HAMILTON – The Argos loss to Montreal Friday night in Hamilton was the culmination and rock bottom moment of this wretched season. There are no lower depths to travel. In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” It is my honest opinion that the Toronto Argonauts have passed through hell and are n0w on their way to a bright new future.
They will be playing their final two regular season games at home – Roger’s Centre, and any playoff games as well. And in 2016 the Brave New World begins at BMO Field with new ownership and new hopes for this iconic franchise and what it can mean to the Toronto sports landscape.
What the players, coaches and fans have endured in 2015 is nothing that should be wished on any sports team. It is over.
Does this team have anything left in the tank? After 13 games out of 16 played on the road? If their remaining games were to played on the road my answer to that question would be “No”, they are done, there is nothing left to give. But they have hope now. Football is an emotional game. So much of how a team executes and how the individuals connect with one another is their mental attitude. With the proper mental frame of mind, weekly preparation comes together at a high level, which leads to game day execution of a game plan designed to attack and degrade the opposing team. Without that positive mental attitude there is no chance for success.
The player’s knowing that their 2015 struggles are over need to reset their minds back just a few weeks ago when they were playing at a high level. If they can do that, move forward and not look back, they can accomplish anything they choose to. They can compete and play with the best teams in the league. The next two weeks will tell us much, as they will be played against teams fighting for their playoff lives, BC this Friday and Winnipeg on November 6.
I for one believe they can get their mojo back. Otherwise everything they went through to secure a spot in the playoffs will have been for nothing. They have a chance to do what has never been done in professional sports. Win a championship under the most difficult circumstances by any team history. This may never be repeated. For the sake of any game’s integrity, I hope not.
Not much of a game summary, is it? That’s because it wasn’t a game. When the only points you get are from a safety the other teams punter gives up on purpose there is nothing to discuss. Montreal dominated because there was little opposition provided. Keep in mind the Argos beat Montreal on Thanksgiving Day in Montreal. The Argos are not this bad. They were a beaten team before they ever stepped onto the field. I would not review the game film because nothing can be gained by it as a coach or player. You can only play the US vs. The World card so long before it falls on deaf ears. This team has not used excuses at any point this year to account for any of their losses, but it was plain to anyone watching the game that their compete level was gone. They had thrown in the towel. There was no pursuit in the special teams coverage. Receivers would not extend plays after catching the ball. Defenders fought with each other on the sideline. The offensive line filled with rookies could not protect quarterbacks Trevor Harris or Ricky Ray forcing them to scramble or throw early.
There was one very bright spot. The running backs Brandon Whitaker and Brendan Gillanders. They fought hard and did compete carrying the ball and catching it out of the backfield. The rest of their teammates did not follow their brave example unfortunately.
This Friday against BC, the Argos will start quarterback Ricky Ray for the first time in 2015. It has been a year since he last started a game for Toronto. He underwent shoulder surgery last November and has been working hard to get back to game shape ever since. The Argo coaching staff know what they have in Trevor Harris. A good young quarterback who has led the team to a 9-7 record in the face of the worst scheduling in sports history. They know what they have in Ricky Ray, a first ballot hall of fame quarterback who has won 3 of the 4 Grey Cup games he has played in. But can his shoulder still produce like that? Nobody knows and there are only 2 games left to find out. If he is the same Ricky Ray, the Argonauts will have the best quarterback tandem in the CFL heading to the playoffs, and I would not want to bet against them.