Trio of newcomers bolster aggressive Argos defence

More of the same is what the Toronto Argonauts want in 2023, and when it comes to their defence, the team expects the new faces they’ve brought in through free agency (and one through trade) to fit right in.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Very good moves. What the Argos are doing is moving on from some older guys & replacing them with newer guys WITHOUT losing any talent. Williams, 28, top tackler on the Lions replaces Muamba 33. Pickett, 26, top 10 tackles, #1 for SAM, replaces 30 year old Edwards. Orimolade, CFLPA All-Star, 27, replaces 32 year old Davis.

There is still some uncertainty @ QB but they should end up with McBeth or Dane. I like what the Argos are doing. Should be in good shape to defend the title.

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I would agree with you that the Argos have made some very good moves in an effort to defend their title.

The big unknown for them is at QB and I think it is hard to project how they will finish until that is known. A QB I believe is the most important position player in team sports by far and it is difficult to win without at least a competent one.

I would describe MBT as competent but no more and what he is doing now in not making a decision is another arrow in his quiver of questionable off field behaviour. Speaking of questionable off field behaviour, Chad Kelly is unproven so far so we don’t know if he is the answer if MBT stays south. Dane Evans might be a good enough game manager to get Toronto back to the big game, but his track record is a mixed bag and his confidence could be shattered again. It might very well be that Hamilton moved on from him due to those types of issues as I certainly don’t think that noodle armed Bo is an improvement for them, except confidence and leadership wise.

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Where it can be said good QB's make receivers better, it is also true that you surround yourself with good receivers & you can win with them. Take Aaron Rodgers 2021 MOP, take away a couple of great receivers & you see what you get.

In the CFL this year we see a veteran, "noodle armed" QB, get a standout LT & some good weapons. That's what you need when you have questions @ QB. The same thing at the other end is happening in Edmonton with a QB with the least starts of anyone. So does that mean that the receivers will produce less? Not necessarily. Let's compare some receiver results to the top QB right now - Collaros.

Collaros to Lawler - 2 years in Winnipeg 1651 yds, 29 games = 56.93 yds/gm
Using only BEST year, 2021, Collaros to Lawler 1014 yds, 13 games = 78.0 yds/gm

Cornelius & Lawler were in 7 games together 602 yds = 86.0 yds/gm.

Collaros/Schoen combo 17 games both in game, 1359 yds = 79.94 yds/gm
Cornelius/Mitchell (another hot rookie), 8 games, 637 yds = 79.63 yds/gm

Lawler's production didn't decrease in Edmonton even when using his best year. Two hot shot rookies, whether the best QB or the least experienced, similar results. If you surround your QB's with talent, whether a "noodle armed" veteran like Bo or a young guy with a rocket launcher like Cornelius, it doesn't automatically mean that the good receivers production decreases.

Lawler was a CFL All-Star with & without Collaros. I expect Tim White will get his yards, whether with Bo or not. Last year he was catching passes from the likes of Dane Evans who is likely not starting this year if McBeth returns, Shiltz & Jamie Newman.

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I should point out that the Bombers are the only team with the proven great QB and the proven great receivers. If you are correct that either a great QB or great receivers can make it work then having both should be off the charts.

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I never said that the Bombers aren't a good team. Prior to FA I would have ranked the Stamps 1st in the West but they have lost some big pieces in the trenches. And, as BOTH Super Bowl coaches stated in pressers, the battles are won in the trenches. At present I would say that 4 teams have put themselves in the conversation for the top spots. Juggle them how you will. I would concede that the Bombers at present look like they have the edge for top spot. With the Stamps right now falling back a bit & BC falling back a lot IMO, that's a good spot for them. BC has lost Rourke, Figueroa & Butler, a very good blocker. Fun fact I heard this week - BC last year with Rourke in the lineup was 2nd in sacks allowed - with Adams, 2nd LAST in sacks allowed. I expect a major step back.

When 3Downnation did a post FA analysis, they a depth issue on the Bomber DL. For me there is also the perrenial kicker problem. Do some of the old guys fall off? One-third of the starting 24 will be 32 or older. My picks last year for declines were Harris & Adams. This year, I would not be surprised if Bighill takes a drop.

IMO the Elks may very well be 3rd or, stretching it, 2nd. You'll disagree, I'm sure, but the Argos (with McBeth) & TiCats are better & can play with anyone in the West. One of those teams will play in the Cup.

It's not a given that having both a proven QB & great receivers will result in exponential gains for everyone. There's only one ball to go around. And the Bombers have, almost without exception for years now, run the ball more than any team in the league. You can fact check that yourself. It's their identity. Will they pass more now? Maybe. Will Schoen see the ball more now as the #2? Maybe. Will the OL hold up for another year or was the GC game a sign of things to come? Not sure.

