Individual accolades ‘inconsequential’ to CFL passing leader, Argos’ QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Toronto Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson is a polarizing figure.

There are some who think he deserves to be considered one of the league’s top signal callers, while others think he is simply a competent starter who is propped up by a talented supporting cast.

The 34-year-old’s biggest supporters tend to use his stats as a reason why the San Francisco, California native deserves more recognition. Bethel-Thompson now leads the CFL with 4,218 yards passing yards and is almost certain to retain the passing crown with his chief rival — Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros — resting with a first-round bye already secured.

However, those accolades are not something the five-year CFL veteran worries about.

“It’s inconsequential to me,” Bethel-Thompson told the media at Argos practice earlier this week when asked about his statistical supremacy.

“Wins and losses mean something and now’s the time when you got to play your best football and hopefully my best football is ahead of me.”

The Argos currently sit in first place in the East Division with a chance to do something they have not done in a quarter century and not since Doug Flutie was the team’s starting quarterback: finish first in their division in back-to-back seasons.

To get that job done the Argos will have to beat the Edmonton Elks on Saturday, something that the Boatmen’s signal caller knows will not be easy despite Edmonton being eliminated from post-season contention.

“The challenge this week is going out west and playing a west team in their house. We haven’t done well with that this year,” he admitted.

The Argos are 1-2 in their three trips west of Ontario this year. They defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 31-21 in Mosaic Stadium in July but that victory was sandwiched in between a 44-3 shellacking to the B.C. Lions in Vancouver in June and an embarrassing 29-2 loss at McMahon Stadium to the Calgary Stampeders just two weeks ago. The Argos do not make a trip to Winnipeg this season.

The Elks, however, are not the Lions nor the Stamps, as evidenced by their 4-12 record on the season. Edmonton is also in the midst of a record-setting home losing streak, having dropped their last 15 at home with their most recent victory at Commonwealth Stadium coming over three years ago when they defeated the Michael Reilly-led Lions 19-6 on October 12, 2019.

Despite the Elks’ struggles on home soil, Toronto’s pivot knows they can not be taken lightly.

“The hard part is they’ve got nothing to lose, they’re all playing for their jobs and they’re going to give it their all and there is no fear in them,” Bethel-Thompson stated.

This matchup is the first time Edmonton Elks’ head coach Chris Jones will get to face off with his old team since taking the Elks’ job last December. Jones was with the Argos a season ago as a defensive consultant and previously served as Toronto’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013.

Jones left the Argos for the first time to become Edmonton’s head coach in 2014. The 2018 CFL Coach of the Year is 7-4 in his head coaching career against the double blue and has emerged victorious in the last five regular-season contests.

Bethel-Thompson knows to expect the unexpected when playing against the defensive guru.

“What you always know is Coach Jones is always going to have a wrinkle,” the Argos’ quarterback said. “He’s always going to have something extra.”

The Argos hope that something extra won’t make them curse-breakers as they hope to stave off being the first visiting team to lose at Commonwealth in nearly 1,100 days when the two teams face off on Saturday evening.