For the third straight season, the Toronto Argonauts enter Week Four with a 2-1 record.
This week, the Argos travel West to play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-1) in the second and final game of the team’s first road stand of the season.
In Winnipeg, the Argonauts will meet a Bombers team that is coming off a 29-10 home loss at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders. It is the second straight week the Double Blue will face a home team coming off of a loss.
With a win, Head Coach Marc Trestman would move past Jack Pearce into the CFL’s Top 20 in all-time coaching wins with 62. The game will be his first game coached against former Argos linebacker Mike O’Shea, who took up the post as the Bombers’ head coach in 2014.
The Argos have won six of the last 10 meetings between the two teams but were swept in last year’s two-game set. In games where Ricky Ray has started at quarterback against the Bombers, the Boatmen are 6-2 dating back to July 18, 2012.
Heading into Week Four of the CFL season, Argos QB Ricky Ray continues to lead the league in passing with 1,199 yards on 89-of-127 passing (70.1).
Last week vs Ottawa, Ray recorded his 81st career 300-yard game with 366 yards and two touchdowns on 27-of-41 passing. Ray has thrown for 300+ yards in each of the Argos first three games (506, 327, 366). The 15-year veteran also joined an elite group of CFL quarterbacks when he hit DeVier Posey on a 10-yard strike for his 300th career passing touchdown. Ray is the sixth quarterback in CFL history to throw for 300 touchdowns.
Ray has also been efficient as a passer, accumulating a 107.4 passer efficiency rating. Outside of Edmonton’s Mike Reilly, who has not thrown an interception in 64 pass attempts, Ray leads all CFL starters with a 0.8% interception rate.
Ray’s overall efficiency ranks among the league leaders, but it is his efficiency at long-range that stands out in particular. On throws of 16+ yards, the 15-year veteran has completed 60% of his passes for a league-high 598 yards.
CALL THE BUTLER
Argos defensive end Victor Butler has been a terror for opposing offences week in and week out. Last week at TD Place, Butler recorded a team-high eight defensive tackles and three sacks.
With three games under his belt, the Oregon State product leads the league with seven sacks, six quarterback pressures and defensive stops on second down (6) while also notching 13 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Butler’s seven sacks not only lead the league but are more than the sack totals for seven of the league’s nine teams.
The last time a player recorded seven or more sacks in the first three games of the season was in 1999 when both Elfrid Payton (8) and Joe Montford (7) both accomplished the feat. Since the CFL began recording sacks as a stat, Butler joins the aforementioned pass rushers as one of just three players with 7+ sacks in the first three games of the season.
KEEPING IT 100
The Argonauts receiving corps has been more than productive through the first three weeks of the season. In that time, the Argos have had four different receivers eclipse the 100-yard mark. DeVier Posey (7-147-1), SJ Green (6-126), and Jeff Fuller (3-104) popped off in Week 1 while newcomer Armanti Edwards quietly recorded his first career 100-yard game in Week 2. Last week in Ottawa, Green registered a career regular season high of 210 yards and a touchdown to assist the Argos over the REDBLACKS. Green’s effort put the Double Blue at five 100-yard receivers in three games, matching the team’s total in 2016 (Kenny Shaw – 3, Diontae Spencer – 2).
Green’s 200-yard performance in Week 3 was his 19th career game and second as an Argonaut with 100+ receiving yards while also matching a career-best 10 receptions set back in 2012. The 11-year vet became the Argos’ first 200-yard receiver since Derrell Mitchell tallied 220 yards on September 26, 1988, and just the eighth player in team history to reach 200 in a game.
Green currently ranks second in the CFL with 19 receptions for 367 yards, just two yards behind league leader Greg Ellingson. After starting the CFL season ranked 61st all-time with 6,626 receiving yards, he will need just 22 yards to pass Argos legend Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons for 51st and 53 yards on Thursday night in Winnipeg to enter the Top 50 pass catchers, passing Jason Tucker (7,046).
The Argonauts defence continues to rank among the top defences in the CFL heading into Week 4 of the season. Through three games, Toronto’s defence has wreaked havoc on opposing offences, and more specifically, their quarterbacks. They are the only team to keep opposing offences under 20 points per game (19.7) while forcing seven turnovers (2nd in CFL) and racking up 14 sacks.
Under the league’s new QUAR rating system, opposing QBs have been in tough against the Argos defence. Zach Collaros’ Week One rating of 23.4 was a season-low for any quarterback and was followed up by Jonathon Jennings (65.6) in Week Two and Trevor Harris (59.0) in Week Three. Both Jennings (73.1) and Harris (78.2) significantly underperformed against their overall season ratings.
Last week’s defensive performance marked the second time this season that the team has registered five sacks in a game – 5 vs. HAM in week 1.
Argos linebacker Bear Woods ranks fourth in the CFL and leads the Argos with 18 defensive tackles, seven of which came in the first half of last week’s game. Woods, who set the Alouettes club record for tackles in a season (126), is currently averaging six tackles a game and on pace to register 108 tackles this season which would put him two shy of Kevin Eiben’s 110 tackles (fourth all-time in Argos history) in 2004.
Argos head coach Marc Trestman was rewarded with his 61st career win last week to push his record to 61-31. A win over the Blue Bombers on Thursday will slide him into the Top 20 all-time for wins as a coach; he is currently tied with John Payne (Ssk, Ham, Ott).
Canadian DT Jeff Finley notched two tackles and two sacks last week in Ottawa. The University of Guelph product’s two sacks were his first ever recorded in a regular season game in his fourth CFL season. Although, he did register two sacks in the 2014 playoffs against the BC Lions.
Jermaine Gabriel nabbed his second career interception last week vs. Ottawa, setting up Ray’s 300th career touchdown toss. Gabriel’s interception was his first since the 2014 season.
DB Rico Murray scored his first career defensive touchdown on Saturday night at TD Place. Murray recorded his first major pouncing on a ball that was fumbled by REDBLACKS QB Trevor Harris.