Argos can't afford more 'accidents'

The Toronto Argonauts practice in Mississauga on Thursday, July 21, 2011. (VERONICA HENRY/QMI...

The Toronto Argonauts practice in Mississauga on Thursday, July 21, 2011. (VERONICA HENRY/QMI Agency)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

TORONTO - Even when Cleo Lemon is allowed enough time to survey the field to go through his progression, plays aren’t being made.

Even when a receiver is able to break loose from coverage and finds some seam in the secondary, plays aren’t being made.

And when some plays are being produced, penalties are committed that negate any drives or momentum.

And when there’s no penalty, no sack, no blown read in coverage, a fumble is likely to happen.

If only there was one area of the Argos’ offence to address that would somehow soothe all that ails, if only one layer of many was so obviously flawed then perhaps all would be right.

It’s not that easy, which is why to even begin to simplify what needs to be done to get the Argos moving along the right offensive path would be foolish as it is myopic.

Certainly the timing of passing guru John Jenkins was curious when the former Argos assistant began the week by appearing at the team’s practices.

Head coach Jim Barker assured everyone willing to believe him that Jenkins was merely asked by a friend to tag along and provide some insights.

It’s Barker’s prerogative to do whatever he feels is right at a time when so much has gone wrong.

Jenkins can mention how certain receivers aren’t executing the right angle when engaged in route running and a myriad of offensive intricacies that are often overlooked, even at the pro level.

We doubt Jenkins drew up any plays for fear of compromising the current staff, but Jenkins must have wondered how some of the team’s athletically gifted players aren’t living up to their end of the bargain.

Even if Jenkins just happened to be in the area to catch up on past relationships, his presence does underscore just how far off the Argos’ passing offence remains.

A work in progress can no longer apply because the cast of characters is essentially the same, save for injured running back Cory Boyd, who will miss his second straight game this Saturday against Winnipeg, the same opponent that nailed Boyd two weeks ago on a third-down gamble that resulted in a Toronto turnover and the tailback spraining his knee.

Whether it was all of last season or three weeks into the new season, very little progress has been made when it comes to the passing game, an issue that simply must be resolved for the Argos to consider themselves as serious players for the Grey Cup.

Whatever the Argos have in store for the Blue Bombers, avoiding second and long has to be the first priority.

Winnipeg’s strength on defence has been its front seven, a unit that forced seven sacks when the Bombers played host to the Argos, a unit, when it’s able to impose its will, that makes the secondary more effective than normal.

Whether it’s getting Chad Kackert more involved in the ground game, getting the ball quicker into the hands of Andre Durie or Chad Owens in the flat, only the Argos know.

What’s known is that the team’s passing game cannot continue to function as it has in the last two losses.

Every coach will tell you his preference is for a balanced attack, an offence that can mix in the run with the pass and when successful it keeps opponents off balance.

With the Argos, there is no balance because no play is assured that results in meaningful yards, let alone scores.

If a quarter provided evidence of what’s wrong with the Argos’ offence it was provided in Winnipeg.

In the second quarter, the Argos had five possessions.

In five possessions, the Argos ran 12 plays from scrimmage and produced one first down.

More damning were the four penalties committed, two sacks and one turnover on down when Toronto’s short yardage offence was exposed.

Lemon, given his position, gets all the blame, but there are many players who line up on offence who must shoulder more of the burden and the responsibility.

Fumbles can be corrected by exercising better security and discretion, schemes can be designed that allow for opportunities and dominating the line of scrimmage will go a long way in taking the pressure off the passing game.

But there’s a mental element that has slowly risen to the surface, a mindset that has to be eliminated.

Veteran slotback Jeremaine Copeland refers to the penalties, fumbles and dropped passes that have plagued the offence in the last two weeks as “accidents.’’

“Mentally, we have to overcome those accidents,’’ Copeland said. “And we created them. What they’ve done is kick us in the butt.

“It’s not just the passing game, but as an offence we’re not where we need to be. We definitely need to get better and everyone in that locker room knows we need to get better.”

And the sooner the better.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos