TORONTO - So your name is Jim Barker and you have five games left in a season in which there is scant hope of reaching the playoffs. What do you do?
Well, obviously this season is a write-off. The wheels seemed to come off around Week 2 and things never really got aligned after that. Many of your followers will point to the end of the Cleo Lemon era as one positive accomplished, but even now there is little proof to suggest it’s going to be much better under Steven Jyles.
That said, we don’t know about you but here is our list of the five things we think Barker and the Double Blue should be doing with these five games.
1. WIDEOUT, WHY NOT?
Give every healthy receiver you have on your roster a chance to sink or swim. Air it out. It’s apparent Jyles could use the practice and Barker knows better than most how this team’s biggest problem, outside of perhaps quarterbacking and maybe because of it, has been the inconsistent production they have got from their receivers. Sammy Tranks season appears over with an ACL injury, but it’s time to let the D.J. Boldin’s and Djems Kouame off the practice roster get some consistent action. Boldin was the most sure-handed receiver in camp — save for perhaps Jeremaine Copeland. Granted he had plenty to learn about the CFL game and has done so. London Crawford arrived only recently but what is there to lose by giving him game action at this point. Roll with Prechae Rodriguez for a while and see if he can be that game-breaking receiver you need. It’s past the point of hurting a vets feelings. The Argos need to know what they have — so if it’s not here they don’t go into another season with the same old under-performing list of ball catchers.
2. OWENS TRULY SPECIAL
Seriously consider making Chad Owens a special-teams player first and foremost and a member of your receiving corps only on occasion. Owens is a special talent, no doubt, but his receiving numbers suggest he’s a far more valuable returner than he is a starting receiver. We are well aware the money that was shelled out to Owens to keep him in the CFL, but by insisting he earn that money by taking up a valuable receiving position as well, has only served to hurt the Argos this year.
3. PLAYBOOK = TRASH
Throw out the playbook. The offence is stagnant and clearly not working. The playbook, as is, was built around Cleo Lemon’s abilities. He is no longer here. Yes, it’s probably going to mean a lot of growing pains but with nothing to play for, you can afford it. Put in the offence that suits Jyles now. You’ve already publicly stated you’ve begun talks to ink Jyles long-term. If that is in fact the decision you have made, don’t wait for next training camp to tweak the playbook. Do it now. And while you’re at it, get rid of those plays that involve long lateral passes that seem to take an eternity to get in the hands of the receiver. By the time the ball reaches the target, the defence has reacted. Run those lateral tosses to the inside receivers where the play can happen quickly.
4. DEFENSIVE MATTERS
On defence, decide once and for all whether the front four of Ronald Flemons, Kevin Huntley, Claude Wroten, and Ricky Foley are your future. If they are not, make the change now. Huntley has at least one more year on his deal, so to abandon the approach now would seem premature not to mention costly. The sack totals weren’t there obviously this year, Foley’s five lead the team so far, but the combination of size, speed and strength in this foursome would appear to be really tough to give up on after one year. As for the linebacker corps, if Jordan Younger, as his comments a couple of weeks ago suggested, is looking at stepping down, then start the auditions for his spot now. If Willie Pile is going to return to the linebacking corps in 2012 move him back now and find the guy who will be your safety.
5. HEAD COACH O’SHEA?
And finally the coach. If Jim Barker and the organization decide it’s best that he step away from the sidelines and retain only the GM duties and coach-in-waiting Mike O’Shea is to be his replacement, hand the reigns over now. Watch any game this season and O’Shea is never far from Barker watching his game management, his exchanges with the referees and what not. If there is a head coach in waiting on the staff, it looks very much like it would be O’Shea. If not, and the new coach is not already here, might we humbly suggest the Argos take a long hard look at Dave Dickenson in Calgary and Corey Chamblin in Hamilton.