Argos season seemingly at risk after arid delayed loss to Riders

By Mitch Robson

On a day where the majority of the Toronto sports world was either stressing out over the Kawhi Leonard free agency decision or in fact-finding mode about the Maple Leafs trade of Nazem Kadri, the Argos weren’t able to make any noise as they were beaten down for the second time in as many games, losing 32-7 in Regina to the Riders. 

After Saskatchewan quickly ran up a 25-0 lead in the first half, the game went into a LONG weather delay (which gave me time to run down to the waterfront and catch the fireworks – far more visually appealing than those on the field). The Argos did answer with a touchdown drive out of the stoppage to provide a glimmer of hope before a meek second half in which they were held off the scoreboard once again. 

While there’s lots of blame to go around once again, the defensive backs and offensive line have to be looked at with the most critical of eyes going forward. Rider receivers were running free deep into the secondary all game long. And James Franklin was once again given minimal protection under centre as Micah Johnson and Charleston Hughes lived rent free in his grill all night to the tune of four sacks between the two. 

With Week 3 on the horizon, here’s three big picture thoughts on where the Argos go from here: 

  1. Although starting safety Jermaine Gabriel wasn’t able to go this week after his injury suffered in Week 2 against the Ticats, there were far too many plays like this one as the halfback was beaten off the line and the deep help didn’t arrive in time: 

Cody Fajardo picked the Argo defence apart and consistently bought extra time against the rush to the tune of a whopping 430 yards passing with two touchdowns and 77.4 per cent completion percentage. No disrespect to Fajardo, but he’s much closer on the CFL QB spectrum to let’s say Dan LeFevour than Darian Durant…the output from the defensive backs was simply not good enough to stay competitive on a week-to-week basis.

  1. In the off-season Jim Popp and the front office made a clear choice to go get more playmaking on offence by signing all-star receiver Derel Walker and bringing in Tyrell Sutton and Chris Rainey in the backfield to complement James Wilder Jr. Although we can’t make a full judgement on the run game with Sutton on the injured list and Rainey being primarily used as a return man, the inability for the offensive line to withstand any kind of pressure has fully thrown a wrench into the Argos plan for a more dynamic offence. 

Without any time for Franklin to progress through his reads Walker was held to just one catch of 56 yards, and no other receiver topped 50. Money needed to be spent to add some big names and reinvigorate the team, but what goes on in the trenches may be what tells the story on where this team goes from here. 

  1. Saturday’s game at BMO should be fascinating, as the 0-3 Lions will roll into town in what is basically a must-win scenario against a bottom feeder in the East to kick start their season which had high hopes with Mike Reilly’s return and DeVone Claybrooks’ introduction as head coach. 

Reilly has yet to look like the MOP he’s been in the past, but will certainly be looking forward to facing a defence that’s given up 96 points through two games and has received only 21 combined points of support from their offence. 

Calling it a must-win for Toronto would seem to be a bit of a stretch since they do share the division with Montreal, but anything other than at least a competitive effort on your own field would be extremely disappointing after the optimism that was coming out of the organization in training camp.