Menu
@
May 14, 2024

Led by Dru Brown, REDBLACKS’ quarterbacks hold key to offensive success

In the Canadian Football League, the quarterback position can be the difference between a season to forget, and one that culminates in winning the ultimate prize – the Grey Cup.

In Ottawa, the REDBLACKS claim one of the deepest quarterback rooms across the entire CFL, possessing four pivots with starting experience, including Dru Brown, one of the prized offseason acquisitions from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. At training camp, the majority of reps have been shared by Brown, and Dustin Crum, who introduced himself to the league in incredible fashion a season ago.

With both Jeremiah Masoli and Tyrie Adams – who enters his third season with the organization – recovering from injuries suffered in 2023, Jake Dunniway and Matthew McKay have soaked up the remaining reps in the fight for the third-string job.

The crowded quarterback room, combined with the wealth of knowledge and experience entrenched within it has created an intense atmosphere according to Brown, who has worked with the first-string unit to open camp.

“Guys are ready to roll,” he said. “It’s highly competitive, it’s urgent, but for me personally, I’m not the guy who is going to come in and start ‘rah-rah-ing’, I want to earn the respect of my teammates through my play and actions in my preparation. It has been intense, but that’s what good teams do, they make each other better.”

So far, Head Coach Bob Dyce has noticed the positives in his field generals, but has proven difficult to please, largely thanks to his lofty expectations.

“[Brown and Crum] have a good command of the offence,” Dyce said. “For the most part, they have done a good job of making sure the offence stays on track. They understand the down and distance, and delivering the ball deeper down the field to get first downs.”

“Just like everyone here, they can be better. I know they will get better as they progress.”

By his own admission, Brown isn’t pushing back on his new Head Coach, citing numerous areas of his game he’s hoping to fine-tune before the regular season begins against his former squad on June 13th.

Some of those things include decision-making, which will come with more time spent learning a new offence, or the finesse it takes to fit the ball into small windows, but for Brown, the biggest adjustment comes off the field, where he is being asked to step up, and become a leader of men.

“I would say the responsibility is different,” he explained. “I’ve been approaching football the same since I was really young. Leadership will eventually turn into being more vocal, whereas in Winnipeg, that was Zach [Collaros’] job. It was my job to have private conversations with guys that he maybe missed, and getting guys ready if someone went down, but here, that’s expanding.”

Although games still feel like a lifetime away for fans, the REDBLACKS know how quickly time evaporates when you could use a little bit more of it. Learning the offence is absolutely imperative, but with a head start, Brown remains confident he’ll have the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted.

“I’ve prepared myself to come in here and be pretty comfortable with the verbiage and knowledge,” he said. “Meeting with Tommy Condell in the offseason helped, but being with Zach [Collaros] also helped, a lot of the stuff is similar in regards to how they speak and the verbiage they use. There will be things that are new, but we’ll get to those things when the time comes.”

The message for the team as a whole, but also the quarterbacks, is written in plain English; no matter the cost, the job needs to get done.

“We’re not in a position where we can have any patience,” Dyce said. “There is a great sense of urgency here, and we have to make sure that we’re utilizing every minute that we’re on the field or in the meeting room so that we are accomplishing our goals moving forward.”

With all of the hype that surrounds Brown in the nation’s capital, he hasn’t come to Ottawa with an ego. He’s excited to get to work with his peers, and learn from a player he looked up to in his younger years.

“I grew up in high school watching Jeremiah, and I used to try to make plays just like him,” Brown said. “I have a ton of respect for him and the knowledge that he has. He’s the kind of dude I’m excited to work with.”

“Dustin did some great things last year, and he’s a smart young kid who loves learning. All of the guys in the room have a lot of respect for one another. One of the things that I have tried to echo is that if everyone loves this, we’re going to have a lot of fun together. There will be a lot of hours spent together, but we can make it fun.”