Plenty of blame to go around in Argos' never-ending nightmare
With many having jumped ship or poised to completely abandon the Boatmen, head coach Corey Chamblin is not a proponent of making changes to his staff.
There are many, including some voices within the team’s ranks who have expressed their concern privately, that some kind of need for a coaching change has become abundantly clear with an Argos team reeling from an 0-6 start to the season.
Some are even calling for the head of Chamblin, while others point to offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine and there’s a group focused on special teams co-ordinator Cory McDiarmid.
Toronto’s hands are tied and at this particular juncture in the season with a home game looming Thursday against Winnipeg and the Argos scheduled to practise Sunday, it’s very unlikely any coaching change will be made.
In retrospect, the problem can be traced to the decision to lure Jim Popp and Marc Trestman.
Many in the media were quick to anoint this tandem as football’s version of a dream team.
In fairness, Popp and Trestman had led Montreal to Grey Cup glory, but the Als had a legitimate, proven quarterback in Anthony Calvillo, but as time faded the relationship between Popp and Trestman wasn’t as strong.
It was all laid to bare last season when the two were so out of sync that Trestman refused to showcase the players Popp had acquired.
Before the Argos spent a fortune to sign the two, Trestman had been fired by two NFL teams, while Popp was essentially fired in Montreal following years of ineptness in the absence of a quarterback.
The Argos in 2017 got lucky, make no mistake about that, helped by the presence of Ricky Ray and the Chamblin-led defence, which was dotted with veterans and leaders.
Add in the mid-season emergence of James Wilder Jr. and the Argos marched to the Grey Cup.
Since that championship, the Argos have won four games, while losing 20.
The team, which doesn’t play a road game until Labour Day in the Hammer (Toronto’s trip out East in late August is a home game), has not won an away game since the 2017 season finale in B.C. when the Lions had already mentally checked out.
For those who have lost count, the Argos’ road futility has now increased to 13 consecutive games.
For those who have completely lost faith in this Argos team, heed the words of Chamblin when asked point blank if he’s contemplating changes to his staff.
“I wouldn’t at this point,’’ said Chamblin, who has lost his past 15 games as head coach dating back to his days in Regina. “I don’t think that’s going to make a difference.
“You can’t just change just to change. That’s something that doesn’t help a lot. Right now it’s not about coaching. It’s about all of us getting on the same page. Let me retract that: It’s all about us finding a way to win.”
Popp was nowhere to be seen during the team’s visits to Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton, relying on members of his staff to provide a daily update on how the team went about its business.
Popp should have immediately flown to Calgary following his team’s debacle in the Peg.
Team president Bill Manning did attend the Argos’ game in Calgary, the first time he’s flown to watch the team in person since MLSE took over the team prior to the start of last season.
Manning, by all accounts, has no CFL contacts and he also serves as president of Toronto FC.
Even if he fires the lame-duck Popp, and there’s talk of an extension, if you can believe that, there’s no one in the organization with any expertise in being the football boss.
And therein lies the fundamental problem with the Argos.
Until MLSE, the team’s owners, comes to its senses and hires an actual CFL official to serve as club president, this franchise will be doomed, not only for the balance of the season but also for years to follow.
If Manning knew anything, both Popp and Trestman should have been fired last season and to hell with the amount of money MLSE had to fork over, as if this cash cow couldn’t afford it.
There is no legitimate quarterback on the roster in a league where the position is so thin that most games have become virtually unwatchable.
Six games into a season and the Argos have used three quarterbacks.
James Franklin began the year as the starter only to suffer a hamstring tear.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who has dropped his past 10 starts as Toronto’s starter, threw four picks in Calgary, another in Edmonton coupled by a fumble before he was pulled for Dakota Prukop when the second half began.
Prukop, a third-year player who made the team as a rookie on special teams, had never taken a snap other than short yardage.
He was picked off twice in Edmonton.
In losses to the Stamps and Esks, the Argos combined for 12 turnovers.
NOT EASY BEING S.J. GREEN
One of these days, S.J. Green is going to completely lose his mind or walk into Jim Popp’s office and demand a trade.
Granted, the future hall of famer has lost a step, but he hasn’t lost his competitive spirit and nor has he shrunk or lost his strength.
Of the many mysteries surrounding this 0-6 team whose offence is well beyond brutal, one can find Green and how the Argos are using him.
On most playcalls, he’s blocking.
In his six games, Green has caught 21 passes for 246 yards and zero TDs, which puts him on pace for his worst season ever for a non-injury season.
Two years ago, he had a career-high 1,462 receiving season.