MISSISSAUGA — As the Toronto Argonauts’ season started to go in the wrong direction — and all things considered, that happened pretty quickly — Cory Boyd tried to keep his spirits up.
So, he remembered the plight of the B.C. Lions last year. Those Lions won their first game, just like these Argos. Then, a tailspin: seven straight losses. The Lions ultimately resurrected their season, winning seven of their final 10 games to make the playoffs. Add a playoff win, and considering everything, it made for a pretty successful season.
Eventually, Boyd reasoned, that fate was not awaiting his team. So he came up with a new comparison.
“We never got on that streak like the Lions. I looked closely to what Winnipeg was doing last year. They were in a lot of games, but they couldn’t pull them out. Little things kept them from being successful,” the Argonauts running back said. “That’s the same thing here. We can look at them here and see them as a competitor. And we can also learn from them. What we can learn from them is that there are wonders a year can do, with a couple of key pieces placed in the defence, placed in the offence.”
The Argonauts are in Winnipeg on Friday, and perhaps that is where they can find some faith for 2012. Last year, the Blue Bombers went 4-14, missed the playoffs and established themselves as a massive underdog for this season. As it stands now, they are 10-6, and can clinch first place in the East Division this week with a win and a Montreal loss.
The Argos? With two more losses, they will wind up with the same record the Bombers had last year. With no proven quarterback of the future, they appear to be a team destined for at least another year of poor results. However, that might not be the case.
“The lesson learned is the league, top to bottom, is very close,” general manager and head coach Jim Barker said. “Last year we went from last to [the playoffs.] I was coach of the year. This year, I’m firing myself [as head coach], according to [a Toronto Sun reporter.] This league is very close. Injuries play a big part of who is successful from the beginning of the season to the end of the season. That’s what it shows. Last year, they lost [quarterback] Buck Pierce early, the quarterback they went through training camp with, and went 4-14. It’s that type of league.”
Of course, the Blue Bombers were working with a lot more then than the Argos are now. They had Pierce, who had knee and elbow injuries last year, on the roster. And they had the elements of an electric defence, one that has allowed an East-low 375 points this year.
Still, the Argos can find comfort in the fact that each of the teams’ three prior matchups has been close, with the Argos winning in September.
“I think a lot of people get caught up in the hype of them being a good team, they flow very fast,” Boyd said. “They forget that this is Winnipeg. They can be beaten.
“They are a complete team. They play for one another. They have enthusiasm no matter what the score is. We like that from a team because we know last year that we had the upper hand against this team, and we beat them very well. For them to turn it around this year and have the success that they’re having …”
Boyd then trailed off. It was pretty clear what he was thinking.