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Toronto Argonauts Week 11 Report Card: The Double Blue Downturn Continues

The Toronto Argonauts’ 2022 season is on a downward spiral. In Week 11’s crushing 22-19 loss to Calgary, Double Blue’s growing deficiencies were on full display. The Stamps found a way to win. The Argonauts did the opposite. As they reach their midseason point, the 4-5 Argos are on a steady decline, losers of three of their last four, two of those games at home. The accumulative effect of the latter could eventually keep the Boatmen out of the playoffs. That notion is not as far-fetched now as it was a few weeks ago.

On the surface, all is not lost. At least not yet. After all, The 4-5 Argonauts are still in first place in the East. Albeit by a half-game over Montreal, who is now 4-6.

The Boatmen have four straight divisional games upcoming, and it’s a make-or-break part of their schedule.

Toronto will resume parts 3 and 4 of the Battle of the QEW with 3-7 Hamilton, starting this Friday night at BMO Field. Before heading to the Hammer to play the Ticats on Labour Day. The Argos then go back to back with Ottawa, a team that beat them in the Six nearly a month ago.

But before the Argonauts attempt to pull together for Week 12. Let’s painfully relive and grade all aspects of yesterday’s Argos defeat.

Toronto Argonauts Week 11 Report Card

Coaching Grade: D+

The former Stampeders coaches got outcoached by the current ones.

Ryan Dinwiddie’s offensive game plan left much to be desired on Saturday. He’s in a funk as a play-caller, and the team has a bad habit of falling asleep at the wheel almost every game. Specifically, the offense. And that’s exactly what transpired against Calgary.

The Argos controlled the clock in the first half and had several opportunities to put the game away but failed to capitalize. They scored only three points in a listless second half.

To make matters worse, players were subbing into the game incorrectly on Saturday, and plays were either coming in late or were rushed to the line of scrimmage. That’s to be expected to some extent with new people in the lineup, but it’s the coaches responsibility to get their players ready to play and do their jobs on gameday.

Stamps DC Brent Munson won the chess match with his former Calgary colleague Dinwiddie. Munson used an aggressive attack to get after Toronto’s makeshift offensive line and succeeded. Ryan Dinwiddie attempted to counter by dialing up quick swing passes, and some of it worked. But overall, Dinwiddie had the wrong answers as the game progressed.

Dinwiddie hasn’t found the elixir to beat man coverage by opposing teams. Mostly because his offensive line isn’t holding up. The abandonment of the run and the lack of creativity has produced a predictable offensive attack for Toronto.

Corey Mace’s defense, save for the game’s opening moment, came to play. But it wasn’t enough. Especially late in the contest. The defense got thrown for a curveball when Jake Maier entered the action, and he completed 77 percent of his passes.

For the second week in a row, the Argos’ defensive unit had issues allowing chunk plays in the run game. Mace’s forte is defensive line play and generating a pass rush, and the Argos were invisible in this category, netting zero sacks all game. Like Toronto’s offence, there’s not a lot of creativity involved with the defensive side of the ball.

After justifiably being ridiculed for their embarrassing performance against Hamilton’s special teams a week ago. Mickey Donovan’s group played better against Calgary. Unlike week 10, the unit wasn’t a primary culprit in Toronto losing.

Quarterback Grade: C minus

McLeod Bethel-Thompson will get most of the blame for Saturday’s loss. Understandably, it comes with being the quarterback in a struggling offense. And there’s no doubt that Thompson had his worst effort of the season against Calgary. 27/43, 276 yards, and zero touchdowns.

McLeod’s longest completion of the game was a 24-yard pass play where AJ Ouellette fumbled. It was that kind of night for Toronto.

MBT threw a back-breaking pick-six, with his team up nine points in the third quarter. It was Bethel-Thompson’s first interception in 167 pass attempts. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time. More on that specific play later.

A weekly occurrence for Thompson is missing wide-open reads. There were several instances in the game where he failed to throw the football to the right spot. Either over or under throwing receivers when pressured in the pocket. MBT’s receivers didn’t bail him out either. Some of that had to do with receivers slipping on BMO’s grass field. But the timing was off all game.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson would get a lower grade here if not for the deficiencies around him that contributed to his worst outing of 2022. He was rattled and affected by circumstances beyond his control.

Chad Kelly saw his most action as an Argo against the Stamps. He delivered the team’s longest run on a 21-yard scamper to the outside on a QB sneak. Kelly converted four plays from centre in the short yardage role, scoring the Argos’ lone touchdown. Unfortunately for Kelly, the Argonauts went to the well one too many times on their outside sneaks, and he was stuffed for a three-yard loss late in the game.

As efficient as McLeod Bethel-Thompson has been all season. The time may come that Kelly’s role expands or that he gets the call to lead the offence. That time isn’t now. But if MBT’s struggles continue or he gets injured taking a weekly beating. The future could come sooner than anticipated.

Running Back Grade: C

The Argos run game was utterly non-existent, and it made life easier on the Stamps defense, which just peeled back and came after the quarterback without having to worry about anything else.

