The usual suspect for Argos

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:12 AM ET

HAMILTON - The message was delivered. More was expected of the Argos defence.

The cost of that message was paid exclusively by defensive co-ordinator Chip Garber.

It’s going to take more than just three practices before the dividends of that move can be measured. Orlondo Steinauer will eventually put his stamp on this team’s defensive swagger one way or the other but at least in the first attempt it fell well below Steinauer’s own expectations.

“We are on a slide and we’re still sliding,” he said following Hamilton’s 37-32 win. “No excuses. We need to get better. As far as me putting my stamp on it, it’s really irrelevant. I have to put a game plan together with my staff and we have to execute it. At the end you hope you have more points. Tonight we didn’t.”

Clearly frustrated by the loss, Steinauer remains fully focussed on making this Argos defence better.

“The goal is to keep ramping up,” Steinauer said, refuting the suggestion that last night’s game may have been a necessary step back to take that eventual step forward.

“We don’t want to do this two steps backward to spring forward,” he said. “We want to keep springing forward. It’s just frustrating but it’s a short week ahead of us. We have Saskatchewan coming up right around the corner.”

What is expected of the Argos defenders going forward appears to be substantial.

Not only are they being asked to do their own job and stop or at least limit their opponents, the goal now is to become contributers on offence by forcing turnovers.

Neither team had much luck in that regard last night. The Ticats were credited with two turnovers on a Marcell Young forced fumble on the second-to-last play of the game and a turnover on downs earlier. The Argos were shut out in the turnover department.

That is going to have to change if the Argos are to turn this thing around.

Through seven games now, the Argos have recovered five forced fumbles and had three interceptions as a team.

Their opponents have nine recoveries and eight picks. Steinauer’s willingness to let his players freelance a little more than the previous co-ordinator and become more ball hawkish is expected to remedy that situation.

Again, last night it did not.

Head coach Jim Barker was not cutting his new defensive co-ordinator or his defence any slack either, transitional period or not.

“When we’re giving up that many points, we have to be better,” Barker said. “Orlondo will learn from this and the defensive players will learn from this and we will be better.”

Barker was careful not to single out any unit in last night’s loss.

“This is a team thing and we had our chances on offence to score more points and we didn’t,” he said. “If we have to score 40 to win then we have to score 40 to win. The defence got a couple of key stops in there and they will get it corrected and get it right.”

If there was one play in the game that sealed the Argos’ fate it came with 91/2 minutes left in the game.

Chris Williams, the Ticats’ early candidate for rookie of the year who came into the game on a major roll, was held virtually silent through the first three quarters, but given one opportunity he took full advantage.

With Kevin Glenn scrambling and already on to his third and fourth options, Glenn spotted Williams in behind the Argos defence and all alone. He floated the pass Williams’ way with the ball just reaching him before a recovering Sean Smalls could arrive. Two plays later, Avon Cobourne went in from the one for a 34-32 Ticats lead that stood up.

“We just mixed up a man coverage there and two people jumped down low and the timing of it was just unfortunate,” Steinauer said. “They made a play and we didn’t.”

Since week one of the season that has been the story for the Argos. Steinauer and his defence have been charged with changing that up.

Now 1-6, their road is not an easy one, but it is one Steinauer has complete confidence he and his defence can travel it and turn this slide around.


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