• Reeve Batstone

Argonauts or Juggernauts


I picked a desperate Ottawa team to beat the Argos this week. Apparently, they were a little too desperate, as in desperately bad. Sad to see the Redblacks put on such a sloppy offensive performance. To what extent it was due to the Argos great defence is tough to answer. The Redblacks management has to be thinking ahead now. When your fanbase starts booing your team at home you need to take notice. Paul Lapolice's cumulative winning percentage as a head coach in Winnipeg and Ottawa sits at just over an abysmal .300 and now they are losing really ugly. The Redblacks players also look to have unofficially quit on him. He has been a successful coordinator in the CFL. It looks like the Peter Principle has rendered a decision on his success as a head coach. There is a clear trend line and it’s a decidedly downward one. Not everyone is cut out to be a head coach at a professional level. If you wanted a metaphor for this Redblack's season you could find it at the end of the first half. Their endemic helter skelter clock management was on painful display again. They looked confused and took a time out to end the half kneeling down. It would be laughable if it weren't so predictable.


The Argos have now won four straight. Before we re-brand them the Juggernauts we need to consider some context. This encouraging win streak has come versus Ottawa and Hamilton, two teams with a combined record this year of 7 wins and 20 losses! You are what your record says you are. Not to throw shade on the Argos but these are lousy teams that can't get out of their own way.


Positives:

MBT had a passing efficiency rating of 117, the highest he has had this season. He threw 3 TDs to one perplexing INT. He took some big hits and like every other week he got right back up. He takes a licking and keeps on ticking. He is the Argos' undisputed iron man. He has taken a hammering for most of three seasons under centre. How long would Ricky Ray, or any other quarterback, have lasted taking the hits he has? Not very long. He did a better job of getting the ball out faster v Ottawa. No overthrows off his back foot on intermediate routes.


The defense had a standout game again. Royce Metchie had 7 tackles. Why is he making so many tackles lately? Is he being targeted by opposing offences or is he over-functioning for his teammates? I don't have enough information to make that judgement, but I'm curious to know. The Argos out sacked Ottawa 3 to 2.


Bede punted remarkably well. Jack Cassar made an incredible steal of the ball from the RedBlack's best player, Devonte Dedmon. Excellent play-calling to put Oullete in a position to succeed in the run game. He ran hard again. I liked the call to run Banks on second and four. He excels in space not on contested catches. Kelly ran well.


Negatives:

Not very many. I'm reaching!


Banks only had one touch (but they didn't need him). He dropped a perfectly thrown TD pass. He sometimes struggles to catch with his hands at the highest point. Daniels dropped an easy catch too, but made up for it later. O line pass pro still a work in progress. Can Ryan Hunter play tackle?


The Argos took nine penalties for 80 yards, about four too many.


Before we anoint them the Juggernauts, let’s see how the Argos play against a very good offensive line, a reliable QB, and the league's best running back in Calgary next week. This will be a real test for them. They are playing a team with a winning record for a change. In any case, they will still have to beat Montreal at least once more to finish in first place. Stopping Carey will be a good rehearsal for a returning William Stanback later in the season. Calgary will try to run the ball v Toronto. They have the horses..er...backs to do it.


Calgary to win at home.


A couple of footnotes to my comments last week about former Argo, Dick Brown and potential CFHOF candidates. I failed to mention that Dick's son Mark played for him at the U of Guelph. In fact, Mark was also drafted fourth overall by the Argos in 1978. A good friend of Bernie Custis, Dick retired from head coach at Guelph in 1980, just a year before Bernie took over as head coach at McMaster. Had they overlapped, it may have been the first time two African American/Canadian head coaches of U Sports football teams faced off. Has this happened since? I don't know.


I also mentioned the potential candidacy of Stu Lang who is a large benefactor to both his alma mater, Queen's University Golden Gaels, and the University of Guelph Gryphons. This year, the Gryphons have featured a new QB, Jake Helfrich, whose transfer from South Carolina to Guelph, according to 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk, was facilitated by Argos' executive and mentor, Jim Barker. Guelph hosted Queen's on Saturday in front of a sold- out crowd for its Homecoming game. Helfrich and the other two Gryphons QBs who saw action had a rough outing as the Golden Gaels ruined the party and delivered the Gryphons their worst loss in a decade, hammering them 62-11. Queen's ran for over 525 yards on the ground which included 244 yards from Anthony Soles. Like father like son.


Finally, for anyone who may have watched the Dolphins beat the Bills on Sunday in NFL action, you may have felt very uncomfortable watching Tua Tagovailoa's obvious concussion go undiagnosed, if not untreated. It was an outrageous example of willful incompetence, if not complicity, in ignoring the welfare of a star player. It’s not the first time this has happened in the NFL and probably won't be the last. There is no sugar coating this episode, a follow-on concussion to Tua could be lethal. It’s called second impact syndrome and it occurs when a second concussion occurs before the first one has had time to heal (brain swelling return to normal). You may recall the case of Rowan Stringer, a young woman from Ottawa who died in 2013 after having sustained what were believed to be three concussions inside a two-week period, playing rugby. Nobody around her knew any better. The NFL has no such excuse. Rowan's tragic death led to Ontario passing Rowan's law to ensure that those who need to diagnose and recognize concussions have the training to do so. Rowan's day is designated every year on the last Wednesday of September to help raise awareness and promote concussion safety.


It's hard not to compare Tua's unfortunate case to the less obvious effects on Zach Collaros as he was removed from a game earlier this year. By comparison the CFL is looking pretty good so far. I will return to the relative safety of the Canadian v US game in a future blog.