Argos Quickly Losing Grip on East
The 2011 Toronto Argonaut season was supposed to be another step up from last year's 9-9 turnaround. At 1-4 with the bye weeks quickly approaching, the Argos are quickly losing their grip on the season. Ironically, if they kept their grip on the football, they could be atop the East as opposed to hanging out in the basement.
Before I step atop the soapbox and point out the flaws in the Argo's week 5 contest against Edmonton, it's important to note this is still a very dangerous football team. In two of their four losses the Argos led, and a third they had a good chance to win. But, as good as the Argos are, the CFL is one of the most evenly matched, top to bottom, sports leagues hands down. Every team needs to show up for every game, every minute, every play. This season fumbles, penalties and to be blunt, bad football have cost the Argos winnable games. And that is why they're last, not because they're a bad team. They've just given up more big plays than they've won.
The Argos showed how good they are in the first half pushing the Eskimos, whom many say are tops in the league, to 17-1 mere minutes before the break. After a brilliant catch by Marcus Henry scored a major brought the Eskies to within 9, we witnessed one of the more bizarre moments in recent CFL history. It appeared the clock had stopped before the Esks' could reach the endzone, stalling the drive. However, it was ruled 1.5 seconds remained and the Argos, who had left the field, were brought back onto the field. In those 1.5 seconds the Argos failed to complete a quarter again, another constant ailment this year, and Kerry Joseph dove into the endzone for a 17-15 halftime score.
The Argos appeared to seal the deal on a Matt Black punt return touchdown pushing the score to 25-16. Edmonton responded with a field goal. It stayed 25-19 until Grant Shaw added another unforced error to the Argos' season tally which led to a late Fred Stamps touchdown. Your final score: 26-25
Football games are won and lost on big plays and in the final minutes, especially in the CFL. Given the number of Argo errors (fumbles, botched punts, etc) and what happened to end the first half and, eventually, the game, it's no surprise the Argos lost this one. They are much better than their record shows, but they do need to step it up if they want to bang with the big boys. They can compete with them right now, but not beat them. That's where they need to be.
NOTE: An upside to the Argo loss, Chad Kackert's two touchdown performance earned him offensive player of the week honours. The rookie seems to have found a home in the Argo backfield and should keep stepping up as the season heats up. He does seem to have a re-occuring case of "butter-finger-itis" (contagious in the Argo lockerroom) but he gives enough to the team to give up a few plays. Watch out for this kid as the season progresses.