Joseph finding his way

FRANK ZICARELLI

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

HAMILTON -- No longer does Kerry Joseph have to look over his shoulder.

No longer does he need to feel the pressure after a series of incompletions or look to the sideline for fear of getting the hook.

No more excuses.

With the Argos at the mid-way point of the CFL season, Joseph arrives at a point in time where he must step up.

The Argos will only go as far as Joseph takes him, regardless of how rookie head coach Rich Stubler manages his team or decides to tinker with the roster.

Stubler may or may not survive the year if one pays attention to the rumours and concerns over his controlling ways.

Joseph isn't going anywhere.

And last night, he led the Argos to a place that has proven elusive, a victory over the accursed Ticats.

"It was a good game because we won,'' Joseph said in the wake of a much-needed 34-31 victory. "But we could be better."

There were signs last night in a Labour Day classic which that seemed to take forever to complete that Joseph has finally found his niche with his new team.

He tends to be impatient by wanting to throw a deep ball when an intermediate pass is more prudent.

Joseph was guilty of the game's first turnover when he threw into double coverage.

But all in all, he looked, for the first time all season, that this was his team, that he would be allowed to play through mistakes and assume the role of field general without any distraction.

"I just want to be the leader I know I can be,'' Joseph said.

Before the bye week, Joseph was pulled in favour of Michael Bishop.

"I know where I stand,'' Joseph said. "That chapter is closed."

With so much of the pre-game talk involving a potential coaching change, it was apparent from the opening offensive series what on-field change the Argos had conceived.

One of the biggest flaws with these Argos is their lack of a running game.

In Stubler's world, a quarterback should be featured just as often as someone who lines up in the backfield.

But there were the Argos, lining up in a double tight end formation with two running backs. And there were the Argos dominating the line of scrimmage.

When either Dominique Dorsey or Jamal Robertson was given the ball, the Argos were able to move the chains.

By gaining yards along the ground, play action became a viable option and Joseph took advantage.

Methodical and productive, the Argos marched down the field by using the most basic of football's fundamentals.

By simplifying their playbook, the Argos made things look easy on offence and were justifiably rewarded with the game's first touchdown.

As one would expect, the Argos played with more conviction.

Dorsey became a receiving threat, turning a routine four-yard completion in the flat into an 81-yard gain, the Argos' most productive offensive play of the season.

It makes one wonder why Dorsey hasn't been used in a similar fashion more often. It makes one question the team's play-calling, whether it's from the sidelines, from a booth or from the quarterback.

Joseph is being asked to do a lot and with so much on his shoulders, he has to use his legs as much as his head.

CONFIDENCE

It was the Argos' hope that Bethel Johnson's return would stretch defences and provide more of a vertical game.

The first time the ball was thrown in Johnson's direction, it sailed high and wide for an incompletion.

The next time Johnson made like Jackie Slater, dropping a sure touchdown after somehow being left alone in the end zone.

Joseph, though, showed confidence in Johnson by hooking up on a clutch fourth-quarter reception.

Even when the game turned tense, there was no sense of panic from Joseph. The ball, clearly, is in Joseph's hands and the Argos will either flourish or fail. At least Joseph can now play his game without any fear, perceived or real.

"It was his best game,'' Stubler said of Joseph, who threw for a season-high 399 yards. "Hopefully he'll keep improving."


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