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Toronto Argonauts Week 7 Report Card: The Boatmen Stumble In Saskatchewan

One step forward for the Toronto Argonauts, One step back. After six games, that’s been the theme of the Argos 2021 CFL season. Progression followed by regression. And you are starting to get the feeling that this is the Boatmen’s true identity. Every time, it has appeared as if the Argos have arrived as a legit contender. The team reverts back to the middle of the pack.

Legendary football coach Bill Parcells once famously said, “You are what your record says you are.” Right now, it’s hard to gauge if Toronto is a genuine contender or a pretender. The body of work thus far suggests the latter.

The Argonauts are 3-3, tied for first in the East, with eight games left to play in the regular season. They play the Montreal Alouettes next Friday, 7:30 pm ET, at BMO Field. Depending on what happens Saturday Night between the Als and Lions. The Boatmen could be headed into Week 8 in a three-way tie in their division. No matter, the game’s result against Montreal could be a turning point for Double Blue’s season.

Before moving forward to Week 8, let’s look at all the aspects of Toronto’s performance in Week 7 at Saskatchewan. Despite the end result, there were some positives but, unfortunately, primarily negatives.

Week 7 Toronto Argonauts Report Card

Toronto Argonauts Coaching

It isn’t easy to come down hard on the Argos coaching staff this week after what the team had to endure leading into Week 7’s game. No question losing defensive coordinator Glen Young and defensive backs coach Joshua Bell impacted the team’s readiness to play on Saturday.

The departures of Young and Bell not only affected Toronto from an X’s and O’s standpoint. But more importantly, team morale. Joshua Bell, in particular, is one of the more beloved assistant coaches on the Argos. His players adore him. And the controversy behind Bell’s departure could lead to a rift between the players and management. If it hasn’t already.

The Argos age-old mantra is “Pull Together.” The biggest concerns moving forward for Toronto are whether or not the players will be pulling together after losing one of their leaders. And whether or not the Boatmen’s players are still on board with the franchise.

As it pertains to the Riders’ game. Ryan Dinwiddie and his offensive staff did an excellent job schematically. Toronto moved the ball very well, using the run-pass option and play-action game to set up big plays down the field. The team had success running and throwing the football to the tune of nearly 400 yards. Unfortunately, two critical turnovers in the first half, and a failed drive at the one-yard line, cost the Boatmen a chance to win the game realistically.

The play design of the offense wasn’t the issue in the Argos 30-16 loss to the Roughriders. However, the play calling and game management was poor. From Toronto’s poorly constructed shotgun run at SSK’s 1-yard line to Ryan Dinwiddie inexplicably going for two early in the third quarter, when the Argos had a chance to cut the Riders’ lead to one possession. The game management decisions left a lot to be desired.

Rich Stubler and Kevin Eiben did the best they could on the defensive side of the ball, considering the circumstances. But the lack of discipline and unforced errors destroyed the Argos’ chances in this game.

Toronto had 12 penalties overall, eight on the defensive side of the ball. Time after time, the Argos defense would shoot themselves in the foot and extend SSK drives when they should’ve been off the field after critical stops.

The team’s lack of discipline is an alarming trend. The Argos have developed a negative pattern of losing their composure, particularly on the road. It was a bad day at the office overall for the Argonauts coaches.

Argos Coaching Grade: C minus

Toronto Argonauts Offense

Quarterback

PLAYERCP/AT%YDSTDINTLG
 ARBUCKLE, Nick22/3366.7%3092159

The numbers look good for Nick Arbuckle. He had one of his better days as a quarterback. Arbuckle ran the team’s RPO scheme exceptionally well. His ball-handling and play-fakes were excellent, and Arbuckle connected on several passes down the field as a result. The two turnovers stand out, but the interception came in desperation late. However, Arbuckle’s fumble in the pocket in the first half showed a lack of awareness. He needs to protect the football and be more mindful when he is operating in that setting.

Overall though, I think that Nick Arbuckle bounced back from a shaky performance in Week 6, where he nearly cost his team the game with poor decision-making.

