• Reeve Batstone

Capital Appreciation


Despite the offence going MIA in the fourth quarter, the Argos tightened their grip on first place in the East. Realistically, they only need to win two of their six remaining games to finish first. One of these will need to be against Montreal. If Henoc Muamba is hurt for an extended period this will be easier said than done.


Positives:

MBT had a passing efficiency of rating of 97 which would have been much higher had he not thrown an untimely interception. He also threw a TD. Gittens was terrific again. I love the way he catches the ball with his hands, he does not allow it to bounce off his body. Mr. consistency. Every Argos Grey Cup team has had a great Canadian possession receiver: Mike Eben, Paul Pearson, Paul Masotti, Andre Durie to name a few “go to” guys on second down. Theismann to Eben, Condredge to Pearson, Flutie to Masotti, Allen to Talbot, and Ray to Durie. Can MBT and Gittens follow in their footsteps?


Banks had six touches. Perfect. McManis was his all-star self and Metchie had seven tackles. The Argos had seven penalties for 85 yards. Two too many. No composure penalties and no bad snaps for weeks now.


Negatives:

The Argos were out sacked 3 to 1. This ratio has to be flipped against a good team or the Argos will be on the losing end. The O line was unable to open any holes or running lanes. Ouellette is like Harris in that he is his own DIY blocker. He runs hard. The O-line continues to struggle. Its remarkable that the team continues to win despite this makeshift offensive line. I do like the fact that the Argos did not try to run a lot on first down. If you know you cannot control the LOS you simply cannot be predictable in the run game. Its deadly. I would still like to see some draws on second down and the occasional QB draw with an empty backfield.


MBT tossed another over Ambles’ head, although he did touch it. He threw it off his back foot. MBT hung onto the ball too long again. Bede was only 60% on FGs. He needs to be at least 80%.


The Argos and REDBLACKS play again in two weeks. Arbuckle breathed some life into Ottawa in the second half. I'm picking a desperate Ottawa team to win.


Around the CFL:

Two weeks ago, I lauded the CFL office for its handling of Johnny Manziel. This week I'm going to say the same about its handling of Garrett Marino. My guess is that Saskatchewan was reluctant to cut him for fear that he would immediately reappear on Edmonton's roster. I would also guess these were coordinated moves when the league sent a memo to teams obliquely warning them off Marino.


Much attention has been paid this year to the CFL's declining TV ratings on TSN. This trend should surprise no one. As I have previously pointed out their ratings have been dropping for years at a pace that is slightly higher than the decrease in TSN subscriptions. The CFL's numerator has to fall and will continue to do so as the TSN's denominator of subscriptions continues to fall. It’s inevitable and should not be confused as much with the popularity of the league as its platform's shrinking reach. Ironically, TSN is making good money despite this decline in part due to cuts in its operating costs during the pandemic. In the 2000s CFL games drew regular season audiences on TSN which were 60-80% higher than they are today.


Last year the Grey Cup drew an audience around 3 million out of a population of 38 million Canadians. However, only a fraction of these Canadians have a TSN subscription. The largest Grey Cup audiences have generally involved the Argos. In 2012 the game drew 5.8 million viewers. In 1983 the game drew 4.2 million from a population of 25 million people, its highest rating ever and a time when the Game was carried by all networks. A 2022 Grey Cup including the Argos would likely push the game over 3.5 million viewers but TSN has shed 45-50% of its subscriber base in the last decade so an audience of 5 million, or even 4 million, is highly unlikely. The absence of the Grey Cup on the free, over the air, networks like CBC and CTV is reducing its exposure dramatically, and is a de-facto blackout. A long-term TV deal with TSN seemed like a good idea at the time but taking the short-term money is damaging the CFL, and Grey Cup, brand as other media outlets also have no interest in covering a competitor’s product. Sportsnet coverage is both thin and disparaging. Globe and Mail seems to have forgotten that the CFL exists. The CBC has the greatest reach but doesn't carry any games. This is a big problem for the CFL, and once again its time to think long term. They absolutely must get the Grey Cup game back on the CBC and/or CTV. The Super Bowl now exceeds the Grey Cup audience, markedly. One of the major reasons for this is that it’s carried by CTV, not just a cable network with subscriptions that are declining 8-10% per year. The sooner the CFL confronts this hard truth the sooner it can staunch the bleeding.