Ford runs out of fuel in playoff race: seven ideas on the Elks’ loss to Toronto

Photograph: Matt Smith/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

It was a valiant effort within the final six video games to make a push for the playoffs, however the Edmonton Elks will probably be postseason observers after a 35-12 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

Listed here are my ideas on the sport.

The Ups and Downs of a Younger QB

When you will have a second-year quarterback who has began a complete of 9 video games, you’ll be able to count on lots of ups and downs. After tearing up the defences of the lower-half groups, Tre Ford remains to be studying to play the top-tier defences.

The ups got here within the type of some nice passing. An early throw to Geno Lewis, in full stride, for 17 yards. A good looking 41-yard go to Gavin Cobb within the second quarter. A scramble again of virtually 15 yards that nearly ran headlong into the referee earlier than spinning out of two Argo tacklers to fireplace a bomb into the endzone for Cobb. When he finds the house to improvise, Ford’s magic brings all followers to their ft.

The downs, nevertheless, had been pricey. The Argos stored the operating QB in verify with solely two dashes for 10 yards or extra. Taking away the run recreation made Edmonton lean on the go and Toronto took benefit with two interceptions, one for a game-changing pick-six. Ford was solely capable of convert on 36 % of second downs. The strain was on with the operating recreation nullified.

“Defences are adjusting,” Ford stated “They’re taking away the field from us which is opening up extra go lanes. I simply need to do higher within the passing recreation and get the ball to the receivers and allow them to make performs.”

There have been a few humorous moments for the younger QB as nicely. On a 15-yard run within the second quarter, Ford bumped into the Argo bench. He took a second to fist-bump Tommy Nield and share amusing. On a run within the third, he slipped on the pavement simply exterior the grass area. When he obtained up, he stomped the pavement space a few occasions and turned with a smile.

I like these moments as they present he’s an actual one that can take the sport critically and nonetheless have enjoyable.

O-Line Struggles

For in addition to the offensive line has performed for the reason that change to Ford, they’ve struggled towards the highest tier of defences. Seven sacks got up towards B.C. two weeks in the past and 5 had been surrendered on this recreation.

Ford talked about being higher at getting the ball to receivers however he has had little time to make a learn within the backfield or discover a lane to take off operating. Watching the Toronto offensive line give their quarterbacks upwards of 4 seconds to survey the sector solely intensified the distinction between these items. Ford repeatedly had one to 2 seconds earlier than he was below siege.

That line will probably be below scrutiny for the remaining video games as to who will step up. Mark Korte has already been given, for my part, a well-deserved extension. Brett Boyko continues to face out to me at deal with. All three different spots have to be checked out in planning for 2024.

Defensive Losses

No crew likes to make use of accidents as an excuse in a “subsequent man up” sport. That stated, some absences on defence had been noticeable on Friday.

Edmonton’s main tackler, center linebacker Nyles Morgan, was changed by Tony Jones. Jones had 4 tackles on the evening and was across the ball, however was not almost as efficient as Morgan to the vast aspect of the sector. In solely his second season, he’s nonetheless studying the nuances and velocity of the sport. There are additionally not many individuals that may cowl the center on brief yardage fairly like Morgan.

Defensive lineman J-min Pelley can’t appear to purchase a break this yr. After getting back from a stint on the six-game checklist because of a leg damage, he had his appendix disagree with him and wanted that eliminated. Sam Acheampong, the opposite Canadian defensive deal with, was additionally on the one-game injured checklist this week. Rookie Noah Curtis — who’s nice off the sting — Cole Nelson, and the re-signed Olivier Charles-Pierre tried to fill these spots. It was an admirable job by all three, however the Argo operating recreation actually obtained going particularly late within the recreation.

Cornerback Marcus Lewis, who had been one of many brightest spots within the secondary, was additionally out. Enter Donovan Olumba, who had performed some for the Elks final yr after which suffered a long-term damage from which he simply returned. Olumba performed an honest recreation and confirmed some nice velocity but in addition obtained caught a few occasions as could be anticipated in a first-game again situation. I really feel he will probably be an important match going ahead however even good gamers must get again into the swing of issues.

Lack of Working

I alluded to it a bit with the offensive line, however the final two video games have been a 180-degree flip for the damaging for operating again Kevin Brown. After posting the 2 greatest video games of his profession operating towards Calgary and Saskatchewan, he has a complete of 28 yards on 12 carries within the final two video games. Each B.C. and Toronto boast glorious entrance sevens, however that could be a drastic decline. The holes haven’t been opening for the speedster and groups have adjusted to his exterior swing assault.

I want to see extra alternatives handed his method to see if he can get away of the current struggles however it’s arduous when the crew will get down early. Six carries a recreation makes it arduous to get right into a groove however Brown has to discover a means if the crew is to have any success within the final two weeks.

Gavin Cobb Breakout

Receiver Gavin Cobb has been ready to have a recreation like this. The 2022 fourth-round draft decide was injured in coaching camp in his rookie season and has been extra of an everyday for the reason that damage to Steven Dunbar Jr.

He put up a career-high of 79 yards on 4 catches and scored his first CFL landing on the spectacular play on the finish of the primary half. A lot of his catches had been of the “wow” selection.

He was additionally a part of one of many weirdest performs of the sport — a 47-yard bomb from Ford that Cobb went up and appeared to pick of the air by excessive leaping over Mason Pierce. As they got here down, the ball obtained knocked free and landed within the arms of Pierce. As an alternative of the large play, it was dominated an interception and down by contact. One other millisecond of possession would have dominated that one other large catch for the Victoria product. He’s taking large strides to turn into an everyday a part of this offence.

Discipline Place

Toronto’s first three drives began from their very own 50, the Edmonton 38, and the Edmonton 45. It was a hit for the defence to solely be down 10 factors with these sorts of presents.

Though the stats say that the Argos had 130 yards in returns, it felt like they’d 200. Javon Leake got here inside one deal with, by the punter, of returning one for a landing. The Elks cowl groups didn’t have an important exhibiting.

As compared, the Elks began inside their very own 20-yard line 3 times and by no means began exterior of their very own 40. Lacking elite teamer Scott Hutter because of damage makes an unlimited influence.

Chris Jones has stated many occasions that this can be a very younger crew. The particular groups might want to proceed to develop with these younger gamers.

Subsequent Steps

Now that we all know the playoff race is over, the main focus shifts to determining who desires to proceed to be right here subsequent yr.

Many will level to the tenure of Chris Jones coming to an finish, however I’m not in that camp. The latter half of the season has proven that the method is beginning to work and I feel consistency will repay in the long term.

So far as the gamers are involved, the subsequent two weeks will probably be vital in exhibiting if they’re part of that course of.

“Guys develop over the course of the season,” Manny Arceneaux stated post-game, “However that is professional soccer. We’re within the enterprise of profitable and that’s profitable proper now. ‘Virtually’ solely counts in horseshoes. Every particular person has to look within the mirror proper now and maintain themselves accountable. That is the way you feed your loved ones. Have to indicate as much as work and put your greatest foot ahead.”

They get one other likelihood to place that foot ahead subsequent Saturday, within the closing house recreation of the season, towards the Montreal Alouettes.

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