CFL Pass

Turnover-prone Argos self-destruct in dropping fifth in a row

CALGARY – Bill Manning made the trip to Calgary, one of the few times the dual president of the Argos and TFC flew for an Argos game.

What he saw what everyone has been seeing from the moment the CFL season started: A team that can’t pay clean football, a team that needs a quarterback, a team that can’t win.

What he did see was a much-improved Argos defence on a night when the unit played well enough to win.

Unfortunately, football is a three-phase game and the offence would turn the ball over seven times, including a scoop and scoop by the hosts, and a special teams that yielded a blocked punt.

All told, the Argos fell for the fifth time in as many games, this one a 26-16 loss to the Stamps.

What, if any changes, an executive such as Manning can make are hard to figure out after he made the choice to get rid of Marc Trestman.

Word is Manning and GM Jim Popp, who has no contract beyond this season, met in Toronto on Wednesday.

Whispers are a possible extension were discussed, which seems ludicrous given the state of this team.

Coming up short on third and short for the third time in as many attempts going back to last week’s loss in Winnipeg, yielding a blocked punt and surrendering a long kickoff return, it looked like the same old Argos for most of the opening half.

But give the team credit for summoning that inner strength when it appeared the Stamps were going to take a two-possession lead into intermission.

The game began with the Argos, who won the coin toss, forcing a quick two and out.

Toronto’s front four had its finest moment, recording three sacks in the opening quarter, pressuring Nick Arbuckle and limiting the Stamps.

Early momentum shifted to the visitors until the Argos tried to run the ball on third and inches, deciding to hand it off to James Wilder Jr. rather than attempt a quarterback sneak.

In Winnipeg, the Argos were stopped three times near the Bombers goalline, including two sneaks by backup Dakota Prukop.

Prukop was in the game when the Argos handed the ball to Wilder Jr., which begged the obvious question: Why was a backup even in the game when all he need was hand the ball off?

It made no sense, but nothing has made sense this season for the Argos.

Still, the Argos did score the game’s first points when Tyler Crapigna kicked a 50-yarder.

Despite the turnover on downs, the Argos defence held and field position was never compromised.

What hurt the defence was the team’s offence when McLeod Bethel-Thompson was picked off on a ball intended for S.J. Green.

Much like he did last week, Bethel-Thompson tried to force a ball into a tight window.

Calgary parlayed the pick into a touchdown.

Take away a few plays and the Argos would have led after the opening 12 minutes, but that’s been the story, a miscue compounded by another mistake.

A blocked punt in the second led to a Calgary field goal and a 10-3.

In other words, all of the Stamps’ points came off Toronto’s inability to execute.

Field position, in Toronto’s case terrible field position, meant the Argos had to operate on a long field, but once again the defence came to the rescue.

Arbuckle is a young quarterback making his third CFL start.

He doesn’t look safeties off and he seems locked in on his primary receiver.

With Calgary driving, the Stamps were deep in Toronto’s zone when Arbuckle threw an ill-advised interception in the end zone.

Alden Darby Jr. made the simply pick, the kind of play that saved the Argos and provided them with some much-needed hope.

What ensued was an excellent drive engineered by Bethel-Thompson, a seven-play gem capped off by a Bethel-Thompson to Armanti Edwards touchdown toss and catch.

There was no time on the clock when Edwards secured the ball.

Following a roughing call to Calgary, the Argos scrimmaged inside the two as they attempted to tie the game.

The two-point convert failed, primarily because the sequence lacked creativity, but at least the Argos were competitive and trailed 11-9 at halftime.

By winning the coin toss, the Argos deferred.

For most of the opening drive to begin the second half, the offence was functioning well.

Calamity then struck and the wheels began to come off, a fumble following a reception by Edwards would get turned into a scoop and score.

On Toronto’s ensuing possession, Bethel-Thompson threw his second pick of the game.

The defence showed signs of frustration and all of a sudden a two-point Calgary lead turned into a 26-9 advantage.

In fairness, the Argos weren’t that bad, much better than they’ve played in three of their four losses.

The difference was the magnitude of their miscues, costly and devastating.

Credit the team for staying with it, a touchdown by Wilder Jr. making it a 10-point lead.

Micah Awe then picked off Arbuckle to give the Argos great field position inside Calgary’s 30 yard line.

Just when you thought the Argos were about to give themselves a chance to get right back in the game, Bethel-Thompson throws his third interception, a bad read, but reading defences and forcing throws he shouldn’t even contemplate have been his biggest issue.

Give the lack of depth at the position in the wake of James Franklin’s hamstring injury, the Argos had no choice but to stick with Bethel-Thompson.