Report Card: Eastern Final
QUARTERBACK – A+
A championship performance from McLeod Bethel-Thompson. He looked calm and in charge from the opening drive to taking a knee in the victory formation. He threw for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns and more importantly, he would not let his team lose. On a day where the defense had some issues and didn’t deliver what they often do, MBT simply would not let Montreal get back into the game with drive after drive. He took Worthy’s return out of the game with never needing punts and he kept the freezing crowd wired and cheering on the Argos. Winning an Eastern Final takes more than stats, just look across the field at Trevor Harris. A titanic performance.
WIDE RECEIVERS – B+
Obviously, a great quarterback performance needs the support of his wide receivers. And largely he got it. First to get recognized is one Kurleigh Gittens Jr. KGJ was all world today, with 9 targets and 9 catches. He caught the ball in traffic, he fought for every yard after his catches, and he had the winning touchdown. Give the man the Order of Canada. Daniels had his classic day, just out of nowhere he has monster stats and a touchdown. He gets it done and is crucial to this offense but I'd love to see him catch that ball at the end of the first half. Cam Phillips dropped a touchdown. Does he get switched for Rogers or Brescacin? It says yes here.
RUNNING BACKS – A
I know the statistics are not off the chart for the unit but the way the backs kept the team ahead of the sticks all game and the aggressiveness they played with rubbed off on the entire offense. They simply refused to let a loss happen. Harris had his FIRST ARGOS TOUCHDOWN and added 73 total yards. It was a terrific return for him from what should have been a season ending injury. AJ Ouellette went full Juggernaut with an amazing early catch and run, a tone-setting touchdown and the amazing final drive with first down after first down clinching the game. Still no Leake to compliment the hammers and I am not a fan of the KGJ jet sweeps, but the starting duo were huge today.
OFFENSIVE LINE – A
This starting five is really turning into a damn fine unit. The addition of Hunter has really made all the difference in terms of solidifying everyone’s role and there is incredible depth in the wings as well. Over 100 yards on the ground, and no real pressure on MBT all game were both signs of a unit firing on all cylinders. The short yardage game, once a disaster is now a dependable conversion and each of the five were high blood pressure today…silent killers.
DEFENSIVE LINE – B+
A good day at the office for the group. Keeping Montreal under 100-yard rushing was impressive, and just the one missed play where Muamba was sealed added 52 yards and the touchdown to the rushing stats. It ruins the look of what was a great performance. Dewayne Hendrix stepped up and had a huge game with 6 tackles and a key end of the first half sack. Shawn Oakman also was a force all game and he added a sack for good measure. Ja’Gared Davis didn’t show up on the stat sheet but his pass rush, his relaxed energy and his aggression absolutely were huge today.
LINEBACKERS – B+
The return of McManis was a huge lift for the team at practice and to start the final today. Losing him to injury is brutal but getting him as a sideline voice softens the blow a little. Henoc Muamba has been the best player on the defense the last two meaningful games versus Montreal. He was all over the field today, especially in the first half. The Montreal running game was nonexistent save one huge play. Id love to see Edwards blitz more as he is so good at it and Jones has shown himself to be a talented fill in for McManis.
DEFENSIVE BACKS – C+
It is a hard unit to evaluate. Harris threw for 360 yards at an almost 85 percent completion clip and a touchdown. That is a big day but how much was it part of the gameplan? There did not seem to be a lot of busts so the soft zone and the zone breakdowns on roll out scrambles seemed accepted losses in exchange for taking away the flats and the hitch screen game. It was successful but…just. So, I’m going to grade it softer but as any coach will tell you. It is what it is. To shout out one guy, Peters had a nice, forced fumble and a few key pass breakups.
SPECIAL TEAMS – B+
Kick and Punt return were both areas of focus heading into the game as Worthy was a game changing weapon and MBT took care of the punt return game with only one punt and the coverage team did a terrific job keeping Worthy under wraps on five kickoffs. Beede did not have a ton to do, but he was perfect on his two field goal attempts and point after conversions. It is easy to take those for granted, but never allowing Montreal to get closer through a mistake was crucial. Haggerty’s first punt was terrible, and the coaching staff might look at his spot on the roster with so much player depth pushing to get on the game day roster. Banks is a nice add to the kick return game.
COACHING – B+
The team came out ready to play at the opening whistle, with the best first half of football they have played all year. That is a result of the work of a quality coaching staff, with special notice to the offensive gameplan, as the Argos absolutely asked questions that Montreal’s defense was not ready to answer. Good work on saying no to the first poor challenge but giving in on the second one was not great. No challenges in the first half!!! I did not like the choice to take side over the kick return to start the second half, I didn’t feel the wind was strong enough to give up a chance to score early in the half and bury the Als. Great game plans on both sides of the ball led to a Grey Cup berth.