Rob Murphy didn’t care one way or the other who the new head coach of the Toronto Argonauts was going to be ... just as long as there was a new head coach.
And if that sounds like a direct shot at Bart Andrus, so be it.
A 3-15 season leaves the kind of mark that isn’t easily forgotten and while the team is doing its best to let last season lie, there are still some open sores that have yet to heal over.
A conversation with Murphy and fellow offensive lineman Taylor Robertson following Tuesday’s workouts made that abundantly clear.
Robertson and Murphy are just two of five returnees that started 10 or more games for an offensive line that allowed more sacks than any other team in the league last year.
You can go through the 2009 stats and analyze just about any portion of the Argos roster and the stats come up wanting.
The question you have to ask yourself is whether it was the individual talent on the team that led to those unflattering numbers or was it the way it was used.
“To be quite honest I really don’t give a (@#$%) what people are saying about how many sacks we gave up,” Robertson said. “We know what happened last year and that’s it. We’re moving on.”
Just one example of some of the curious coaching decisions that were made last season included the Argos version of the wildcat offence that they employed in the first few games of the year being unceremoniously dumped.
“It seemed to work for us the first couple of games and we decided to shut that one down. I don’t know why we stopped. I just work here.”
Murphy, who was a newcomer to the team last season, never really got comfortable on the line partly because the bodies around him kept changing.
Some of that was due to injury but just as many were simply last year’s coaching staff shuffling guys in and out.
“It was tough to build any continuity,” Murphy said.
But right at the top of the list of reasons the Argos never really got on the same page last year was the lack of CFL experience on the coaching staff itself.
Outside of Steve Buratto, the vast majority of the football experience on last year’s coaching staff was gained in either the NFL, NFL Europe or NCAA.
“It was a combination of things,” Murphy said of last year’s problems, “but that (lack of CFL knowledge) was probably the biggest thing.”
Robertson jumps in to point out that it’s not impossible for a CFL neophyte to find success in the league coaching using Marc Trestman in Montreal as an example. Murphy agreed but singled out Trestman’s willingness to surround himself with guys who are well steeped in CFL experience as a huge contributing factor.
The biggest difference the two have seen already in training camp this year?
“Guys are talking, coaches are coaching, it’s a novel idea,” Murphy said.
“People care,” Robertson says taking over. “We’re working to get better. These guys (coaching staff) are prepared. They know what is going on. Everything is very: ‘This is what we are going to do and this is how we are going to do it. It’s not: ‘Oh, what do you think? Ok, we’ll try this and try that.’
“No. This is the way it is. We are executing. We’re getting it done and if it’s not done we’re going to hear about it. People are being held accountable. It’s not: ‘OK, we’ll get it during the game.’ That doesn’t work. We tried that one time.”
Barker for his part says he hasn’t looked at film from last season so he’s not about to enter the debate of whether it was scheme or personnel that led to last year’s disappointment. He’s not interested. His eyes are already telling him he’s got the right people for the job here.
“I have a ton of confidence in these guys because we have the best offensive line coach around,” Barker said.
“Steve McAdoo has been around, he has been in this league and he will turn them into a very functioning unit. I think there are good players there. So much of an offensive line gets judged on sacks and production of the offence, but there’s a lot of reasons why they go the way they go.
“I expect this line to be outstanding ... I care about what I have seen the first three days and our offensive line is going to be just fine.”