Still lots can change before May. Fun speculating. Not out to offend you, Jon. I call it the way I see it. Nobody has to agree. :sunglasses:

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No offense. It’s speculation. Agree with a lot of what you said and I have always said the trenches are key.

The Bombers still have the best O lineman in the league and likely GOAT protecting Zach’s blind side so there’s that. He hasn’t won all those trophies because of his smile.

It’s obviously too early to make any final predictions but I think it’s a slam dunk that the Bombers will once again be the pre season favourites and no one has taken me up on my bet offer made weeks ago in that regard.

Certainly many weaker teams have improved a lot via free agency but that is to be expected. They are weak teams for a reason however and it’s hard to improve an entire team and there can always be chemistry issues. The Bombers have zero chemistry issues. In fact I would say that the Bombers made out like bandits in free agency if you count their own free agents they signed. It’s pretty difficult to say that any team did better than signing soon to be free agents Collaros, Bailey, Bighill, Jefferson, Jeffcoat, Bryant, Hardrick, Wilson and Demski to name but a few, in addition to Lawler. All of those players would have been plum free agent signings for other teams.

I don’t agree that Hamilton or Toronto are going to be able to play with anyone in the West. I think Hamilton has Boverrated their new QB although they have an excellent backup who could supplant Bo by year end just like last year. Toronto is the only team in the league that doesn’t know who their QB is as of yet and that could turn out poorly for them. Otherwise I think they are the clear favourite in the East. Even Ottawa could finish first. I don’t think that Montreal can finish anywhere but last as their ownership situation has really hurt them.

Out West the Lions have dropped the most it appears, largely because of losing Rourke. Unless Adams plays very well I think they will struggle to make the playoffs. Calgary has dropped a lot too and they had a lower rung to fall from the last two years. The ability of Calgary to always be competitive for top spot and be a threat to win the Grey Cup ended a couple of years ago. They don’t look like a threat to finish first or win it all this year to me. They may even be approaching a cliff and did worse than any other team except perhaps Montreal in free agency.

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Well, we agree on a lot but you tend to underrate other clubs. The best OL, by quite a margin last year, was Calgary & the same goes for the DL. Calgary had way less sacks allowed than Wpg & that's only part of the story because the Bombers run so much, when you can't get sacks. It was pointed out by 3Downnation last year that the Stamps only allowed 1 sack per 32 dropbacks vs 1 for every 16 dropbacks for the Bombers. Run game - also pointed out. All 3 Stamp RB's averaged over 6 yds/carry. They had 300 more rushing yds as a team than Wpg on 30 less carries. And the Stamps oldest guy on the OL, Derek Dennis, is younger than 3 of the Bomber guys. You have 1 or 2 of your plus 33's not do so well, Collaros has problems. They couldn't handle Robbie Smith, a last minute replacement, in the Grey Cup. Injuries etc, lots can happen.

DL - same thing. Not the best in the league anymore & getting older. With Sayles gone, the other 3 are all going to be 32 or older, Bighill is 35. I may still change my mind on the Stamps if they sign Lemon. With Howsare & Vaughters they get back to 3 All-Stars there. And Awe, I just noticed, has also been signed. So we'll see.

I have compared the Bombers to the 1983 Edmonton club who went 25-6-1 the previous 2 years, much like the 26-6 Bombers. In 1983 Warren Moon was the MOP. Brian Kelly, Waddell Smith, Tom Scott, Cutler, Kepley, Holliman, HIghbaugh, Germany - everybody was still on board & Dunigan was the backup. They went 8-8. Too many old guys. John Hodge made maybe a more appropriate comparison. He sees the Bombers as similar to the 2019 Stamps, who went 70-18-3 the previous 5 years. The older core started to go & they remained a good, not great, team. For all their seasonal success, the Bombers have not dominated the playoffs like they did in 2019 when they crushed Calgary & a dominant Hamilton club. Two 4 point wins in the Finals full of misadventures, followed by two more 1 point GC games.

It will be interesting to see how well the older veterans hold up this year. They, in particular, looked like a spent force in the 4th Qtr of the GC.

I do believe the Bombers will finish 1st, as it stands now, in a weakened West. With the Stamps, since I last wrote, having signed Awe to go with Judge, I may still change my mind on them by May. If the re-sign Lemon, they will have Howsare & Rose, All-Stars, to go with the MOP. And Vaughters is a very good depth signing. You have a Western All-Star in Jefferson & Bighill but didn't make the final cut. I'm sure you'll disagree but times are changing.

