October 23, 2019

O’Leary: Is Bethel-Thompson part of the Argos’ future?

Geoff Robins/CFL.ca

Talk with anyone in the Argos’ organization and they’re already in 2020.

New GM Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons and VP of player personnel John Murphy are using their final games on the 2019 schedule to evaluate what their needs are for the future and to see what they have in front of them right now.

One player that’s making a case to be re-signed and further evaluated plays quarterback for them.

It hasn’t been an entirely smooth year at QB for McLeod Bethel-Thompson, but the 31-year-old played a great game on Friday night in Montreal against the playoff-bound Alouettes.

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Bethel-Thompson made 35 of 45 passes for 342 yards, two touchdowns and didn’t throw any interceptions. The Argos lost — Tyler Crapigna missed from 51 yards with two seconds left on the clock — but Bethel-Thompson played what I thought was his best game of the year.

First, he took care of the ball, which has been an issue for him at times this season. Friday night’s game got Bethel-Thompson to 24 touchdowns against 13 interceptions thrown. He was plagued by turnovers in the early stages of the season (he had eight in his first five games) but has taken good care of the ball for pretty well the rest of the season. He went five games in the middle third of the season getting picked just once and since the Argos’ debacle game in BC a few weeks back, has resumed starting duties and only thrown one interception. That came in the Argos’ win over Montreal.

We saw something else in Montreal from the QB that I really liked. Late in the first half, unhappy with what he got from Chandler Worthy, MBT ripped his helmet off and stormed over to his receiver, letting him know he had to be better.

When the Argos were going to the locker room at the half, Bethel-Thompson made sure that he let the second-year receiver know that there was no lingering animosity.

In the second half, Worthy ended up catching his first career touchdown and was the top-producing receiver on the field, finishing with nine catches for 93 yards.

That’s the kind of tough love quarterback leadership that every team needs.

We can now start to wonder where he might take that leadership next season. A pending free agent, the Argos can try to bring him back for a fourth season, or he can look to add another CFL stop to what has been a long, winding career. The wins haven’t piled up for him in his time as a starter in Toronto, but he’s shown that he can play in this league. He may not be a starter (though you wonder what he might do in a different offensive scheme), but he’s at least earned himself a backup role.

The Argos have looked at the final month of this season as a head start on 2020. They’ll look in-house in October and when the playoffs begin in November they get to look league-wide at how everyone performs on a stage that grows by the week. Bethel-Thompson should do the same. Through a dark year, he’s earned himself an opportunity at some brighter days ahead.