The Toronto Argonauts 2018 Season Recap

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Toronto Argonauts
OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 02: Toronto Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson (14) looks to throw a pass during Canadian Football League action between the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks on November 2, 2018, at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Toronto Argonauts season finished exactly one week ago, a loss against the Ottawa Redblacks to drop them to 4-14 for the season. The Argonauts missed the playoffs for the second time in three years and just one year removed from winning the 2017 Grey Cup in unbelievable fashion against the Calgary Stampeders. The Argonauts looked far from their championship self in 2018. Here’s a recap of the season broken down into thirds (three, six game portions).

First Portion

  • Friday, June 19th – at Saskatchewan Roughriders – Loss 27-19
  • Saturday, June 23rd – vs. Calgary Stampeders – Loss 41-7
  • Saturday, July 7th – vs. Edmonton Eskimos – Win 20-17
  • Friday, July 13th – at Edmonton Eskimos – Loss 16-15
  • Saturday, July 21st – vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Loss 38-20
  • Friday, July 27th – at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Loss 40-14
  • Total Record – 1-5

The Argonauts basically sunk themselves in the first portion of the regular season with just one win the first six games in the season and a one-point loss to the same Eskimos they beat the week before. The rest of the games were never particularly close, losing in blowout fashion in three of the four.

One would have probably been able to tell it was not the Argonauts season when Ricky Ray went down injured in the third quarter for what would be the season. It was supposed to be the final season for Ray where he went for a fifth Grey Cup title with what was essentially the same team minus a few key departures on defence (Victor Butler and Rico Murray) and DeVier Posey on offence.

James Franklin, acquired in the off-season was thrust into action immediately and simply was not able to seize the job. Franklin struggled in his first stint at quarterback in 2018 and ultimately ended up losing the job to McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Shawn Lemon, who was a standout on defence for the Argonauts for years ended up being dealt to the BC Lions. Things started off about as poorly as one could imagine for the Argonauts in 2018.

Second Portion

  • Thursday, August 2nd – vs. Ottawa RedBlacks – Win 42-41
  • Saturday, August 18th – vs. BC Lions – Win 24-23
  • Friday, August 24th – at Montreal Alouettes – Loss 25-22
  • Monday, September 3rd – at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Loss 42-28
  • Saturday, September 8th – vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Loss 36-25
  • Saturday, September 22nd – vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders – Loss 30-29
  • Total Record – 3-9

The second portion of the season was definitely the most exciting for the Argonauts, who received a spark from the third starting quarterback of the season from McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Bethel-Thompson’s CFL career started off with a bang in the most improbable comeback win for the Argonauts on their lone Thursday night game of the year against Ottawa. That was followed up with another one point win against the BC Lions. Unfortunately for fans, that was the most exciting two game stretch of the season.

Bethel-Thompson was unable to keep the momentum going after getting the Argonauts to 3-5. The turning point in the season for many was the loss right before Labour Day at the Montreal Alouettes, who had one win at the time. The win could have moved the Argonauts to 4-5 and assured them no worse than a 4-7 record after the Labour Day Classic and Labour Day Classic Rematch with Hamilton. With the Tiger-Cats finishing second, a 4-6 record would have kept the Argonauts very much alive for much further into the season.

Not only did the Argonauts squander their opportunity to get back to a game below .500 against Montreal, they lost the Grey Cup hero Cassius Vaughn for the season. The Argonauts proceeded to squander a lead on Labour Day against Hamilton and lose to a Saskatchewan Roughriders team travelling out East and the Argonauts coming off of a bye. Lost in all of this, James Wilder Jr. failed to continue his dominant 2017 into 2018. The Argonauts did end up acquiring Duron Carter in the second portion of the season in hopes of shoring up the offence, so at least Argos fans had something to potentially look forward to.

Third Portion

  • Friday, September 28th – at Calgary Stampeders – Loss 38-16
  • Saturday, October 6th – at BC Lions – Loss 26-23
  • Friday, October 12th – vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Loss 34-20
  • Saturday, October 20th – vs. Montreal Alouettes – Win 26-22
  • Sunday, October 28th – at Montreal Alouettes – Loss 40-10
  • Friday, November 2nd – at Ottawa Redblacks – Loss 24-9
  • Final Record – 4-14

The Argonauts season mercifully came to an end and with not much hope or optimism towards the 2019 season. James Franklin got his job back from McLeod Bethel-Thompson and didn’t impress much more than his first stint as the starter. James Wilder Jr. was also lost for the season in the game at BC Lions. The Argonauts were unable to integrate Duron Carter into the offence properly in the final  portion of the season. His future with the team remains unclear.

The Last Word

Ultimately, the Toronto Argonauts season ended with more questions than answers heading into 2019. That became more cloudy with the firing of Marc Trestman as soon as the season ended against Ottawa. Among some of the questions for the Argonauts heading into 2019 will be:

  • Will Ricky Ray return?
  • Who will be the Head Coach?
  • Who will be the Defensive Coordinator?
  • Can James Wilder Jr. get back to 2017 form?
  • What are we to make of James Franklin?
  • Will McLeod Bethel-Thompson return?
  • Could the Argonauts potentially sign a top tier quarterback?
  • How will they improve the defence?
  • What will happen with Duron Carter?

There are likely many more questions than the one’s listed above, but that’s already a lengthy list not one week into the Argonauts season with the Grey Cup playoffs not even started yet. The one thing the Argonauts will need to find in their next Head Coach is someone who knows the CFL game and can either run the defence or bring an experienced CFL defensive coordinator with him. Mike Archer’s defence was terrible for the Argonauts and he was brand new to the CFL game.

The Argonauts definitely missed Corey Chamblin in 2018 as well as offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. Perhaps Anthony Calvillo gets a look as an offensive coordinator for the Argonauts in 2019 or Kevin Eiben gets a bump the defensive coordinator from the special teams coordinator. Who knows! There’s a lot to digest after the 2018 Toronto Argonauts season and as of now, not a whole lot to get excited for in 2019, especially with no bright lights shining off of James Franklin. The Argonauts have lots of work to do and questions to answer heading into 2019.

Bright Spots:

  • S.J Green – 1,095 receiving yards, four touchdowns
  • Armanti Edwards – 974 receiving yards, four touchdowns
  • Alden Darby – Two interceptions, 63 tackles, one sack, one defensive touchdown
  • Ronnie Yell – Two interceptions, 48 tackles, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries
  • Cleyon Laing – 44 tackles, six sacks
  • Justin Tuggle – 67 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery

 

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