Argos defence a big no-show

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:12 PM ET

MONTREAL — For this so-called vaunted Toronto defence that spent much of the week flapping its collective gums, the Montreal Alouettes shoved all that trash talk right down the Argos throats.

Had it merely been a case of Anthony Calvillo launching bombs from start to finish, well, perhaps you could understand how the Argos defence was shredded 48-17 by the Als in the CFL’s Eastern Conference final.

Only Damon Allen has thrown for more yards in a CFL career than Calvillo, so getting crushed by the right arm of the Als quarterback is nothing to be ashamed about.

But that wasn’t the case at the Big O on Sunday.

And, frankly, there should be plenty of shame resonating from the Argos defence.

It would be easy to wag an accusing finger solely at the players. For a veteran defence that should know better, there were far too many missed tackles, far too many guys out of position, far too many missed assignments.

At the same time, the defensive coaches should be just as accountable for this humiliation.

From a defensive schematic point of view, the Argos were a step behind all day.

The Als came out of the gates throwing as expected. Calvillo’s first three completions went for 116 yards and a touchdown.

Time to adapt. Time to try to take that away.

Only the Als didn’t give them a chance. With the Argos now expecting footballs to sail through the stale air inside the cavernous stadium, the Als reverted to a running game that ploughed around, through and over the porous Argos.

Then, early in the third quarter, when the visitors started to put an extra man in the box, Calvillo began tossing dinky screens and swing passes, allowing his talented running backs and receivers to quickly get the ball in their hands and strut their stuff.

By the time the carnage had mercifully ended, the Argos defence had been ripped for 569 total yards.

“It’s like plugging holes,” said defensive back Byron Parker, agreeing that the Argo defence could never keep up with the Als adjustments.

“You plug one, they’d pop open another. You’d plug that one, they’d open another,” devastated coach Jim Barker said.

On and on it went. All afternoon.

“Give them credit. They had a great game plan,” Barker added.

Football is a sport, more than any other, where schemes and tinkering can help determine the outcome of a game. As a result, when a coach like Barker says the opposition had “a great game plan,” the hidden message really is: “Ours wasn’t good enough.”

On this afternoon, it, in football terminology, “sucked.”

The Als final stats underscored that point.

Through the air, Calvillo ripped the Argo secondary for 336 yards. Of those, 153 came courtesy of wideout Jamel Richardson, who made five grabs.

On the ground, meanwhile, Avon Cobourne sliced through the Toronto defence for 163 yards on 17 carries, a career playoff high for the Als running back.

When the final gun sounded and most of his teammates had slinked back to the locker room, a forlorn Adriano Belli stood on the field watching the Als celebrate another trip to the Grey Cup.

In the days leading up to the game, Belli had authored much of the trash talk coming out of the Argos camp.

“This team does two things well — kick ass and chew bubble gum,” Belli had proclaimed of his Argos during the week. “And we’re out of bubble gum.”

Now here he was, having to deal with the fact that it was the Als who had kicked ass, not his Argos.

“I wish them well,” Belli said of his former teammates. “But I still hate their guts”

Not as much as he should have hated his team’s defensive showing.


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