TORONTO – Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich’s message to his team was simple after the club dropped Monday night’s contest 26-17 to the Edmonton Eskimos – move on.
The first-year sideline boss explained to the media afterwards that although the loss stings, the least productive exercise would be for his team to sit and dwell on an opportunity to move back into first place with the Montreal Alouettes.
“When you first lose a game, it feels like the end of the world for the first 12 hours or so and it should feel that way but the reality is we are still right in the hunt and these next few games are as critical as any” he said. “Playing a back-to-back against Hamilton, in our division and being in the same neighbourhood record-wise – and I told our guys that we need to find a way to get this out of our system”.
With a crucial home-and-home with the rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats on the horizon, many would argue that there is no better approach heading into a set that could make a significant imprint how the standings shape up down the road.
With two straight wins, the Argos could not only keep pace or possibly pass the Als in the East Division standings but also create some separation with their opponents in Hamilton. Two straight losses and a Tiger-Cats squad, who have proven that they can compete with any team in the East, can really cause a pileup in the division.
The Argos entered their contest looking to even up the season series with the Eskimos in their second and final regular season meeting, but it was the Esks that came out firing, moving the ball with regularity on offence and swarming Toronto’s receivers on the defensive end.
The Argonauts started to put together a more balanced offensive attack in the second half but it wasn’t enough to make their coach believe they played a complete game all around.
“Last week we played three phases pretty well and this week we played zero phases well and we were undisciplined on top of it. That’s how you get beat”, he said. “Early, I thought we were a little too aggressive on some of the throws downfield when we probably should have checked down. We weren’t able to get into a rhythm early and we dropped a ball on the first play and it took us a while to get going”.
Monday’s game also signified the second chance for Ricky Ray to notch a win against the club that traded him last December. Although the veteran pivot would have enjoyed getting the win against the team he called his own for a decade, he states that the loss feels the same regardless of who the opponent is.
“Every week I want to win”, Ray said. “I feel more hurt for our team not winning and I wish I could have played better. We just haven’t been able to get out there and be consistent enough or explosive enough to put up points. It starts with me – I need to be the most consistent guy out there from week in and week out.”