Sloppy tackling hurts Stamps

Toronto Argonauts' Chad Kackert gets loose on Charleston Hughes and Demonte' Bolden of the Calgary...

Toronto Argonauts' Chad Kackert gets loose on Charleston Hughes and Demonte' Bolden of the Calgary Stampeders during Saturday night's win by the Argos at McMahon Stadium. (Al Charest/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:53 PM ET

CALGARY - The first time it happened, you could understand it.

Chad Owens burns plenty of teams with his speed and elusiveness. The Toronto Argonauts Mr. Everything broke free of Calgary Stampeders defenders and scampered for 51 yards early in the first quarter Saturday night.

Lesson learned, right? The Stamps apparently have short memories.

Before the frame was done, fullback Jeff Johnson caught a short pass and broke through the first line of defence. Cornerback Keon Raymond had a shot at him and tried to go low, but the veteran Canadian just bounced off him.

Stamps safety Eric Fraser was there, but Johnson bounced off him and suddenly took off. The 52-yard gain was Johnson’s longest since 2005.

In a 22-14 loss at home where discipline was an issue, tackling was problem No. 1-A.

“Very inconsistent — sometimes, almost embarrassing. I’m not happy with it,” Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel said about the tackling, adding his defence wearing down throughout Saturday night’s 22-14 loss to the Argos had nothing to do with the sloppy efforts.

“It happened on the (fifth) play of the game (with Owens). They are a good team, and they are known to run the football. When you have three or four guys at the ball and he still gets another 30 to 40 yards, it’s a concern.”

The loss — a second straight at home after a 2-0 start at McMahon Stadium — dropped the Stamps to 3-4 on the CFL season.

Certainly, this isn’t time to sound the alarm bells. Six of the last eight years the Stamps have started the season 3-3, and only once have they won Game 7 of the campaign when that has happened.

The haven’t missed the playoffs in any of those seasons, mostly due to the fact there is usually a prolonged winning streak in the middle third of the schedule.

So one game isn’t a trend, but the Stamps do need to fix the problems that caused them to drop the season-series with the Argos for a second straight year.

“The biggest thing is not to panic,” Raymond said. “Once you start to panic, you start making decisions based on worry.

“We do have a good team. We had too many penalties in this game. We didn’t allow our crowd to get into the game early.

“We need to get all 12 guys running to the ball. Some guys are relying on one guy to make the tackle. When one guy misses, there is nobody around him for five or 10 yards, and he can bust loose.”

Those two 50-yard-plus catch and runs were just two examples of sloppiness on a night where the Argos piled up 423 yards net offence but never really connected on a deep pass.

“If the safety has seven tackles, that’s not looking good for the game, especially since I wasn’t playing around the box too much,” said the Stamps safety, Fraser.

“We have to focus on wrapping up, using our feet and playing more physical. It’s not something you can work on. You can do wrap-up drills, but it doesn’t simulate a game when there is a ball-carrier trying to get away from you.”

Hufnagel ran his troops through a short rundown Sunday morning then took them into meetings for a longer discussion about Saturday’s loss.

Certainly, the subject of undisciplined play was on tap first.

Both Jon Cornish and Nik Lewis took retaliation penalties, while Raymond had a unnecessary roughness penalty and a pass interference call on Argos scoring drives.

While the Stamps aren’t the most penalized team in the CFL, it seems when they do take a flag, it’s at key moments.

“It’s not like it’s rampant,” Hufnagel said. “Going into that game, we were third-least amount of penalties in the league.

“It’s an ongoing issue for every team. When you are taking yourself out of scoring range, it gets magnified.

“No question, it’s a concern. We will have a discussion about it right away.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby

 


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