I can’t stand Ricky Ray, but only because he’s: (a) so good at what he does; and (b) never brought that amazingness to my beloved Riders. Can you imagine Ricky Ray throwing to Naaman Roosevelt and Duron Carter? *Sigh*
When Marc Trestman returned to the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts last year and named Ricky Ray as his starting quarterback, you could hear coaches and GMs across the CFL groan as they realized what havoc the two could wreak on opposing defences. And they were right to worry. After two injury-riddled seasons, Ray threw for over 5,500 yards and 28 TDs in 17 regular season games. After contemplating retirement following the Argos’ surprising Grey Cup victory, Ray decided to return to the Argos for another year. Now the winningest QB in CFL history and a lock for the CFL Hall of Fame, what does Ray have left to accomplish?
James Franklin is likely asking himself the same question. The Argos traded for him in the off season before Ray decided to return. Despite limited playing time, Franklin had been dubbed ‘the next great CFL QB‘. As he was set to become a free agent in February, the Edmonton Eskimos decided to move him out of the West Division. If pressed into duty this season, it will be interesting to see if he was worth the hype.
Then there’s James Wilder, Jr. His goal? To become the first player to reach 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing in the same season. After a contract dispute during the off season wherein he declared that he was going to sit out the 2018 CFL season unless he made more money or the Argos released him to try out in the NFL, Wilder signed a contract extension through the 2019 season that makes him one of the CFL’s highest paid running backs. In the Grey Cup, Wilder had a whole 13 yards rushing and 18 yards receiving. He now needs to prove that he’s worth the money.
SJ Green leads the Argos receivers, the perennial player maker and is supporting by Armanti Edwards and Brian Tyms. Green was 2nd in the CFL in receiving in 2017 after sitting out most of the 2016 season with a knee injury.
Shawn Lemon and Cleyon Laing anchor the Argos defense, along with LBs Marcus Ball, Taylor Reed, and Bear Woods, although Woods will miss the first month of the season due to needing further time to recover from off season surgery. As Corey Chamblin has not returned to the Argos as Defensive Co-ordinator, Mike Archer takes over his duties.
Finally, the kicker with the best name in the CFL had his comeback cut short. Swayze Waters was among the Argos’ final cuts after being beaten out by Ronnie Pfeffer in training camp.
It’ll be tough for the Argos to follow up 2017’s improbable Grey Cup win. As the REDBLACKS have reloaded for another run at the East Division title, the Argos will need to be more consistent during the regular season, particularly on defence, in order to fend them off. But given Trestman’s track record, I’d bet on him to come out on top.