Going from first to worst? Embarrassing. That’s what happened to the Toronto Argonauts last season, and they have several new faces heading into the 2019 campaign with nowhere to go but up.
Off their 2017 Grey Cup upset of Calgary, expectations were high for the Argos last year. The Argos opened with a 20-17 home win over Edmonton but lost their next three and never recovered.
Toronto finished with a CFL-worst record of 4-14, the franchise’s fewest wins since going 3-15 in 2009. In doing so, the Argos became the first team since the 2006 Edmonton Eskimos to fail to qualify for the playoffs the year after winning the Grey Cup. Toronto’s defence was a disaster in allowing a league-high (by far) 560 points, while only Montreal scored fewer than the Argos’ 369 points. The team was winless on the road.
Toronto Argonauts Acquisitions and Moves
The morning after the team’s 24-9 loss in Ottawa to close the 2018 regular season, the Argos fired Coach Marc Trestman. President Bill Manning wasn’t so much dissatisfied with the record but with how Trestman handled the quarterback situation following a season-ending injury to starter Ricky Ray as well as how the team misused receiver Duron Carter. He had just 10 catches for 119 yards and a TD in eight games.
Corey Chamblin replaced Trestman as head coach. He was the defensive coordinator of the 2017 team but spent last year at the University of Arkansas. Chamblin was also head coach of the Roughriders 2012-15 and led the team to the 2013 Grey Cup when Chamblin was named CFL Coach of the Year. The Argos’ defence allowed 31.1 points last year and the team finished last in the CFL in turnover margin at minus-22. That unit will have a few new starters.
Chamblin’s new offensive coordinator is veteran CFL coach Jacques Chapdelaine. Ray’s injury helped wreck the 2018 season and he decided to retire. James Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson split starting duties after the injury but it wasn’t often pretty as Toronto put up just 20.5 points per game overall. The team tried to sign free agent Bo Levi Mitchell this off-season but failed, so Franklin opens 2019 as the starter.
Franklin had more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (eight) last year and was benched twice. The Argos got Franklin a nice weapon in receiver Derel Walker, who had 52 catches for 875 yards and eight TDs in 11 games last season with Edmonton. The Argos are strong at receiver with Walker, S.J. Green and Armanti Edwards. But if the quarterback can’t get them the ball, it won’t matter. James Wilder Jr. leads the ground game.
2019 Toronto Argonauts CFL Schedule
No coach wants his team to have a Week 1 bye, but especially after building some momentum in the pre-season with back-to-back wins. That’s what is facing the Argos, however, as they don’t open until June 22 at home vs. Hamilton. Toronto lost all three meetings in 2018. On Canada Day, Toronto visits Chamblin’s old stomping grounds in Regina. On Aug. 25, the Argos face Montreal in the 2019 edition of Touchdown Atlantic at Stade Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium, located at the University of Moncton. It’s the first CFL regular-season game there since 2013. The Argos host the champion Stampeders on Sept. 20 and close the season in Hamilton. The other byes are Weeks 9 & 14.
Toronto Argonauts CFL Prediction and Odds
The Argos are +373 to win the East Division for the second time in three seasons and +1300 to win another Grey Cup. We don’t see either of those happening. Toronto finishes 6-12.