Every team goes through a losing streak during the course of a season. Every team, in every sport. If that streak occurs somewhere in the middle of the season, it’s not such a big deal. But if it happens to kick off a campaign (or to end a season, leading up to the playoffs), then its importance is magnified.
Magnified in call-in shows, magnified in the owner’s box, and magnified in the coach’s eyes, depending on the nature of the bad start. Pre-season expectations are factored in, as are the next block of games. Since every team is going to lose a percentage of their games, how concerned should anybody be?
In hockey, a four-game winless streak to begin the season isn’t a big deal. With twice as many games in baseball, being swept in the opening season series doesn’t mean much. Yet in football, with only 18 games (16 in the NFL), a four-game winless skid is cause for concern.
So does that mean the defending Grey Cup champion Ottawa Redblacks are already done for the 2017 season?
(Though they’d better get a win under their belt soon).
The Redblacks opened up at home, in a Grey Cup rematch with the Calgary Stampeders, only the best team in the regular season last year. They played to a 31-31 draw.
Their next game was back in Calgary, and this time the Stamps emerged with a tight 43-37 win.
Game Three for the Redblacks was back at home, and they faced a resurgent Toronto Argonauts team, and dominated the visitors in the first half. Argos’ head coach Marc Trestman must have spun his magic during half time, because a different Toronto team emerged in the second half. Still, they needed a flubbed conversation attempt by Ottawa in order to walk away with a hard fought 26-25 win.
Game Four started off well for the modern day Rough Riders/Renegades. They jumped out to a 9-0 lead on the Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium, but couldn’t hold it, and ended up falling to Edmonton 23-21.
After four games, the Ottawa Redblacks have one point to show for their efforts. Their offence currently stands 3rd in the entire league (behind only Calgary and B.C.), with 116 points scored. The trouble is, their defence has permitted 123 points to be scored, the highest total in the CFL.
This is where one has to look at the numbers. Keep in mind Ottawa and Calgary played those two high scoring games to open the season. Meaning the Stamps D has also been sub-par compared to past season. Those numbers will come down for both squads.
Also keep in mind pre-season expectations. Calgary were the best team in the league last year, (15-2-1) but were beaten in the Grey Cup by Ottawa. The Redblacks went 8-9-1 last season, but that was good enough for first place in the weaker East Division.
So only gaining a point against Calgary is not unexpected. The loss to Toronto (5-13 last season) is the one that stings. For Ottawa fans, all four losses sting, because it’s not a stretch to say that the Redblacks could be 4-0 right now.
Four games do not make a season, and Ottawa is at home against the Montreal Alouettes (1-2) this Wednesday. The Redblacks actually have two games in Week 5, because they’re at Toronto on Monday.
And here is how a season can be turned around just like that. If the Redblacks defeat both the Alouettes and Argonauts in Week 5, well, then Ottawa jumps into first place in the Eastern Division. Or they could drop both to go 0-6, and then the 2017 season will very much be in jeopardy.