Grade: B+

Running Backs

John White had a solid game running the football (7-39, 5.6 yards per run). The opportunities to have more success weren’t there due to game flow and the team trailing all the way through. But White ran well, and once again, his pass blocking was stellar. He delivered an excellent block in the pocket on a play-fake, which led to Arbuckle’s early third quarter major to DeVaris Daniels. The blemishes on White’s evening against SSK were failing to score from inside the Riders’ five, which was more an issue of play design and White’s fumble in the first half.

DJ Foster was a factor early on in the passing game. (4 receptions). But the lack of explosive plays from him was missing. His most extended play of the night was 9 yards. Foster had three runs for 12 yards and 17 yards receiving.

Grade: B

Wide Receivers

PLAYERRECATTYDSYACAVGLGTD
 ROGERS, Eric47972024.2591
 COLLINS JR, Ricky68914615.2220
 DANIELS, DaVaris4667316.8281

This might have been the Boatmen’s best performance all season long from their veteran receiving corps. It wasn’t perfect, but Daniels, Rogers, and Collins delivered their best output of the season, combining for 14 receptions, 255 yards, and two touchdowns. Daniels’s drop in the third quarter on what should’ve been a touchdown pass keeps the performance of this group from being perfect.

Chandler Worthy is the player who has quietly made a difference by bringing a new dimension to the team. The 4.3 speedster, whose primary value is on special teams returning punts and kicks, got into the act on offense last night with a 26-yard run and a 14-yard reception. Modest numbers, but Worthy’s speed is a nice contrast in the Boatmen’s passing attack. He can help stretch defenses moving forward and free up things underneath.

Grade: A

Offensive Line

A mixed bag overall from this group. The run blocking was fine. (5.9-yard average) The team didn’t have many opportunities to run the ball because they were in trail mode for most of the game. Penalties on the road weren’t what killed the Argos line on this occasion (3 overall).

The pass blocking wasn’t up to par, however. The line gave up four sacks and countless pressures. Most of Toronto’s success throwing the football came on deception rather than traditional dropbacks where Arbuckle had time to throw. And although, poor play design is what cost the team points on a crucial drive inside the five. Some of the blame falls on Toronto’s offensive line for not punching the ball into the end zone on two tries from the one yard-line.

Grade: C +

Toronto Argonauts Offense Overall Grade: B+

The Boatmen moved the ball well all night. They had a good game plan and executed it well. But crucial turnovers early on and a failure to score points in vital parts of the game hindered what should’ve been one of their better overall performances of the season.

Toronto Argonauts Defense

Defensive Line

Charleston Hughes finally registered his first sack of the season. Dewayne Hendrix also sacked Cody Fajardo, but a Shawn Oakman roughness penalty took the starch off his play. It was a rough night for this unit overall. Robbie Smith was very active with five tackles. But the unit struggled to get off blocks and tackle Cody Fajardo in the pocket. Something that hindered Toronto a week ago against Hamilton, when Dane Evans was able to escape from the pocket on multiple occasions with big runs. Fajardo did the same in Regina.

William Powell rushed for 122 yards on 21 carries. Fajardo chipped in with 58 yards on the ground as well. The Argos made things too easy for Fajardo and the Riders’ offense by not pressuring him enough and with costly drive extending penalties.

Grade: C minus

Linebackers

A rough night overall for what is arguably the team’s deepest and most talented position. Both Henoc Muamba and Cameron Judge went down with injuries in the contest. Judge who finished the game in a walking boot could be on the shelf for a while. As of press time, the team hasn’t updated Muamba and Judge’s status.

Dexter McCoil was active on Saturday, registering eight tackles. But he had two critical penalties against him on the night, which extended SSK drives—one a facemask penalty, which led to the Riders’ first touchdown of the game.

Because of injuries, Trevor Hoyte played an extended amount of snaps and tallied seven tackles. But he also fell victim to a stupid roughness penalty of his own in the second half. The linebacking corps was undisciplined, didn’t play their gaps, and got run over by the Roughriders in the ground game to the tune of 182 yards.

Grade: C minus

Secondary

The hits keep coming for the Boatmen’s defense. Perhaps a bad omen, besides the loss of Joshua Bell, was the DB’s not wearing the same colored socks. From jump street, the Argos secondary looked out of sorts. They missed multiple tackles on a screen pass to Kyran Moore on the opening play, which led to an easy 19 yard gain.