When Toronto did run the football, their offensive line gave AJ Ouellette and Javon Leake very little breathing room. The same thing was happening to Andrew Harris in recent weeks before he went down to a season-ending injury. The Argos’ new RB duo combined for nine carries and 27 yards.

Ouellette and Leake did, however, contribute nicely in the passing game. Teaming up to catch nine passes. AJ led the team with seven receptions for 92 yards. Unfortunately, he failed to secure the football in the open field and fumbled away one of Toronto’s best drives early in the game.

Wide Receiver Grade: D

For the second week in a row. The Argos receivers were non-existent entities who failed to create separation or make pivotal catches in crucial spots. See DaVaris Daniels poor drop over the middle that killed a drive and what could have been a sure touchdown.

Kurleigh Gittens, Markeith Ambles, Juwan Brescasin, and Brandon Banks averaged under 9 yards per reception. An anemic level of production. But a significant reason for the paltry results is not having enough time to get open due to Toronto’s poor line play.

Offensive Line Grade: F

The reasons why the Argos can’t run the ball and can’t make plays down the field is because of poor run and pass blocking. Holes are not being created, and the quarterback is not getting enough time to set his feet and throw before receivers make their cuts or get open.

It’s not just a Saturday issue, the o-line problems have held Toronto’s offence back since they left Saskatchewan. But against Calgary, the play that exemplified all that ails the Argos upfront was McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s pick-six.

On the play itself, the entire left side of the line caved. Folarin Orimolade beat Philip Blake so severely off the snap that McLeod Bethel-Thompson had to release the football without setting his feet. The result? The pass sailed on him and was intercepted. It wasn’t the first time in the game that McLeod had to deal with turbulence in the pocket that disrupted his timing. But it stood out the most because of the result.

The Argos’ offensive line is a mess. They have given up 16 sacks in their last four games. Part of that can be reasoned away by the fact that Toronto is without two left tackles and their young star Centre.

You could also lay blame on the coaching staff and their continuous decision to play three of their five starters out of position. Last year’s left tackle, Dejon Allen, is on the right side, and rookie Gregor MacKellar, a college OT is playing at guard for the first time in his young career. Philip Blake, a lifetime interior player at guard/centre, is playing at left tackle.

The current configuration is not working. The Argos can stubbornly keep putting out the same lineup. But they are going to see the same results every week if they do so. Better to be potentially weak in one spot than at three.

Defensive Line Grade: C minus

No pass rush. Poor run fits—invisible star players who made very few if any plays of consequence. Shawn Oakman and Shane Ray delivered giant donuts in the stat column. Ja’Gared Davis barely registered with 2 tackles and then got injured late.

The Stamps’ offensive line won the battle against Toronto’s line. Not a surprise, considering that they have only given up one sack in their last four outings.

Linebacker Grade: B+

Week in and week out. The linebacker position is the most consistent group for Toronto. Henoc Muamba, Wynton McManis, and Chris Edwards were terrific in coverage and in space. Edwards had the biggest play of this group, forcing a fumble in the first half.

Secondary Grade: B+

Tarvarus McFadden got off to a rough start losing his man in coverage on the game’s first play. But he rebounded nicely and had one of the most acrobatic interceptions by any defensive back this season.

Royce Metchie and Dashaun Amos had quality games. Amos delivered a big-time interception late that kept Toronto’s hopes alive. He nearly had two interceptions in the game.

Maurice Carnell held up reasonably well, starting at defensive halfback. Calgary tried to challenge him, but Carnell did a nice job in coverage and produced an interception.

There were some missed tackles late in the game on short passes. And poor angles taken on a few run plays. But overall, this unit did its job.

Special Teams Grade: A

The best aspect of the Argos against Calgary. The Stamps averaged only 13 yards per kick return. And only 7 yards on eight punt returns by Peyton Logan. Boris Bede connected on all four of his field goal attempts. Punter John Haggerty did have an illegal kick out of bounds. But got excellent hang time and averaged 47 yards per punt.

Javon Leake gave Double Blue’s return game a real boost. He had a 27-yard kick return and a 17-yard punt return. If the Argos can figure out how to block better, Leake might spring a score or two this season.

Toronto Argonauts Overall Team Grade: D

Everyone has been trying to figure out what kind of team the Argos have all season long. After nine games, it’s pretty straightforward.

The Argonauts are not very good. The mark of a bad team is losing games you should win.

Toronto plays uneven football, not just every other week but within every game, and that’s their identity.

Some of the team’s downfall in play can be attributed to injuries, but Toronto is a flawed football club. As Tony Montana once famously said, “The eyes, they never lie, Chico.”

There are a lot of harsh truths right now as it pertains to the Argos. The way things are developing on a downturn. It’s challenging to see better days ahead for the Boatmen.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. David Tress

    August 21, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    The irony here is that the Argos are still in first place in the East. Shawn Oakman and Shane Ray still looked good in getting some pressure on the Stamps’ QBs. The defense held Toronto in the game and gave the offense plenty of opportunities to win it. It was the offense that let the team down.

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