Toronto Argonauts: 3 Takeaways From Season Opener

Aug 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich on the sidelines against the BC Lions at Rogers Centre. BC defeated Toronto 33-17. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich on the sidelines against the BC Lions at Rogers Centre. BC defeated Toronto 33-17. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Argonauts were defeated 42-20 by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in their first game of the season, we take a look at three factors that prevented the Argos from winning.

It was a historical night for the Toronto Argonauts, who kicked off the 2016 CFL season against their arch rivals, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, at their new home BMO Field. There were numerous festivities to commemorate the occasion including before the game when the team honoured legends: Joe Theismann, Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, Damon Allen and Michael “Pinball” Clemons, who were welcomed by a thunderous ovation from Argos supporters.

Their cheers did not last long though, as the home team fell behind 12-0 after the first quarter and trailed 18-6 at the half.

The Argos rebounded in the third, capitalizing off a few mistakes by the Tiger-Cats to make the score 25-20, but that’s as close as the double-blue would get, ultimately losing the game 42-20.

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It was the Simoni Lawrence show at BMO as Hamilton’s 2015 CFL All-Star linebacker, made it his personal mission to put a damper on Toronto’s party. Lawrence posted seven tackles, two of which were sacks on Ricky Ray, and also plucked a tipped pass out of the air and returned it for a touchdown.

Hamilton quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, starting in place of the injured Zach Collaros, was masterful, displaying patience on his throws, taking whatever the defence gave him on his way to completing 27 of his 37 passes, three of which he tossed for majors.

Former Argo, Chad Owens, who parted ways with the team in the offseason after six seasons in Toronto, had a solid game reeling in six catches, including a spectacular diving grab in the end zone.

It was a dreadful performance overall by the Argos who struggled in all three facets of the game (offence, defence and special teams).

Based on the Argos’ performance, here are three takeaways from game No. 1:

 1. How healthy is Ricky Ray actually?

This offseason Ray and the Argos coaching staff, repeated frequently that the quarterback was healthy, fully recovered from shoulder issues that had plagued him the past couple of seasons. This may be the case, but the veteran just did not play to his usual standard. He had just ten incompletions (26 of 36 overall), but on these misses he was badly inaccurate. Passes short of their intended targets and skipped into the dirt were a common occurrence early in the game.

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His poor performance may have been attributed to a lack of game reps — the 36-year-old played sparingly in the preseason– but the immediate reaction is to question how well the pivot’s shoulder really does feel.

2. Offensive line struggles

The Argos went out and bolstered their offensive line this spring by signing two premier offensive lineman: Josh Bourke, previously with the Montreal Alouettes and Corey Watman, formerly of  the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The O-line as a whole did not play well, giving up six sacks (five with  Ray at the helm), not to mention, their starting QB was under constant duress all game long. Perhaps tired of having the pocket collapse on him, Ray stepped-up on play shortly before halftime attempting to scramble for a first down, but was caught from behind and stripped with the fumble being recovered by Hamilton.

At his age, and with his injury history, Toronto’s offensive line has to do a better job protecting their leader going forward.

3. New look Rich Stubler defence needs work

28-year CFL veteran Rich Stubler is back in Toronto for his third go-around as defensive coordinator. There was a lot of excitement and optimism around his return, but there are not much positive takeways from his defence’s performance against the Ti-Cats.

The D looked flat all throughout the game as Masoli constantly marched his squad down the field without much resistance. On his throws, Hamilton’s pivot had what seemed like an eternity to find open receivers because of a non-existent pass rush. Toronto did sack Masoli twice, but that was more of a result of the QB holding on to the football for longer than he should have.

In a game where they needed to make up a significant amount of points, it would have helped greatly if Stubler’s unit could have forced at least one turnover.

Next: Home Opener Preview

It’s only one game, but what did you make of the Argos performance in their season opener? Have serious flaws been exposed, or was the team just rusty? Let us know in the comments section below.