As the Argonauts try to salvage a playoff spot, quarterback Kerry Joseph just wants to feel the love.
"From here on out, my whole mindset is to go out and make the plays I know I am capable of making, and lead this team," Joseph said. "I want to get better each week and carry it over into next year.
"Overall the whole year, 2008, has been a challenge. Sometimes I think about what I have to do gain (the Argos') respect as a player. You feel like you have done enough (in the past), but at the same time you feel like others don't see that and don't respect you. I think that drives home at me. It makes me want to work harder and do more."
The Argos (4-11) play host to the Montreal Alouettes, who have obliterated the Boatmen in two previous meetings, this afternoon at the Rogers Centre. The Argos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have three games left; if the Argos lose one or the Bombers, who visit the Calgary Stampeders tonight, win one, the Bombers are in and the Argos are out.
Today's game marks the first time Argos head coach Don Matthews will face Montreal since leaving the team in 2006 for what he later revealed to be anxiety issues, but Matthews said the game has no significance in that regard.
The Als (10-5) won't have running back Avon Cobourne, who is nursing a sprained ankle. But quarterback Anthony Calvillo has plenty of other offensive weapons to use, including receiver Jamel Richardson and his league-high 13 touchdowns.
Joseph has been the first to acknowledge he has been mediocre after emerging from 2007 as the CFL's most outstanding player. But yesterday he opened up more than usual.
"Last year (with the Saskatchewan Roughriders), I could throw the ball anywhere on the field and I knew my receiver was going to be there," Joseph said. "Whether the window was small or big, the ball was going to get through. I just have not been in that groove this year.
"I felt good last week against Winnipeg. When you can get into a situation where we have the same guys on the field and you know where guys are going to be, I think our offensive game would be more consistent. I've never felt like I was in a groove like I was last year."
And though receiver Arland Bruce needs just 18 yards to reach 1,000 for the fourth time in his career, he acknowledged that he and Joseph often are not on the same wavelength.
"It takes time," Bruce said. "It's like a relationship. You can't just say (right away) 'This is the love of my life.' It takes time, whether it is one or two seasons, we understand that. I think the organization understands that."
Bruce is proud that he should eclipse 1,000 yards today -- only eight other CFL receivers have done so this season, including the Als' Richardson, Ben Cahoon and Kerry Watkins -- but the milestone will ring hollow in a year that has been so bad from a team perspective. And remember that Bruce has a measly five touchdowns.
"Definitely a disappointment," Bruce said.
"Every year I am thinking 10-plus. It's tough. This is my profession. The 1,000-yard milestone does not really mean anything. Our ultimate goal is to win."