TORONTO - Ricky Foley didn’t wince as he said it, but that did not make it any easier.
“Look at how Winnipeg plays,” the Argonauts defensive end said after practice on Thursday at Erindale in Mississauga.
“They are playing with so much energy and confidence. They are not worried about anything.
“That is where you need to get to. I know we are a great team, I know we have more talent than a team like Winnipeg, but we need to play like they play. They are Swaggerville right now and we need to be.”
Foley isn’t exactly bang-on when he says that the Argos have more talent than the Blue Bombers, but he’s right when he says that the Argos need a lot more gusto in their game. This is a Boatmen club that is at its most fragile since the days of Bart Andrus.
How does a team that is 2-7 and is going to Vancouver — where it has not won since 2002, to play the B.C. Lions on Saturday — get its mojo back? Pulling it out of a hat is impossible.
“You win, and you make some plays,” Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker said. “And that’s how it comes back. Swagger is confidence. When you are winning, you are making plays and that comes naturally.”
As the Argos head into the second half of the 2011 regular season, there’s plenty to fix, and it’s going to take more than putting a rusty Steven Jyles in the place of Cleo Lemon at quarterback. It’s clear to some observers that the Argos are not playing together, whether on defence or offence, and there’s not much keeping the players together.
“We don’t have as much emotion as we should right now,” said Foley, who will play in Vancouver for the first time since he spurned the Lions to sign with the Argos last September. “We’re not making that many plays on either side of the ball.
“You need to be able to see a play and think, ‘I am taking it.’ You can’t think, ‘Oh, I’m going to get burned, I might screw up.’ You have to want to make a play to help win the game.
“Winnipeg has guys running loose, running open. They are breaking on whatever they want to break on. It’s working out for them. You have to get a win to do it, but somehow, we have to get more confidence.”
Answering questions about his team’s morale is not what Barker figured would be happening in the week after Labour Day. The 2010 Canadian Football League coach of the year likes to talk about setting the foundation and realizing what kind of team he has assembled, but today, the team is anything but good. And at some point, shouldn’t the foundation be cemented?
Barker’s job might not be on the line — yet — but he needs his big-name players on offence to start earning their salaries. Cory Boyd, Chad Owens, Jeremaine Copeland, all of them have to be better. As much as there is excitement around the Argos debut of Jyles, he’s not coming in with a mittful of Grey Cup rings.
“It has been one of those years where probably people expected this to happen last year,” Barker said. “And some things that maybe we needed to go through.
“We have not seen it all. There is more to be written this year, probably good and bad. It’s just one of those things that hopefully we get it (figured) out. It has been a great learning experience. There have been things that have happened that I have never seen before and it’s just the way it goes.”