Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie told the media after last Saturday’s demoralizing 44-3 loss to the BC Lions. “Maybe we are not as good as we think we are.” The 1-1 Toronto Argonauts have a stiff challenge awaiting them in Week 4 as they square off with the reigning CFL Champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers next Monday night at BMO Field. But the biggest hurdle they need to overcome is themselves.
The 2022 Argos: A Work In Progress
The ancient sports adage that every season is different from the last holds true for Double Blue. Despite some returning figures from last year’s 2021 East division championship squad. The Argos in 2022 are an entirely different team than they were a year ago. And for better, or thus far, based on the results, worse, it was all by design.
Since the dust settled from last year’s East Final, the Argonauts have revamped their front office, coaching staff, offence, defence, and special teams. The Boatmen brought on board new leaders in their locker room. But none of those aspects have clicked yet.
If one didn’t know any better, Toronto’s actions this past offseason would suggest that they weren’t a team coming off a successful campaign in 2021.
In training camp, Argos coach Ryan Dinwiddie told the media that he felt that they needed to be better than they were a season ago. Almost an admission that 2021 was, in some respects, fools gold. The Toronto Argonauts, despite winning nine games in a shortened season, were outscored by their opponents 318-309.
The Argonauts weren’t going to rest on their laurels on what some could have validly labeled a fluky 2021 season. So they made wholesale changes.
But the current 2022 version of the Boatmen has carried over some of its worst aspects from 2021. Scoring deficiencies in the red zone, injury-plagued roster, etc., The most prominent issue plaguing Toronto is their lack of direction or an identity schematically. The team doesn’t have an established style on either side of the ball because it hasn’t figured out what works best for them. The players judging by their communication issues and mental breakdowns, haven’t either.
All these things add up to a Toronto Argonauts team that was incorrectly pegged as a championship contender being more accurately a work in progress instead.
News And Notes
Toronto got some good news on Tuesday when the MRI results from Dejon Allen’s knee injury last Saturday came back negative. Allen, who was last year’s starting left tackle, has started the first two games of the season at right tackle. He might not be available for Monday’s game and hasn’t practiced this week yet. But the team’s worst fears of him being out for the season have subsided.
The good news on Allen doesn’t quite get the Boatmen out of the water regarding their issues on the offensive line. The team is already missing standout centre Peter Nicastro due to delayed knee surgery in the offseason. Isiah Cage, the team’s designated starting left tackle, has yet to play a regular-season game this year due to concussion issues. Cage hasn’t played for Toronto since 2019. The hope is that he will finally be cleared for practice this coming week. But the jury is still out on that.
If Allen and Cage miss Monday’s game against Winnipeg’s dangerous defensive front. Toronto might have to lean on Trevon Tate and Shane Richards at offensive tackle against the likes of Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat, as the French say, Bonne Chance.
Fieldside halfback DaShaun Amos who battled through a hip injury last week and came up lame in the fourth quarter against BC also appears to have avoided any serious injury. But he could be limited again this week in practice.
Shane Ray is still on the mend after sitting out Week 3 due to a hamstring injury. The Argos hope to ease him into practice as the week progresses. Toronto’s pass rush can definitely use his talents after he was one of the league’s standout performers in Week 2’s Toronto win over Montreal.
CFL rookie QB Chad Kelly saw his first league action in mop-up duty last week. He is going to have an expanded role moving forward for the Argos. But perhaps it’s not quite what some would have envisioned for the former All-SEC superstar. On Tuesday, Kelly was taking practice reps exclusively in short-yardage situations. The 6’2 216lb Kelly is assuming the new QB sneak duties over pivot Austin Simmons, who replaced Antonio Pipkin late in camp. The team could’ve used Pipkin last week when Simmons failed to score on two consecutive tries from the 1-yard line.
Argos coach Ryan Dinwiddie is talking about making changes to his play calling in the red zone by incorporating more spread-out formations. And Kelly’s involvement is just a small part of it. But it’s certainly the next phase in him earning his stripes in Canada.
The Toronto Argonauts are tweaking things for their next game. A repeat performance of what they did in Week 3 could lead to a more significant course correction.