No passing game, little success.
The Argonauts on Friday night got production from their running back. They got a touchdown on special teams. They got another strong performance from the defence, especially the front four.
But quarterback Dalton Bell, starting in place of Cleo Lemon, couldnít get into a rhythm with his receivers. And when there is little fluidity in the passing game, especially in the Canadian Football League, itís not good.
The Argos fell to 1-4 with a 26-25 loss against the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium and will face an angry group of Montreal Alouettes at the Rogers Centre next Thursday.
The Eskimos are 5-0 for the first time since 1980.
Chad Kackert, not the injured Cory Boyd, rumbled for 139 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Matt Black scored on an 80-yard punt return in the fourth quarter on a play that special teams co-ordinator Mike OíShea couldnít have drawn up. Black made an over-the-shoulder catch of the ball, turned around and motored down the sideline for the major.
But Bell, in his first start of the season, completed just 17 of 29 passes for 156 yards. That wonít win football games on most nights.
Bell looked great as he marched the Argos down the field in the final minute, enabling Grant Shaw to try to kick what would have been a game-winning 57-yard field goal. But Shaw was short. Had Bell and the receivers been on the same page to that point, Shaw wouldnít have needed to attempt such a difficult kick. The outcome would have been decided much earlier.
The one knock against Kackert, meanwhile, is his tendency to fumble. Thereís little doubt that without the touchdowns, Kackert might have been released by now. Whether itís something that has to be changed in his running style, Kackert has to be better at holding on to the football. It becomes moot when Boyd is healthy again.
At the half
For all of the fines that the CFL has been throwing around lately ó whether itís players or coaches ó one has to hope that officials are being held accountable behind closed doors. Referee Andre Proulx signalled at the end of the first half that the time had expired after the Argos stuffed former Boatman Kerry Joseph at the goal line for the second time. So the Argos went to their locker room. They were called back when it was determined that 1.5 seconds remained on the clock, and sure enough, Joseph punched through on his third attempt. Naturally, Jim Barker and his team were not impressed that they had to come back to the field after thinking the half was done ... Pass-interference calls late in the second quarter against Toronto resulted in Edmontonís first two touchdowns, and neither penalty was necessary. On the first, Kevin Huntley crushed Ricky Ray as the Eskimos quarterback threw the ball. The pass fell short, but Argos defensive back Dee Webb was called for interference, putting Edmonton at the two-yard line. A couple of plays later, Marcus Henry went in for the touchdown. Prior to the Joseph touchdown, Lin-J Shell was flagged for pass interference on Brandon James (though it appeared that Sean Smalls should have been the one called). Rayís pass landed out of the end zone and was not catchable. Fourteen points off a couple of bad Toronto decisions ... Andre Durie once missed an entire season as he recovered from a knee injury, so watching him fight for extra yards is no big surprise. He gained eight yards and a first down after he was driven back a couple of yards by JC Sherritt. Durie simply kept going forward, giving his team a new set of downs. Not long after, Durie came back to the football to make a nice catch on a pass from Bell that otherwise would have fallen short.
In the end zone
Bellís inexperience showed when he badly overthrew Chad Owens in the third quarter, a pass that was picked off by Jykine Bradley. The play was the first after the Argos took over on downs at the Edmonton 48-yard line ... The Argosí problems at receiver have been well-documented. Spencer Watt was wide open and would have had a touchdown had he managed to hang on to Bellís easily catchable pass late in the third. Fortunately for Watt, there was an Eskimos penalty on the play ... Is anyone else a little concerned about Owensí fumbles? The man who has the ability to be the Argosí most electrifying player, as he was last year, has been having trouble holding on to the football. Thereís a fine line between getting the job done and trying to do too much, and Owens has been leaning a bit toward the latter through five games ... Owens ticked off Bradley, who thought the receiver took him down on a cut block. The two were in each otherís faces after several plays, and when Owens fumbled, a miscue that was recovered by the Eskimos, Bradley got right in Owensí grill ... Prior to Kackertís first touchdown, the Eskimos trailed a total of 89 seconds in their previous four games ... Watching Claude Wroten, itís still a little mystifying to remember the burly defensive tackle didnít join the Argos until the second pre-season game, missing most of training camp. Wroten required almost no learning curve before he became effective for the Argos. On Friday night, Wroten and his pals on the defensive line ó tackle Huntley and ends Ricky Foley and Ronald Flemons ó kept the pressure on Ray through much of the game.