Loss to Stamps puts Argos in deeper hole entering season's final third
Two down and one to go for the Argos as the team enters the final third of the schedule, a time when most franchises in the CFL are making a push for the post-season.
Barring some dramatic set of events, which at this point seems highly unlikely, the Argos will be out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
In a nine-team league where two-thirds of them qualify for the post-season, going back-to-back without even a sniff of the playoffs is another way of saying how deep changes must be afoot.
One of these days, MLSE, which owns the Argos and has shown, at least to many eyes, absolutely no interest in football, must answer some hard questions.
Under MLSE, the Argos went 4-14 last season and currently sit at 2-10 following Friday night’s loss to Calgary.
Interest in the Argos is at its lowest level since MLSE took over as owners, with fewer than 10,000 in attendance on Friday, an embarrassment.
With the Leafs in the midst of their pre-season and the Raptors soon to be back following their championship run, the Argos will be forgotten, if they haven’t already.
Two-thirds of the way into the season and the Argos blew a chance by falling behind 17-0 to Calgary, en route to a 23-16 loss.
The schedule-makers did the Argos no favour by having Toronto play six Western opponents to begin the season following the opener against the Tiger-Cats, who wrapped up, at worst, a home playoff berth following its late-night win in Edmonton Friday night on a walk-off field goal.
Toronto hit the one-third mark with an 0-6 record.
Had they made some plays against Calgary, they would have gone 3-3 in the second third.
Had they not blown halftime leads to Montreal and Hamilton, that six-game stretch may also have looked a lot different.
But that’s been the story with these Argos almost from opening night when the Ticats left BMO Field with a 50-point win.
In stretches, the Argos have been good, but clearly not good enough.
What’s damning about this year is the amount of money the team has spent on players and how perilous the Argos’ cap management appears moving forward.
Normally, teams that spend above the cap win.
Not the Argos, who are expected to place non-injured players on the six-game list as a means to avoid the consequences of exceeding the cap.
With the CFL’s Oct. 9 trade deadline nearing, there will be teams inquiring.
There’s a home date versus Saskatchewan to be played this Saturday night, followed by a road game against the B.C. Lions on Oct. 5 prior to the deadline.
As poorly as the season began, the Argos were improving and were coming off a one-sided win in Ottawa before they went on a bye week.
It’s why Friday night’s visit by Calgary meant so much for the Argos given how it marked the first of a three-game stretch against the West before Toronto would close out the season by playing its final four against the East.
Questionable coaching, dubious quarterback play from the team’s starter, an inability to force a two-and-out late in the evening, the entire outlook for the Argos changes following that setback to the Stamps, the 12th time in a row Calgary has beaten the Argos in the regular season.
The Eskimos, meanwhile, have lost four games in a row and yet they’ll likely emerge as the crossover team in the playoffs in what is shaping up as an Edmonton-Montreal Eastern semifinal.
Despite the ugly record, there was a chance, as slim as it was, for the Argos had they taken care of business Friday, knowing another home game loomed.
On the horizon, there are two games, both at home, against Ottawa, a road game in Montreal and a season-finale visit to the Hammer on Nov. 2.
“We’re definitely disappointed, but not discouraged,’’ Argos head coach Corey Chamblin said following the Stamps setback.
Now comes the season’s final one-third and it’s looking more and more like the final six games for many associated with the franchise, perhaps even sooner if the Argos are active in the days leading up to the trade deadline.
PIVOTAL DECISION ON HOLD
In the bitter aftermath of yet another loss, Argos head coach Corey Chamblin wasn’t about to offer a definitive response when asked about the team’s starting quarterback.
For the 10th straight game, McLeod Bethel-Thompson started.
He didn’t play well Friday night against visiting Calgary, eventually pulled for James Franklin in the third quarter.
Franklin hasn’t taken any significant reps since Toronto’s second game of the season back on Canada Day in Regina where he suffered a torn hamstring injury.
When he returned, Franklin moved the chains on third down against Montreal in an Argos home game staged in Moncton.
He was asked to execute a short yard offence on Labor Day in Hamilton, but Franklin fumbled the football on the exchange on third down after Toronto’s defence had just forced a turnover.