Toronto Argonauts keeping frustrations in check as they search for first win

A helmet of the Toronto Argonauts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
A helmet of the Toronto Argonauts. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images) /

Three weeks into the season, the Toronto Argonauts are still looking to get their first win but there are not ready to let their frustration take over.

It’s safe to say the Toronto Argonauts are not happy with the way their season has started and it’s understandable if players are frustrated.

That was apparent in the locker room after losing 18-17 to the B.C. Lions where everyone is wondering why Derel Walker isn’t getting targeted as much as he should and Chris Rainey not happy about stepping out of bounds in the endzone.

While it might seem doom and gloom considering the team is heading out West to play some of the best teams in the league, the Argos see it as a challenge that will hopefully bring out the best in them.

“They’re an undefeated team so it wouldn’t be any better to get our first win in a place like Winnipeg while they’re undefeated and we’re the underdogs,” said running back James Wilder Jr.

He is one of the players who understands the frustration some of the players are going through after dealing with injuries last season and finally showing some flashes of his rookie season in Week 3. One thing he believes is that the team just needs to remain focused, do their jobs and the results will come.

"“I understand the frustrations. I just try to tell them ‘I’m gonna try to run the best as I can to bring the linebackers up to open it up for you guys.’ We have a lot of great competitors, who want the ball and you can’t get everybody the ball when you’re getting two and outs.” Wilder Jr. added.“So I told them we just have to keep drives alive. That will allow us to get the amount of touches that we want. So when I’m not getting the ball, if I’m running the flat route, I’m going to run in my hardest to try and pull them out where they hit the underneath route for the receivers and when the receivers aren’t getting the ball they just have to block the best they can because if I can get a good run, that’s going to make linebackers creep up.At the end of the day, it all works hand in hand. We just have to keep our drives and that will help so that everybody can get the ball.”"

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Obviously, you can point to a couple of reasons why the Argos offence has struggled this season as Wilder Jr. points out.

One is the lack of sustained drives which stems from a couple of issues as the team sits last in most of the offensive categories. Just look at the side-by-side comparison from their loss against the Lions as B.C. had 36:50 time of possession while Toronto had 23:10.

Another factor which is troubling too is the production on first down. The Lions had 26 plays for 261 yards while the Argos had 16 for 122 yards. This was also the issue against Saskatchewan where the Roughriders had 25 plays for 388 yards while Toronto had 19 for 140 yards.

Not only does that put a lot of pressure on the defence to be on the field that long but it also proves Wilder Jr.’s theory that players don’t get the touches because the offence is not out there long enough to get those opportunities.

Looking at the team’s stats through their first three games their offence is averaging 304.3 yards per game and while their passing game is not the worst in the league their production on the ground simply hasn’t been good enough. The Argos are averaging 11.3 rushing attempts per game and 50 yards on the ground and have no rushing touchdowns (Wilder Jr.’s was a receiving TD).

A by-product of that is the Argos being down by a large margin in the first two weeks of the season forcing more throwing plays but at some point, they have to find a way to get that going. Maybe it means getting Wilder Jr. more involved in the passing game to keep the defence guessing or just getting him more than carries (he only had six against B.C.).

When it comes to Walker, there is definitely justification for his the frustrations he is going through considering he was the big signing for the Argos this off-season. Through three games this season, Walker has seven receptions on 13 targets for 139 yards.

There are running backs who are averaging more targets than Walker, who many argue is the best receiver in the league and while the team also has S.J. Green and Armanti Edwards, they need Walker to find his groove. Right now, there’s no explanation that makes sense other than a lack of execution on plays called to him or the team not designing enough plays to utilize his talents.

The last thing the team also wants is for a player to become self-involved in his struggles to the point where he starts to let his attitude impact the success of the team in other areas as well.

"“Football is going to be football, everybody is going to want the football and do it the way they want to,” said Rainey. “If you want to be selfish you won’t last long in this league, you just got to be a team player first because there ain’t no ‘I’ in team.”"

While Walker doesn’t appear to be causing issues in that regard, you have to hope it doesn’t get to that point but considering his track level of success in this league, there shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to his approach.

So where exactly do the Argos go from here? The players believe that having more focus on what each player is doing will cut out the mistakes that have cost them plays.

"“If you go back and watch the tape on that last drive, we were a focused group out there, that’s what we’re capable of right there.” said receiver Jimmy Ralph who made a key play to move the chains on the game-tieing touchdown. “Everybody was focused on just doing their job and nothing more. I knew my number was called. I took that as an opportunity to show the coaches that they can trust me enough to move the chains. So we want to build off those.”"

Ralph believes the team is capable of getting the ball to Walker and while team’s are planning their defence around him, there ways to open things so that he can get more involved in the offence.

While there is still a lot of time left in the season to turn things around, Ralph also believes the team knows the position they are in and the urgency they need to play with to get back on track.

"“I think we’re I think we’re aware that we’re 0-3 and that we need to win,” said the“You always need to win no matter what position you’re in but we’ve got to get going. We can’t keep waiting but w e also know it’s a long season, you can flip this around and here’s a great opportunity. We have a tough challenge ahead. And if we can show that we can do this, then our beliefs really going to start creeping in and we’re gonna really go to the next level.”"

Next. Argonauts offence finally finds itself in the fourth quarter. dark