The open-field tackling all night was atrocious. Once William Powell got to the second level, he bullied Toronto’s defensive backs. The poor technique was on display all game, evidenced by the unit’s pathetic arm tackling attempts.

Outside of Crezdon Butler, who returned to the lineup with an interception. Jamal Peters, Treston Decoud, Jeff Richards, and company had a horrible day at the office. The Riders came to play. The Argos’ defensive backs weren’t dressed for the occasion.

Grade: D

Toronto Argonauts Defense Overall Grade: C minus

There’s no sugar coating or dancing around this one. This was, by far, the defense’s worst effort of the season. The Argos might have a new “interim” defensive coordinator very shortly. Presumably, it will be Chris Jones. He has his work cut out to get everyone back to the way they were playing before they lost Glen Young and Josh Bell.

Toronto Argonauts Special Teams

In previous weeks, Toronto’s special teams stood out as the team’s weak link. But in Saskatchewan, it was a pretty quiet night for this group.

Boris Bede had a solid game, connecting on his lone field goal attempt and booming punts and kickoffs. The ST unit for Toronto, technically, only had one penalty. Although, Arjen Colqhoun’s offsides penalty during a punt is credited towards the defense. Dion Pellerin could be finding his way to the practice roster after his roughness penalty. Especially with Patrick Lavoie waiting in the wings to join the team.

Chandler Worthy had a nice night returning punts, averaging 17 yards on two returns, thanks to a 26-yard return. He also drew a no-yards penalty against SSK. The coverage units held up, and the team didn’t allow a blocked punt this week. So that’s a positive.

Grade: B +

Toronto Argonauts Week 7 Overall Grade: C minus

In the early season, it was easier to excuse Toronto’s inconsistencies due to the team’s level of inexperience playing and coaching together. And there’s no doubt that the turnover the team experienced on their staff leading into Week 7 played a factor in the outcome on Friday.

But there’s a legitimate concern and some red flags moving forward for Double Blue. The team has developed a negative pattern of playing undisciplined football in crucial spots. It’s not just a road thing either. It happened late in the team’s off-the-crossbars one-point victory over Hamilton at home.

The new-look Argos are still trying to find themselves. But the fear is that they are starting to reveal their genuine identity as a team. Toronto has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. And their young quarterback looks like a player you can win games with. But the leadership of the team is in question.

The Argonauts have high expectations. This isn’t the 4-win rag-tag team of 2019. Toronto expects to be better than they are. But they won’t be if they continue to play as they have.

Next week’s game at home against Montreal feels like the season is headed towards the crossroads of defining the Argos path for the rest of the year. The waves in the ocean of this season have been turbulent for the Boatmen so far. Let’s see if the captains on the Argonauts can steady their ship.

Boxscore

TOR

Player Position Pass. CMP Pass. ATT Pass. YDS Pass. TD Pass. INT Rush. ATT Rush. YDS Rush. TD Rec. Rec. Targets Rec. YDS Rec. TD
Nick ArbuckleQuarterback2233309213500000
John White IVRunning back00000739012100
Chandler WorthyWide receiver00000126011140
D.J. FosterRunning back00000312044170
Eric RogersWide receiver0000000047971
Ricky Collins Jr.Wide receiver0000000068910
DaVaris DanielsWide receiver0000000046671
Dejon BrissettWide receiver000000001270
Kurleigh Gittens Jr.Wide receiver000000001260
Total 2233309211482022323092

SSK

Player Position Pass. CMP Pass. ATT Pass. YDS Pass. TD Pass. INT Rush. ATT Rush. YDS Rush. TD Rec. Rec. Targets Rec. YDS Rec. TD
Cody FajardoQuarterback21312122185810000
William PowellRunning back0000021122023150
Kienan LaFranceRunning back0000016011180
Kyran MooreWide receiver000001-4035300
Kian Schaffer-BakerWide receiver00000000911991
Mitchell PictonWide receiver0000000034270
Brayden LeniusWide receiver0000000024210
Alexandre DupuisFull back000000001120
Ricardo LouisWide receiver000000000100
Total 21312122131182121302121

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