Argos on trying for consecutive wins: it should give us an edge

Times two.

Every Toronto Argonaut knows Saturday’s game against Montreal presents the team with the opportunity to extend its winning streak to two games.

A modest standard to be sure, but for the Argos, winning back-to-back games is something they have yet to accomplish this season.

It’s been on their mind all week long — it’s simply taken too long for this football team to accomplish back to back victories.

And judging from the player reactions leading up to this weekend’s home game against an East Division rival, it’s not acceptable.

“That’s what we have to do,” Argos quarterback Ricky Ray said, as the Argos wrapped Thursday’s practice. “We haven’t been able to put those back-to-back wins together yet. If we want to win our division, we have to do that.

“We’ve been working hard to become the team we want to be, and part of it is getting that winning feeling, doing it in practice, and then doing it on the field in a game.”

The Argos have fostered a belief the team has the coaching staff, the accountability and the talent to win the East. Yet 12 weeks into the season, they’re still fighting for what has been an elusive two-game win streak.

The belief is still there, but the wins are not.

“In my mind, this team works so hard and has five wins,” linebacker Bear Woods said. “It’s been disappointing that way, and it makes me mad (that the team has just five wins). But my mind isn’t blurred by that; we’re in a good position, we’re in a battle for first in our division. Everything is still there for us.”

After the Argos win over Edmonton last week, Woods shouted out a message to his teammates: This is the time of the season when a playoff mentality sets in with every player.

And every player understands that mentality.

For the Argos, though, the building blocks behind achieving even a modest win streak have been rooted in their passing game. In between, there have been inconsistencies with the offensive overall offence, with the defensive secondary, with penalties and discipline, with execution and with what seems the basic task of finding a team identity.

“At this time of year, to have that goal of winning back-to-back games, it should give us an edge. You have to win back-to-back games to be a championship team,” Woods said.

“We’ll find more about ourselves when we play Montreal Saturday, and we’ll find more about ourselves when we play Hamilton the next week. It’s playoff football now, now’s the time, and that’s what I wanted to articulate to the guys.”

Argos offensive lineman Chris Van Zehl concurred.

“This is the home stretch, this is when you are already in playoff mode,” he said. “You come out of the first two thirds of the season, and you enter the final third of the season, so every game matters, every point matters.”

Saturday’s game marks the third and final regular-season meeting between Toronto and Montreal. The Argos sit in second place in the East, a point behind first-place Ottawa, while Montreal is in third, four points behind the Argos.

In other words, Saturday’s game is the most important game of the season for both clubs, since an Argo win puts Montreal in a deep hole in the standings. A victory would put the Argos that much closer to hosting a first ever CFL playoff game at BMO Field, and the first playoff game in Toronto since 2013.

“It says we haven’t played consistent enough football,” Argos coach Marc Trestman said about the lack of back-to-back wins.

The coach spent part of Thursday showing his team films of championship players like Als quarterback Darian Durant, who won the Grey Cup with Saskatchewan in 2013.

“That’s what we’ve been building towards and the next step now is back-to-back wins.”

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