The Importance of Brad Sinopoli
There are more talented players in the Canadian Football League, there are more specialized and refined players in the Canadian Football League, but in 2019 there is no more important player to their team than Brad Sinopoli of the Ottawa Redblacks.
Importance is a funny thing because it’s a matter of opinion that is dependent on a self assigned group of variables.
What makes a player valuable? What determines their value? How is that value relative to their surroundings and how do we project a players value in their current situation before a single snap is ever taken in the preseason let alone the regular season.
All of these are fair questions but as the free agency period continued to shake out and I saw names like Trevor Harris, Greg Ellingson, William Powell and even SirVincent Rogers swap their red and black for differing shades of western green I immediately began to wonder alone in my mind and aloud on radio, “where does this leave Brad Sinopoli?”
In Sinopoli the Redblacks have arguably had the CFL’s best Canadian player alongside Andrew Harris who carries the workload admirably in Winnipeg and any number of incredibly talented lineman who rarely get the credit they deserve for owning their assignments.
Sinopoli found a fit working the intermediate levels of the defence in a Jamie Elizondo crafted offence that saw Trevor Harris release the ball quickly and efficiently with great understanding of where Sinopoli would be at all times.
The result was a Canadian record for catches. Not bad eh?
With Elizondo gone south late in the offseason we aren’t yet sure what the newest form of Ottawa’s offence will take on and with Harris gone in free agency to Edmonton there is no guarantee that previous Harris backup Dominique Davis will have a true understanding and feel for Sinopoli or that newcomer Jonathan Jennings will be able to get on the same page with Sinopoli in the ways he did Bryan Burnham in spurts during his time as the starting quarterback in BC.
In the wild hurricane that has been the Redblacks offseason Sinopoli remains one of the few constants and - in reality - he might be their most talented offensive player when you consider the value of what he does for Ottawa’s offence.
On second down there simply was no more important player for Ottawa than Sinopoli, and that was with Ellingson, Powell and Diontae Spencer in the lineup. Can you imagine the workload he’ll be asked to carry with them gone?
To put it in perspective, in a few short short hours during free agency in February the Redblacks lost 59.4% of their 2018 targets.
Ottawa has drafted well at a variety of positions and will be sure to attempt promoting from within when it comes to supporting Sinopoli but the no-brainer next national pass catcher ready to relieve Brad in a moments notice isn’t necessarily there yet.
His scoring and ability to shake defenders in the score zone will likely have to rise in 2019 as well with the previously mentioned losses of talent from 2018. In the last four years Sinopoli has 383 catches but just 14 touchdowns. He has never gone over four touchdowns.
That has to and will change this season but doing it with an offensive overhaul, a new quarterback and a new approach due to coaching change will be a challenge.
Simply put, the Redblacks need Sinopoli to be superman this year. He might as well play with a cape on if he’s able to stabilize an offence trying to fight the reality of minimal top end continuity as we begin the 2019 season.
Sinopoli is one of the best Canadian football players in recent memory and has earned everything that has come his way with tremendous understanding and ability, but this is the first truly great challenge of his time in Ottawa.
If he’s able to attain anything close to his 2018 season under the circumstances it would only further cement Canadian Football fans belief in his status as the best amongst us.
Ottawa needs just that. Excellence from the Peterborough native wearing #88 in red and black.
Marshall Ferguson is a former U SPORTS Quarterback, now serving as TSN 1150 Hamilton morning show host, voice of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and CFL.ca analyst