Barker's boys brutal

TERRY KOSHAN, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:14 PM ET

VANCOUVER ó Some random thoughts and observations emanating from the Argonautsí 37-16 loss to the B.C. Lions on Saturday afternoon, a mistake-filled sludge-fest that ran the Argosí losing streak to three and levelled their record at 5-5:

As an unwritten rule, the Argos donít win in B.C., not having won here since 2002. But to fall by three touchdowns to a club that had won two games in the first half of the season? Brutal. Who cares if the Lions were floating a bit after beating up on Montreal?

Where was the inspiration for the Argos that should have come following back-to-back spankings by arch-rival Hamilton?

The Argos started with a 5-2 record but havenít been good since beating the Alouettes. Itís getting more clear that the great start was closer to an aberration than reality.

F FOR ADJUSTMENT

If a big part of the game of football is about making adjustments, then the Argos offence failed miserably. Consider that quarterback Cleo Lemon was pretty sharp in the first half, passing for 190 yards.

The attack dried up in the final 30 minutes, as Lemon passed for just 87 yards. The most revealing fact was neither James Robinson (97 yards in the first half) nor Andre Durie (95 yards) caught a pass in the second half. Durie would have topped 100 yards for the first time in his career had he held on to a ball that hit him in the numbers in the fourth quarter.

DISS THE DISCIPLINE

Head coach Jim Barker said after the game that he wasnít disappointed in his players but itís hard to fathom why he wouldnít have felt let down. The Argos were flagged a season-high 13 times and some dumb penalties ruined strong chances for touchdowns. In each of their past three losses, the Argos have hit double-digits in penalties, something that happened just once in the previous seven games. Barkerís early message that penalties hurt got through to his charges. Where has the discipline gone?

WHY NOT RING THE BELL?

It was surprising to see Lemon trot out with less than five minutes remaining and the Argos down by 18 points. There had been no movement by the offence in the second half and no one at Empire Field thought a Boatmen rally was coming on. Sure enough, Lemon, who was sacked a total of six times, was slammed to the ground in garbage time and said later his throwing arm was okay, but acknowledged he was banged up.

Dalton Bell should have been put into the game when the outcome appeared to be decided. Thereís nothing for Lemon to learn when the game is out of reach, and thereís nothing wrong in having Bell work out the cobwebs.

SACK ATTACK

Ronald Flemons, perhaps still mentally scorched by fumbling the football when a touchdown was a yard away after he recovered a Lions fumble, said he couldnít have cared less that the Argos sacked Lions quarterback Casey Printers eight times. True, B.C. had given up a league-high 24 in the first nine weeks, but thatís just an average of 2.7 a game. Flemons, who led the Argos with three sacks, and his teammates came within one sack of the single-game record. Toronto had nine sacks against Ottawa during a game in 1984, and had not recorded eight sacks in game since Aug. 13, 1995, against Hamilton.

PASSING OUT

One area the Argos have to show improvement in is defending against the pass. No team does a worse job in the Canadian Football League, and if the second half is when offences start to gel, then the Boatmen could be in more trouble. Whatís puzzling is that the Argos arenít using a ton of inexperienced players on defence ó Willie Pile, Byron Parker and Willie Middlebrooks all know what theyíre doing, and linebacker Kevin Eiben is having a stellar season. Printers felt the heat on Saturday, but still managed to complete 25 of 39 passes for 302 yards, his first 300+ game of 2010.

FIGHTING WORDS

And finally, with no wins since Aug. 14, the Argos are starting to say post-game that theyíre proud of the way everyone battled to the end. The words tend to get a little hollow ó itís a refrain that Bart Andrus wore out last year, and when the season was done, the grand result was a mass of confusion. Weíre not saying itís getting Andrus-esque now ó not even close (did anyone expect a 5-5 record after 10 games?). But battling hard to the end, clearly, is not enough.


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