Time for Argos to make statement

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

From Michael Fletcher's perspective, the Argos are about to embark on their version of a Final Four.

With four games left in the regular season, Fletcher feels the Argos have four opportunities to finally play to the level he thinks the team has yet to attain.

While the Argos sit atop the CFL's East Division standings tied with the Montreal Alouettes at 8-6, Fletcher hasn't seen the Argos play with the urgency and discipline required to be considered as a football elite.

That is why Fletcher views the season's final four games as the ultimate challenge in getting ready for the post-season.

"This is a real chance for us to really start getting better," Fletcher said yesterday as the Argos continued preparations for Sunday's road game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"I don't think we've gotten better all year. We've kind of played to the level of our competition. We've had times to bury teams, but we haven't done it.

"We need to work on playing to a level where each down, each series, is a playoff game. What we do is sit back and wait for an important game and then decide to play."

It is that lack of urgency that has Fletcher perplexed about the defending Grey Cup champions. Equally bewildering is the lack of discipline shown far too often in crucial times by such an experienced and battle-tested team.

Every mental lapse, missed assignment or lack of execution can be forgotten in the coming stretch.

"All four games mean a lot to us and for the teams we play," the veteran linebacker said. "This is a great opportunity for us. We were in this situation last year and we need to grow from this point onward.

"The best part about our situation is that we still have four games to improve."

Just how much the Argos can improve is open to debate. This, afterall, has been a team that has yet to take that next step and in some areas have actually regressed.

"This team has the character and the personnel to get better," Fletcher insisted. "Until this point we haven't accomplished it, but I do think we have the make up."

Fletcher hopes the Argos aren't taking the Bombers for granted. Following their game in Winnipeg, the Argos play the Montreal Alouettes in a matchup that possibly could determine first place, a bye and homefield advantage in the East final.

"Winnipeg just beat up on B.C. and the Lions are considered the best team in our league," Fletcher said. "You look at a guy like (slotback) Milt Stegall and in my opinion he's the most outstanding offensive player, not (B.C.'s) Dave Dickenson or (Edmonton's) Ricky Ray.

"Stegall is an ageless wonder. He's the only receiving threat on that team and to do what he has done, coming off a four-touchdown, 200-plus receiving game, is amazing."

BRIEFLY

Linebacker Chuck Winters is the Argos nominee for the Tom Pate Award, which honours outstanding community service.


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