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Agreed the Stamps had the best Oline last year but Winnipeg still had the best Olineman. I don’t think the CFL keeps stats like the NFL who rate all lineman for sacks allowed and other metrics. I wish we could see stats that say X lineman is ranked 3rd out of 167 linemen like they show on NFL broadcasts.

I also point out that I tend to agree with much of what you say and when I disagree it is because I objectively think that is the case. True that I don’t like the Stamps and you don’t like the Bombers, but that is not the reasoning behind any comments I make. Hey everyone can only have one favourite team and as a result they want the eight other teams to lose. No revelation there nor do I expect non Bomber fans to be any different.

I do think the Stamps were not in the same class as either the Bombers or Lions last year and that is borne out by the games they played against each other. The Bombers sweeping the Stamps was no fluke. I was and still am supportive of Maier being the better option over BLM. He did show that he wasn’t ready for prime time last year in the end but that could just be growing pains. I’m certainly not writing him off yet but he needs to progress.

You also mentioned a weakened West this year. While that may be true, the West was so superior to the East last year that even if there is regression overall I still expect them to be superior to the East. Sask and Edm appear to have improved while BC and Calgary appear to have regressed. If BC still had Rourke I expect they would be among the favourites but unfortunately for them they don’t and I think we can agree that Adams is no Rourke. Predictions of course are only educated guesses at best and I recall exactly no one predicting the success of the Lions and Rourke last year. I did not read one comment by a pundit or a member of this forum saying that Rourke would be the greatest thing since sliced bread prior to the season and I certainly didn’t predict that.

To round out the West the Bombers have not dropped off at all other than the fact that they are one year older as you like to point out. Adding a relatively youngish Lawler will help the age thing and their receiving corps is so far superior to that of any other team that it is almost laughable. They also have the best QB. Now if they only could get a decent kicker. Robbie Smith did nothing to block Liegghio’s shank other than being in the right place at the right time so I don’t understand your comment about the Bombers not being able to handle him. That kick could just as easily have hit a Bomber blocker in the back and the Bombers “handled” him quite well just before Shankapotamus didn’t deliver. Let us not forget as well that no team was as decimated by defensive injuries as the Bombers last year and a little better injury luck should automatically mean defensive improvement. And Zach’s poor GC performance was undoubtedly influenced by his Mahomes like bum ankle. As much as I like Zach I have to say he clearly isn’t Mahomes.

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The Calgary OL placed 3 on the All-Star team, - end of story. One guy protecting the LS does not an OL make.

I've already provided facts, not opinions, that Lawler had his most productive year with Cornelius, not Collaros. Sorry, jon, if that hurts your sensibilities. I would consider the Elk receivers, for one, absolutely on par with the Bombers. I'm not alone. Read Feb 16 CFL article "An impactful FA signing For Every Team." See below

"Zach Collaros has seen what Kenny Lawler is capable of and now they get to do it together with a more mature Nic Demski, an emerging, and a more confident shot caller in Buck Pierce. That’s scary stuff in the West, which should RIVAL EDMONTON AS THE BEST ON PAPER, receiving group."

Lots of people out there don't necessarily agree with you. In an interview with stats guru, Marshall Ferguson, on TSN Feb 15 he had this to say when asked if things evened out with Lewis replacing Lawler on the Elks. The answer - no, Lewis was an upgrade. He went on to say he thought highly of Lawler but he was a deep ball & screen guy. Lewis route tree was much more sophisticated - deep ball, tunnel routes, corner routes & so on. I'm paraphrasing of course.

Bottom line on the top receivers, I like them both, as does Ferguson. But you're talking about an MOP, league All-Star, CFLPA All-Star, #2 on FA list vs Lawler who reaped a Western pick & ranked lower. End of, Jon.

Schoen, Mitchell equal production. So are Demski & Dunbar if you want to do the research. Other teams have good receivers as well. BC still has 3 of the top 10 in the CFL last year.

"Robbie Smith did nothing to block Liegghio's shank other than being in the right place at the right time", so right back at you. I don't understand what you're saying - the whole point IS to put yourself in the right place at the right time, isn't it? And if he got his hand up to block it then the blocker was unsuccessful in, well, keeping him to get his hand up to block it. So???????????

I'm not getting into the injury thing again. There were reports on man games lost posted last year & Bombers were middle of the pack.

Bottom line - if you meet an "unworthy Opponent", as you saw the Argos, in the GC - don't whine about it. Say thank you very much & beat the heck out of them. Hey - it's a 3peat on the line. They lost fair & square. When you can't hold a 2 score lead in the final frame & 3 drives end in 2 INT's & a punt, you blew it. Everything else is just an excuse.