For now, at least based on Saturday night’s 32-point offensive performance, one side of the ball with the Argos seems fine. The way their offensive line provided pass protection during a 37-32 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium, they’d be well-advised to let quarterback Cleo Lemon take shots down the field and spread the football.
Meanwhile, Boyd’s return was helpful in that the presence of the bruising running back came in handy on blitz pickups when the Ticats defence threw different stunts at them.
The biggest issue, however, remains the defence, where the Argos are loaded up with imports. And unless they throw another curve this week by releasing players, it’s likely the team will use the following bye week to review the roster and make whatever changes are necessary.
Labour Day is often viewed as the CFL’s unofficial beginning, a time when rosters are tweaked, in some cases completely overhauled. It’s a time when underperforming veterans are shown the door after NFL castoffs suddenly become available.
Stranger things have happened and stranger things are likely to happen, especially with the Argos, who are in the exact same predicament as Saskatchewan and the B.C. Lions, seven weeks into an 18-game schedule. One of the above will make the playoffs. One, if not all three, are likely to embark on a new path in the coming weeks.
Time will heal kicker Noel Prefontaine’s wonky quad and time will allow Steven Jyles to add depth at quarterback.
And in time, the Argos defence will get better because it can’t get any worse.
“The whole goal is to build this (organization) into a competitive team week in and week out,’’ head coach/GM Jim Barker said.
In Hamilton, the Argos were more than competitive, striking first and setting the tone on a night when they would produce in excess of 500 yards. But a 20-yard missed field by Prefontaine at the end of the opening half, and yielding too many long drives while forcing zero turnovers would prove to be Toronto’s downfall.
But it’s not all bleak, a season that remains very much salvageable if the necessary steps are taken, especially on defence, where the Boatmen need more quickness coming off the edge and better tacklers in open space.
“It’s not how you finish, but how you start,’’ Boyd said. “Certainly, I know people will look at our record, but we turned the corner (in Hamilton). We were physical and we matched their intensity. More importantly, we made plays when it counted.”
On offence, the Argos did, especially during the second half, a time that has often spelled their demise in recent weeks.
When Lemon hooked up with Brandon Rideau on a 69-yard pass and catch — the tandem’s second major of the night — the Argos had a fourth-quarter lead.
“There are positives in everything,’’ said slotback Andre Durie who, again, was positively brilliant. “Offensively, we played a great game, but there were times where we had to execute better.”
So far, so good for Boyd
His return would end in a loss, but all was not lost for Cory Boyd.
For starters, the Argos’ star running back finished the game without any setbacks, felt stronger as the evening progressed and vows to get better as the club enters a key stretch to its season.
“I felt good,’’ Boyd said of Saturday night’s return in Hamilton, where he played for the first time since a Week 2 injury at Winnipeg. “I came out healthy and I played within my parameters. I’m healthy with how I played, but I can always get better and I will.”
Boyd rushed nine times for 44 yards, both game highs on a night when both teams aired it out, and scored one touchdown.
His mere presence in the backfield forced Hamilton to send more defenders into the box, which opened up Toronto’s downfield passing game.
When he is at his best and healthy, Boyd is also a receiving threat, an area the Argos must exploit when they can take advantage of some favourable matchups.
Against the Ticats, they twice used Andre Durie as a deep threat on corner routes that would lead, directly or indirectly, to two touchdowns.
“It’s time for the playmakers, myself included, on this team to go out and make plays,’’ Boyd said. “It’s time we pull together.”