The Toronto Argonauts are assembling an intriguing offensive beast for the 2019 CFL season. General manager Jim Popp and company have signed a bunch of free agents, both starters and depth players, and the Argonauts offence returns a solid group of players.
With each piece in place, the Argos should bounce back from their dreadful 2018 season, which saw them finish last in the CFL with a 4-14 record.
Toronto Argonauts Offence
At first glance, the Boatmen appear to be establishing themselves as the CFL’s most dominant rushing force.
Their backfield contains a stable of running backs, including Grey Cup champion James Wilder Jr., former USports standout Mercer Timmis, former league-leading rusher Tyrell Sutton and CFL speedster Chris Rainey.
Wilder Jr. is the top back, surpassing 2,600 yards of total offence in only 30 games with the Argos. He may surpass 4,000 total career yards after the upcoming season.
To counter that assumption, The Argos receiving core is as good as any in the CFL.
This became a reality after Jim Popp was able to reel in one of the league’s most explosive receivers, former Edmonton Eskimo Derel Walker. Walker’s recorded 4,000 receiving yards in less than four seasons in Edmonton, becoming one of the league’s best pass-catchers.
Walker will join what is already a stacked mixture of national and international receivers that consists of S.J. Green, Armanti Edwards, Jimmy Ralph and Anthony Coombs.
Presumably, the quarterback of this loaded ship should be the elite of the elite. Well, not so much.
The confusing offensive masterpiece that the Argos are supposedly constructing takes a turn when viewing the Argos’ quarterback depth chart.
James Franklin is the probable starter for Toronto when June rolls around.
From there, former NFLer and Argo pivot McLeod Bethel-Thompson will challenge Franklin.
Then there are three Canadian quarterbacks, Brandon Bridge, Noach Picton and Michael O’Connor, who will accompany Franklin and Bethel-Thompson in training camp.
Rounding out the Argos quarterbacks is former Oregon pivot Dakota Prukop.
Argonauts Offensive Scheme
As far as what Toronto’s offensive scheme and style will be, there are numerous possibilities with the talent that they possess.
With the recently retired Ricky Ray at the helm, the Argos ended up finding their way to a Grey Cup win two seasons ago due to a few essential ingredients.
Ray was the master of perfecting the progression. If nothing was open downfield or in the intermediate range, Ray could check the ball down to Wilder Jr. or national fullback Declan Cross.
Fade routes down the sideline to S.J. Green became a staple of the Argonauts offence, as did quick out routes into the flat to Anthony Coombs and Jimmy Ralph. A steady dose of Wilder Jr. behind what was a stellar offensive line did many defences in.
The confounding thing about Ray was that he did not have a strong arm throughout his later years.
Touch passes, anticipation and accuracy were the attributes that made Ray frustratingly difficult to game plan against in the 2017 Grey Cup winning season. Ray passed for over 5,000 yards that season.
The Last Word
Popp sees some of those same traits that he saw in Ray in Franklin. Franklin’s got a strong running game to lean on and talented, big receivers, which will be extremely beneficial.
If the young pivot can take command of the locker room and establish himself as the leader and face of the organization, there’s a strong likelihood that the Argos will find themselves in the playoffs come November, and better yet another Grey Cup.
Popp has experience when it comes to the ways of the CFL and the players who play in it. Whatever kind of offensive beast he is building for the 2019 season, it will not likely disappoint.
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