Don’t mention Argos being defending Grey Cup champs to head coach Marc Trestman

Dan Ralph, Canadian Press

The Toronto Argonauts enter the 2018 Canadian Football League season as the defending champions. Just don’t mention it to head coach Marc Trestman.

“Our team can’t go back-to-back, it’s impossible,” Trestman said Tuesday. “Our organization can but our team can’t. Our players know that. It’s impossible to go back-to-back because we’re a different team with different players and different coaches.

“So we start new.”

The Argonauts have done some tinkering to their roster but the team will still have a familiar feel with veteran quarterback Ricky Ray leading the way. After two injury-plagued seasons, Ray cleared the 5,000-yard passing plateau last year to lead Toronto to a 9-9 record, an East Division crown and post-season success.

The likely backup will be James Franklin, who was acquired from Edmonton in December and later signed a two-year extension. Trestman made it quite clear who the No. 1 pivot would be.

“Ricky Ray is the quarterback here and he’s going to play every down as long as we can play him,” Trestman said on a conference call. “There’s no other way of saying it.”

Ray was the East Division nominee as the outstanding player in 2017. After leading his team to a Grey Cup win, the 38-year-old decided last February to return for a 16th CFL season.

He’ll have Anthony Calvillo guiding him on the sidelines this season as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Calvillo, who retired in 2014 as pro football’s all-time passing leader, won the Grey Cup on two occasions over five years while playing for Trestman with the Alouettes.

Trestman said the offensive playbook he uses in Toronto is very similar to the one he used in Montreal.

“The plays we run are the same plays Anthony Calvillo ran for five years,” he said. “There’s going to be nuances, schemes and structure that might change slightly but that’s what happens every year.”

Running back James Wilder Jr., the CFL’s most outstanding rookie last season, will return on a two-year extension after expressing frustration earlier in the off-season about not being allowed to opt out of his deal to pursue NFL opportunities.

The Argonauts also added defensive backs T.J. Heath and Ronnie Yell to provide some depth and experience in the secondary. And Toronto brought back kicker/punter Swayze Waters for a second stint with the team.

Owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is making some off-field changes after the team struggled with attendance last year. Some ticket prices have been lowered, tailgate parties will be moved inside the stadium, and a marketing blitz will be aimed at generating buzz among millennials and longtime club supporters.

“There’s a lot of things that can be done to get people into the stands and come out and enjoy a beautiful stadium and a great football product,” said Argonauts general manager Jim Popp. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world that there will be a lot of positive things that happen.”

Training camp will begin Sunday at York University. The Argonauts will open the pre-season schedule June 1 in Hamilton and will play the visiting Ottawa Redblacks in a pre-season game June 7 at the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium.

Toronto’s regular-season opener is set for June 15 at Saskatchewan. The Argonauts’ home opener is scheduled for June 23 against the Calgary Stampeders at BMO Field.

“I don’t look at it as we’re the defending Grey Cup champions,” Trestman said. “We’re the 2018 Toronto Argonauts. That’s the way we approach it. We can’t defend our championship because we’re not the same team that we were a year ago.”


19 Comments on Don’t mention Argos being defending Grey Cup champs to head coach Marc Trestman

  1. Feeling Blue // May 15, 2018 at 6:50 pm //

    I like these guys….they have a plan. Go Argos Go

  2. Doug Mc Clintock // May 15, 2018 at 7:06 pm //

    I like back to back Grey Cup winners, Maybe this team will be better – Ray & Wilder paving the way !

  3. Michael Kulyk // May 15, 2018 at 7:57 pm //

    that’s how dynasties are built – always look forward

  4. Its not like anyone in Toront0 care anyway.

    • Really, it’s not like anyone in Toronto care(s) anyway?
      Very disrespectful to the fans that attend. Or perhaps you have a talent to answer for everyone?

      • Don’t blame him, you should be blaming the sports fans in Toronto that couldn’t care less about the Argos.
        Do you think there will be a significant increase in attendance after winning the Grey Cup?

        • About to start my 42nd season as a season ticket holder.
          My issue is with the quote, “its not like ANYONE in Toronto care anyway”. Not true, not true at all and I repeat, is disrespectful to some who has now supported the team for more than 40 years.
          Do the Argos get large support from Toronto sports fans. Of course not. I also blame the media who desperately require American attention and refuse to support something Canadian. Similar to musicians and actors until uncle sam approves. Do I think there will be a significant increase in attendance? No, a small increase. But I do know there are people in Toronto that do care.

  5. Dan Bombers // May 15, 2018 at 8:01 pm //

    Our league is lucky to have this guy

  6. As said before it’s sad to say but very very few care in Toronto …it disgusts me

  7. I care and my wife cares and the people in our section care. And you care. It will build and it will be better. Better crowds will get me the tailgate again I hope as we will miss that.

    • That’s one of the problem with Toronto fans, you are hoping that the owners/management organize a tailgate for you.
      In other CFL cities and in NFL cities it’s the fans that run their own tail gate parties.

  8. White Horse // May 15, 2018 at 8:35 pm //

    RICKY RAY or not…Trestman knows the Argos did not win the 2017 Grey Cup. The Stamps lost the Grey Cup because of a big fumble and very questionable play calling by D Dickenson and very poor execution by BLM!!!!Argos won the cup by default! AKA 2016!

    • Another bitter and delusional Stamps fan who can never accept the hard truth. You make ya all laugh! Keep it up! Maybe if you wish hard enough Doc Brown will pick you up in the Delorean tnite.

  9. Where's Shultz? // May 15, 2018 at 9:52 pm //

    It’s really hard not to respect Trestman’s coaching style and attention to detail.

  10. Double blue through and through // May 15, 2018 at 11:31 pm //

    Argos are looking good heading into the season! Defense has added some weapons, offence is consistent and well-rounded, Canadian depth is solid. Looking forward to the season!!

    • Michael Kulyk // May 16, 2018 at 7:37 am //

      would have LOVED to see messam in backfield along wilder and cross – great running attack for an older injury prone qb and to take pressure off young qb – also a great way to open up the throwing game – i did notice that wilder’s numbers were down in the post season

  11. Take this // May 16, 2018 at 8:10 am //

    White Horse: that is what makes up a win or a loss. The difference between the team that makes good decisions, executes when it is important and forces and takes advantage of mistakes by the opposing team, and the team that makes those mistakes and has poor game management. The Argos were the better team that day and won fair and square. They made big plays when they had to and the Stamps allowed them to. On offence, Calgary failed to execute. There are no excuses. It was not just one phase of the game. Toronto had big plays on both offence and defence.
    Michael: I don’t think Toronto needs Messam in the back field. He has never been a very good blocker and catching the ball out of the back field has never been his strong point.

  12. Interesting to hear Trestman say that he will have the same offence as he did in Montreal. Since his departure, the Trestman offence has taken root in Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, and I may have missed a couple.

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