Offence needs to kick in

Left to right Spergon Wynn, Khalil Carter and David Azzi jump together during argo practice on...

Left to right Spergon Wynn, Khalil Carter and David Azzi jump together during argo practice on Friday Nov 3, 2006. (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun)

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

They may be tired of hearing about it, but the rank and file of the Argos offence are by no means in denial.

They realize it has been an under-achieving season for a unit big on names but, through an 18-game regular season anyway, small on production.

"Offensively we've all been a little frustrated at times this year," Argos receiver Andre Talbot said yesterday following the team's final full practice at U of T's Erindale campus in advance of tomorrow's East Division semi-final.

"We thought we were going to have a big year offensively and put up big numbers.

"The opportunity is still there. We've got nothing but playmakers on this team, it's just a matter of pulling it together at the right time."

They'll get what could be a final opportunity to do so in front of a home crowd at the Rogers Centre tomorrow.

A win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will give them another date a week later in Montreal for the East final.

In an untimely two-game losing streak, however, the questions that have dogged the offence all season have been amplified.

They were held without a touchdown two weeks ago against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and a week ago stalled in the fourth quarter against the Montreal Alouettes. A win in either of those home contests would have earned the Argos a first-round playoff bye.

As is the custom with his position, quarterback Damon Allen has shouldered much of the blame. Coming off a 5,000-yard, league MVP season, much was expected.

Instead, Allen broke his finger in his throwing hand in Week 1, missed a handful of games and had his lowest passing output (2,158 yards) since 1988.

The hope now is that pro football's all-time leading passer can regain the form he has often showed in the post season. Or at least have his leadership rub off.

"This is the time we all live for as athletes, but it's just where he thrives," Talbot said of Allen. "This is where the magician comes out. I'm excited for this game to see what he brings."

Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons laughed off the suggestion yesterday that this could be Allen's final year, even though there have been whispers that the team will seek a high-profile quarterback in the off season.

"Absolutely not," Clemons said. "Why don't I think that? He has won eight of the last 11 games of the season, he has proven to be a great leader, he won a Grey Cup for us two years ago, he was the league MVP last year. Shall I go on?"

MANAGES GAMES

If he did, Clemons might have pointed out that Allen is no longer asked to win games, but rather manage them.

Or that the team finished last in the league in passing (216 yards per game) would seem to support that opinion.

Or that most likely it will be the defence that continues to carry them.

"I don't think we're going to win games by tricking anyone," lineman Jude St. John said. "We've got to do it the old-fashioned way - protecting the football and getting first downs."


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