Don't blame Lemon for loss

The blame doesn't lie solely on Lemon. (QMI Agency)

The blame doesn't lie solely on Lemon. (QMI Agency)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

“This game was not on Cleo Lemon’s shoulders.” — Argos head coach Jim Barker following a 22-16 loss to Winnipeg on Friday.

Perhaps in Year 1 for both Cleo Lemon in the CFL and Jim Barker in his return to the Argos, the above statement might have been viewed as a head coach protecting his quarterback.

And had the game ended after 30 minutes, the charge that Barker had put the blinders on to Lemon’s shortcomings might have stood.

Lemon, himself, agreed his first half was well below his own standards.

But in the second half and even without a fully healthy Cory Boyd, Lemon brought the Argos offence back to life. He couldn’t overcome the first-half deficit, but the Winnipeg defence had as much to do with that as anything Lemon himself didn’t accomplish.

The first half of that Winnipeg game gave every Lemon skeptic out there ammunition to begin the same ‘Lemon’s-not-the-answer campaign’ all over again.

What Barker was saying — and what even a cursory look at the two halves suggests — is that as bad as Lemon and the offence was in the first half it was equally as good in the second, again without Boyd at full strength.

The “Beast” as Lemon refers to Boyd carried the ball just twice in the second half for a yard. The Bombers knew they had hurt Boyd. Like everyone else, they saw him limping off the field and they saw him come back without the same bounce he had before the injury.

With the Argos’ run game no longer a threat, the Bombers defensive line was able to pin back their collective ears and come at Lemon on each and every series.

Lemon and his offensive line, which took its own fair share of the blame for loss, made adjustments which helped Lemon throw for 145 yards in the second half. That’s not a quarterback reverting to his 2010 form.

“We just got back to the basics, got some momentum going and got in a little rhythm and that’s what happens,” Lemon said of the second half. “But if we start off faster we don’t put ourselves in that hole.

“We completed some passes in the second half. First half we just couldn’t get our rhythm and I think that’s what affected us.”

There may come a time this season when Barker feels the need to turn his offence over to Dalton Bell or Steven Jyles, who, according to the coach, is expected to start practising this week or next, but for now there isn’t a need to do anything.

Lemon had a solid first game. He had a poor first half in the second game. He rebounded with a much better second half. His Argos lost but they lost because they continually coughed up the ball and the Bombers did a better job of limiting the kind of yards the Argos made a habit of gifting the Bombers all night through penalties.

Barker was right.

The loss was not about the quarterback. It should not be placed on Cleo Lemon’s shoulders.

ROUGH START TO 2011

In 2010 it seemed Chad Owens could do no wrong.

Two games into 2011, it’s like he can’t do anything right.

In Week 1, it was his refusal to get out of bounds that eventually cost him a back injury and limited him to less than half the game.

In Week 2, Owens stayed in the game, but was so determined to do something, again when something wasn’t there, he wound up costing his team.

“That fumble at the end of the game is just him trying to do too much,” Barker said after the game.

“Just get down and let’s play another play. We need to get down to get a field goal to tie it and send it to overtime.”

Instead Owens wound up kneeing the ball out of his own hands as he tried to evade a tackle.

But fret not Argos fans. Owens knows the situation, he knows what he did wrong in the first two weeks and he remains fully confident that the electrifying and game-changing Owens of a year ago is still there.

“I’m always looking to do something special,” Owens said. “That’s just me.”

WILLING BUT UNABLE

Boyd was willing to give the Argos (110% of what he had) after twisting his knee on an unsuccessful third-and-one gamble midway through the second quarter.

But Boyd never got the chance as the Argos went pass heavy and run light for most of the remainder of the game.

“However they call the game, that’s on them,” Boyd said. “I was going to still go out there and play. I did play the whole game so that shows I am durable. It just so happened that I didn’t get the holes I wanted to explode through.”

As for his inability to convert the third and short chances on the night, Boyd gave the Bombers full credit.

“They came off the ball,” he said. “They knew exactly what was going to happen.

“They knew we would run the ball so they stacked the box and we weren’t as physical as we should have been and the results were just what you saw.”


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