CFL Playoffs 2019 Live: The Argos have been able to grab a pair of wins against the Ottawa REDBLACKS down the stretch, but it’s been tough sledding at times during the year. Despite that, head coach Corey Chamblin has been impressed with his squad’s ability to continue to battle despite the setbacks. The 2019 campaign will come to the end for the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday at Tim Hortons Field when they take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and while the team will not feature in the postseason, they have their eyes firmly set on 2020 and building up their roster for next season.
It’s been a season of ups and downs for the Argonauts. The team started the season with a 50-point defeat at the hands of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at BMO Field. After that, it was another five consecutive losses, including a shutout defeat to Edmonton and another on a walk-off rouge against BC.
Then came Week 8 and a matchup with the then-West-best Winnipeg Blue Bombers at home. The blue and gold jumped out to a double-digit lead at one point, however, the Argos clawed all the way back to claim their first victory of the season after McLeod Bethel-Thompson and S.J. Green hooked up for the major with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
It was the first win for Chamblin as the head coach of the Boatmen, and with the victory came a sense of relief in a way for a Toronto team that just needed something to go its way.
“It was phenomenal. At that time, you’re 0-6. At 0-3, you believe the next one is going to be a win, and at 0-4, 5, and 6, you think ‘there’s gotta be a win,’” Chamblin said. “To get a win against one of the best teams in the CFL was huge. When that Gatorade shower came, it was a lot more than a Gatorade shower. It was a lot of things off our back, and it wasn’t just about me, it was about the team.
“We had worked so hard to see (a win) and that was the first time that it came to fruition.”
There have been changes all over the field due to injury for the Argos. They opened the season with James Franklin as the man under centre. However, a lower-body injury forced him to the injured list, opening the door for McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
He’s run with the opportunity. Heading into the last game of the season, he sits third in the league in passing yards (4,024) and first in touchdowns (26). However, the 31-year-old is still not satisfied with his performance throughout the year.
“At the quarterback position, you’re judged by wins and losses, so I don’t think it matters at the end of the day,” Bethel-Thompson said of his season. “We’re not in the championship and not in the playoffs where we want to be. Do I take some solace in some games that I think I played well? Yeah. Have I reached my expectation of where I should be at on a week-in, week-out basis? No. I think there’s a lot better football ahead in my future and a lot more wins
“(There’s been) some good, some bad, some ugly. It’s just a learning process all along the way.”
The Argos have started to get contributions from different sources as the season winds to a close. Over the last two games, Chandler Worthy has hauled in 12 catches for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns. AJ Oullette had his first start at running back for the Argos in Week 20 and rumbled into the end zone against Ottawa.
“I told the guys that if you want to look at championship teams and teams that win, they have tremendous depth,” Chamblin said. “And when you look at it, that’s what we’re trying to evaluate right now; who can be that depth is how strong you’re going to be. One injury shouldn’t take you out of a game and two injuries shouldn’t take you out of playoffs.
“Another way (to build depth) is to get guys great playing experience, and now that we have those guys — and they’re starting to build that experience — then you build a stronger roster.”
Oullette’s score came off a short pass from Dakota Prukop. The Argos were able to get a look at the Oregon product along with 2019 draft pick Michael O’Connor during their Week 20 game against the Ottawa REDBLACKS.
O’Connor is in his rookie campaign in the CFL while Prukop is ending his third year in Toronto. Each individual was able to showcase their abilities, and both threw their first CFL touchdown passes in the victory. Bethel-Thompson has worked alongside both all year and had nothing but praise to heap onto both Prukop and O’Connor.
“First of all, they’re good human beings and hard workers. They’re here as late as me and grinding every day to run the offence,” Bethel-Thompson said of the two young pivots. “The second fun thing is that they play like themselves. They’re both two very different quarterbacks, two very different styles. A lot of times, young guys go in there and think ‘oh, I have to be something else or have to try and do it a different way.’ They’re very much themselves out there and that’s why they add so much depth.