What Argonauts need to do vs. Blue Bombers to pull off Grey Cup upset

The Toronto Argonauts understand that anything but their best won’t be good enough if they want to dethrone the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Sunday’s Grey Cup.

The Blue Bombers are the model franchise for CFL teams to follow with Winnipeg aiming to win its third consecutive league championship. Since winning their last title in 2017, the Argonauts have endured their fair share of struggles but have since found some stability after Michael “Pinball” Clemons was brought back as general manager.

The transformation the Argos have gone through is an example of what most CFL teams try to emulate — finding the right group of veterans in free agency and dynamic young players in the draft. After each win, the players and head coach Ryan Dinwiddie try their best to remain level-headed and remind themselves that they won’t be satisfied until they are the ones lifting the Grey Cup at the end of it all.

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Here is a look at what the Argos will need to do if they want to achieve their ultimate goal and prevent Winnipeg from achieving the threepeat.

RELY ON THE VETERANS THAT GOT YOU THERE

It was a goal of Clemons and the front office to add players in free agency that know a thing or two about playing in the Grey Cup.

Defensive lineman Ja’Gared Davis will be making his sixth straight appearance in the Grey Cup, running back Andrew Harris is looking to win his third straight title and fourth overall while receiver Brandon Banks is hoping that the fourth time is the charm for him.

That wealth of experience is crucial in a game where emotional swings can either elevate a team or be its undoing.

For Harris, there is extra motivation to deny his former team a chance to cement itself as a CFL dynasty after Winnipeg elected to let him reach free agency. It was a tough season for the 35-year-old, who battled back from a torn right pectoral muscle to return in time for the playoffs where he put up 72 combined yards and a touchdown in the East final.

In the only game against the Blue Bombers, Harris was very productive rushing for 111 yards so it’s safe to say the Winnipeg native won’t be holding back every time he’s handed the ball.

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The Argos brought in Davis to be a game-changer on defence and while he didn’t have his best season statistically, his presence alone draws extra attention from the opposition. It won’t be an easy task going up against the Blue Bombers offensive line but Davis did register a sack against them in last year’s championship game as a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

For Banks, he is trying to capture that Grey Cup that has eluded to this point. The 34-year-old saw a title slip from his hands in 2014, when he had a potential game-winning 90-yard punt return touchdown in the final called back by a penalty and has come up short on two-straight occasions against the Blue Bombers with Hamilton.

Banks has had many up-and-down moments with Toronto this season but the Argos are counting on his ability to make game-changing plays which will ultimately help him get that ring.

LIMIT THE TURNOVERS AND MISTAKES

What was most impressive about the Argonauts’ win over the Montreal Alouettes in the East final was that they played mistake-free football from start to finish.

They did not commit a single turnover and did not allow a sack in the game. It wasn’t a perfect game as they allowed Montreal to hang around until the end and missed some opportunities for big plays, but they made sure that they didn’t relinquish control either.

The Blue Bombers will be ready to pounce on any mistake, which they did against the B.C. Lions, who committed four turnovers, including two interceptions by Nathan Rourke, in the West final. In the only Argos-Winnipeg game this season, McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw two costly interceptions in the first half that put Toronto in a tough hole to dig out of but their defence has kept them in games all season long and that will likely have to be the case on Sunday if the offence struggles to connect on plays.

What can help take some pressure off of Bethel-Thompson is if the Argonauts can rely on Harris and fellow running back A.J. Ouellette to keep the chains moving and wear out Winnipeg’s defence. The Lions could only muster 28 yards on the ground and had to abandon the running game all together in order to try and make a comeback.

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TEST COLLAROS’ MOBILITY ON INJURED ANKLE

There is no bigger question mark heading into the Grey Cup than the status of Zach Collaros’ ankle.

Winnipeg’s star quarterback said there is not a question about his status and that he’ll be ready to go despite missing the first couple of practices this week but the Blue Bombers’ coaching staff don’t think he needs many reps anyway. Despite him declaring himself fit to play, it does raise questions about how much he’ll be able to do on a bad ankle.

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What makes Collaros the top quarterback in the league is his ability to extend plays by getting out of the pocket and providing his receivers with enough time to get open.

“My mobility? It’s good,” Collaros told reporters. “The foot feels really good.”

Winnipeg will try to get the ball in the hands of running back Brady Oliveira more but the Argonauts defence is one of the best at preventing the run, allowing the fewest yards on the ground, especially on first down. How much the absence of linebacker Wynton McManis will impact Toronto’s ability to stop the run remains to be seen but the defence will make sure that it’s Collaros who wins the game for the Blue Bombers.

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