Can Jyles and Argos handle Als?

Argonauts quarterback Steven Jyles runs the ball against the Tiger-Cats at the Rogers Centre in...

Argonauts quarterback Steven Jyles runs the ball against the Tiger-Cats at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 1, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:54 PM ET

TORONTO - So diverse is Montrealís offence that no player has caught in excess of 100 yards in the two games played against the Argos this season.

And this from a unit that has racked up 656 passing yards, an output the Argos can only dream of one day being good enough to reach.

So efficient and explosive that Montreal has accumulated close to 1,000 yards of offence and held on to the football for roughly 75 minutes in the two wins.

Itís only in the context of footballís numbers that one can begin to understand the challenge that awaits the Argos defence on Thanksgiving Monday, a day that promises to usher in yet another career milestone for Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

When the Argos last visited Montreal in July, a first-quarter touchdown pass to Eric Deslauriers would mark Calvilloís 395th, a throw that eclipsed Damon Allenís league record.

For a guy who threw for 246 yards in the opening half, the required 258 passing yards to break Allenís all-time number would seem but a mere formality for Calvillo.

But stranger things have happened, especially during this oddity of a season for the Argos, who know one hit on Calvillo can change a gameís entire complexion.

More than any edge at quarterback, itís the whole offensive approach Montreal brings that must be used as the model for the Argos to emulate.

Naturally, in a pass-happy league, finding that guy under centre remains the priority.

Steven Jyles has shown flashes in games, has shown continued progress during practice, but he has yet to prove it on the field.

There are mitigating circumstances, ranging from having no reps during training camp to a revolving receiving unit to an offensive line that has suddenly become young and inexperience in the wake of injuries.

No one is more of a support to Jyles than head coach Jim Barker, the same guy who serves as the teamís general manager, the one who has opened discussions on a long-term deal for the pending free agent in Jyles.

ďHeís on the cusp of being one of those special guys who could take you a long way,íí Barker said of Jyles, who will once again be given every opportunity to lead Torontoís offence on Monday and for the balance of the season.

In the bottom-line world of pro football, nowhere is the disparity between the Argos and the Als more pronounced than on the bottom line.

Offensively, no team has produced fewer touchdowns than the Argos (21), fewer points (20.2 average), and no team spends fewer time on the field than the Argos (26:19).

In contrast, the Als lead the CFL in just about every meaningful offensive category, including time of possession (33:08), average points scored (31.2), and average yards (415.2).

No question Calvillo is the catalyst, but Montrealís all-Canadian offensive line is solid, the teamís receivers deep and in Brandon Whitaker Montreal has quickly moved on without Avon Cobourne.

Perhaps itís Calvilloís presence that has, once again, made Montreal a Grey Cup contender, a team that could very well join the legendary Eskimos of Warren Moon to win three titles in succession.

Whether Barker is eventually asked to step aside as coach this off-season to spend his entire efforts in bringing in talent, itís on offence where the Argos simply must improve the most and the quickest.

On Monday, Toronto will play its measuring stick, a team that stuck it to the Argos in last yearís Eastern final, a loss that should have signalled change in Argoland, but it didnít.

And now, the Argos are paying the price.


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