Last week I referred to the Argo-Ticat game as Deja Vu. I feel like I could have transposed that summary to this week as well. Its now like Groundhog Day. The first half features virtually no offence and then the offence catches fire in the second half.
I picked Hamilton to win this week, but I wasn't expecting to see them roll out QBs who had never started a game before. Why, given their inability to score a point on the Argos' defense, was their only experienced QB (dressed), Dane Evans, not inserted into the game? Bizarre, for a team that was under enormous pressure to win, or at least contest the Labour Day game in front of a record crowd. The Ticats were awful offensively and their chances of finishing first are all but gone. They will be hard pressed to make the second available playoff spot in the east. Orlando Steinauer, was wearing a hat with 1869 on it, the year the Hamilton Tigers were founded. One of the two teams that eventually merged to become the Tiger Cats. Given that the Argos were founded in 1873 this would seem to have been a statement as to who the big dawg of North American football teams was. By halftime Steinauer must have been wishing that they could go back to 1869 rules and play without throwing the ball forward.
It is almost a certainty that only two teams will make the playoffs in the east and the third will be a crossover. I would not bet against the Saskatchewan Roughriders making the eastern final.
The Argos have not punched their ticket to the playoffs yet but they went a long way towards it by shutting down the Ticats hapless rookie QBs on Monday. Its likely that a 9-9 record will win the east this season, a 10-8 record would be a lock. To get there the Argos only need to win 3 of their last 7 games. I like their chances of splitting with Ottawa, Montreal and beating Edmonton. I'm not counting on them beating BC at home or Calgary on the road.
The Argo defence did not allow any points. They feasted on two rookie quarterbacks. What’s up with Evans!? Speedy B's TD reception was a contested catch! Henoc Muamba had 8 tackles. Sometimes taken for granted on a defence which often feature big plays from the likes of McManis, Edwards and Peters; Muamba quietly played his consistently strong game against the run and added a sack.
The rookie Barlow had another strong game. Shane Ray had another sack, albeit in garbage time. Ouellete and Adeboboye ran hard. After a rough first half MBT finished the game with a respectable 88 passing efficiency rating.
The receivers got decent separation. Only 5 penalties for 50 yards. Once again composure is king. Loved the play call on Bank's running TD, less predictability in the red zone is never a bad thing either. I also liked the extra protection from bringing the two receivers inside to block on the Bank's TD reception.
Coxie should have caught the pass that went for the pick six. He had excellent separation but, in the end, made Rolle look much better than he is. Ambles also got good separation but was juggling passes again. This is the second time I have written about his juggling this year. It looks to be a recurring problem. Not a good trend and if it continues its going to cost the Argos more than just stalled drives. He gets good separation and runs well after the catch but first you have to catch the ball or make sure no one else does...he and Carnell need to stay after practice to work on their hands.
MBT still holding onto the ball too long. The overthrows on the short/intermediate routes are still his nemesis. Strong armed QBs sometimes get lazy in their footwork, which can lead to this kind of inconsistency.
I don't understand the first play call of the game, a WR screen to Ambles with Banks blocking. It went nowhere for a reason. Banks should be doing the catching not the blocking. Speedy B is not Eric Rogers when it comes to blocking. It made no sense. Do it again but reverse the roles. Those are the kind of touches Banks needs more of. He only had three touches the entire game!! He needs 5-7 touches at least. Set him up for success.
The Argos got the short end of some poor calls. Fortunately, it did not change the outcome of the game. Daniels was not touched after catching a pass which should have gone for a TD. Robbie Smith caused a fumble when he knocked the ball out of Jalen Morton's hand. In both cases the whistle was blown prematurely.
Politics for Dummies:
What kind of Mayor, or former Mayor, criticizes his cities oldest team for playing on a field that is owned by the City of Toronto?! David Miller's comments were ill informed, unnecessarily divisive and only served to pit one team and its fan base against another. His reference to the purported value of the TFC was completely irrelevant. The relative asset value of these two teams (to private owners) which are using a facility paid for with public funds is of no consequence to its fans and shouldn't matter unless that person has shares in either team. It only served to fortify Miller as a polarizing and ignorant public figure.
Nice to see former Argo and Queen's Golden Gael fullback, Bob Bronk, was invited to fill in for Natey Adjei on the radio broadcast Monday. Bob was an outstanding blocking back on the 1982 and 83 Argo teams that reached the Grey Cup. He did a fine job of blocking Edmonton's sack master James "Quick" Parker in the 1982 game. What is not well known is that Bob could run with the ball too. He ran a 4.5 fourty at 225 lbs. In a time before Canadians were not “allowed" to carry the ball Bob spent much of his time blocking for Cedric Minter. The Argos have a long history of running backs from Queen's. They have had at least one per decade. In fact, the only trade that involved players coming to and from the NFL involved Queen's running back Jim "Dirty Thirty" Young. Young left Queen's for a two-year career with the Minnesota Vikings in the late 60s. The Argos held his rights when Bud Grant decided he wanted Joe Kapp to replace Fran Tarkenton. So, the Argos traded Young's rights to the Lions, the Lions released Kapp, the Lions then sent Bill Symons and Dick Fouts to the Argos and the Vikings signed Kapp. Kapp later led the Vikings to a loss in the Super Bowl. He and Joe Theismann remain the only two QBs to take their teams to both the Grey Cup and Super Bowl. Kapp won the Grey Cup and Theismann won the Super Bowl.
Other Queen's RBs who played for the Argos included, Dave Hadden in the 70s, Brad Elberg in the 90s and Bryan Crawford in the 2000s. Despite possessing outstanding speed, the latter two were moved to other positions. Since the success of Jon Cornish and Andrew Harris there seems to be more openness to giving Canadian tailbacks a better shot at running the ball. The best-known Queen's running back was of course Ronnie Stewart of the Ottawa Rough Riders, a one-time winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's outstanding athlete. Current Golden Gaels running back Anthony Soles, is the son of former Alouette star fullback, the late Michael Soles.