TWO AND OUT
Scullers sack their coach, cite handling of QBs and record as two key reasons
After leading the Argos to a Grey Cup in his first season, Marc Trestman fired with team tumbling to the CFL’s basement in his second
Misalignment and missing the playoffs resulted in the Toronto Argonauts’ firing of head coach Marc Trestman on Saturday.
“I just felt there was a misalignment on some things within the team that I wanted to make sure I gave (general manager) Jim (Popp) my support to go out and fix it,” Argos president Bill Manning said during a news conference with Popp at BMO Field.
“When you’re ending the season like we did, which is unacceptable, we don’t want, in MLSE, any of our (teams) to be a 4-14 team.
“I felt a change had to be made and I needed to make a decision on who I wanted moving this football operation going forward and I decided Jim was the right guy to do that.”
The Argos’ loss in Ottawa on Friday night against the Redblacks, the final nail in a season from hell, erased the last bit of good that remained from the Grey Cup championship season of 2017. Sure, players on that Argos team will have Cup rings that can’t be taken away, but the decline of the club on the field, and with many members of that team still in Double Blue, was not anticipated by anyone, even after quarterback Ricky Ray suffered a season-ending neck injury in Toronto’s home opener in June.
How Trestman used quarterbacks James Franklin and McLeod BethelThompson after Ray was hurt was a major point of contention within the organization. And little use of talented but possibly disruptive receiver Duron Carter after he signed with Toronto in August also didn’t sit well.
“I think the quarterback situation, clearly there was some maybe difference in opinions on who should be playing,” Manning said. “The acquisition of Duron Carter, where there was again a little bit of difference, from my seat. I’m not involved in … making those decisions, but as the supervisor of the team, I saw a little misalignment.”
The usage of Franklin, Bethel-Thompson and Carter were all parts of the overall problem, but for Manning, there was another factor in letting Trestman go, one that held plenty more weight.
“I just felt the way the season ended, you didn’t see … there was no one rooting for this team to succeed more than me,” Manning said. “Game after game, especially toward the end of the season, I just felt the team was not playing for Marc. The team lost its way.”
The future of Ray remains a question mark, but no one would fault the Argos if they decided to move on. The 39-year-old Ray, as clear a Hall of Famer as any player before him, said on Saturday he still has “feelings of wanting to play” but also that he has to make sure he makes “the right decision.” Ray is one of several Canadian Football League quarterbacks who will be a free agent in the off-season.
Popp, having had large measures of success with Trestman in Montreal and then last year, discussed Trestman’s attributes, noting that Franklin and BethelThompson had “great coaching” but could not find consistency.
Only the bottom line — four wins in 18 games — mattered, as these things in sports tend to go.
“People can debate how good a team we had, especially as we got injuries,” Popp said. “I believe we were good enough to be a playoff team, even if we were a .500 team, and we had plenty of chances to win games to be a .500 team.
“It’s in all three phases we needed to be better.
“Was (firing Trestman) the right move? Was it not the right move? I think things coupled together and we did not finish very strong, probably was why the final decision was made.
“We’re expected to win and we won a Grey Cup a year ago and it’s a very hard thing for me because Marc and I have collaborated for seven years, five (in Montreal) and then two more. In that time, we have gone to four Grey Cups.
“That is not just a oneperson decision, it was an organizational decision and (about) looking forward to the future.”
Marc Trestman was sacked as head coach of the Argos yesterday after their 4-14 season. Team president Bill Manning stated he felt the club had ‘lost its way’ under Trestman.