A quarterback change fully is expected in Argoland next week, but be careful against wishing for a magic elixir.
With the Argonauts dragging themselves into the second half of the Canadian Football League regular season with one victory since July 1, it’s going to take more than tapping on the shoulder of Steven Jyles to fix the various ails.
“It’s a test for everybody in the organization,” head coach and general manager Jim Barker said to a handful of reporters on Saturday afternoon.
“We are building this thing and you find out about people when things go sour. Either they stay with you or they are not. That’s what this is about for us, is finding out which guys we are going to move forward with.”
Will the Argos move ahead with all four of their quarterbacks, now that Jyles will be activated from the nine-game injured list for next Saturday’s game in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions?
“At this point, we can,” Barker said. “I’ll just say we can.”
Not exactly a vote of confidence for either Cleo Lemon, who was yanked at the half of the 29-16 loss to the Lions on Friday night, or Dalton Bell, who threw four interceptions in the second half. Third-stringer B.J. Hall probably is the safest, but only because he has not been given a chance to really do anything wrong.
Lemon’s body language, let alone his inability to go any further than five yards with a pass against the Lions, was not good.
After he was pulled, Lemon spent the second half at the far end of the Argos sideline, arms crossed and with little interaction with his teammates.
“You want a guy to be a part of the team,” Barker said quietly. “It’s one of those things where players choose to deal with things how they choose to deal with it.”
But Barker did not commit to saying Jyles will be his starter. The trouble for Barker is that although Jyles has valuable CFL experience, he will be getting thrown into the fire if he starts versus the Lions. Jyles can practise, but he won’t get into a rhythm with receivers until, as football people say, the real bullets are flying. Then, there is no guarantee it will happen quickly.
“The rust of not having played in a year,” Barker said when asked about whether he would have concerns with Jyles. “There’s no way to simulate a game. The only thing he can do is play in a game, and at some point it has to happen for him.”
The offensive problems go beyond the guy throwing the football. Too many drops are happening. Injuries are part of the game, but the loss of left tackle Rob Murphy — who could be gone for the season with a left knee injury — will hurt. Barker, who indicated linebacker Jordan Younger is day to day with a shoulder injury, said it’s probable that Edawn Coughman or Joe Eppele would replace Murphy.
Then there’s veteran Jeremaine Copeland, who made one catch, when it meant nothing in the final minute, against B.C.
“(The quarterbacks) wouldn’t be here if we did not have faith (in them),” Copeland said. “I don’t care who is behind centre. My job is not to throw the ball, my job is to catch it. I look into my core, my guys around me, and know we have to play better and execute.”
The defence has been improving in the past few games under new defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinauer, but more has to be done. Special teams got a boost with Chad Owens’ performance versus the Lions, but where is the confidence that was apparent in all of those successful trick plays that were made last season?
Barker’s biggest challenge is getting all 42 of his players to perform as one. That hasn’t happened yet.
“If we put our offence from four weeks ago with his defence, we would be a good football team,” Barker said. “But right now we are not.”