The Argos don’t play again until the Eastern Final on Sunday, December 5th, at BMO Field. The Argonauts players now have a week off from practice before returning to Lamport Stadium late next week to gradually prep for the playoffs.
It’s going to be an extended layoff for the Boatmen. Nearly three weeks after, they concluded their regular season in a forgettable preseason-styled game on Tuesday night. A contest in which Toronto sat 19 starters from the week before. The makeup game with Edmonton had very little interest, averaging 167,000 viewers on TSN. The lowest viewership total for any CFL game this season.
There is plenty of news and storylines to focus on for Toronto during this extended bye period, as the team goes into reset mode for the playoffs. Let’s delve into some of them.
Montreal or Hamilton?
The debate in Double Blue land is which division rival, should the Argos prefer facing at home for the Eastern Final. Play Hamilton for a fifth time after beating them in three straight games or face a dangerous Montreal team, who soundly defeated Toronto 37-16 in late October.
From a competition standpoint, and for the sake of freshness, despite a potential demise against a vastly underrated Alouettes team. Most of the Argos’ faithful would rather face Montreal, even though, on paper, it’s not a good matchup for the Boatmen.
Despite the satisfaction that Argos’ faithful would get in beating the Ticats to advance to the 108th Grey Cup in Hamilton, no less on December 12th. A good number of Double Blue fans want to face off with the Als.
Be careful what you wish for; not only do the Alouettes have a complete football team on both sides of the ball. But with Trevor Harris returning to form. Even though Montreal is currently 7-6, they are a legit contender to hoist the Grey Cup trophy when the smoke clears on the CFL season. Because of their balance, running, passing, and getting after opposing team’s quarterbacks.
For all the hype attached to Trevor Harris, dominant RB William Stanback, and the Alouettes elite WR corps. Montreal’s defence is third in the league against the pass and leads the CFL with 45 sacks.
Please make no mistake; the Ticats are dangerous in their own right. They have a good defence as well. And if Hamilton can get back RB Don Jackson and WR Bralon Addison. They certainly have the horses on offence to challenge anyone. No matter who plays QB for them. Dane Evans or Jeremiah Masoli.
It’s still undecided going into the final weekend of the season of who will be hosting the East Semifinal on November 28th. Montreal needs to win and hope for a Hamilton loss to get a home game at Molson. And perhaps home-field advantage could determine who emerges for the East Final.
Toronto has a great challenge ahead of them, no matter who strolls into BMO in December, but they can take solace in the fact that they won’t have to beat both the Als and Tiger-Cats in the playoffs. Their two division rivals will have to beat each other up first.
Nate Holley Denied Re-entry Into The CFL
In case you missed it, on Wednesday, the CFL released their list of 2021 Player Award nominees. The Argos had five players nominated for six awards.
- Most Outstanding Player: McLeod Bethel-Thompson
- Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Dexter McCoil Sr.
- Most Outstanding Canadian: Kurleigh Gittens Jr.
- Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Peter Nicastro
- Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Boris Bede*
- Most Oustanding Rookie: Peter Nicastro
A former CFL Award winner, 2019 Most Outstanding CFL Rookie, Nate Holley has been denied re-entry into the league. Holley will not be joining the Toronto Argonauts after all.
The Canadian Football League announced on Wednesday that it had decided against registering a contract for Nate Holley under the league’s Violence Against Women Policy.
The CFL says it will not issue further comments out of respect for the privacy of those involved.
The Toronto Argonauts announced earlier this month that the 26-year-old Nate Holley had signed with the team after spending last season in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.
The Holley signing by the Boatmen was a luxury move, especially with Cameron Judge and Henoc Muamba now healthy. And with Chris Edwards starring at strongside linebacker. The Holley acquisition was supposed to aid the team in dealing with Dexter McCoil’s recovery from an elbow injury. Toronto is hoping to get their Most Outstanding Defensive Player nominee back in the playoffs. McCoil, currently on the six-game injured list, has missed the team’s last four games.
Argos Potential Playoff Returns
The most significant issue facing the Argos heading into the playoffs is their offensive line. And at this point, it’s looking unlikely that the Boatmen will have two of their best players in RT Jamal Campbell and rookie standout Centre Peter Nicastro.
Lost in the team’s seemingly meaningless season finale against Edmonton was that Toronto gave meaningful reps to two players, who the team was hopeful could be potential starters moving forward in veteran OT Thaddeus Coleman and C Jonathan Zamora.
Neither Coleman nor Zamora had good games against the Elks on Tuesday. The veteran 36-year old Thaddeus Coleman, who appeared to be retired back in the summer, was recently signed by Toronto to help with the team’s depth at tackle since losing Jamal Campbell to a severe strained quad injury. An injury that typically takes up to eight weeks for recovery. Campbell has missed the Argos last five games since their trip to Montreal.
On Tuesday night, Coleman had a lot of rust to shake off, and it showed. He was a couple of steps slow and struggled mightily in pass protection. The Argos might have to stick with Plan B at RT in Trevon Tate, who has started on the outside in Campbell’s absence.
Jonathan Zamora also struggled in his first start for Toronto. This season, Philip Blake has done a tremendous job, battling through injuries and starting at guard and centre. But the hope was that the highly touted but inexperienced Zamora would show enough against the Elks to instill confidence in the team, inserting him in the starting lineup in the playoffs. And ultimately, allowing the Argos to slide Blake back to his best position at guard.
Judging by his performance against Edmonton, Zamora, a native of Mississauga, Ont. and a third-round draft pick (No. 26 overall) out of St. FX in the 2020 CFL Draft, doesn’t look like he is ready for primetime yet.
Peter Nicastro, who has had a phenomenal first year in the CFL, is on Toronto’s six-game injured list with a knee injury. Nicastro has missed the team’s last three games.
Argonauts Offensive Line Coach Stephen McAdoo has done a masterful job all season. Coach Mac has not only held his unit together through injuries, but he has also helped two CFL rookies in LT Dejon Allen, and Peter Nicastro make a strong transition as first-time starters in the league. McAdoo will have his work cut out for him in the playoffs getting players like Trevn Tate to raise his level of play.
The good news on offence for Toronto is that WR Eric Rogers is back and should be 100 percent come December 5th. Rogers, who just came off the six-game injured list due to a hamstring injury, is a great asset to the team’s passing and rushing attack. Rogers is pound for pound, one of the team’s best blockers, and could be a great asset for Bethel-Thompson in the red zone.
Toronto’s receiving corps has gotten stronger over the year. With the emergence of Kurleigh Gittens and the vastly underutilized Chandler Worthy. Couple them with Rogers, DaVaris Daniels, Josh Huff, and Juwan Brescasin. The Argonauts will have plenty of firepower in the playoffs.
Defensively, the Argos should be at or near full strength for the East Final. Getting Jamal Peters back in the secondary will aid the Boatmen. A key figure to watch will be Dexter McCoil. If Toronto can get him back, the Argos boast one of the best and most versatile front-sixes in the league, especially when you include SLB Chris Edwards into the mix.
With health potentially on their side, the Argos can be better than they were during long stretches of the season. Their biggest challenge now is fighting against complacency with their lengthy layoff.
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