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Will The 2021 Toronto Argonauts Mirror Their 2017 Championship Team?

The last time the Toronto Argonauts made the playoffs, they won the 105th Grey Cup in 2017. Will the 2021 Toronto Argonauts follow the same path as their last championship team?

Admittedly, this seems like a foolhardy comparison, and perhaps I am jumping the gun. The 2021 Argos are in the conversation because they have clinched a playoff spot. Still, even at 7-4, tied for the second-best record in the league, the Boatmen haven’t clinched their division and still need to prove that they can perform well and win on the road this Saturday to keep their division-clinching, and ultimately Grey Cup hopes alive.

The Argos are 2-4 away from BMO Field, and despite the oddsmakers having them as 10.5 point favorites at Ottawa this Saturday. It’s fair to wonder what Argonauts team will show up against the Redblacks this weekend. It’s been that kind of season for Toronto. A team that has been outscored by their opponents 273-248.

The 2017 Toronto Argonauts

So much has changed for Toronto since their 2017 championship season. And very few of the players’ coaches and executives who were on that team remain.

The list reads as follows; on the coaching side, Kevin Eiben. Executives Vince Magri and Michael Pinball Clemons. The existing players still on the 2021 Argos from the 2017 Grey Cup roster are McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Declan Cross, Jamal Campbell, Bear Woods, Llevi Noel, Jake Reinhart, and the recently returning Brian Jones and Justin Tuggle. A good number of these players are on the team’s current injury list.

However, despite the massive turnover from four years ago. There are some parallels between the 2021 and 2017 Argos teams.

Today’s Argonauts team, based on some of their performances this season, has many questioning whether they are truly playoff and championship-worthy. The 2017 team had many of the same questions hovering over them as they headed into the playoffs.

The Boatmen, who won the Grey Cup four years ago, were a middling team who got hot late in the season, winning five of their last seven games to go 9-9. The .500 record was good enough to secure them first in the East and a home playoff game. But the Argonauts had plenty of skeptics, and rightfully so, going into the playoffs.

By default, The East sent only two teams into the Grey Cup playoffs that year. And Toronto was fortunate that 9-9 was good enough to get them a playoff spot, let alone a divisional title and a home game. The West produced 4 double-digit victory teams that season, and the East was treated as an afterthought. So it was only natural that the Argos’ were underdogs in the “East” final against a 10-win Saskatchewan team that beat them twice during the regular season.

We all know how this story ends. The Argos “upset” the Riders 25-21, earning a trip to the Grey Cup to face the heavily favored Calgary Stampeders. And the rest, as they say, is history. The Double Blue would defy the odds and the doubters by defeating the Stamps 27-24 and completing an improbable run to a championship.

The 2021 Toronto Argonauts

The 2021 Toronto Argonauts are on an unexpected journey themselves. One that has seen the team switch allegiances at quarterback from the anointed Nick Arbuckle to McLeod Bethel-Thompson. And Toronto has also experienced an in-season exodus on the defensive coaching staff that has brought back Chris Jones to the CFL to captain the Boatmen’s defensive ship.

Everyone knew coming into 2021 that this would be a CFL season like no other. Are the current Argos about to embark on the same unprecedented path that their 2017 predecessors did?

Although, technically, it’s a two-year gap between seasons because of 2020’s CFL cancelation. Both the 2017 and 2021 Agos’could share in the same dramatic one-season turnaround.

The 2016 Argos were a five-win team. A year later, they were hoisting a trophy. The 2019 Argos won only four games. Could the 2021 Argos accomplish the same feat that the Boatmen did four years ago by starting from the bottom and rising to the top in their next season of play?

Standing in everyone’s way in the league is the reigning and defending CFL champion, Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Although there are no guarantees, Everyone assumes that former Double Blue great Mike O’Shea will be back with his 10-1 Bombers team in the Grey Cup this year, poised to repeat as champions. So whoever comes out of the East to confront that challenge will be heavy underdogs to dethrone Winnipeg.

Can the 2021 Toronto Argonauts get there and challenge the Blue Bombers? A team that Double Blue beat earlier this season for Winnipeg’s only loss. The odds are heavily against the Argos, not only getting to the Grey Cup but beating the Bombers again this year. But that’s the same fate that awaited the 2017 Argos four years ago. They weren’t supposed to win it all either.

Argos News And Notes For Week 14

Another week arrives, and more injuries come along with it for the Argos. The Double Blue has 19 players currently on their injured list and could add more significant names to the tally this weekend.

