In turning the ball over seven times, the Toronto Argonauts continue to be their own worst enemy
It has been a common refrain for the Toronto Argonauts this season. The team feels the talent is there, on both sides of the ball but they continue to “shoot themselves in the foot”, a complaint that has been repeated over and over in post-game scrums and practice interviews.
That tendency happened again against the Calgary Stampeders, to devastating consequences. The Argonauts passing offence improved again, throwing for over 300 yards and involving seven different receivers.
Their defence successfully shut down the defending grey cup champions, holding Stampeders quarterback Nick Arbuckle to under 200 yards, and the rushing game out of the end zone. And yet, the Argos turned the ball over seven times and dropped to 0-5 with the loss.
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Mcleod Bethel-Thompson threw four interceptions, and three of the four were gut-wrenching picks –the kind of drive ending turnovers that make a coach throw a clipboard. But the most soul-crushing turnover happened in the third quarter when the matchup was still a one-score game.
After Armanti Edwards fumbled the ball deep in Calgary’s zone, the Stampeders returned the ball 93 yards for a touchdown. That change of possession, just as the Argo’s were driving to possibly tie the game, proved insurmountable the rest of the way.
Every loss so far has spotlighted a different issue, one that to the team’s credit has been improved upon the next week, only for another one to appear and cost Toronto a victory. This week, most of the chatter seems to be directed at either the scheming of offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine or the play of Bethel-Thompson.
While Chapdelaine has had his share of bad games this season, it’s hard to pin these losses on him, especially when the offence continues to improve week-to-week. This was the third straight game the passing game earned over 300 yards, and not many teams in football history are 0-5 despite being in the top half of the league in yards gained and touchdowns.
The Argos have struggled to get the run game going all year, but much of that has come from getting behind early in games – they need to turn from the run game just to catch up.
Bethel-Thompson would be the first to admit that he needs to protect the ball better. The 30-year-old ago has been a leader this season in every sense of the word, refusing to throw the blame around, and agreeing with those who have blamed him.
The Argonauts were effectively taken out of drive after drive this week by Mcleod’s interceptions, including a drive which lasted only one play. Each loss this season has brought an increased level of scrutiny to a facet of the team, and it’s hard to remember this one without focusing on those interceptions.
Right now, Bethel-Thompson is the quarterback that the organization feels gives the team the best chance to win, and his play leading up to this would seem to support that. But he can’t have another game like Thursday, or the whispers and murmurs for Michael O’Connor and Dakota Prukop will begin to get a lot louder.
The Argonauts have a full week before their next game against the Edmonton Eskimos, a team led by Trevor Harris, who has not thrown a single interception all season.
It will take a complete game on all sides of the ball to get in the win column, and ensure that the team doesn’t fly home from their western road trip empty-handed.