Argos’ offence must improve – Toronto Sun

Author of the article:

Frank Zicarelli

Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Caleb Evans drops the ball but recovers it as Toronto Argonauts linebacker Travis Feeney looks on in Toronto on Wednesday. The Canadian Press
Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Caleb Evans drops the ball but recovers it as Toronto Argonauts linebacker Travis Feeney looks on in Toronto on Wednesday. The Canadian Press

To say the Argos’ offence was offensive is obvious. It couldn’t even produce 90 yards in the opening half of Wednesday night’s visit by the Ottawa Redblacks.

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The way the offence functioned evoked memories of the legendary coach John McKay, who went from college powerhouse USC to oversee the NFL’s expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Following yet another loss, a reporter on the Bucs beat posed the following question:

“What do you think of your team’s execution, coach?”

Replied McKay: “I’m in favour of it.”

The line has stood the test of time.

Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie didn’t provide anything as memorable, but he must have been compelled to utter something scathing about his offence that made a few plays en route to generating 253 yards in a 35-16 win for Toronto.

Whether it was the absence of running back John White IV, an offensive line that could not control the line of scrimmage, missed assignments, an inability to convert on third and short, there were several issues that plagued the Argos’ offence.

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And yet the Argos would win their second straight game to improve to 5-3 in the East.

The standings show the Argos atop the division, but this is far from a first-place team.

There’s work that needs to be done.

Following their debacle in the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton, Dinwiddie spoke of changes to his personnel.

Following the Argos’ win over the Redblacks, he once again pledged to shake things up.

With so few days before Toronto ventures into the Hammer for a Thanksgiving Day matchup it will be interesting to see what, if any, moves Dinwiddie will make on offence.

Getting White back into the lineup will help.

The offensive line has been a work in progress since the opening week.

Nothing has really changed as the Argos have been forced to adjust when injuries strike or when performance slips.

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There’s no identity, offensively speaking, with the Argos, who have two quarterbacks they’ve started, a run game that was non-existent against the Redblacks and a passing game that made just enough plays.

At no point during Wednesday’s game did the Argos run a play inside Ottawa’s 20-yard line.

In the opening half, starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw for 66 yards.

Ottawa led by a point at the break after yielding the game’s first point on a punt single.

The one mistake by the Redblacks came on a punt when rookie Dion Pellerin came through to block the kick, allowing fellow first-year player Dejon Brissett to scoop the football and score his first professional touchdown.

It was ugly and only marginally better in the second half.

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The Argos’ D.J. Foster scored on a well-timed and executed 63-yard screen pass, but as running back he averaged 3.6 yards on 18 carries.

A 21-yard touchdown reception by Damion Jeanpiere was the only other big play produced by the offence.

With Chris Jones making the calls on defence, the Argos are 2-0, but the unit has been giving up plenty of yards.

Against Montreal, the Als generated 551 yards. Against Ottawa, the Redblacks produced 406 yards. In each game, Toronto’s defence forced turnovers.

Combined, seven turnovers were forced by the Argos’ defence, including pick sixes by Dexter McCoil and Chris Edwards in the win.

Cordarro Law, making his season debut, forced a tip that allowed McCoil to secure the football and score.

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Edwards benefitted from a poor read by rookie quarterback Caleb Evans.

With so little time before the Argos take to the field at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, there’s not much Dinwiddie can do schematically other than preach the importance of locking into details and being more physical along the line of scrimmage.

The Ticats are rested and will be looking to make amends for their overtime loss to Montreal.

Monday also marks the third of four games between the Argos and Ticats.

They split their first two games with each team winning at home.

On Labour Day, Hamilton led 25-4 after three quarters en route to a 32-19 win.

The Ticats defence sacked starting quarterback Nick Arbuckle three times and forced two interceptions, including a pick six by Simoni Lawrence on a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage.

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In the return matchup five nights later at BMO Field, the Argos led 14-7 at halftime and eked out a 17-16 win when Hamilton missed on a convert that would have tied the game.

Giving up a lot of yards on defence, an offence unable to generate yards, yielding a touchdown on a blocked punt and turning the ball over on a kickoff return by a special teams unit — it’s stunning how poor the Argos have looked.

But they’re 5-3 with two games looming in Hamilton and Montreal.

What’s certain is that the Argos need to get better, especially on offence.

Toronto’s lone road win came in the season opener against the Stamps.

For the Argos to be considered legitimate contenders they’ll have to find a way to win Monday in Hamilton or in Montreal on Oct. 22.

If they can somehow win both, the Argos will likely win the East and earn a bye into the divisional final.

fzicarelli@postmedia.com

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