Toronto Argonauts: Miscues becoming a troubling trend early in the season


Despite a great effort on special teams, the Toronto Argonauts were not able to capitalize with misplays and penalties costing them a win in Week 4 and a troubling trend early in the season.

Thursday night in Winnipeg was the Martese Jackson show on special teams. In only his second game with the Toronto Argonauts, the kick returner from Florida finished the game with a touchdown on 339 return yards (148 yards on punt returns, and 191 kickoff return yards).

The Argos have not had such a dynamic player on special teams since Chad Owens who was last person to record a punt return touchdown back in 2015. That was until Jackson went 78-yards to the house and it would have been two scores if not for a miscall by the officials.

Jackson was not the only special teams player that gave the Argos a chance to win in Winnipeg. Canadian kicker Lirim Hajrullahu had a game to remember connecting on all six of his field goal attempts which matched a career high from last season. With the Double Blue struggling to score on offence, Hajrullahu kept them withing striking distance at multiple occasions. He now leads the CFL with 16 field goals and is converting at an 80% rate. His counterpart Justin Medlock made all four of his field goals, his longest was 55 yards.

The special teams battle was a crucial one in the week four matchup which should have given the Argos the edge but it was the miscues on offence that ended up being costly. Toronto committed nine penalties for 97 yards with three of those coming on the offence. While the officiating was not perfect, the Argos did not do themselves any favours with the mistakes that they made.

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The offensive line has had its struggles this season allowing a league-high 11 sacks in four games. Considering the injury history that Ricky Ray has had to deal with, the last thing the Argos should want to have happen is having the 37-year old getting hit constantly. At some point the team will need to address the protection that Ray gets otherwise it could lead to some issues down the road.

What would help in that regard is establishing a running game something the Argos have also struggled with this season. They are seventh in rushing yards with 151 yards but that is also because the team has a league high 1,529 passing yards. As the team found out last night, a good rushing game can wear down the defence and have them second guessing what is coming.

Andrew Harris and Blue Bombers offensive line wore down the defensive line with 17 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns. That led to Weston Dressler getting open with his speed as he had a game high 109 yards on seven receptions including a 39-yard catch that set up a key drive late in the game. Matt Nichols struggled early in the game and finished with 20 passes on 26 attempts for 228 yards and no touchdowns. It is similar to week two against the B.C. Lions when Jonathon Jennings had nothing going until late in the second half.

The Argos defence has given the offence many chances to take control in every game this season. Unfortunately with a team like the Argos relying mostly on the pass, drops are going to hurt especially in the case where the team has struggled to convert in the redzone.

“We had some opportunities and just didn’t make the plays we needed to,: said Ray after the game, “That’s the thing. We’ve just got to find a way to execute a little better and try and score some of those touchdowns. It’s kind of a win for the defence when they hold you to just three points.”

Next: Argonauts come up short in 33-25 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Those mistakes will likely get cleaned up but unless the Argos can find a way to ease the pressure on Ray and the defence especially late in the game, it will be tough to expect the Argos to remain consistent. They have within striking distance in both losses which is encouraging but eventually these types of defeats will have a mental impact but luckily this is a veteran group that will find a way to get over it.