Boatmen go quietly

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:05 PM ET

TORONTO -- There really was no other way for it to end, was there?

The Toronto Argonauts? Have a chance to beat the Montreal Alouettes because the Als were resting stars such as Anthony Calvillo, Avon Cobourne and Larry Taylor?

Nope, not these Argos, the worst Double Blue group since 1993, the most recent time the team finished 3-15 before yesterday.

In their final game of 2009 -- and what a horrible season it was -- the Argos were clobbered 42-17 by a Montreal group that would not have been faulted had it been looking ahead to the East final in two weeks.

The Argos' woes under first-year head coach Bart Andrus all were on display at the Rogers Centre. No offence, costly penalties and a defence that simply is asked to do too much. Throw in a coaching staff that was in over its collective head because of a general lack of experience and the game-by-game results became predictable.

"It's hard because it's first-year coaches not knowing the experiences," linebacker Zeke Moreno said. "We went through this in Hamilton for two years. You have first-year guys, you anticipate things and you understand the game, but it comes at you so much quicker. We will see what Bart does next year. It's tough being the head coach, co-ordinator and the quarterbacks coach. He is capable of those things, but for a first-year coach, it's tough."

Andrus refused to speak about the future yesterday, opening his post-game media conference by saying he would take questions on the game only.

Well, the future should seem clear. There's no way the Argos owners next year -- whether it's David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski or David Braley or someone else -- could justify to the hard-core fans that Andrus and GM Adam Rita are the guys to return the club to its winning ways. Something has to give.

If true steps had been taken, the plague of undisciplined penalties would have ended. But yesterday, as Andre Durie cajoled 104 yards out of a return that he took to the Montreal endzone, the Argos' Ray Fontaine was flagged for unnecessary roughness behind the play, killing the touchdown. It would have been the Argos' first return major of the year.

"It was uncalled for," Andrus said. "It was a bad decision on his part. It showed he did not have an awareness of where the ball carrier was."

If true steps had been taken, the Argos offence would have been at least a squeaky machine by Week 18. Instead, third-string quarterback Stephen Reaves was thrown into the fire yesterday and tossed four interceptions. Why wait so long to give the kid a chance?

"We're weak on the offensive side of the ball," said receiver Andre Talbot, who missed most of the year because of injuries. "We have some learning to do in the receiving corps. Defensively, we played well and we had a lot of young guys in there. But I think we have the core group of guys to build around."

If steps had been taken, the Argos wouldn't have ended on an eight-game losing streak.

"With a 3-15, they're going to have to take care of it and make it right," centre Dominic Picard said.

Amazingly, an announced crowd of 28,293 turned up yesterday. But the impatience was obvious.

"It was this or a root canal -- I made the wrong choice!" one fan yelled.

Thousands of other fans, had they heard the leatherlung, probably would have nodded in agreement.

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.


Videos

Photos