Rita worried about his job

GM Adam Rita's job may be on the line if the Argos do not make the playoffs this season. (Sun...

GM Adam Rita's job may be on the line if the Argos do not make the playoffs this season. (Sun Media/Greg Henkenhaf)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:44 PM ET

Adam Rita realizes he could be looking for work when the 2009 season comes to a merciful end for the Argonauts.

The Argos general manager, under contract through next season, takes full responsibility for the fact the Argos are dead last in the eight-team Canadian Football League.

Toronto fell to 3-9 with a demoralizing loss to the just-as-bad Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday night. Even with six games remaining, a playoff berth is at best a long shot for the Argos.

“You’re always concerned,” Rita said on Tuesday as the club practised in wet and blustery conditions at St. Marcellinus Secondary in Mississauga. “I’m accountable to everything that happens. At the end of the season, the powers that be will determine what my situation is. I am well aware of that and I think that any person in my business would be a fool to think you are not accountable.

“Everybody was excited about what we did in the off-season. It did not come to be. Things have not worked out the way we wanted, trust me.”

Rita hired head coach Bart Andrus in January, and in February signed free-agent offensive linemen Rob Murphy and Dominic Picard. Linebacker Zeke Moreno was acquired in a trade with Winnipeg, and quarterback Kerry Joseph was signed to an extension, among other transactions.

The Argos are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second year in a row, something that has not happened since 2000 and 2001. Andrus is the third coach since the beginning of the 2008 season, coming after Rich Stubler and Don Matthews.

Andrus runs a tight ship off the field -- the trades of star receiver Arland Bruce and cornerback Byron Parker after they voiced dissenting opinions in the media are proof of that -- but the no-nonsense approach has not translated to when the games are played. By now, there should have been signs that bad penalties and other poor decisions were on the wane.

But there is a belief that Andrus will survive at the end of the year and that Rita and assistant GM Greg Mohns will be the ones to go. Of course, in that scenario, a new GM could be handcuffed immediately if he is not able to hire his own head coach.

There was a suspicion on the outside that Parker, who never did start for the Argos after he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles in August, did not earn the trust of the coaching staff because of his penchant for freelancing. Andrus confirmed that on Tuesday.

“He is a gambler,” Andrus said. “He is a guy who takes chances, peeks inside to the quarterback on man-to-man coverage, that kind of thing, which is not the technique we want to apply. That is the trust factor.”

That Parker is a gambler is not in question. But he had 18 interceptions, returning six for touchdowns, in his previous stint with the Argos. This year, the Argos have nine interceptions, and none have been made by cornerbacks Willie Middlebrooks and Jordan Younger.

Though the Argos players might not like it much, they have no choice but to get past the Parker trade. Toronto plays host to the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday afternoon, and the Argos could be just a small bump on the Als’ road to a probable Grey Cup appearance.

Andrus confirmed that quarterback Cody Pickett, despite some discomfort in his throwing arm, will start. Pickett had been relieved by Joseph on Saturday against the Blue Bombers.


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