Argos continue to search for that elusive complete game of continuity football
OTTAWA — At least on paper, the Argos go into a game with an edge at quarterback, football’s most important position.
In Moncton, one could argue the Argos were on par with the Als, who were being fuelled by Vernon Adams Jr.
On Labour Day, Dane Evans wasn’t exactly lighting it up heading into Hamilton’s home win over the Argos.
Two games against the East and two losses for the Argos, who play host the Redblacks on Saturday afternoon.
Veteran QB Jonathon Jennings, who takes over for Dominique Davis, has not looked good in Ottawa since moving from B.C. in free agency.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson has, at times the past few games, looked very good for the Argos. Since being pulled at halftime in Edmonton on Aug. 16, after throwing an interception and fumbling the football, Bethel-Thompson hasn’t tossed a pick in four games, a stretch that has seen him throw for nine touchdowns and three games of 300-plus yards, including 464 against the Alouettes in Moncton three weeks ago.
But during this four-game window, the Argonauts have gone just 1-3.
“Right now, Mac is playing as well as any player in this league over the last four weeks,’’ said GM Jim Popp.
Three touchdown passes were thrown in Toronto’s lone win of the season, a 28-27 thriller over Winnipeg when the visitors led by as many as 20 points.
Toronto had a lead in Moncton, but managed only six points in the second half.
The Argos had a lead in Hamilton, but got only three points in the second half.
Clearly, the Argos have not adjusted at halftime the past two games at the same time that their opposition has made the right moves in staging comebacks.
And that speaks to coaching and scheming.
Bethel-Thompson is not the reason why the Argos find themselves in such dire circumstances.
The team can’t run the football, but still refused to abandon thatr facet of the game on first down in Hamilton.
They couldn’t stop the Ticats’ passing offence in the second half, lost their momentum and, ultimately, the game.
Prior to that, Armanti Edwards dropped a potential winning touchdown pass on the final play in Moncton.
It sounds like a broken record, but the Argos have not played consistent football to win games on either side of the ball.
They’ve gone defensively from a team that played decent coverage in the back end but couldn’t mount a pass rush to a unit that is applying pressure but can’t cover, especially in man.
Offensively, they’ll move the ball, but they can’t score enough touchdowns.
On Labour Day, the offence scores a touchdown on its first play from scrimmage — its only first-quarter touchdown all season — the Argos win the turnover battle and produce seven sacks and still can’t come up with a win.
On paper, the Argos should win Saturday afternoon and go into their third and final bye week at least feeling good about themselves.
For what it’s worth, the win against Winnipeg coincided with the Argos heading into a bye week.
Remember, though, the Argos have not won a road game since the season finale two years ago against the B.C. Lions, a streak of 14 in a row.
Toronto’s visit to Moncton was considered an Argos home game.
Since Ottawa rejoined the CFL in 2014, the Argos have gone 8-4 against the Redblacks.
One of the three wins with Bethel-Thompson as Toronto’s starter came last season at BMO when Toronto pulled off a one-point victory.
“We got to look at continuity football,’’ said Argos head coach Corey Chamblin. “We definitely understand that.”
But saying and actually seeing the Argos play continuity football are different because it hasn’t happened.
Perhaps Saturday some semblance of continuity football will be shown.
Ottawa enters the game with no momentum, even though it is coming off a bye.