1) Throw to win: Rick Ray has attempt 41, 45, 41, 46 and 55 passes – 228 total – over five games, which means it’s clear Marc Trestman is going to rely on the veteran pivot heavily. The 38-year-old has been protected much better, so far, in 2017 and that’s going to be key going forward with the number of times he’s dropping back. Ray’s quickly become comfortable in Trestman’s offence and he’s been helping out the offensive line by making fast decisions too. He’s spreading around the ball with nine players recording a reception on Monday night, even though S.J. Green gets a lot of attention there are other capable playmakers in the receiving core.
2) Bear of an injury: Middle linebacker Bear Woods left the game in the first half after hitting Trevor Harris and undergoing concussion protocol. Justin Tuggle entered and made three defensive tackles and should’ve had an interception, which slipped through his hands. The Argos are comfortable with Tuggle at MIKE if Woods misses more time. Over three NFL seasons with the Houston Texans, Tuggle made 71 tackles, so he’s got playing experience at the pro level, albeit not the CFL.
3) Harris harnessed: The Redblacks No. 1 pivot entered the game leading the league in passing yards, but you wouldn’t have guessed that if you only watched Monday’s game. Trevor Harris was held to 184 yards. Ottawa’s lone pass play over 20 yards was Greg Ellingson’s 31-yard touchdown that tied the game at 24. Other than that Harris and his receivers were held under wraps. Two of Toronto’s top pass rushers, Victor Butler and Cleyon Laing, both left with injuries in the first half, but the Redblacks were unable to capitalize on those two being out for the final 30 minutes. Even though the box score makes the effort look worse with an interception, it was more the result of a mix-up with William Powell than a bad read or poorly thrown ball.
4) Boatmen backfield: With Brandon Whitaker nicked up, Toronto turned to James Wilder Jr. as their starting running back. He showed off some strong – literally – running traits. At one point he kept his legs turning and moved a large pile of bodies for at least five extra yards. Even though Wilder only had seven carries he put up a nice average per rush (5.1). Expect to see more from Wilder if Whitaker remains out. Anthony Coombs saw snaps behind Ray too, which is a package in the offence.
5) Honey Coombs: It’s been a sweet couple weeks for Anthony Coombs. Coming off career highs for catches (8) and receiving yards (94) followed with eight more grabs for 73 yards and one touchdown, Coombs has assumed Andre Durie’s position and really looks comfortable in his fourth year. That’s two straight games the University of Manitoba product has led Toronto in receptions. An indicator Coombs is earning more trust from Marc Trestman and his veteran quarterback.
Bonus – Listless rush: Considering Ottawa played four games in 17 days, it’s completely understandable that legs would be heavy and make it harder to pressure the quarterback. That said, Ottawa’s inability to disrupt Ricky Ray played a part in the loss. 55 dropbacks and Ray’s jersey, BMO Field is mostly grass, was pretty clean after 60 minutes. Jonathan Newsome, currently on the six-game injured list, could be very helpful when he’s healthy.