Argos audition for next season

Toronto Argonauts quarterback Steven Jyles passes under pressure from Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive...

Toronto Argonauts quarterback Steven Jyles passes under pressure from Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive end Stevie Baggs (R) during their game in Toronto on October 1, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:48 PM ET

TORONTO - The to-do list is as long as the Argos’ list of injured players.

And with nothing to play for except professional pride with five games remaining, the one area that has emerged as the top priority is at quarterback.

Even if Steven Jyles has to throw to a receiver who has barely practised with the team, the plan going forward is to ensure Toronto’s defacto quarterback of the future finds a rhythm that he can carry into the off-season.

Given how virtually every plan conceived by the Argos has gone by the wayside this season, things can change at any moment, but it’s clear the franchise wants Jyles at a time in Jyles’ professional career where stability has to be at the top of his wish list.

The numbers he has put up in his four starts as an Argo must be taken into context when a guy is basically thrust into a position with no training camp, no legitimate go-to receiver and playing behind an offensive line that started two players on Saturday night who would normally not take to the field in ideal times.

“My biggest concern is getting Steven Jyles reps,’’ head coach and GM Jim Barker said as the Ticats pushed the Argos to the brink of playoff elimination. “We have to get him acclimated to where he’s comfortable with everything.”

It was a pipedream for the Argos to even entertain a return trip to the post-season following last year’s 9-9 record and a berth in the Eastern final given all the changes that have unfolded on a week-to-week basis.

There was resignation in Barker’s post-game remarks a few weeks ago in Regina, where the Argos lost a game they should have won.

And now it has become perfectly clear: The Argos are getting ready for next season, a year when the franchise will play host to the 100th Grey Cup.

“That’s a huge year for us,’’ Barker conceded. “And this is a great time for us to evaluate where we’re at. We had some great things happen to us last year, being one game from the Grey Cup, but that’s not where we are right now.

“We’re building this thing from a foundation. We feel we have the quarterback right now and we’ll surround him with the players he needs. We’ll get this thing right.”

Not that he wanted to see players end up on the nine-game injured list, but the rash of injuries does free up cap space, money Barker says will be allotted prudently among the team’s free-agent crop, which includes Jyles at the very top.

Barker revealed that negotiations have begun, describing talks as being in the early stages.

A stinger suffered last week versus Winnipeg, a mild ankle sprain against Hamilton, Jyles has shown toughness and remarkable poise in refusing to point fingers when so little help has been provided.

“He has a great understanding of the game,’’ veteran Jeff Johnson said. “And he’s mentally tough.”

When things are going bad, Johnson has seen a look in Jyles that allows him to plug away.

But Jyles needs help and it’s up to Barker to surround Jyles with pieces.

The remaining five games will help Barker determine what cards he has to play with, but it’s going to be in the off-season, in all likelihood, when Barker’s biggest work will begin.

Jyles by the numbers

A look at Steven Jyles’ four starts with the Argos.

28-6 loss at B.C.

Att. Comp. Yards TD Int. Rating

33 18 220 0 0 75.3

30-20 loss at Saskatchewan

Att. Comp. Yards TD Int. Rating

33 19 254 1 2 67.0

25-25 win vs. Winnipeg

Att. Comp. Yards TD Int. Rating

20 11 88 1 3 20.4

27-12 loss vs. Hamilton

Att. Comp. Yards TD Int. Rating

25 12 142 0 0 65.8


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