Make the call, coach

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

Kerry Joseph wanted to get back to nature.

So the Argos quarterback recently went to head coach Rich Stubler and offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto and told them he no longer wanted to call his own plays during games.

"I think the whole game was putting a lot more on me and was taking away from me being a natural football player," Joseph said yesterday. "I just thought I was thinking too much at times and I was not having fun and just reacting."

Buratto called plays in the Argos' final game before the bye, a loss to the Montreal Alouettes, and afterward Stubler said he was happy with Buratto's decisions. Joseph has to hope things go more smoothly on Monday night when the Argos visit Hamilton to take on the Tiger-Cats in the annual Labour Day Classic, as he was yanked after the first half in that game against Montreal.

Joseph and former Argos quarterback Michael Bishop had been given the play-calling responsibility prior to the Argos' third game. It's rare for professional quarterbacks to call their own plays, but Stubler figured at the time that the offence needed a shakeup.

Now, though, nearly halfway through the 18-game season, it's not hard to see why Joseph wanted to dump off some responsibility. His 56.2% pass completion rate is among the lowest in the league, and he has thrown for just four touchdowns in eight games. That's bad enough, but put up against six interceptions, it looks worse. To say there has been little flow in the Argos offence with Joseph taking the snaps would be just a bit of an understatement.

Joseph still has the green light to call some plays when he sees fit, but will not be doing so on a regular basis.

Stubler had no problem with Joseph's request.

"With our 20-second clock and Kerry's newness to the offence, he is not exceptionally comfortable with the offence yet," Stubler said. "As he gets more comfortable, he will assume more. He has to be able to perform."

Truth be told, Stubler would not care if co-owners David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski were calling plays from the sideline, as long as the offence got out of the neutral gear it has been stuck in all season. The Argos are last or close to it in all of the major offensive categories, and their 167 points on offence are only more than the 151 the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have offered. Although the Argos have not been an offensive threat for some time, you can bet brass was expecting a faster improvement under Joseph, the CFL's most outstanding player in 2007 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"We have to do whatever we can to score points," Stubler said. "I am not critical of Kerry Joseph in any way, shape or form. He needs to go out and play. We need to perform better no matter who is calling the plays."

The Argos should get a boost in Steeltown in the form of Bethel Johnson, who has not played since suffering a high ankle sprain against the Ticats in Week 2. Johnson is the speediest Toronto receiver and can be a deep threat, which the team has been lacking.

Running back Andre Durie, who broke a thumb in the first pre-season game in Montreal, is eligible to be activated for the Argos' game in Montreal on Sept. 7 and Stubler expects that will happen.

"I am taking the high road and saying I am having some really good things happening," Stubler said. "I have a really good quarterback, I have the best receiving corps in the entire league with the addition of Bethel Johnson. People are going to have to stop us."


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