Franklin proves to be tonic for Argos offence

Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star

He held his four-month-old daughter, Adelynn Rae, in his arms. He gave credit to his father, Willie. And he thanked just about everyone involved in the Argos’ 20-17 win over the Edmonton Edmonton on Saturday at BMO Field.

Quarterback James Franklin, making his starting debut with the Argos, had himself quite a night. He had some big shoes to fill, replacing the injured Ricky Ray, but he showed he has the poise and arm strength to get the Argos’ offence in gear after it went stagnant over the first two games of the season.

“I feel good, but the (Argos players) made me feel comfortable and welcome, and not that I was worried about that but I wanted it to happen,” Franklin said after guiding the Argos to their first win of the season, which came before 12,196 on a lovely summer evening.

Franklin’s debut was bolstered by another standout effort: James Wilder Jr. had by far his best game of the season, rushing for his first 100-yard game (21 carries, 120 yards) and a touchdown.

Franklin threw an interception — a crucial turnover when the Argos trailed by three points in the fourth quarter — but he talked about how he had learned from his father to remain calm under duress.

Those teachings proved valuable as Franklin turned around and tossed a game-winning, five-yard touchdown pass to the versatile Declan Cross at the 12:03 mark of the fourth quarter. That was followed by a two-point conversion to Armanti Edwards, and from there, the Argos had reason to celebrate after looking disjointed in their first two games of the season.

“I learned from my dad, being calm and collected, be more clear when things are hectic,” said Franklin, whose photos of himself and his daughter were a hit on Instagram after the game.

Franklin said he miscued on the interception, thinking Edwards was going to pull up short on an out pass. Edwards went longer, to the sidelines, and Franklin said he will better learn the nuances of that route after the misread.

But, for a debut, and a first crack at an Argos offence that stumbled and stalled over the first two weeks of the season, Franklin proved to be a tonic. He was also replacing Ray, who suffered what is said to be a season-ending neck injury in game two.

Franklin finished with 16 completions on 24 attempts for 217 yards, a touchdown, and a rushing touchdown — all against his former team.

That matchup was part of the lead-up to the game and, afterward, Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly huddled with Franklin, having a laugh and congratulating the Argos quarterback on his strong debut.

“Mike was great, and he said, ‘Nice job,’ ”Franklin said. “We had a laugh over a story, it was something like master (Reilly) and student (Franklin) and stuff like that. Mike has been great to me all along.”

Reilly made things interesting, completing a six-play, 87-yard drive with a 24-yard strike to Derel Walker to put the Eskimos up 14-12. That was near the end of the third quarter, and Edmonton went up five points on a field goal to put tremendous pressure on Toronto to reel in the come-from-behind win.

Reilly wound up with 28 completions on 40 attempts for 370 yards, a sign that the Argos still have a lot of work to do in containing a top-shelf quarterback.

D’haquille Williams, the CFL’s top-rated receiver, hauled down eight catches for 125 yards while Walker, the league’s second-rated receiver, had four catches for 51 yards.

Toronto’s defence did make big plays at crucial times, with Shawn Lemon recovering a fumble to set up the Argos’ second touchdown, and Ronnie Yell intercepting a Reilly to Walker pass in the end zone.

The first half ended with a rare play by the Eskimos after the Argos successfully challenged a 30-yard pass interference penalty against Toronto defensive back T.J. Heath. Edmonton had a field -goal situation on a third down and 11 yards to go on the Toronto 34, but attempted an onside kick.

It was last touched by Edmonton’s Korey Jones, handing the ball back to Edmonton at the Toronto 35-yard-line. Toronto’s defence held tough after that, but the play surprised even veteran CFL observers. According to the CFL play-by-play department, the play was considered a rush and a first down instead of a field-goal attempt.


15 Comments on Franklin proves to be tonic for Argos offence

  1. Green Apples // July 9, 2018 at 9:32 am //

    Impressive on all counts.

  2. Double blue through and through // July 9, 2018 at 9:45 am //

    The O-Line still looks soft – fortunately, Franklin can scramble better than Ray…

  3. he had 1 td and 1 int and passed for just over 200 yards

    that is average at best in the CFL

    Wilder was the Tonic, Franklin just the guy handing him the football

    • TheLastArgoFan // July 9, 2018 at 11:22 am //


      Franklin looked poised and had some good throws, but his stats were ordinary.

      • his stats were average because he was never on the field. And when he was particularly in the second and third quarter, he was being chased around by the pass rush. More time he would have had more yards

  4. The most important thing is he won. Go Argos Go

  5. Way to go James.

  6. mr62cats // July 9, 2018 at 12:08 pm //

    I think some credit for Franklin’s performance should also go with Coach Trestman. He sure knows how to help new…..and veteran QB’s. The East has just become more competitive.

  7. We can feel a bit secure that Toronto does not have a sub-par QB for the foreseeable future.

  8. Being a fan of Franklin I would have to agree with some of comments, the Argos offense was most effective when the run was working, things should get better with more playing time.

  9. Solid first start for Franklin. Well done!!!

  10. Doug Mc Clintock // July 9, 2018 at 6:42 pm //

    Franklin’s new daughter ‘s middle name is Rae, close to the name of Ray, that is neat if this is the reason !

  11. Tiger man // July 11, 2018 at 8:20 am //

    He’s won ONE game as the starter in Toronto.

    Can we see first if Franklin can string some wins together before you crown him king.

    • Tiger man // July 11, 2018 at 8:21 am //

      And, yes, our first year starter beat Edmonton too….in Edmonton.

    • mr62cats // July 11, 2018 at 8:52 am //

      Tiger man: Correction….HE did not win ONE game as the “starter in Toronto.”
      The TEAM and the COACHES won ONE game!

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