Argonauts Come Up Short in Final Home Game

Oct. 15th 2016

Andrew MacDonagh


It was a beautiful day for football at BMO field this afternoon.  Sadly the action on the field was not pretty for the Argonauts.  In fact it was downright ugly. 

In his first CFL start Joe McKnight ran for 150 yards for Saskatchewan and Joe Craig scored on a 71-yard punt return as the RED HOT RIDERS defeated the Argonauts 29-11 on Saturday afternoon.

It was a particularly disturbing outing for QB Drew Willy. Going 11 for 23 in the air for only 87 yards, he was replaced mid-way through the second-half by Dan LeFevour. Willy looked lost today for the Toronto Argonauts.  Simple “Out Patterns” turned into adventures.  Hesitations on “Play-Action” plays led to sacks or massive losses.  Passes to no one were the order of the day.

At no point in this game did he look in control or like the leader he has been billed to be.

The Toronto organization believes that Willy has the ability to be “THE GUY”.  In an interview with MONOLITH SPORTS last week, G.M. Jim Barker said: “This is his team at this point. He’s the quarterback we are going forward with…Drew Willy is our guy.”

So the question now becomes two-fold.  Is Drew Willy really the guy? AND Have the Argonauts surrounded him with the right people to bring out all his talents.  I think the answers to these questions are yes and no respectively.

I mentioned earlier that Willy looked lost and was hesitant on offence. I believe a lot of that has to do with the way the plays are being run by his receivers.  The entire receiving core that the Argos put on the field Saturday, has for their careers, under 280 receptions. Most teams have receivers with total career reception numbers around 10 000. So there is an experience issue.  And a familiarity issue. Remember, Willy was hurt when he first arrived in Toronto. He had a hand problem from hitting a helmet on a throwing follow through. Perhaps more time is needed. And different personal is needed. 

Despite Jim Barker’s assurances that the Willy trade was for wins today, it will be the players of tomorrow, hopefully acquired this off-season that will bring the results the Boatmen are looking for.

Nevertheless however, this was a weak performance for the Argos.  Pinball Clemens’ wife described the performance on TWITTER as #embarrassing

Saskatchewan won their fourth straight and completed an Ontario sweep after dispatching the RedBlacks in Week 16.

The Green Riders got off to a tough start this season as GM and Head Coach Chris Jones attempted to rebuild the entire roster on the fly.  This led to early in-continuity and losses. But Jones clearly had a plan and it appears the right mix is forming out on the prairies.   

Rookie Joe Craig sealed the game early for The Riders when he scooped up the ball at the Toronto 39 yard line and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown late in the first half. Durant went 14 for 20 for 158 yard in the air and two touchdowns. Collins also had a good day picking apart the Toronto defense for 113 yards and a TD.

Amazingly Toronto can still make the CFL playoffs but needs to win out and need some help.

Aug.28TH 2016

As the World Turns with Chris Jones and the Riders

​By: Andrew MacDonagh

Dickens put it best for Chris Jones over the last twelve months.  It has been the best of times and the worst of times.  He won a Grey Cup in Edmonton and is now regarded as one of the greatest defensive minds in this league with respect to Rich Stubler

This has been a really rough season for Chris Jones in Regina.  This has been beyond a slow start. This is glacial.

The largest issue for me seems to be a lack of continuity of the roster and in particular the offence line.  The revolving door philosophy that has been adopted has led to a lack of comfort for Durant as the quarterback due to a lack of familiarity with his front line.  This has led to a litany of “two-and-out’s” and put strain on the defence. They are on the field too much.  Too often.

Never mind about the illegal bodies that had been milling around Mosaic Stadium. The Roughriders officially came into Friday with 77 players, and counting, who played at least one game for them this year – CFL active rosters hold 46 at a time. So it's an ongoing rebuild. Lots of “Hi, my name is..” stickers.

Due to all the new faces there has been concern over the lack of defensive veterans in the Chris Jones camp.  When asked what challenges he is facing with the Riders as opposed to the Esks he said, “They had a few more veterans, especially on the defensive side, that had been through it and they had lost the year prior, so it was pretty easy to get them to go in the right direction.” Makes you wonder about the release of John Chick.

Durant, 34, is in the final year of his contract with the Roughriders and there have been questions regarding his future with the team beyond this season. Durant wasn’t interested in discussing the issue.

“That’s something that we’ll handle at the end of the season,” he said. “Right now, we’re just getting ready for Winnipeg.”

History is on Durant’s side today as The Riders haven't lost a Labour Day Classic against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers since 2004, and will look to continue that trend.

Rob Bagg pulls back into the lineup for the Riders, although he will be coming off the bench behind Nik Demski who gets the start at slotback.. Saskatchewan is on a five-game losing streak but in the isolated world of Labour Day games they have won 13 of its last 16. The Riders beat Winnipeg last year on Labour Day despite being 0-and-9 at the time. They're 1-and-8 so far this year. So maybe they have an even better chance Riderville.

But I doubt it.

My prediction for the game is while Saskatchewan continues to improve I feel the QB position will make all the difference.  Nichols is locked in over the last month and today is no different.  Winnipeg Win.  Matt Nichols – PLAYER OF THE GAME.

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It should have been better than last year.  Durant is back and healthy.  Yet looking slow and uninspired.  He still has all the physical tools but it looks like the losing is weighing on him and he is laboring instead of rumbling. The Roughriders are barely on pace to match their win total of last year which was 3.

