Coming off a 3-15 season in 2019, the Ottawa Redblacks front office is eyeing a bounce back season for 2020 and the moves they’ve made over the course of the off-season give reason to think it will happen. Through the 2020 CFL off-season, the Redblacks have made a few major transactions: bringing in a new coaching staff, trading for Arbuckle and signing defensive help in Cleyon Laing and Abdul Kanneh are all just a few of the moves made this off-season.
Helping make the moves is director of player personnel Jean-Marc Edmé. Edmé has played a major role in the Redblacks front office throughout his time here in Ottawa. Since starting with the Redblacks in 2016, JM has helped the Redblacks bring in a good group of players and just like any other off-season he’s played a major role in scouting and recruiting players for the team to sign. Edmé mentions, “I think we as a staff did a good job of getting guys that really fit what the coaches want to do on the field. As the personnel, our jobs are to find players that can play with the coaches that our team has, and we were able to find a lot of great players that go by those guidelines.”
Ottawa found a list of big names that fit into the Redblacks’ coaches systems like Nick Arbuckle, Anthony Coombs, Timothy Flanders, Don Unamba and Abdul Kanneh but like every other off-season the Redblacks’ front-office led by guys like Edmé were able to bring in a lot of younger guys that people like to call “under the radar signings”.
When asked about the players the team signed this off-season JM comments, “We as a staff believe everything starts with the quarterback position, so locking up Arbuckle was a big part of this year’s off-season and then Cleyon Laing who is a ratio breaker in the inside of our strong defensive line, but when you look at the off-season’s transactions there are a lot of great young players that we signed.” He points out, “On the defensive side of the ball I’d like to set aside Corey Moore, he’s a defensive back out of Georgia and he spent a couple years in the NFL and actually suiting up for the Colts and Houston Texans. Moore really sticks out for still being 27 years old and having some significant years in the NFL, he can be a major piece to the secondary in 2020.”
To go with Moore in the secondary, Jean-Marc also mentions, “David Jones out of Rchmond is also a great DB for the Redblacks. Jones is a guy that we see at the nickel position, from being a safety in college and spending a little time with the Patriots he can be a good addition.”
After talking about whats possible to happen in the secondary, Edmé also has eyes on the offensive side of the ball, “On the offensive side of the ball, there is a large number of receivers that we brought in this off-season and as a group we are excited to see how they do here. In the list of receivers are, (Jovon) Durante from Florida Atlantic, Joe Walker from Delaware, Ervin Philips from Syracuse. I think those guys and a mix of the returning guys can make up of a solid group. A lot of the guys are hungry to play and get an opportunity so once we see them on the field in training camp there could be some good competition.”
The receiver position could have some competition as Edmé mentions and so can the running back position he comments, “One player that the fans here in Ottawa should be excited for and who I look forward to watching is Akeem Hunt. Hunt had a great career out in Purdue but then he had a solid couple of years in the NFL too so if he is put into the group with Crockett and Tim Flanders our running backs can be a great group with help from LaPolice.”
Along with Hunt JM also talks about Timothy Flanders who he mentioned in the group of backs, “Flanders is a very good back and will play a good role with us next year. He’s one of the guys that LaPolice brought in from his time in Winnipeg and he is a player that can lineup both in the backfield and at slot to be a good flex player.”
When taking a look at the running backs that Ottawa has on their roster as Edmé mentioned, there will be some exciting plays at TD Place this year. Also in the Ottawa Redblacks backfield is the quarterback. Although it looks as if Arbuckle won the starting job and seeing Dominique Davis taking a pay cut to go in as a backup, Ottawa could see a good a really good training camp battle for backup quarterbacks. Throughout the off-season, Ottawa has been able to sign Kevin Anderson who spent time with Winnipeg last season, Taryn Christion spent time with 3 NFL teams last season and then they also have Ross Comis who was with Ottawa for a couple of weeks last season.
When asked about the quarterbacks Edmé mentions, “We are really happy about the quarterback group that we have been able to put together. In Winnipeg Kevin Anderson was able to play for LaPolice’s offense so theres some familiarity there and then for Comis even though he didn’t play a lot in college, all that was on film for him was good and he still has that chance here in Ottawa to show what he can do.”
The comment that Jean-Marc gave for Comis and Anderson give a good look on what they have from past experiences but when asked about Taryn Christion he gives a really in depth description on what he has in his next opportunity. Edmé’s take on Christion, “When you look at (Christion), he’s a guy that through for over 11,000 yards in University and when at South Dakota State he brought his team to the playoffs every year he was there so to show that he can win as a starter is a really good thing to see as a scout and coach in the CFL because at the end of the day thats what you’re looking for.”
Also when asked about the athleticism that Christion has he says, “When he was in University he threw for a lot of yards and all, but he has 4.5 speed which is really good for a quarterback. Seeing the numbers he had in University and then going to his pre-season with Dallas last season he did a really good job of showing his athletic ability.”
In Dallas, the Cowboys used Christion on the kickoff team, defense and even lined up at receiver a couple times during his pre-season stint and given the history of what coach Paul LaPolice has done with players with talent like that, Edmé comments, “Right now its too early to tell what the roster and the players roles will look like, but one thing I can say is that coach LaPo is excited to work with him and one thing we love to see in LaPo is what he can do to maximize a players role and given what he has done with Streveler last year was a really special thing to see and was hard to play against. Will he do that with Christion? I can’t say that just because we haven’t seen him on the field at training camp yet and its still early but he is a really talented kid and we as a staff are excited to see what he can do in Ottawa.”
When Christion is in Ottawa and playing for the Redblacks, he’s going to need a lot of help from the offensive line in Ottawa and in 2020 the Redblacks offensive line could see some major changes from what it had looked like in previous seasons.
In previous seasons, Ottawa has seen an All-Canadian offensive line, although that cold change this coming season. After releasing both Stephane Nembot and Philippe Gagnon Jean-Marc Edmé gives Redblacks fans a couple of names to keep an eye out for as they could very well be starting linemen on the team, “We as a staff have come together on signing a good group of offensive linemen.”
He goes to mention names, “We did find a good quality guy in Jamar McGloster. If I was a fan thats a name to look out for, as he’s a guy over 6’6 where he has long arms and he put together a solid career at Syracuse where we first saw him and then after a few NFL camps he spent time in Winnipeg where LaPolice is familiar with him and then to go with McGloster, theres another good lineman in Darrell Williams who spent some time in the NFL and has good NFL experience which gives us something to get excited about in him. In all, we have a good group of guys that we’ve signed that can play on our line and to go with them is the guys coming back to the team and we will have a good group to choose from when naming starters closer to the season.”
All in all, the Ottawa Redblacks have a good amount of players with quality talent going into the 2020 season, and from the interview with director of player personnel JM Edmé, he gave some names to the Ottawa Redblacks fans to look out for when the players are all on the field for the 2020 CFL training camp.