Toronto Argonauts: 3 Takeaways From Loss to Ottawa Redblacks

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 lost their second straight at BMO Field, failing to hand the Ottawa Redblacks their first lost of the season. We take a look at three factors that influenced the outcome for Toronto.

The CFL’s marquee game of week four between the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks didn’t disappoint. Toronto came in riding a two-game win streak, which included an impressive road victory against the previously unbeaten BC Lions, while their provincial opponent entered as the league’s last remaining undefeated team and boasting the most lethal offensive attack.

Much of the hype in this one revolved around the dual at quarterback. Ottawa’s Trevor Harris, playing against his mentor, Ricky Ray, and the rest of his former squad for the first time since signing in the nation’s capital this offseason.

Harris, who leads the league in passing yards (1475), touchdown throws (9) and completion rate (83%), spent the first four seasons of his career with the boatmen. He started most of the games for the double-blue in 2015, while Ray recovered from a shoulder injury.

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There wasn’t much of a competition though between the two signal callers, with Harris going 28-for-31 with 392 yards passing, compared to Ray, who went 24-32 for just 249 yards and a touchdown pass. In four games thus far, the 36-year-old has yet to reach the 300-yards passing mark.

Great teams are versatile, they find different ways to win. The Redblacks’ offence has generally powered the team to victory, but on Wednesday night, Toronto’s offence outscored Ottawa’s — three TDs to two.

Yet, the Redblacks still managed to defeat the Argonauts 30-20, so did they do it? By getting a boost from their special teams unit, which scored on a punt return and added an insurance field goal with 33 seconds remaining in regulation.

Here are three takeaways from the Argos second loss of the season:

Lazy tackling on special teams

The five-foot-eight, 185- pound return man fielded the ball with a pack of blue and white defenders nearby, with several launching at the cornerback, but failing to wrap him up and follow through with the tackle. Tied at 20 all in the fourth quarter, Jackson’s major was the difference in the game.

Poor defensive back play

When a quarterback puts up the kind of numbers Harris did in this game, usually the entire defence is to be blamed. It could be argued the defensive line, along with the linebackers, should have gotten more of a pass rush to disrupt the timing between the quarterback and his receivers, which would have reduced the number of completed passes.

Toronto Argonauts
Jul 13, 2015; Toronto Argonauts player Trevor Harris poses for a photo. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports /

Conversely, the DBs obviously should have had better coverage and not allowed so much yardage through the air. However, this time an exception is warranted, as the DBs deserve the brunt of the blame, because most of the damage done by Harris through the air was after the catch.

Aside from a few big plays, the Redblack’s pivot played dink-and-dunk football with his receivers, with his men outrunning and running through the defence’s weak arm tackles . Not to mention, with the game on the line on a crucial second down play, (with Ottawa not yet in field goal position) Toronto’s defenders allowed Ernest Jackson to get behind them and catch an easy pass that was lofted over their heads for a 34-yard gain.

Greg Ellingson picks up the slack for Chris Williams

Although, the Argos defensive backs played poorly, they deserve to be applauded for their coverage on Chris WIlliams. Coming into the game, Williams had recorded 493 receiving yards, the most ever through the first three games of a season.

With that in mind, it would appear Toronto’s defensive coordinator, Rich Stubler, developed the perfect game plan to combat Ottawa’s star receiver, as he recorded six receptions for a meager 63 yards. But, with all the attention being focused on the league-leading wideout, Ottawa needed their other playmakers to step up, and Greg Ellingson did just that.

Through the first three contests, the four-year pro had 221 yards, and he essentially equaled that in this game, recording 218 on nine receptions. Ellingson played a complete game, breaking tackles on shorts passes and turning them in substantial gains, while also going deep on a 77-yard catch-and-run, to set up Ottawa’s first touchdown.

Next: 3 Takeaways from Win against the Lions?

Next up for the Toronto Argonauts are the Montreal Alouettes. Last season the Argos were 1-1 against the Als.  The two teams will square off on Monday July 25 at BMO Field.