Match not made in heaven

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:25 AM ET

In these disquieting times in Argoland, all is quiet on the trade front.

General manager Adam Rita said as much yesterday, when head coach Don Matthews announced that embattled quarterback Kerry Joseph will start Friday's pivotal game in Winnipeg.

In a quarterback league, the Argos haven't received much production from whomever has been asked to line up under centre for reasons that go well beyond football.

Joseph's year of frustration may have reached its boiling point when he was asked point blank yesterday whether he has approached management for a trade.

"It's not something I think about,'' he began. "My focus is on Winnipeg. Thank you."

And so he left to attend a team meeting.

Joseph isn't going to get moved, unless something dramatic happens prior to today's 3:59 p.m. deadline.

With the Argos changing their philosophy, their personnel, their mind almost on a weekly basis, it wouldn't surprise anyone if Joseph isn't back next season.

Almost from the moment he was acquired from Saskatchewan after leading the Roughriders to their Grey Cup title, the Argos and Joseph never have been on the same page for a variety of reasons.

"There have been a lot of non-football issues,'' Joseph said.

Joseph's best has been fleeting, his most effective games being produced in a Week 4 win over Edmonton and a Labour Day victory against the Tiger-Cats.

HUGE GAME FRIDAY

Amid all the turmoil, Joseph can salvage his reputation as an elite quarterback and more importantly, save the Argos' season, with a win against the Blue Bombers.

"It's a big game,'' Joseph said. "We're at the time and point where we need to get out of this rut and the guys understand that."

Whether it was Rita's call or an edict from above, the Argos traded for Joseph.

When the presence of Joseph and Michael Bishop became a distraction, Bishop was traded to Saskatchewan, leaving the unproven Cody Pickett as the backup.

The Argos like Pickett because he's more of a pocket passer and someone who fits offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto's system.

The Argos remain high on Reggie McNeal as a quarterback, but injuries forced the club to move him to receiver.

With the Argos in a season-long flux, it's little wonder they enter Friday's meeting in a funk, having lost five in a row with four games remaining.

Incredibly, a win over the Bombers gives the Argos the season tiebreaker over Winnipeg and second place in the East.

"We'd like to be further advanced, but we're not,'' Rita said.

"We're trying to catch up and get as many guys on the right page as we can. We do have a lot of young guys we feel pretty good about and we're going to get better as we go along.

"Having said that, getting better this week and then moving on in being competitive for the playoffs and being really good in the playoffs is very important to us.

"We have what we have and we like what we have, but we just have to do the kinds of things that give us a chance to win."

Chances are if Joseph doesn't take his game to a higher level, the Argos have no chance of making the post-season.


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