State of the Argos: Sitting at 0-5, but still alive headed to Edmonton

Is it possible for the Argonaut defence to play both ways?

Certainly Cleyon Laing and Freddie Bishop would be able to keep edge rushers like themselves from getting to the QB. Micah Awe has the size and speed to be a dual threat running back and versatile weapon. Alden Darby has shown a nose for the ball in the secondary, and with the QB play hitting a new low this past week in Calgary, why not throw him behind centre?

“It wasn’t good enough to win,’’ Chamblin said of McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s play, according to Frank Ziccarelli of the Toronto Sun. “But that’s with all of us. He’s still growing and understanding. There are some things he has to clean up, whether it be reads and not forcing that ball.”

Simply put, for each step forward the Argos offence has taken – such as getting Derel Walker and James Wilder Jr. open quickly in space through screen passes and crossers – they take multiple steps backward each outing, which culminated with the turnover-fest, a non-existent run game and lack of cohesiveness on any drive last Thursday night.

For the Argos to salvage anything out of their western swing, they need to fully lean into being that nasty group that consistently creates takeaways and scores points themselves since the offence can’t hold up their end of the bargain.

Here’s a few other thoughts on the team heading into Thursday night in Edmonton:

  1. The Alouettes provided the perfect blueprint on how to compete against the Eskimos in their 20-10 win on Saturday. They kept it a slow-moving and ugly game while also consistently getting into the face of Trevor Harris, for all kinds of QB hits, even if just a few led to direct sacks.

As our own Mike Ludwig pointed out in his piece, Jason Maas also went to the well frequently on the calls for screen passes and swings out to the flats, which the Argos should be hoping for as their linebacking corps should be able to catch up and contain Ricky Collins, Kenny Stafford and Greg Ellingson to a degree – all three of whom had some crucial drops in the loss as well.

While Toronto doesn’t have a dual threat QB like Vernon Adams Jr. (or VAJ, as Milt Stegall was intent on calling him throughout TSN’s coverage) to keep Edmonton’s all-star linebackers honest in pass coverage with the threat of the run, if they can establish the zone run game early and get their blockers into the second level it could at least set a foundation and revive some of the threat of the passing game.

That being said, if Bethel-Thompson throws another four interceptions it won’t matter.

2. With everybody on the defensive line eating as of late, you can’t help but wonder when Shawn Lemon will return as his presence would only bolster a group that’s been headlined by the dominant performance of Cleyon Laing so far.

He hasn’t accompanied the team during their western swing according to Ziccarelli, despite being activated from the one-game injured list and on the active roster against Calgary.

Perhaps it was better for Lemon to stay in the city while rehabbing, although the move to list him as active on a trip which he’s absent from is a little odd to say the least. Although judging by his twitter account, he doesn’t seem at all concerned.

3. Not to sound overly optimistic, but despite the team sitting at 0-5, I don’t think the Argos can be written off just yet – at least not the players taking to the field each week.

Chamblin still has the room on his side as evidenced by their fight in the second half of the Calgary game. With how bad Ottawa and B.C. have looked the past two weeks the opportunity to get out of the league’s basement is right there for the taking, if the offence can just elevate themselves to a competent group as we head into the second trimester of the season.