Bishop clearly Argos' only hope

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

The Argonauts' season has become a greeting card: Michael Bishop, get well soon.

He is the hope, maybe the only hope in this Grey Cup season going nowhere. Imagine that?

The career also-ran from Arena Football, the quarterback who had everything but a clue, suddenly has become Mr. Indispensable for an Argos season in early decline.

There is no one to back up Bishop, the lifelong backup. There is no one to lead the Argos while they wait for another quarterback or an old quarterback to emerge.

There is only the fading legend, Damon Allen, 44 in two days' time, once again the starter by acclamation. It isn't that Allen has done much of anything in starting the season opener and coming off the bench last night.

It's that he doesn't have that deer-in-the-headlights look about him that Mike McMahon has. For now, that's enough to get him playing time.

Time while they wait for Bishop to return.

The private hope, deep down in Argo land, was that McMahon was the guy. He was the great hope from the great big National Football League. He was so composed and so impressive in training camp that some Argos coaches even voted him in meetings to be the team's starter.

Then they saw him play, last week against Calgary, last night against Montreal, and there are no more votes in his favour.

"You can try to give a thousand and one reasons," coach Pinball Clemons said, trying to explain the brief rise and sudden fall of McMahon.

The bottom line is McMahon isn't ready now, and by the look of things, he may never be ready.

McMahon has started two CFL games and finished none. The only pass he completed last night was to the other team. His start lasted nine minutes, 42 seconds. Tomo Ohka lasted longer.

The truth on Allen: The Argos spent most of the winter trying to find a way to replace him. When they couldn't sign Casey Printers or anyone of similar pedigree, they reluctantly agreed to bring Allen back in a first-among-equals situation.

In competition with Allen were Bishop, McMahon and Eric Crouch.

Allen was rewarded with the first start of the season by acclamation. Next week in Montreal, he will start because there is no one else.

Bishop has a cast on his right wrist. Crouch is injured and won't be back. Rocky Butler, the Hamilton cut, has been here only a few days. McMahon is a skittish disaster.

Now starting for your Grey Cup bound Argos: The quarterback nobody wanted back.

And in a quarterback's league, that isn't good. It is, however, the reality of a season of bitter breaks for the Argos. Bishop is out. Tony Miles is out. Jeff Johnson is out. Arland Bruce is playing hurt. One Argos receiver was so new last night he had the plays taped to his wrist so he would remember them.

All that favours the Argos now is time. This is the great equalizer of the CFL. As long as there is a Hamilton in your division, you're never out of the playoff race. As long as a season is 18 games long with four teams playing each other over and over again, the losses are not as meaningful as they should be. This isn't a pigskin crisis. But in a season in which the Argos desperately wanted to play host to a Grey Cup on their own field, there is little to be optimistic about.

McMahon attempted three passes last night. The first time he threw into triple coverage.Had the pass been accurate, it almost certainly would have been intercepted.

The second time he attempted to pass he was sacked.

The third time, he threw an interception.

That was his night.

CAN'T DANCE

Allen put up only one touchdown in the rest of the game. At least he understands the game, has a feel for it, can find the openings, even if he can't dance the way he once could. At least he isn't embarrassing, which makes him a better choice than the alternative

The Argos season is five games old and the team has yet to start and finish a game with the same quarterback.

Michael Bishop, get well soon.


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