Chris Jones promises a return to continuity.

“A lot of things go through your head and you try to make sure that you're not wavering from what you knew was right to start with,” said Jones. “Certainly, you have to have guys that have played together and alongside each other and we're looking to try to get that continuity again.

“Finally, we're getting a few guys back off the six-game (injured list), which is good. But unfortunately we've been in that type of situation. They were starters for a reason at the start of the year, so we're getting the back, slowly but surely, and looking for the continuity.”

It’s never comforting when injuries are viewed as the primary issue.  Every team has injuries. Dealing with them is part of a successful season. See the Ottawa Red Blacks.

So Jones clearly has his work cut out for him.  No team has turned the ball over more than his club and being in the lower half of the league themselves in take-away defense is not helping matters.

But Chris Jones has a good history and track record.  One thing we know is that he is creative and yet to fully put his stamp on this team.  Maybe there’s still time to turn it around.  Maybe a winning streak could be built out of this continuity Jones is promising.  Time will tell. Thanks for reading.

Christopher's Week 18 Power Rankings... Who is gonna be mad at me now????

Christopher Jones

October 28th 2016

1) Calgary Stampeders - Will claim top spot until the Western Final... Then they either keep it till next year or drop down the ladder at one spot... (maybe 2)

2) BC Lions - Finally show their desire to win the big game. BC jumped up the rankings one spot from last week on the simple fact that Edmonton is a better team than Winnipeg. Since BC and Winnipeg were a virtual wash, this was easy to determine. BC knows they get one more crack at the Bombers, this time in the Western Semi-finals... this is a real game for all the marbles..

3) Winnipeg Blue Bombers - were on the bye... not sure if that is a good time of the year for that... are they losing momentum or healing up? Time will tell but they are still fighting for a home playoff game with the Lions and Ottawa should be a tougher opponent than the riders as the RedBlacks are trying to hold onto top spot in the East.

4) Edmonton Eskimos - It was hard putting them in 4th. They are a better team and may end up in the Grey Cup. Eskimos are going to crossover and run the table on the Eastern teams??? History in the making???? I think so.

5) Ottawa RedBlacks
- Again this was a tough call loosing to the TiCats, some would say should have dropped them. But on any given day Burris/Harris are better than Masoli... this just was not one of those days but do not expect the same play if they meet again in the playoffs.

6) Hamilton TigerCats - TiCats jumped a couple of places this week... Full marks for the victory over the RBs. Austin is still a wildcard. Masoli is not good enough to continue.... Expect the Ticats to vacate the playoffs in the first round...

7) This you could flip a coin... both are equally as bad and both show amazingness.

a) Saskatchewan Roughriders - are they turning a corner??? Does it matter??? Terrible game this week... no passion, no honour, no desire.

b) Montreal Alouettes - .500 football under Coach Chapdelaine... when was the last time you could say that about the Als???

9) Toronto Argonauts - a disaster. Good thing about the bye... They cannot lose.

The opinions expressed by Christopher Jones are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Monolith Sports. But we love hearing them.

Winnipeg verses Saskatchewan

Andrew MacDonagh

Sept. 4 2016

So here we go with the next of the Labour Day Classics, The Blue Bombers of Winnipeg verses The Rough Riders of Saskatchewan. The Greatest of Them All. These games are always the greatest.  The fall is in the air.  That’s football weather.  It’s also the halfway point of the CFL season which is the un-official starting point for the push for the play-offs.  Every team knows what they have, they know what they don’t have.  And they know who has “it” at this point.

By Game Nine you know “Running Back Swag” can be found in Calgary and B.C mostly.  By Game Nine you know the “Gun-Slingers” can be found in Edmonton and Hamilton.  And you know kicking is not as easy as it looks in Montreal.

This is the first time Matt Nichols will start in the craziest, most revered Labour Day Classic of them all.  With respect to Edmonton and Calgary, this is the marquee match-up of the holiday weekend.  The fans are ready, the stands are full.  The beer is flowing and watermelons are meloning.

“I feel like I know what to expect after playing in the Calgary-Edmonton Labour Day Classics” the former Eskimos pivot said. He has defeated the Western Riders three times at home as a member of both the Eskies and Bombers. So far.  So good.

It’s been a good season to say the least for Nichols. He is 4-0 since taking over for the much maligned and highly ineffective  Drew Willy, and he has thrown only one pick in that time. One Pick!?Matt has taken over the huddle and more importantly the team’s psyche.  They are once again PLAYING football, not WORKING football.  The joy is clearly back in the game because the team has faith in their QB and Matt knowing that, helps his confidence and it is just snowballing.

This will be Weston Dressler’s first game back at Mosaic Stadium since Dressler signed with the Blue and Gold after the Riders cut him in January. An emotional return for sure. His release remains a curious move for a club looking for veteran leadership and locker room glue men. Not sure if Twitter Star Khalif Mitchell really fills that character void. When asked about the return, Darian Durant had no comment except to offer words of praise for a man whose presence he clearly misses. Remember, Durant and Dressler played their first ever CFL game together so after being in all those wars as a tandem, after growing up together, I’m sure his release was just the first of several bitter pills Durant has swallowed this year.

MONOLITH still loves the OLD LOGO