Argo offence lost on the field

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Is the Argonauts offence that bad? Or is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence that good?

However you choose to answer those questions, it's not a positive sign for the Argos, who are sorting through the video debris after being smoked by the Bombers in Winnipeg on Friday.

Seldom has a seven-point deficit ever seemed so insurmountable as it did in the fourth quarter as the Argos tried -- and failed miserably -- to rally against the Bombers.

Obviously the Toronto offence still is trying to find itself in the sudden absence of Damon Allen.

EVOLVING PHILOSOPHY

Yes, Spergon Wynn is not Allen. And, yes, the Argos' offensive philosophy is evolving, given the recent arrival of NFL refugee Ricky Williams.

But to be held to an embarrassing total of six first downs, 72 yards and nine points on three field goals is cause for concern under any circumstances. Worse, Wynn was sacked six times and even though the Toronto defence gave the Argos plenty of opportunities to tie the game in the fourth quarter, the offence hardly could get the ball back to the line of scrimmage, let alone mount a rally.

Some of that dominance must be credited to a dramatically renovated Winnipeg defensive unit under new defensive coordinator Greg Marshall. With free-agent acquisition Barrin Simpson and linemen Ron Warner and Doug Brown setting the tone, the Bombers front seven were relentless.

That defensive improvement in itself is bad news for Toronto now that the Bombers have moved to the East Division. Winnipeg just becomes one more sturdy opponent, replacing the soft-touch Ottawa Renegades.

That's all the more reason for urgency in getting Toronto's offensive act in order.

Wynn looked like a deer in the headlights at times against his former teammates but it's clear the breakdowns were not all his fault. The Bombers simply were blowing past the Toronto blockers, converging two and three strong at the quarterback.

Right now, it's too early to start hand-wringing but the Argos can ill-afford to stumble around aimlessly as they did in Winnipeg, at least until Allen is ready to return, perhaps by the end of July.

They have another difficult road game this week, Friday in Vancouver, then Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, B.C. and Montreal in order. There are no sure things in that series.

Compounding the offensive riddle is the subtle shift in philosophy that the presence of Williams presents. What good is a premier running back unless you use him? But can a team be successful in the CFL running the football, especially a veteran pass-first team like the Argos that has seldom run the football more than a dozen times, on average, per game?

It is a much taller order to make such a change than it may seem on the surface. And just because it's Williams carrying the mail doesn't mean the running game will be successful. Almost every player in the league has had NFL dreams at some time or another. And what better way to prove these dreams justified than by stuffing a former NFL rushing champ every chance they get?

DEFENCE DOING ITS PART

It should be noted that Toronto's defence has done its part in the first two games, allowing only 33 points, including just two touchdowns. If, at season's end, the Argos have limited their opponents to one touchdown a game and a 16.5-point average, they will be the No. 1 defence in the league.

But if Toronto's offence cannot control the ball for more than the 22 minutes it had against Winnipeg, the defence is going to be one tired and overworked collection by mid-season.

The loss on Friday was not a disaster but neither was it a thing of beauty. Concern is warranted. The Argos offence must establish its credentials and for Wynn, personally, it's crucial for it to happen on his watch.

If he fails this early season test, then it will be hard for him to be taken seriously as an heir-apparent to Allen who, at 42, must surely be on his last legs.

Yes, it's early. But it's amazing how quickly in sports "early" can become "too late."


Videos

Photos