Receiver's doubts about Joseph relevant

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Of all the blind egotistical nonsense that led to Arland Bruce's noisy divorce from the Argos, there was something he said that seemed worthy of further examination.

Something troubling beyond his own apparent problems.

He pointed a finger at Kerry Joseph, rather rudely, rather abruptly. He called out his quarterback. While Bruce himself couldn't find a way to take ownership of his own difficulties -- which by itself is telling -- he did draw attention to something Argos fans have been worried about for two seasons of Joseph in Toronto.

"Instead of worrying about me," Bruce said of coach Bart Andrus before being traded to Hamilton, "he needs to worry about getting the quarterback right."

Bruce may be gone from the Argonauts but the questions he left behind remain: Is Kerry Joseph any good, any more? Was he ever as great as his one championship season in Saskatchewan? Is he a better athlete than he is a quarterback, a better runner than passer, a man, frankly, that you can't win with?

The Argos have won five Grey Cups in the past 26 seasons. It's no coincidence how they won. The legend, Damon Allen, quarterbacked their most recent championship team. Before that, it was two rings from Doug Flutie, only the best player in Canadian Football League history. Then, there was Matt Dunigan, obvious Hall of Famer in 1991. And then there was the combination of a hall of famer, Condredge Holloway, and the quintessential backup, Joe Barnes, in 1983.

Five titles with five remarkable quarterbacks.

Does Joseph remind anyone of Allen, Flutie, Dunigan, Holloway or Barnes?

Didn't think so.

Joseph has not looked remarkable at any time as an Argo. The truth is, his arm is rather ordinary. His passing accuracy is so-so. His ability to locate and deliver to the right target is pretty marginal. And worse, there's not much of a backup should anything happen to him.

In most seasons, Joseph's completion percentage ranks closer to the bottom of the CFL than the top. The skilled veteran, Anthony Calvillo, has completed 73.9% of his passes this season. Joseph is at 55.8%. This, in a quarterback's league. The good statistical news for the Argos is that Joseph is second in the CFL with six touchdown passes thrown, especially impressive considering who his receivers are and considering his best and most erratic receiver talked his way down the QEW. The bad statistical news is that Joseph is tied for first in the league for interceptions thrown.

When Bruce indicated there was a problem at quarterback -- wonder if he has been watching the Terrell Owens reality series to pick up on that song -- maybe he was referring to his own lack of production or maybe, just maybe, he was thinking out loud the way Argos fans have been thinking of late.

Last season was a year of grace for Joseph. He was coming off a Grey Cup. He was coming off a Most Outstanding Player season. He came to the Argos with a new head coach (Rich Stubler, not Andrus) and with a quarterbacking controversy (see Michael Bishop, his opponent Saturday), and with an entitled team that had lost its way. We'll give him last year: Every body messed up last year.

But this is a new Argos regime. A new head coach. A new playbook. An offence supposedly built for Joseph by an apparently creative coach. This isn't last year. This shouldn't be a learning time for a veteran. This should be production time.

If Kerry Joseph is good enough.

If his offensive line can give him time and his receivers can stop getting hurt. If the dubious front-office can actually find some athletes who weren't failed first-round NFL picks or Andrus' NFL Europe buddies. A whole lot of ifs right now.

And not an Arland Bruce to be found to take the blame any more.


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