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Toronto Argonauts Week 17 Report Card: Argos Suffer Sobering Loss To The Stamps

The Toronto Argonauts are 8-6 after falling to the 10-5 Calgary Stampeders. The Stamps snap the Argos’ four-game win streak. The Boatmen’s 29-2 loss in Week 17 could have long-term effects on their East and Grey Cup hopes. Because the Double Blue dealt with not only a sobering dose of reality but some significant losses to their roster.

Where The Toronto Argonauts Stand After 14 Games

EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

RKTEAMGPWLTPTSFAHOMEAWAYDIV
1 Toronto x14860163353214-3-04-3-06-2-0
2 Montreal14770143633554-3-03-4-03-3-0
3 Hamilton14410083153844-3-00-7-03-5-0
4 Ottawa14311062833700-7-03-4-02-4-0

The Argos were hit hard with injuries against Calgary. They lost three key players almost immediately in the game. DE Shane Ray (torn bicep) LB Wynton McManis (knee/mcl injury), and RB Daniel Adeboboye. The loss of Ray, the team’s leading sacker, and McManis, a legitimate defensive player of the year candidate, could have severe consequences over the long term. The early word is that both players could be out for the regular season. Testing will need to be done. But McManis has an MCL injury. Coach Ryan Dinwiddie says he could be out for a month. Ray has a torn bicep.

The combination of Montreal’s 25-18 victory over Edmonton. And Toronto’s loss Saturday night separates the Als and Argos by only one game in the standings. There are four games left in the CFL regular season for both teams. It’s increasingly likely that the East division will be decided in the final two weeks when the Alouettes and Argonauts play each other in back-to-back games.

The 7-7 Alouettes are headed home in Week 18 next Monday to host the reeling 3-11 Redblacks, who just fired head coach Paul LaPolice. Special teams guru Bob Dyce takes the interim reins for Ottawa, as they will face Montreal in successive games.

The Argos will play their first home contest since August 26th. The Boatmen are back at BMO Field next Saturday, facing a 10-5 BC Lions team. The Leos humiliated the Argonauts 44-3 earlier this season in Vancouver. Nathan Rourke won’t be leading the way in the Lions lineup at quarterback. But a familiar Toronto foe, Vernon Adams, will be.

Before we look ahead to Double Blue’s home date next weekend against British Columbia, here is how I graded the Toronto Argonauts in Week 17 against the Calgary Stampeders.

Toronto Argonauts Week 17 Report Card

Toronto Argonauts Coaching Grade: D+

The second meeting of the season between friendly enemies proved to be disastrous for Toronto’s side. Especially the team’s head coach and offensive staff.

As Calgary coaches squared off with their past colleagues on Toronto’s sidelines. The familiarity between both sides produced expected results from their last meeting earlier this season. A defensive struggle or offensive struggle. Depending on your viewpoint. Particularly at the game’s outset, with six possessions by both squads starting with punts.

Corey Mace’s defence came to play, despite dealing with some key personnel losses. They held the Stamps scoreless in the first quarter. And forced an early turnover. Mace’s D was put in a tough spot, allowing their first score after a turnover by the Argonauts’ offence inside the 25. Toronto’s defence battled hard as the game progressed. They kept Toronto in the game. However, Injury depletion and the Boatmen’s offence didn’t help matters.

On the opposite side of the field. It was Brent Munson’s defensive unit that, once again, had Ryan Dinwiddie’s number. Not enough adjustments were made by Dinwiddie in his second chess match with Munson this year. Calgary’s defensive coordinator lived rent-free in Dinwiddie’s head and playbook.

It was as if the Stampeders knew the Argos plays. Because they did. Calgary’s defensive backs were jumping routes and taking away McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s first and second reads. Their coverage was amazing. And the Argonauts had no answers.

Dinwiddie attempted to adust early on by going to the ground game. But to no avail, as the game got away from Toronto. The offence let the team down. They were poorly prepared to deal with the same problems they incurred with Calgary in their last meeting.

Clock and game management were also major issues for Ryan Dinwiddie. He lost a nonsensical challenge on a no yards play. But that was the least egregious decision on this day. Facing a third and one at Calgary’s 39, down 7-1, he made a questionable decision opting for a field goal attempt instead. Then late in the half, rather than running the clock out. The Argos opted to punt and nearly had a disastrous block. It was a sequence that never should have happened.

Just like the game itself. The Double Blue wish that they could get a do-over.

Quarterback Grade: D

PASSING

PLAYERCP/AT%YDSTDINTLG
 BETHEL-THOMPSON, Mcleod19/3850.0%1940223
 KELLY, Chad1/425.0%7007

The detractors of McLeod Bethel-Thompson will point to Saturday’s game with the Stamps. He started the game 7 of 16, passing for 85 yards and an interception in the first half. The Stamps’ defensive attack flustered MBT. He was 1 of 9 on second down to start the game.

Things didn’t get much better for MBT and the Boatmen after the first-half break. It was a pitiful performance all the way around. But Bethel-Thompson, as the QB at the controls, will rightfully take the most heat. He didn’t get much help with two dropped pass plays down the field. But it was an ugly game, nevertheless. MBT’s pick-six was the perfect exclamation point for his evening of woes.

