The Canadian Press
Hello, Kian Schaffer-Baker. Nice spin moves on ya. Pretty nimble for 6’4”, 195 lbs. Think I’ll call you Kian Shaker-Baker.
Here are this week’s takeaways.
NO EASY ONES NOW
If anyone is looking for walk-in-the-park victories right now, they’d best rethink that position.
Both the Ottawa REDBLACKS and BC Lions are teams on ugly losing streaks and yet the Argos and Hamilton Ticats had trouble with each of them. Come to think of it, the Edmonton Elks are a team like the REDBLACKS and Lions, and they made sure the Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t get away with a victory without having to sweat things out.
Between the three of them, Ottawa, Edmonton and BC have lost a combined 19 games in a row but none of them is choosing to roll over.
“It’s not likely that you’re just gonna just blow teams out now,” said Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer after his team’s 26-18 victory over BC.
“And it’s just gonna stay that way. Every team’s a little bit better.”
And the stakes are getting higher.
SIGNS OF LIFE HAVE BEEN SPOTTED IN THE SASKY PASSING GAME
“I feel like, offensively, we’re that close,” said Roughriders’ head coach Craig Dickenson, after his team’s 19-17 win in Edmonton. He was holding his index finger and thumb about an inch apart. “We’re really close to puttin’ it together.”
The great news, in Saskatchewan, is that the defence is a scourge and still trending upwards. The unit has been rather pushy in the team’s three straight road wins, the driving force in those victories.
The air attack might be giving us signs that it’s ready to give us a little something-something, too, with Shaq Evans getting back up to speed and D’haquille Williams settling in. It was Williams who provided an all too rare moment when he hauled in a 38-yard beauty against the Elks, leading to a Saskatchewan touchdown.
“I needed it!” exclaimed the Duke, when asked about the catch. He could’ve been speaking on behalf of every football fan in the province when he said that.
“Lots of good things to build on,” said a cautiously optimistic Dickenson. “We can certainly stay positive moving forward.”
I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME, CAPTAIN!
Is it as easy as this? Is it as easy as saying “what the hell, just blitz every play”?
After watching Winnipeg’s defensive front overwhelm Montreal’s pretty good protection group time and again on Saturday night, I do wonder if there’s a team that’s up to the task of pushing back against that unstoppable force.
They’re a problem even when they rush just four. Toss in an extra attacker or two and if opposing quarterbacks get to “one Mississip-” it’s kind of a miracle. Often they barely get the word “one” out.
Bombers’ defensive backs don’t have to worry about getting burned deep, right now, because no quarterback has time to launch a deep shot. That means those DBs get to be in the area and already moving forward when the inevitable “geezuz, just get rid of it to the nearest guy” pass is completed underneath or in the flat.
Sometimes I think defensive coordinator Richie Hall should just say “blitz every play,” remove his headset, sip a beer and eat a plate of nachos while he enjoys the show.
BONUS TAKEAWAY: Whoever beats Winnipeg – if anyone does – is going to have to do it by a score of 13-10.
WILL THE REAL TEAM TRAMPOLINE PLEASE STAND UP
The “Argo bounce” used to mean something entirely different. But in 2021 it refers to Toronto’s habit of being Team Trampoline.
They’re up, they’re down. They’re up again. Wait, now down. Game to game, half to half, sometimes series to series.
Brilliant playmaking, solid drives, terrorizing defence. Then sloppiness, missed opportunities and gashed by the big play.
Just what ARE the 2021 Toronto Argonauts? A fluid roster with a big, big breeze caused by a rapidly revolving injury door is part of the story, yes.
Nevertheless, the question remains: which personality is the real personality of Team Trampoline?
Friday night, with first place in the East on the line against Hamilton, we’ll find out.
JUST NEEDED A CHANCE. A REAL, REAL CHANCE
A.J. Ouellette joined the Argos in the fall of 2019 and showed some promise as he got some look-see action in three games, doing enough to raise eyebrows with his moxie and skill.
Had a real shot at being the everyday 1A back to veteran John White this season but, instead, found himself rarely-rostered after D.J. Foster – signed just prior to training camp – emerged in that role. And in his three previous games in 2021, Ouellette had a grand total of six offensive touches (all carries).
With Foster out of the line-up on Saturday and veteran John White going down with a game-ending injury, Ouellette was tasked with – gifted, maybe – a heavy load as the Argonauts battled their way back against a stout Ottawa defence.
Ouellette met the moment, carrying 14 times for 107 yards, showing off some bulldozer power, edge speed, and even a flair for the dramatic as he hurdled Ottawa’s Randall Evans on one run.
“Run the ball hard, use speed when I need to but try to punish the defence and wear ‘em out,” said Ouellette, after the game.
Sporting a mullet and a mountain man beard, his under-eye grease paint smudged as though he’d just arrived at his key villain back-story moment, Ouellette gave the answer you’d maybe expect when he was asked how he’ll prepare to possibly be the starter against Hamilton on Friday.
“Get in the weight room,” he said succinctly.
AND FINALLY… Farewell, Angelo Mosca. And thank you, King Kong. For all of it.