Murphy's Law dictates new Argos personnel boss must sift through QB market

Toronto Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson (4) reacts after defeating the Ottawa Redblacks 28-21 in CFL football action, in Toronto on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

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To say McLeod Bethel-Thompson has had an uneven season as QB of the Argonauts would be to state the obvious.

In and out of the starting role all season, in some ways, it reflects an itinerant career in football that has taken the worldly quarterback known as Mac to many places playing a game he loves for different leagues.

But what Bethel-Thompson is, and what he can potentially be for the Boatmen, remains a big unknown.

When he’s seeing the field well and not holding on to the football too long in the pocket, his arm is NFL-calibre.
When he’s not seeing the field well and not securing the football, his game is akin to that of a journeyman QB.

By far, the best thing newly anointed director of player personnel John Murphy brings to the table is the simple fact that he has no ties, or very few, to any of the players the Argos have assembled.

Murphy has been given an open slate, which is ideal when properly assessing a roster and even more critical in moving this Argos program forward.

He has no loyalties, and nor should he, and Murphy, from what can be gleaned, is willing to do whatever it takes to field the best quality team possible. But that won’t happen overnight.

What Murphy must have seen from Bethel-Thompson in Friday night’s 28-21 victory over Ottawa is that the veteran has the arm to play the position and the necessary leadership.

With James Franklin apparently out of the starting QB equation and likely to be gone next year, Bethel-Thompson no longer has to worry that one bad throw is likely to force another change, as has been the case with both QBs healthy this year.

Bethel-Thompson was able to play freely and, against Ottawa this season, he has shown to be quite good.
He produced a 300-yard passing night on Friday and a 411-yard game when the Argos visited Ottawa last month, with four touchdowns but three interceptions.  One of those picks came Friday night inside Ottawa’s 10 yard line.

Murphy must know the Argos need a starting quarterback when training camp opens next year.

Depending on what direction the team ultimately decides to take, there should be a role for Bethel-Thompson if both parties can agree on a new contract and a precise definition of his duties.

Both the Argos and Redblacks are likely to be in the market for a quarterback once this dismal season is finally put to rest.

Recently fired GM Jim Popp made the move to acquire Franklin and it’s growing apparent that the team’s coaches were being asked, on more than once occasion, to play him ahead of Bethel-Thompson.

But all that accomplished was to expose Franklin to the point where the team had no choice but to relieve him in B.C. two games ago, when he threw for only 32 yards.

Popp, according to sources, wasn’t willing to part with any of his arms other than Franklin at the trade deadline, knowing full well no team wanted him.

As Wednesday’s trade deadline was about to expire, Murphy did the right move by trading Zach Collaros to Winnipeg for a draft pick higher than what the Argos yielded when they traded for him from Saskatchewan.

Depending on his health and the direction the Argos eventually take, there is always the possibility of Collaros returning to Toronto in free agency. A 1-2 punch of Collaros and Bethel-Thompson isn’t that bad.

Or, Murphy may tap into his Calgary’s roots and try to make a play for Nick Arbuckle, another quarterback eligible for free agency.

There will be options and more than a few teams in the market for a starting quarterback.

Murphy will now have to create an environment where one guy is the No. 1 QB and not this chaotic situation the Argos dealt with once the decision was made to name Franklin the starter when the season began.

It was supposed to be an open competition, but it wasn’t because Franklin was earning starter’s money.
Instead of waiting for the season’s opening week, the team waited for the opening day of camp to name Franklin.

It was a mistake, one of many poor judgments in personnel, and the Argos never recovered.
Murphy can clean it all up and he’ll at least be given a chance because he’s going to start with a clean slate.

ANTIGHA SHOWS HIS METTLE IN THE MIDDLE

As the auditioning for next season continues, Tobi Antigha made quite the impression in his first game at middle linebacker for the Argos.

With Micah Awe, Justin Herdman-Reed, Ian Wild and Bear Woods all sidelined, Antigha, normally a defensive lineman, lined up at middle linebacker for Friday night’s 28-21 win over the Redblacks at BMO Field.

He was credited with just one tackle, but made a pair of interceptions.

That’s not all that unusual for Antigha who, at times, was deployed as a cornerback and a safety with the Roughriders last season, as well as on the defensive line and at linebacker.

“Tobi is a guy who has been around,’’ said head coach Corey Chamblin of the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Tampa native. “We brought him in (via free agency). He wanted to play linebacker. We moved him to end because of the way we were designed.”

Antigha had just come off the six-game injured list, having had no reps at middle linebacker in Toronto.

“He did a pretty good job,’’ said the coach.

The same could be said of Cleyon Laing, who was in the middle of a late-game melee.

“Cleyon is a beast up front,’’ said Chamblin of his defensive tackle who was battling a knee injury after an explosive start to the season. “When he’s healthy he’s a super beast.”

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