Running Back Grade: C+

RUSHING

PLAYERCARYDSAVGLGTD
 OUELLETTE, A.J.9667.3180
 GITTENS JR., Kurleigh294.570
 BETHEL-THOMPSON, Mcleod284.040
 KELLY, Chad263.050

A.J. Oullette was game as he always is, running and playing hard. And there were moments in the game where he was Toronto’s most effective player. That’s partly because Calgary completely ignored the Argos’ rushing attack. But Austin James Ouellette did what he could.

Receivers Grade: D

RECEIVING

PLAYERRECATTYDSYACAVGLGTD
 DANIELS, DaVaris5851910.2160
 PHILLIPS, Cameron36432414.3230
 GITTENS JR., Kurleigh4836209.0120
 AMBLES, Markeith342688.7120
 COXIE, Damonte1721121.0210
 OUELLETTE, A.J.361785.7110
 BRISSETT, Dejon12717.070
 BANKS, Brandon0100000

As addressed in my preview of this game. The Argonauts receiving corps does not match up well with Calgary’s physical playing style by their defensive backs. Again in this second meeting with the Stamps. Toronto’s receivers had struggles beating press coverage.

The receivers could not get open. And when they did, DaVaris Daniels blew it by allowing a deep pass through his arms on McLeod’s best throw of the game. Daniels went for the double dip on the next series and dropped another bomb. A failing effort all-around, not just for Daniels. He wasn’t the lone culprit in dropping sure passes.

Offensive Line Grade: D

Just like in Week 11 against Calgary. Toronto’s offensive line couldn’t deal with the Stamps’ aggressive defensive attack. Shawn Lemon had a field day and was in the Boatmen’s backyard consistently. But it wasn’t just Lemon. That’s because the Argos pocket kept collapsing all game.

In two consecutive brutal sequences, Toronto’s offensive line facing a three-man rush allowed sacks that prevented the Argos from advancing into scoring territory. Any stunts or movement by the Stamps’ defensive front put the Boatmen in quicksand. Toronto line coach Kris Sweet will be sour after reviewing this film.

Defensive Line Grade: B+

It’s hard to come down on any unit for the Double Blue’s defence. The Argos lost Shane Ray immediately. Shawn Oakman exited the game. And considering they were facing the league’s top rushing attack. This unit held up fairly well.

Linebacker Grade: B+

Wynton McManis started the game on a tear, registering three quick tackles. Unfortunately, McManis injured his right knee on the last tackle, bringing down Kadeem Carey. He left the game and didn’t return. He might not return until next season. McManis was replaced in the lineup on the weak side by Trevor Hoyte, who played reasonably well, all things considered. Hoyte had a near interception in the third quarter.

Henoc Muamba made a great play early on, intercepting Jake Maier, to try and turn the tide as Toronto’s defence started to falter. Muamba showed great leadership and kept the unit playing strong. Henoc delivered again, late with an interception in the red zone that kept the Argos’ faint hopes alive. Chris Edwards also had a solid game in coverage.

DEFENCE

PLAYERDTSTQSINTFRFF
 MUAMBA, Henoc400200

Secondary Grade: B minus

After starting the game strongly, the Argos secondary started to falter slightly as the action progressed. There were some blown coverages that Calgary was unable to capitalize on in the first half. A couple of slip-ups in coverage with Reggie Begelton finding openings. But again, it’s challenging to throw this unit under the bus. Especially considering the fact that the secondary was playing without arguably their best player Jamal Peters.

Special Teams Grade: C 

The game started strangely for Mickey Donovan’s special teams unit. The opening kickoff saw one of his unit’s best players Daniel Adeboboye go down to injury. Then, Brandon Banks recovered his own fumble on the Argos’ first punt return of the day. The second time Banks fielded a punt, he tried to avoid the football inside the five, but it found him again. Bouncing right into his hands, Speedy B returned it 26 yards.

Banks made a crucial mistake late in the game, fielding a punt inside his own five that pinned his team deep in a hole. Rather than getting his offence the football at the 40-yard line.

Later in the first half, Boris Bede missed a 46-yard field goal. He’s had a rough season. John Haggerty stayed really busy punting over ten times. So his injured hip got a nice workout. The coverage units did a good job overall. Jack Cassar is arguably the best coverage player in the CFL. He had another tremendous outing with four open-field tackles.

Toronto Argonauts Week 17 Overall Team Grade: D+

There’s no shame whatsoever in losing on the road to the measuring stick team in the CFL that the Calgary Stampeders are. They are headed to the playoffs for the 17th straight season for a reason.

And there’s no doubt that both teams because they practice against the same style of offence every week. That this was going to be a defensive struggle. But that point goes to show how poor the Argos’ offensive game plan was for this matchup. There needed to be adjustments from the first meeting, where Toronto was shut down offensively. And there weren’t.

The loss itself isn’t backbreaking for Toronto. But the losses to key players can be. That’s what makes this result even more demoralizing for Double Blue.

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