Argos' offence needs quick fix

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

TORONTO - Never mind world peace or global warming, the Argonauts just want to solve the problems that have plagued their offence.

And with a mere three games remaining in the regular season, midnight is fast approaching.

A playoff berth should be clinched this weekend, even if the Argos don’t win in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon. But showing up for the East semifinal in Hamilton with an offence that has as much firepower as Joe Pantalone in an election campaign will lead to certain failure.

Head coach Jim Barker has taken more of a hands-on role with the men who have been struggling to put points on the board, but it’s clear in Argoland that the guys Barker hand-picked, for the most part, will have to work out of the hole themselves.

The trench is made deeper with the fact the Argos’ final two opponents in the 2010 regular season, the Blue Bombers and the Montreal Alouettes in a home-and-home set, employ two of the stingiest defences in the Canadian Football League.

It starts with quarterback Cleo Lemon, and the trust that he and his receivers have yet to fully earn from each other.

“Attacking all areas is something I have not taken advantage of, and that’s something I need to do,” Lemon said after practice Wednesday.

“I have to take advantage of the whole field.”

Lemon said that adjusting to a bigger field than what he was used to in the National Football League has not been a problem. Rather, it’s the receivers’ route-running and Lemon making adjustments that have stalled in the development phase.

Let’s just say that in the NFL game, where Lemon was trained, receivers run routes a little tighter.

“Anticipation of different route combinations and things of that nature has caused (passes) to be off maybe a second, half a second,” Lemon said. “In football, that’s huge. To make up that timing is going to be critical for us.”

Barker would love it if his players’ instincts took over a bit more. Relatively speaking, the offence has been pretty horrible, but these guys didn’t pick up a football for the first time in June and start learning the game from scratch. It might not always look like it, but they know what they’re doing, or understand what has been put in front of them. It’s about execution, and no, not that kind.

“I put it one way to a player — on paper you run a post, but what we need to do is go out in the backyard … just go out and play the game,” Barker said. “What I am talking about is guys being football players. You want to be disciplined and do things correctly, but you also have to understand the game is not played on paper.”

With that in mind, though he didn’t get into specifics, Barker has narrowed the offensive game plan for the game against the Blue Bombers.

“The quarterback has to have confidence in all of the receivers to be in the spot that he wants us in, and that’s what we have had to focus on,” slotback Jeremaine Copeland said. “No matter who it has been, you have never (recently) seen anybody just go out there and dominate the league (as a former NFL quarterback trying to make it in the CFL). You have to understand it comes in time.”

Which, of course, is something the Argos don’t possess in quantity. The expectation that the offence can finally get something going in the final days of the regular season probably is asking for too much, but we’re about to find out for sure.

“We have three weeks to get to the point where we develop trust,” Barker said. “Without it, the passing game ... you have no chance to be successful and that is where we are right now.”


Photos