Argo defence struggles in first loss of the season

Montreal takes advantage of holes in the secondary

Wynton McManis Blue 48
Toronto Argonauts linebacker Wynton McManis walking off the field after loss to Montreal Alouettes. McManis had nine defensive tackles in Friday's loss. (Photo: Sarah Maat/Toronto Observer) 

As all eyes have been on the development of the offence this season, the porous start by the Toronto Argonauts defence has flown under the radar.

Giving up 31 points a game so far, the defenders allowed 30 in a 10-point loss to the defending champion Montreal Alouettes last Friday night at BMO Field.

That, on the heels of allowing 36 points the week before to the winless Edmonton Elks.

Coach Ryan Dinwiddie pointed out his 2-1 team wasn’t going to win every game. Even so, that didn’t mean he was happy with the result.

“I think we have a good football club, didn’t play as well as we should of tonight, Dinwiddie said post-game. “Very disappointed in how we executed some plays, but it also falls on my shoulder, I’m the boss so I have to get those guys ready to play.

“We deserved to lose this game, guys fought, they fought the whole game. I’m proud of their effort, the execution we got to clean up.”

The Alouettes (4-0) attacked Toronto’s biggest weakness so far in 2024, the pass defence. Throwing for 333 yards combined between the quarterbacks Cody Fajardo and Caleb Evans.

“I mean I could’ve completed some balls in that game,” said Dinwiddie. “It was a little too easy for them at times.”

Lirim Hajrullahu scored the first nine points for Argos, making it a 16-9 midway through the third quarter.

Als’ Fajardo — who finished the game 33 of 41 with 284 passing yards, a touchdown, and interception — left briefly with an injury. As his replacement, Evans connected with Cole Spieker on a 44-yard touchdown pass, blowing the game open for the Als, and extending their lead to 22-9.

Red-hot Alouettes wide receiver Tyson Philpot got the first touchdown of the game with 5:44 left in the first quarter on a 38-yard touchdown pass, going into the end zone untouched. Philpot finished with five catches for 90 yards. 

Linebacker Wynton McManis was the bright spot for the Argonauts defence. 

He kept the game in reach multiple times for the Argos, including the end of the first half, shutting down Als running back David Dallaire at the one yard line, only allowing Montreal a field goal to end the first half 13-6.

Cameron Dukes finished 22 of 32 for 199 yards and threw one interception, with zero touchdowns.

Due to the lack of defensive stops the Argos were under pressure to create more offence, but struggled as a unit.

Dukes didn’t see it that way though.

“Me personally, I have to get better, it’s what it falls down to,” Dukes said post-game. “You learn a lot from winning but you learn a lot from losing to. 

“It’s every single time you step on the field, you got to learn from it.”

A big part of the problem was the red zone offence. Coming into the game the Boatmen were a perfect 4-for-4 before going 0-for-3 against the Alouettes. 

“I think I probably ran the ball a little bit too much on first down,” Dinwiddie said. “But we had plays, the one we checked down to Rasheed (Bailey) in the boundary, we had a touchdown there, unfortunately we didn’t see it.”

The Argos did put together a bit of momentum to start the final quarter, after Hajrullahu made it a nine point game with his fourth field goal, Jonathan Edouard intercepted Fajardo in the end zone, keeping the lead in the single digits for the Alouettes.

But the Alouettes defence answered back keeping the Argos off the scoreboard before Dionte Ruffin picked off the young quarterback for his first interception of the season.

The Alouettes would capitalize on great field position with Evans getting a one-yard rushing touchdown to put the Als up 18 with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter.

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Posted: Jun 29 2024 9:36 pm
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