The Toronto Argonauts travelled to Winnipeg for their sixth road game of the season and defeated the Blue Bombers, 27-20, in another hard-fought game where they overcame an early 9-0 first-quarter deficit. A good road win, solid defence, special teams and running game.
Did I just say running game? The Argonauts have not been able to establish a strong running game this season. A lot of that has to do with playing from behind early in games. It forces you to go to a passing attack more. Plus, the Argonauts boast one of the best passing attacks in the league. Last night, the Argos got behind 9-0 in the first quarter but they did not give up on the run. It also helps when you have one of the most dynamic Argos ever to play returning after 20 months from injury.
This game was all about the return of Chad Kackert. The 28-year-old California native was the 100th Grey Cup MVP, in 2012. He missed some games due to injury that season but played well helping the team to a first place finish. Unfortunately, while practicing before the Eastern Final that year, he suffered a devastating ankle injury requiring surgery. He was not given good odds of playing football again. In 2014, he became the team’s strength and conditioning coach. He rehabbed, and stayed in shape hoping to return. In October of last year, he began practising with the team and again suffered a hamstring injury ending his comeback, never playing in a game in 2014. In 2015, Kackert went to the Argos’ spring mini-camp but did not participate in training camp in June. He was signed to the practice roster and began to practice with the team once the regular season began and only put on the main roster this past week.
Starting running back Brandon Whitaker went down with an ankle injury last week against Saskatchewan. That allowed Kackert to join the main roster and dress as a backup running back for last night. I believe the intention of head coach Scott Milanovich was to give Chad a little bit of action to gradually help Kackert get into game shape. Chad took the ball and ran with it reminding everyone that he is a difference maker. He blocks very well, helping this passing team exploit it’s strength. When he runs the ball his quickness, strength and desire pick up yards when most backs would be stopped. This puts the Argos in second down and short position rather than 2nd and long playing into the strength of the Argo passing attack. The Argos like to dump the ball of short to their receivers alot because they have playmakers who can extend the play with their feet.
The Blue Bombers delivered some hellacious hits on Kackert last night. Thankfully he was not hurt and his ankle and hamstring withstood the punishment. Welcome back, Chad! It was worth the wait. Here’s hoping you stay healthy because the team and the league are better off with you in it.
Quarterback Trevor Harris still completed 75% of his passes and no interceptions. Argos committed half the penalties they did last week and did not fumble. Again key to winning on the road – win the turnover battle. AJ Jefferson had a punt return for a touchdown and kicker Ronnie Pfeffer had his best game punting tilting field position in favour of the Argos. Again key to winning on the road – strong special teams. And lastly the defence played tenaciously especially the front four defensive linemen. This allowed the linebackers to help out in pass coverage. They had three sacks but plenty of pressure.
Next up a home game against Ottawa.
Written By: Scott Ford