As the team prepares for a crucial divisional showdown with the Redblacks in Ottawa. Toronto could be down potentially four more starters for Saturday’s game.

Rookie standout Centre Peter Nicastro (knee), LB Dexter McCoil (elbow), RB DJ Foster (foot), and WR DaVaris Daniels (shoulder) all look questionable to play against Ottawa.

With the first three names looking the least likely of suiting up for Toronto.

At the receiver spot, The Boatmen are hoping to get Eric Rogers and Juwan Brescasin back in their lineup in the future. Veterans DaVaris Daniels and Ricky Collins Jr. have picked up the slack in the team’s receiving corps, while youngsters like Kurleigh Gittens have emerged.

The Argos young receivers might be tasked with carrying an even heavier load if Daniels misses any time. Chandler Worthy has also stepped up in recent weeks on special teams. He might be asked to do more on offence.

Speaking of shouldering the load, that’s what John White might have to do with DJ Foster looking iffy to suit up. Toronto could elevate AJ Ouellette or recently signed RB Cameron Scarlett to the active roster to provide depth at tailback against Ottawa.

This week, the Boatmen’s big splashes in free agency, signing 2019 CFL standout LB Nate Holley and stealing away promising young Centre Jonathan Zamora from Calgary’s practice roster, seem to be reactionary moves to McCoil and Nicastro’s injuries.

However, neither Holley nor Zamora are expected to play this Saturday because of the short time to go through protocols and preparations.

Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie insisted earlier this week to the media that both McCoil and Nicastro will be fine long term, but their absences couldn’t come at a worse time. Considering the timing and how Toronto’s troops are already depleted.

Philip Blake will most likely slide back to the centre spot in Nicastro’s absence. With Shane Richards back in the trenches at guard.

The good news on the injury front is that Linebacker Cameron Judge is fully practicing, and barring a setback, he will be back in the starting lineup. His return couldn’t come at a better time with Dexter McCoil dinged up. Judge practiced in a limited fashion last week and was listed on the team’s active roster but was deactivated in Week 13.

CFL rookie standout defensive linemen Shawn Oakman, who left the BC game with a chest injury, is fully practicing and will be back in the Boatmen’s lineup this Saturday. Oakman could be joined in the trenches by DE Shane Ray (hamstring), who has had some tough luck throughout his entire pro career. Ray is back practicing and on track to return from his second stint on Toronto’s injured list.

Also on tap to potentially aid the Argos defence is DT Fabian Foote, who is recovering from a knee injury. Foote is practicing in full and could help the team’s run defense and its ratio. DT Kony Ealy is practicing in a limited fashion. Both Foote and Ealy were on the Argos one-game injured list in Week 13.

CFL Most Outstanding Rookie Of The Year Eligible Nominees

The CFL has released the names of the 167 players eligible for the 2021 Most Outstanding Rookie award. You can check out the full list here.

The recipient will be recognized at the CFL Awards on December 10 – one of the marquee events during Grey Cup Week in Hamilton.

The Most Outstanding Rookie award is selected by voting members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) and CFL head coaches.

The Argos have three players on their current roster who have won the award: Nate Holley, DaVaris Daniels, and Dexter McCoil. This year, Toronto has a few legit nominees who could win the award outright.

The three eligible players who stand out the most from the list below are C, Peter Nicastro, DT Shawn Oakman, and LT Dejon Allen. Both Oakman and Nicastro have had CFL All-Star worthy seasons. Dejon Allen, a CFL newcomer, has had a great year transitioning to playing left tackle in Canada. He’s started all 11 of the Argos games protecting the blindside. RB DJ Foster, despite having over 600 all-purpose yards in nine games, is not eligible because he has been on an NFL regular-season roster in the past.

Acheampong, SamDTWilfrid Laurier
Allen, DejonOLHawaii
Brissett, DejonWRVirginia
Cassar, JackLBCarleton
Churchill, TherenOLRegina
Giffen, DylanOLWestern University
Hagerty, JoshDBSaskatchewan
Hoyte, TrevorLBCarleton
Jeanpiere, DamionWRNicholls State
Mencer, EliDLAlbany
Nicastro, PeterOLCalgary
Nield, TommyWRMcMaster
Oakman, ShawnDLBaylor
Pellerin, DionRBWaterloo
Peters, JamalDBMississippi State

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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