Never mind tackling dummies, if Tackling for Dummies existed, the Argonauts’ copy might be dog-eared.
The Argos, especially the secondary, have given themselves headaches in the first two games of the 2010 thanks to poor tackling.
The question is, how do they improve on something that seems so simple but really is not?
“It’s a fundamental technique thing,” Argos free safety Willie Pile said after the team’s walk-through in preparation for the home opener on Wednesday night at the Rogers Centre versus the Calgary Stampeders.
“We all want to run to the ball hard, run fast, but then it is breaking down and getting into position and running your feet.
“There are a lot of times I know personally I left my feet a little too early.
“All the guys in the back end, in the secondary, have taken that mantra this week, to be physical tacklers.”
Each time the Argos let a member of the opposing offence wriggle away, they’re playing with fire.
Twice last week against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, they got singed badly, as Terence Jeffers-Harris broke tackles to eventually score two touchdowns.
Defensive back Sammy Joseph got to re-live the horror as the Argos watched game film following their victory.
Joseph couldn’t get a handle on Jeffers-Harris on the first touchdown, and was one of two Argos beaten on the second.
It’s all part of the learning curve for Joseph, who is a full-time starter for the Argos after making starts in the final two games of 2009.
“It’s always tough when you see mistakes on the field that cost your team,” Joseph said.
“You see that there were two or three plays that if we tackle a guy, the game would be different. Cleaning up the tackles is the main thing.”
Cleo Lemon’s ability to run the offence against a Stamps defence that kept him guessing in Week 1 will be crucial for the Argos to win. The Stamps enter the game as one of two Canadian Football League teams at 2-0 (along with the Saskatchewan Roughriders), but they have won both games without playing great football.
If Lemon makes the kind of steps he made in Week 2 after getting his feet wet a week prior, and if the Argos tackle with more intensity, chances are their supporters will be happy.
It will be intriguing to see how many fans are in the stands on Wednesday night. Unlike some other CFL teams, the Argos don’t say the day before home games how many tickets have been sold.
“There is skepticism and they have seen it before,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said. “If we can show the consistency and the growth, the fans will come along.
“It’s important for our whole organization, not just at the Rogers Centre, that our players start to earn respect throughout the league.”
The Argos don’t need to be told that establishing a presence at home is key to success.
Sure, it’s a new season with new ownership and new coaches and new players, but the fact remains the Argos have been brutal in Toronto.
They’ve lost four in a row at home and are a stunning 1-14 their past 15 home games.
Getting a grip on ball carriers would help change that.
“A lot of times poor tackling is the result of tired players,” Barker said.
“I don’t think our players are tired. A lot of it is focus. It is our secondary that needs to tackle better and they know that. We focused on it this week, and we will see how it pans out.”