The Toronto Argonauts took home the 105th in movie style fashion. The defence was the driving force the entire season, while at times covering up a lackluster offence. In the East final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they forced four turnovers. On the biggest stage in the snow, with less than five minutes to go the Calgary Stampeders were on Toronto’s eight-yard line up 24-16. The unit came up huge, forcing a fumble and Cassius Vaughan taking it back 109 yards. Later, Matt Black picked off Bo Levi Mitchell in the end zone to seal the victory.
Fast forward to the present, where the defence is arguably the worst in the CFL. There are some reasons why, but they need to improve in order to have a legitimate in contending this season.
Argos Defence Needs to Improve
It seemed the identity of the team throughout last season was the defence. The mentality of pulling together and getting better everyday started on the defensive side of the ball. No matter what happened in games, the defence made sure the boat kept afloat. Compared to early on in 2018, the unit is drowning.
This must improve.
For instance, the boatmen held off the Edmonton Eskimos in Week 4 to pick up their first victory of the season. Of course a win is a win and even head Marc Trestmen said after the game, “it wasn’t pretty but there was a sign of life in our football team.” The quote is just a bandage struggling to cover up a massive gash in the ship.
Opposing quarterbacks have been extremely efficient against the blue and white. The Riders’ Zach Collaros, Stamps’ Bo Levi Mitchell and Eskimos’ Mike Reilly all completed over 70 percent of their passes. In total the quarterbacks went 66 of 87 for a completion percentage of 76. To make things even worse, the Argos have faced the least amount of pass attempts in the league at 91, but allow the most passing yards per game at 310.7. They also sit dead last in completion percentage (76.9), yards average per pass (10.2) and passing efficiency (122.6). This equation does not add up to any success, especially in a pass-heavy league.
The only difference really between last year’s defence to this years is the secondary. The team did a complete makeover. They said goodbye to all the defensive backs who started in the 2017 Grey Cup. They brought in CFL All-Stars T.J Heath and Abdul Kanneh as well as former Lion Ronnie Yell and rookie Alden Darby.
Coaching makes a difference
It also doesn’t help that last year’s defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and defensive back coach Corey Chamblin did not come back. He created a fast, hungry and aggressive defence that made life hard on the oppositions. The former Roughriders head coach turned around a defense that ranked virtually last in every category to ranking in the top five. They ranked top five in passing yards allowed (4,822), opponent completion percentage (64.6) and opponent QB rating (66.6).
The double blue promoted linebackers coach Mike Archer to defensive coordinator when Chamblin decided to leave. Saying that, the Argos front seven is almost identical and on paper the secondary is more talented which should mean an even better unit. Instead, they seem lost at times. It could be the classic reason of players adjusting to a new system.
The start of 2018 has not been ideal for an organization coming off a Grey Cup win and trying to use the momentum to attract fans, which is still a massive problem. The only way for the defending Grey Cup champions to have any hope of making the playoffs and growing their brand is for the defence to wake up.
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