Esks ruin Ray's Double Blue debut

Ricky Ray has a quick few words with Eskimos QB Steven Jyles after the Argos' 19-15 season-opening...

Ricky Ray has a quick few words with Eskimos QB Steven Jyles after the Argos' 19-15 season-opening loss on Saturday night in Edmonton. (Codie McLachlan, QMI Agency)

Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:41 PM ET

For Ricky Ray, there was no happy ending on this night for the guy who hails from Happy Camp, Calif.

Any fairytale ending would be buried in the many missed opportunities, dropped balls and ineptness that would come to characterize the Toronto Argonauts’ season opener.

While plenty was delivered by the defence, a unit that shot itself more on this night, Toronto’s offence clearly needs to improve.

Pass protection, establishing a run game, having receivers create separation, there was plenty to lament as the Argos left with a bitter 19-15 loss.

Entertainment-wise, this was as bad as it could get, in no way a good sign for the Argos as they get set to play host Calgary in next week’s home opener.

A sublime throw to Andre Durie was followed up by an overthrown heave to an open Jason Barnes, a sequence that would typify Ray’s night.

In general, the Argos offence lacked any consistency, couldn’t establish much of anything, be it through the air or along the ground.

And when points were available, in some cases produced, drops, namely one by Chad Owens on a perfectly thrown ball by Ray to the back of the end zone, prevented the Argos from building any momentum.

To make matters worse, a Wayne Smith holding penalty on a well-conceived touchdown toss to Spencer Watt was also called back.

But as bad as the Argos were on offence, the Eskimos were just as inept.

QB Steven Jyles was allowed, for the most part, to stay in the pocket, which best suited Toronto’s defence.

There were some throws, but Jyles will not beat you by throwing the football.

When Jordan Younger made a diving effort to pick off Jyles on an out route, the turnover led to a field goal, a score that reduced Edmonton’s lead to 19-15.

Despite all the glaring deficiencies and stretches of utter incompetency, the Argos were in a one-possession game with three minutes remaining on a night no one will remember.

In a rare moment, at least by his standards, Ray acknowledged the fans at Commonwealth by raising his right arm after receiving a standing ovation.

Fans in Edmonton embraced Ray’s return, slowly rising to their feet as a brief tribute was aired on the overhead video screen.

Whether it was nerves, not being comfortable in a new offensive system, everything that could possibly go wrong for Ray went wrong, losing control of the football on a pump fake, having balls hit the dirt or not receiving the necessary pass protection to look down field.

More than anything, penalties were simply killing the Argos, who did more to themselves than any scheme Edmonton’s defence threw at the visitors.

A Jeff Johnson turnover and penalties on special teams led to two Grant Shaw field goals, points that could have easily been prevented had discipline and better decision making been exercised.

Hugh Charles produced the game’s first touchdown to give Edmonton a 13-0 lead, but the tenor of the evening was one of poor play and a plethora of penalties, creating an environment that lacked any offensive consistency.

For the first half, the game was reduced to a bore-fest, a series of missteps and mistakes that inspired no one.

Defensively, the Argos weren’t yielding many big plays down field, Edmonton’s gains generated on missed tackles and a bad play on a play thrown to the sideline that had no business being caught.

The opening 30 minutes would end with Edmonton leading 13-7, Toronto’s touchdown produced on a big catch and run play featuring Ray and Owens, who ran a seam route and took advantage of an Eskimos package that featured no over-the-top help.

The Eskimos challenged the reception, a shoestring catch that would net 52 yards, but it was upheld.

Cory Boyd also took a five-yard dump pass from Ray to pay dirt.

Outside of that reception and a 27-yard run up the middle on the last play of the half when Edmonton went into prevent mode, Boyd was a non-factor.

Boyd got 11 touches in the half, but too often he had to be used in pass protection.

As is the norm, CFL teams wait until the last minute to name their 42-man roster. The Argos scratched veteran defensive tackle Kevin Huntley, whose battle with a foot injury continues, and offensive lineman Andrew Jones.

Early in the second quarter, lead official Andre Proulx was injured, reducing the standard seven-man crew to six.

 


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