July 2, 2019

Cauz: Argos staff faced with early pressing questions

Kayle Neis/The Canadian Press

This column is not fair. But let’s face it professional sports aren’t exactly a bastion for fairness.

When you look back at the Toronto Argonauts 32-7 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders there is plenty of blame to go around. I saw so many missed tackles by Toronto’s defence in that first half. The 98-yard Kyran Moore touchdown catch to end the first quarter was the result of Moore blowing past a Qudarius Ford (However it has to be said that it was great to have Qudarius back on the field after his season ending injury in Week 1 last year against Saskatchewan) and then Alden Darby freeing up Moore by knocking Ford down in an attempt to tackle the streaking Roughriders receiver.

However I have to agree with TSN Analyst and Mosaic Stadium crowd-surfer Milt Stegall who brought up during the broadcast that the Argonauts are going to have to take a long look at James Franklin and it may be time for a change. This is not to say that it should be the end of the James Franklin experiment but so far the results have not been promising for the Argonauts.


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McLeod Bethel-Thompson has seen fourth quarter playing time in both of Toronto’s first to games. Should he see more playing time?

The troubles started last year as James never seemed to mesh with then-head coach Marc Trestman, a coach known for being able to get the best out of his passers. It’s one thing when a quarterback doesn’t thrive playing under some old-school, defensive minded coach but the fact it never worked with Trestman certainly was a red flag.

But then came 2019 where there was plenty of reason for optimism for the fifth-year signal caller. The arrival of a new coaching staff and the addition of perennial CFL All-Star Derel Walker to join the receiving core of S.J. Green, Armanti Edwards and with James Wilder Jr. in the backfield the feeling was this should be a bounce back year for Franklin. Heck, there was some gasbags (me) that were throwing around the term “sneaky good” to describe the upcoming offence.

Yes the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have all the makings of a juggernaut season but when you’re the quarterback of a team that loses by 50 points the microscope is going to be turned on you.

By the time Franklin was mercifully pulled to start the fourth quarter he and the Argonauts offence had punted seven times and had put up six points. With more than a week between games we all expected a better version of Franklin especially against a Saskatchewan defence that a week earlier had allowed Dominique Davis to throw for 354 yards, completing 77% of his passes with three touchdowns and no turnovers.

Instead, the result was the same as the Riders romped to a convincing win.  Franklin’s first interception was a forced pass to S.J. Green with Derrick Moncrief positioned in front of Green for the easy takeaway. The pass protection was good on that play; Franklin had a fairly clean pocket to work from.

The very next play was that Kyran Moore 98-yard catch-and-run major. What a tough blow for the road team who were already in field goal range and then moments later they are trailing 13-0. The Argonauts would have two chances to cut that 13-0 lead but both possessions ended with punts. That second opportunity Franklin again forced a deep pass, this time to Armanti Edwards who was outnumbered three to one by Roughrider defenders. Franklin was lucky he wasn’t picked off again. The final pass of the first half that must be troubling to Corey Chamblin was a deep pass to Walker with his new team behind 20-0. Walker was well bracketed downfield and ironically an accurate pass would probably have led to an interception.

Winless in his first two games is not the start Corey Chamblin had hoped for. As a result he now has a number of questions to answer before his club returns home to host BC.

After the prolonged weather delay that saw the CFL on TSN crew have to do some serious filling, there were some positive moments for Franklin including a picture perfect deep pass to Walker for 56 yards. Franklin’s second interception mirrored his night, despite good pass protection he goes deep for S.J. Green who does have a step on his defender. However any flicker of hope for a Green touchdown and a miracle comeback is soon dashed as Nick Marshall calmly steps in front of Green, interception, game over.

As someone who has always admired how Franklin carries himself and saw the potential in Edmonton I take no pleasure in writing this column. I can’t crawl in the mind of the quarterback or the coaching staff so I won’t presume to have all the answers. But with so many questions surrounding an offence that should be more productive the most obvious answer may be for Franklin to take a step back, see the field from the sidelines, regroup and be ready when called upon.