Today, the Ottawa Redblacks made the deal between both Marcel Desjardins and quarterback Nick Arbuckle official. As the media and came together for a press conference based on Nick Arbuckle’s contract signed in Ottawa, Marcel Desjardins looks at the bright spots from a year ago and whats to come in the future here in Ottawa.
After going 3-15 a season ago, Marcel Desjardins and the Redblacks knew that a change had to come, and the change didn’t wait too long. Just following the Ottawa Redblacks final regular season game on November 1st, head coach Rick Campbell decided to leave Ottawa to pursue new beginnings else where. That move made by Campbell was what turned the off-season upside down. The team’s off-season got even more busy, although Marcel Desjardins proved to many why he is a top general manager in the CFL. Only a month after Campbell’s big decision, the Ottawa Redblacks got a head coach back in Paul LaPolice who had just won the Grey Cup a part of his 4 years as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive coordinator.
Of course this was a big transaction for the Ottawa Redblacks, although it was just a first piece to the unfinished puzzle. LaPolice came to Ottawa, where he spent multiple weeks pretty well building his coaching staff from scratch. He brought in a coaching staff which includes offensive line coach (from the Browns) Bob Wylie, wide receivers coach (played in Winnipeg and Toronto as a DB) Alex Suber, defensive backs coach (coached at University of Alberta) Greg Knox, runningbacks coach (coached at Blue Bombers training camp) Charlie Eger, quarterbacks coach (played NFL and Sask QB coach) Steve Walsh, defensive coordinator (longtime CFL coach, TSN coach) Mike Benevides, and brought back long time special teams coach Bob Dyce. These coaches come together and practically change the identity here in Ottawa, and helps fans to forget about the past season.
Although it looks as if the coaches changed the team’s identity alone, when you look at the transactions that Marcel Desjardins has made prior to free agency, the team is coming together well. One big piece to every team is the quarterback position, and today’s announcement with Nick Arbuckle makes fans look at the team differently. “Last year is last year.” said Desjardins in an interview with myself, “Whether you win the Grey Cup, come close to it or lose the way we did last year, there will always be a reset mindset. Now its just finding the right pieces for the team, whether its the coaching staff, finding a quarterback like Nick (Arbuckle) and now with free agency just around the corner, my mind is set on finding the other pieces to make it all fit.”
As mentioned previously, the Redblacks hosted a press conference today in light of Nick Arbuckle becoming the quarterback of the Ottawa Redblacks, and following the question and answer section, I asked Desjardins what he was most excited about with Arbuckle now on the team. “He gives us a solid foundation at the most important position in football,” says GM Desjardins, “With the coaching staff built for him here, it’s a great thing for the organization. Also today,the media found out the quality kind of person he is and that’s exactly what we look for here in Ottawa, so that being said I’m very excited to have Nick a part of this team.”
With all being said, Marcel Desjardins has been able to put together a solid group of coaches and players thus far, although with a new quarterback in town, a question comes up whether he will be building the team around Arbuckle or not. Desjardins answers with, “Yes, at the end of the day we need to have the best overall roster possible, so there will be some new pieces on offense but there will certainly be some on defense also.”