Argos head into Lions’ den missing key offensive pieces

Frank Zicarelli

CALGARY — The big play when a big play was needed, that burst when attacking the hole and getting into the second level of a defence; it was all going well for Wilder Jr.

Patiently waiting for his turn to be the incumbent in the backfield, Wilder Jr. left everything out on the field when he lined up on special teams, while at the same time learning the ropes and the nuances of the CFL game.

It all paid off right about the time the Argos took off last season, the team deciding to insert Wilder Jr. for veteran Brandon Whitaker at a juncture in the season when the club changed offensive line coaches.

And the rest, as they say, is history as the Argos went on to win the 2017 Grey Cup.

A critical third-down reception in the East final against visiting Saskatchewan more than compensated on an afternoon when the Riders defence held Wilder Jr., and the Argos attack for the matter, in check.

While the Stamps would limit Wilder Jr. in the big game, he did score a rushing major in Toronto’s upset of the mighty Stamps.

With so much gone awry with the 2018 edition of the Argos, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that Wilder Jr. won’t be available this Saturday night when the 3-9 Argos play the Lions in Vancouver.

Head coach Marc Trestman said Monday that Wilder Jr. is nursing a leg injury, a setback he suffered last Friday night when the Stamps overwhelmed the Argos in the second half en route to a 38-16 win as the Argos lost their fifth game in succession.

“I don’t know for how long, but it’ll certainly be week to week,’’ said Trestman.
Wilder Jr. was sporting crutches at the team’s hotel in downtown Calgary.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Wilder Jr. does not play in any of the Argos’ five remaining games. He left Friday night’s game in the second quarter.

The fear is that Wilder Jr. has a knee injury.

Given the season the Argos have had and the unlikely chances the club has to qualify for the playoffs, it would be foolish to play Wilder Jr., even if he does recover.
Ricky Ray, the team’s veteran quarterback, was lost in the team’s home opener against Calgary and now Wilder Jr., two of the most important catalysts for the Argos.

DeVier Posey left following his MVP performance in the Grey Cup for the NFL, but his time with the Baltimore Ravens ended when the final cuts were made.

Posey joined B.C. recently and he’ll play his former team for the first time this week.
S.J. Green and Armanti Edwards are the only healthy players with the Argos who week in and week out played at a high level as every-down players.

There have been many issues surrounding the 2018 Argos and one has been the lack of big plays on offence.

The Argos have Brandon Burks coming off the one-game injured list and Dexter McCluster, who made his CFL debut last Friday, as options at running back.

Trestman even mentioned the possibility of using Declan Cross, a Mac product who has been a valuable option in the pass game, in the backfield.

On the surface, Cross would be a good blocking presence, but he’s not exactly known for his speed.

Burks has been on the game roster this season, but he’s never started.

McCluster was subbed in for Wilder Jr. on Toronto’s opening drive against the Stamps, but the former NFL Pro Bowler made his first touch as a receiver coming out of the backfield.

This season, Wilder Jr. has rushed 147 times for 691 yards for an average of 4.7 yards.
He has produced three rushing majors.

NO SURPRISES AT QB

CALGARY — The status quo will be maintained at football’s pivotal position, a decision that is sure to draw the attention of fans pining for a change at quarterback.

Five losses in a row, zero touchdown passes thrown in back-to-back weeks, an alarming inability to score points in the fourth quarter and head coach Marc Trestman has decided to stick with McLeod Bethel-Thompson. “No change,’’ said Trestman about the Argos’ starter.

When asked why, Trestman offered the following: “I don’t see any reason not to.”
Trestman knows quarterbacks, but he also knows the Argos are on the brink of playoff elimination.

When Ricky Ray went down in the Argos’ home opener, Trestman turned to James Franklin.

Franklin won his first game as the team’s starter and then struggled in three straight losses.

Enter Bethel-Thompson, who won his first two starts, both comeback wins, first against Ottawa when the Argos overcame a 24-point hole and then against B.C. as the Argos fought back from a 10-point deficit.

Bethel-Thompson was picked off in the second half Friday night against the host Stamps.

He’s not the reason why the Argos have yet to play consistent football.

Against the Stamps, the Argos were penalized 12 times for 129 yards. After taking the opening kickoff and engineering a touchdown drive, the Stamps were kept off balanced by a very efficient Argos offence, which responded by scoring its own major.

“At this point I don’t see any reason to make that change,’’ said Trestman about his quarterback position.

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies