• Reeve Batstone

Offensive Identity Crisis


The Argos coaches and players and MLSE’s marketing and promotional department were on the same page Sunday. They all mailed it in. Thirteen points isn’t enough to beat even the worst team in the league. Seriously. This loss lands squarely on the Argos lack of focus. The TSN broadcast showed alarmingly empty stands. It may have been fortuitous. The game was a stinker and poorly played. One of those times that you are almost relieved that MLSE marketing were MIA.


Last week I said that Ottawa would design their defensive game plan around stopping Andrew Harris’ running at all costs. They did. The Argos o-line was unable to open any holes on the ground and the draws were not called.


Logically, the Argos responded by throwing deep. Unfortunately, MBT was overthrowing deep receivers all over the yard. His receivers returned the favour and let him down later in the game. With the loss the Argos have single-handedly brought Ottawa back into the playoff conversation. Only two teams from the East will be making the playoffs this year. The west will be sending a crossover, likely Saskatchewan. Hamilton will be one of the playoff teams because of their defence. The Argos are far from a lock to make the playoffs. Ottawa has the best quarterbacking tandem when Masoli returns. If the Argos don’t make the playoffs the Dinwiddie experiment will likely end.


Positives

Kurleigh Gittens’ first half consistency. McManis led the team with 8 tackles. Bede got off the schneid. Finally, no wildly errant snaps in shotgun! Tommy Nield had a confident debut.


Congratulations to MBT for passing the 10,000 yard passing milestone and climbing up the all time Argos list. One of the striking things about the Hall of Famers ahead of him is the brevity of their time with the Argos, Ricky Ray having the longest tenure but most people remember him from Edmonton. Flutie only two seasons. It’s symptomatic of the high rate of turnover that the club has had from the ownership on down, in its modern, privately owned era. Many owners makes many GMs, which makes many head coaches and therefore many starting QBs.


Negatives

No running lanes or holes from the o line for Harris.


Argos and Edwards’ lack of composure reared its ugly head again. Poor tackling on defence.


Second and inches with Harris in the backfield is a free play to go deep. Air it out!


MBT overthrowing wide open receivers on deep routes continues to dog him and the team. He was lucky that Williams dropped an easy INT. MBT was average at best.


Harris had 9 carries and 5 receptions for only 14 touches! Banks had 5 touches. Combined they had 19 touches. As I have said before, that’s just not enough. The Argos won’t win if these two touch the ball less than 25 times per game, combined. Where were the draws!?


As I have said before the Argos have a strong roster but are completely inept at kick returns. This is a major deficit in the Canadian game and can be the difference between first place and missing the playoffs. This continues to be a drag on the team’s field position.


Ryan Dinwiddie has the potential to be a good head coach but the consistent breakdowns in discipline and penalties (another seven tonight) that have plagued the Argos suggest problems in maintaining order. The first job of a head coach is to establish and maintain order.


I wondered why Dave Dickenson did not elevate him to OC in Calgary and call plays. Perhaps it’s because he was just not ready. The Argos’ brain-trust thought they knew better. Presumably Pinball is mentoring him. How many second chances is Edward’s going to get? Dinwiddie needs to show his teeth before it’s too late.


A young rookie coach needs to be surrounded by veteran assistants or position coaches. The Argos could have done better here. Glen Young and now Corey Mace were/are first time defensive coordinators. Dinwiddie is a de-facto first time offensive coordinator. The BC Lions allowed this to happen with DeVone Claybrooks and it ended badly. Russ Jackson had no coaching experience when the Argos hired him years ago. It rarely works and only does if you are prepared to ride out the bad times which may be counted in years.


The Argos did something similar years ago when they hired Bart Andrus who hired assistants with zero Canadian football experience. None of them knew a rouge from a no yards. It all ended quickly. The Argos have repeated this mistake every decade or so. John Rauch and Forrest Gregg in the 70s, and Willie Wood in the 80s. All poor records.


Meanwhile Paul LaPolice keeps his job on his second tour as a head coach with an abysmal win- loss record while Khari Jones gets thrown over the side, capriciously, so what do I know!?


I shook my head in dismay at the TSN experts calling the Winnipeg-Calgary game when they went on about how Brady Oliviera was making people forget about Andrew Harris. What a crock. The holes and running lanes that Winnipeg’s o-line opened for Oliviera were massive. Harris has to make his own holes with Argos o-line. He is a DIY all star on this team. Any back would have looked great behind the Bomber’s o-line v Calgary. Absolutely no comparison. Too much TSN bandwagon jumping. Glen Suitor should know better.


I still wonder why the Argos did not insist on all star holdout Derek Dennis from the Elks in return for Nick Arbuckle. Tackle was their greatest need then and their greatest need now. Depth at quarterback would be next. Dennis at left tackle in the eastern final may have gotten them to the Grey Cup, not to mention Chris van Zeyl. They are playing whack a mole on the o-line now. Shane Richards has been leap-frogged on the depth chart by rookie Canadian o-lineman Gregor MacKellar. Is MacKellar that good, Richards hurt, or is their first overall Richards a bust?


Incidentally, none of these promising Canadian o-linemen (Richards, Giffen, Churchill, MacKellar) are playing their natural position. None of them played guard in university. They are all tackles. With the constant turnover at tackle perhaps it’s time to give one a shot. It’s noteworthy that the best tackles the Argos have had in the last decade are Canadian. Future Hall of Famer Chris Van Zeyl and Jamal Campbell. They let both of them walk and have had churn at tackle ever since. Interestingly, Van Zeyl wasn’t a tackle in university, and he was actually cut twice early in his career, once by Montreal and once by Toronto. Tackle is traditionally an American position. One wonders if it is prejudice reminiscent of Andrew Harris’ introduction to BC Lions when they first tried to turn him into a safety. One wonders what might have been had Brad Elberg or Bryan Crawford been given a chance to carry the rock. Elberg, a Hec Creighton and Vanier Cup winning tailback ran a 4.3 and Crawford was almost as fast. Elberg got moved to safety. Crawford was a special teams captain for Mike O’Shea when he coached specials for Argos. We’ll never know.


Keep on lighting it up Nathan Rourke!


Caleb Evans certainly lit his team up. He had a sensational 135 passer rating.


MBT did not throw an INT and his rating was a strong 100, but his job is to win. A loss next week v Hamilton and Dinwiddie’s seat will begin to warm up a little, although he can’t make the throws and catches himself! Execution and discipline are bigger problems than play calling.


The Argos have no chance to win the East or even make the playoffs unless MBT and the offence puts together a string of consistently good performances. Sooner or later Dane Evans will find his game.


This ship is heading into weather. We’ll see how tight it really is. On the basis of what we have seen lately, Hamilton is going to handle the Argos next week.