Is Jyles the Argos' saviour?

Argos quarterback Steven Jyles has a laugh during practice on Tuesday. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

Argos quarterback Steven Jyles has a laugh during practice on Tuesday. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:58 PM ET

TORONTO - One game into his career as the starting quarterback for the Argonauts and the jury is still out on Steven Jyles.

He may yet emerge as the next Doug Flutie. He may yet become the saviour for the unsaveable Argonauts.

Or, he could just be another Cleo Lemon. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Truth is nobody knows. Not even head coach Jim Barker. After hitching the Argonauts’ future on Lemon for almost 18 months, the Argonauts head coach has been a little more reserved in predicting Jyles’ can turn what has been a lemon into lemonade.

He likes him, but ...

“He has to be a quarterback and show the leadership. He has to lift this team up. But we need ... to find some go-to guys he feels comfortable with. He feels comfortable with (Jeremaine) Copeland but we’ve got to find some other guys.”

Barker waited too long for Lemon to find a chemistry with receivers that never developed. The reality is that this team is 2-8 and it deserves to be where it is — last in the East Division and here’s hoping they have some fun over the next eight games because they’ll be playing for precious little else.

No matter what Jyles does, it’s not going out on a limb to suggest the Argonauts will not make the playoffs.

Jyles put up just 34 yards passing in the first half of his debut after coming off the nine-game disabled list. It didn’t help that he started his first series on his own one yard line. That was just so-o-o-o Argos! It’s like Murphy’s Law was invented for this team.

“We never got into any rhythmn. That’s to be expected from a guy who hasn’t played in a year,” said Barker. “The second half the offence responded around him. Obviously there were a lot of timing issues that have to get better.”

Jyles looks more like a CFL quarterback than Lemon ever did. He’s more athletic, there were hints he could get the ball downfield, and the ball gets out of his hand quicker. In fact, he was too quick. Several times Toronto receivers seemed surprised by passes.

That’s all timing; stuff that can be fixed, in Jyles’ mind.

“It was a matter of getting on timing with the guys,” said Jyles, who finished the game with 220 net yards. “Game speed is way different from practice speed. That’s one thing I have to work on. These guys have been playing for nine weeks. Me coming in the 10th game, it’s kind of tough getting on the same page for all of us.

“We had a little success late in the game. We’ll be OK. I’m leading (receivers) a little too much. I have to slow things down; take that extra pause when I’m throwing rather than shooting it out. Chemistry and timing is the big thing.”

Left unspoken by anyone is an even bigger question.

The Argos traded two draft picks — including a top 4 selection in a top-heavy draft to get Jyles. The guy was the starter in three of the Bombers four wins last year. But it all comes with a nagging suspicion; if he’s so good why are the Argonauts his fourth team in six CFL seasons?

Why have teams given up on Jyles? The Bombers were so unenamored they let him go even though all they had in reserve was Buck Pierce on one leg.

The Argonauts say there is hope, even for this year.

Maybe. But only if they beat Saskatchewan this week, maybe only if the Ticats continue to hit a lot of potholes, and certainly only if Jyles really is the saviour he believes he can become.

“There’s always hope,” he said. “I have to build off the second half. It’s a great feeling that the team ... believes in me. That’s an honour. But there’s no pressure. So long as I keep executing at a high level my actions will show for itself as far as leading the team and being the saviour.”

So, he’s not short on confidence. But, then, Lemon always talked a pretty good game, too. The Argonauts have eight games left. A win this weekend puts them back into playoff contention. Sort of. But really what these final eight games are about is finding out if a franchise in desperate need of a quarterback has found an answer, or just another pretender, in Steven Jyles.

The answer to that question is the least the Argos must salvage from what has become a lost season.


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