Jyles time for Argos

Steven Jyles throws the ball during Toronto Argos practice at University of Toronto campus in...

Steven Jyles throws the ball during Toronto Argos practice at University of Toronto campus in Mississauga, Ont., September 6, 2011. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 PM ET

VANCOUVER - Like many who aren't inside the Argos' inner circle, Wally Buono doesn't know why Cleo Lemon and Toronto's CFL franchise suddenly and abruptly parted company.

Like many outsiders looking from afar, Buono can't possibly begin to provide any answers when a club decides to go in another direction.

For Buono, the move by the Argos earlier this week did evoke some memories of a change he deemed necessary last season, but any comparisons would be baseless and false.

We take you back to last year and a game in Winnipeg, oddly enough with Steven Jyles as a primary character, when the Lions were well on their way to a win against the host Blue Bombers.

Leading by 22 points and the game all but a formality, even by CFL standards, the tide began to turn, momentum swinging violently in Winnipeg's favour until the moment of truth arrived.

As fate would have it, the moment would usher in Casey Printers' exit as B.C.'s starting quarterback and signal the beginning for Travis Lulay as the Lions' incumbent signal caller.

Printers committed the ultimate act of disrespect by showing up his teammates when he basically pointed the finger following an errant throw Winnipeg would return for a touchdown.

Lemon's release wasn't as obvious, but as the days have unfolded it's become abundantly clear a divide had been created, both with his teammates and his coaching staff.

When last week's benching did not sit well, Lemon did not handle the adversity, one of many issues that plagued Lemon during his tenure in Toronto.

What impact Lemon's departure and Jyles' new-found role as starter will have, only time, obviously, will tell.

The benefits may be seen as early as Saturday, but even if Jyles can't lead the Argos to a win over the Lions, his personality and ability to keep plays alive with his feet were qualities Lemon did not possess.

"I don't want to equate what we did to what Jim Barker did because I'm not sure it's even close to the same thing,'' Buono, B.C.'s head coach and general manager said. "It would be unfair to Cleo Lemon. He wasn't happy he was pulled, but you want a player to be upset and disappointed."

No coach wants a player to accept a benching, but it's the reaction that ultimately exposes a player.

For what it's worth, Lemon's relationship with the Argos had been slipping, the tipping point unfolding during last week's loss to the Lions.

What Buono was looking for last year when he turned to Lulay was a fresh start, a new beginning that would serve as a key catalyst for the Lions.

"You become a victim of change, whether that change involves a coach or a quarterback,'' added Buono. "Sometimes when change is made, it's easy because one guy is being blamed.

"Last year, when we made the change, it was a positive one. As an outsider looking in, I can't say Cleo was disrespected or disliked because I don't know."

And nor should Buono care.

The point is that mid-season change, at any level, can lead to a turnaround or a renewed sense of optimism and hope.

At the mid-way point of the season, the Argos are far from done, but their margin for error grows thinner with every passing week.

A week ago, players viewed their meeting against B.C. as a playoff game, a similar backdrop for Saturday, only the stakes have become much higher in the wake of Toronto's loss.

Jyles could use more time with his first-team offence, would welcome a healthy Rob Murphy protecting the left side of the offensive line and any receiver to come up with a big play.

Even then, it may not be enough for the Argos to salvage their season.

A saviour Jyles is not, but he is experienced, has seen virtually every scenario a quarterback can possible see at the pro level and as he showed in last year's miracle win over the Lions, he can produce big plays.

"You have to be comfortable in who you are,'' Lulay said. "If I'm Steven, I'm going to go out there and show my teammates I'm going to be tough, I'm going to play hard through all the ups and downs of a game and I'm going to generate a confidence level."

The Lions know what Jyles brings to the table and the potential for some explosive moments.

For their part, the Argos don't want Jyles feeling that he has to win a game on his own.

For Jyles, he understands one game can help win over a team desperate for a shot in the arm.

"If your teammates see the way you play, see the energy you bring and see how you react to adversity, then they'll know they have to bring more energy,'' said Jyles on the eve of his Argos debut.

"I'm excited, but I'm trying to keep myself from being too excited."


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