The Toronto Argonauts kick off their season on the road against the Saskatchewan Roughriders as they begin their title defence.
As the 2017 season went along their was a growing belief that the Toronto Argonauts had a legitimate shot of making it to the Grey Cup. It was that belief which fueled one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.
One distinct advantage that this year’s Argos team will have over last season is familiarity. Marc Trestman and Jim Popp had a late start to their preparation as they were not fired until February.
Now they have had the luxury of a full offseason to prepare which means increased expectations but the team is not letting it get to them.
It all starts on Friday night against the Saskatchewan Roughriders who will look to avenge their loss in the Eastern Final.
Here are some notes about the roster for the 2018 season:
Key Departures: DeVier Posey, Victor Butler, Lirim Hajrullahu, Jeff Mathews, Mason Woods
Key Additions: James Franklin, Ronnie Pfeffer, T.J. Heath, Taylor Reed, Ronnie Yell, Greg Morris, Rodney Smith and Abdul Kanneh
This is how the Argos will lineup when they take the field at Mosaic Stadium.
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Not much has changed on the offensive side of the ball with Ricky Ray returning at quarterback as he decided to return for another season. After a breakout season, James Wilder Jr. will start the season as the starting running back.
The only major change would be Brian Tyms replacing Posey on the outside along with S.J. Green, Armanti Edwards and Malcolm Williams.
Another change is Tommy Condell taking over for Marcus Brady as the offensive coordinator who left to join the Indianapolis Colts as well as Anthony Calvillo coming in as the quarterbacks coach.
It appears that James Franklin has the edge over McLeod Bethel-Thompson for the backup quarterback job as he sits right behind Ray on the depth chart. They also
What will make this unit successful is utilizing every weapon in its arsenal. Many teams will focus on Wilder Jr. as he is the most dangerous threat on the field. However, Green and Edwards have proven to be tough matchups out of the slot and adding Tyms gives Ray more targets to look to.
The defence got more of an overhaul than the offence with the additions of Heath, Yell and Kanneh in the secondary along with Reed in the middle linebacker spot.
Upfront the Argos will look for Shawn Lemon to lead the way with Victor Butler sitting out this season over his contract situation. He will be replaced by Justin Tuggle who was with the team last season and has the ability to play multiple positions.
Injuries to Bear Woods and Reed has made the team shuffle the depth chart with Cassius Vaughn and Terrance Plummer playing alongside Marcus Ball.
The team also saw defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin depart in the offseason being replaced by Mike Archer who was with the team as an assistant last season.
The team will look to keep the hype going and have the best chance to return to the Grey Cup out of any other team in the East Division. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats look to be a tougher opponent this season while the Ottawa Redblacks could push the Argos for top spot in the division.
Expect a team from the West to come over during the playoffs like Saskatchewan did last season so the important goal for the Argos will be to secure the bye to the division final like last season.
This team has the ability to finish above .500 and will look to try and translate success on the field to bringing in fans to BMO Field which got a boost from MLSE taking over as owners during the offseason.
Keys to victory against the Roughriders?
- Try to contain Duron Carter on offence while not shying away from him if he’s out there on defence. The standout receiver made the move to defence and has had strong performances but he could find it tough if he has to shadow S.J. Green.
- The defence will have to make Zach Collaros uncomfortable especially in the pocket, he has struggled with injuries the past couple of seasons leading to his departure from the TiCats.
- Jerome Messam has been a tough test for the Argos run defence and he will get the bulk of the work as Saskatchewan will look to try and soften up the defence and get the lethal receivers some easier matchups.
What do you think about the Argos chances to repeat as Grey Cup Champions? What are your predictions for Week 1 against Saskatchewan? Let us know in the comments below.