentioned, Ottawa is a decided underdog when it comes to Grey Cup futures, currently priced around 13-1 at most books. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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