10 Thoughts on Stampeders' win over Argos

Calgary Stampeders LB Cory Greenwood knocks Rodney Smith of the Toronto Argonauts to the turf during CFL football in Calgary on Thursday. Photo by Al Charest/Postmedia. Al Charest/Postmedia

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With a night to process his team’s performance and review the game tape, Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson was slightly softer in his assessment of the way his team played against the Toronto Argonauts.

Shortly after the conclusion of Thursday night’s 26-16 win over the Argos, Dickenson had been fairly blunt about the way his team – and the offence, in particular – had played.

By lunchtime on Friday, however, he was more positive.

“After the game, you kind of spout off and kind of have your mind made up,” Dickenson told reporters. “Then, you go watch the film.”

Dickenson broke down every area of the team.

The defence played well, but there are still lots of areas where they need to improve.

The offensive line is getting better. The rest of the offence was far from perfect, although receiver Juwan Brescacin and running back Ka’Deem Carey both earned shoutouts for strong performances.

On special teams, the Argos and Stamps came essentially even – although that’s an improvement over what happened last weekend when the Stamps played the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

As much as it’s tempting to try to draw firm conclusions about the Stampeders after each and every game, the truth is they remain a work in progress. Finding consistency remains the primary goal, and also the biggest challenge.

Ultimately, the Stampeders are 3-2 and if the Edmonton Eskimos lose to the surprising Montreal Alouettes this weekend, the Stamps will be tied for second-place in the West Division.

They’re not perfect, but they’re young with a tonne of upside.

Here are 10 thoughts on Thursday’s game

  1. BETTER AND BETTER

If you want to throw the ball against the Stampeders defence this season, you’d better be sure your toss is accurate.

Already leading the CFL in interceptions heading into Thursday’s game, the Stamps defence seemed to be getting its hands on every ball that Argos QB MacLeod Bethel-Thompson threw.

They finished with four interceptions. Linebacker Cory Greenwood got one and DBs Brandon Smith, Raheem Wilson and Robertson Daniel each got one, as well.

“Kind of sibling rivalry a little bit in the room,” said Stamps defensive backs coach Josh Bell. “They’re competing. Tre (Roberson) is up top, but everybody wants the ball and it’s been pretty good for them.”

Roberson leads the CFL with five picks so far this year, and very nearly added another one.

Regardless of who is coming down with the picks, the Stampeders are making it hard to throw the ball.

  1. DOING EVERYTHING

Dickenson put Greenwood’s performance on Thursday in the simplest possible terms.

“Big game, monster game,” Dickenson said of his middle linebacker.

Greenwood seemed to be everywhere against the Argos. He had five tackles, but also added an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

The 34-year-old has been getting better every game, and credited linebackers coach J.C. Sherritt for helping him play like a much younger man.

  1. SPECIAL CREDIT

Brescacin returned to the lineup  Thursday after missing two straight games with a concussion.

It didn’t take long for the Canadian to show football fans why many around McMahon Stadium have tapped him for a breakout season.

Brescacin finished having caught all five passes that were thrown his way for 64 yards and two touchdowns.

He’s always been big, has a deep knowledge of the Stampeders system and has grown into a real threat both in the middle of the field and in the endzone.

Brescacin also made it through Thursday’s game feeling healthy. Given that he had been through the CFL’s concussion protocol a few weeks ago, that’s important.

“I was surprised at how well I felt during the game because I’d only practised one time in two weeks,” Brescacin said. “I was just happy I had my legs and lasted as long as I did.”

  1. DOING IT

Brescacin and Carey were the two players who Dickenson singled out for having strong performances on the offence.

Carey sure looks like the type of running back who can make a difference in the CFL, and he finished against the Argos with 65 yards on 12 carries on the ground, as well as four receptions for 30 yards.

The guy is strong and can run right through defenders. When starter Don Jackson gets back in a couple weeks, the Stampeders are going to have some seriously dangerous options.

  1. MORE ON THE WAY

Jackson is on the six-game with a concussion, but is making progress after a tough couple of weeks. He’ll be back soon enough.

The Stamps should also be getting some extra help at running back, as Dickenson confirmed that Romar Morris is eligible to begin practising this week after starting the season on the six-game injured list while he recovered from a torn Achilles tendon injury he suffered in last year’s West Division Final.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Morris will practice, but he’s nearing a return.

Assuming Terry Williams – who is primarily being used as a kick returner – and Carey both stay healthy, the Stampeders are going to have four American running backs available at some point soon.
It will be worth watching how that plays out.

  1. WAITING ON NEWS

The Stamps had a couple injuries in Thursday’s game.

Jamar Wall appeared to injure something in his general rib-area, but the Stamps didn’t know the severity of it at the time of their media availability on Friday.

“We don’t know the extent, but we’re hoping,” Dickenson said. “It’s a rib, so it could just be cartilage or a bruise or a break. We’ll get more information after he gets a check-up today.”

Linebacker and special-teamer Eric Mezzalira also suffered an ankle injury that appears to be pretty serious, while DB Lorenzo Jerome hurt his shoulder and it’s unclear how severe that is.

  1. PENALTIES
    If there was one thing Dickenson seemed especially unhappy about after the game, it was the number of penalties the Stampeders took, especially on offence and special teams.

The offence took six penalties for 40 yards, while the special teams unit got hit with three penalties for 25 yards.

“The ones that are so hard are the procedures or the ones where we don’t even get a snap off,” Dickenson said. “It’s focus, one time when our tackle jumped, our centre didn’t snap it on the right count, so it’s really not his penalty, but we have to get in and out of the huddle, we’ve got to use the snap count to our advantage at home.

“ If we just sit there and go on one all day, it’s crazy, that’s not what we should do as professionals. And then we just seemed to get holding penalties up front at the worst times, we got some momentum, got a good play and I’m looking back and seeing laundry. Special teams, as well, there were a lot of penalties this game that were preventable.”

  1. ARBUCKLE

Nick Arbuckle has been a pleasant surprise in his first couple weeks filling in for starter Bo Levi Mitchell at quarterback.

To say that he wasn’t quite on the same level against the Argonauts is not an indictment of Arbuckle. He’s young, he’s learning and a betting man would put his money on Arbuckle learning from his mistakes and coming back strong next week against the Ottawa Redblacks.

On Thursday, he completed 20-of-30 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions and got sacked four times.

  1. SPECIALS

It kind of feels like Williams is going to bust out for a kick-return touchdown soon, doesn’t it?

He’s certainly due.

Elsewhere on special teams, the Stamps were a lot better Thursday than they were five nights earlier against the Tiger-Cats.

That’s no surprise, but credit where it’s due for the unit bouncing back with little time between games to fix mistakes – and for doing it without Mezzalira for most of the game.

  1. TOUGH STRETCH

With Thursday’s game against the last-place Argos done and over with, the Stamps are about to enter a tough stretch of the schedule.

Next Thursday, they’ll take on the Redblacks in Ottawa. That’s always a tough road trip.

Their next five after that takes them through the Labour Day back-to-back, and they’ll face the Edmonton Eskimos three times in that stretch, as well as playing both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Alouettes.

That’s not easy.

“You do want to create a bit of momentum,” Dickenson said. “I’m a believer that championship football is from Labour Day on and you’ve just got to keep your head above water, make sure you’re improving and .500 or better. If you can make your hay and start finding your momentum late, that’s usually when you have your best season.”

daustin@postmedia.com

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