Argos stronger at QB, honest

Toronto Argonauts QB Steven Jyles chats with Lori Bursey, president of the Friends of the Argonauts...

Toronto Argonauts QB Steven Jyles chats with Lori Bursey, president of the Friends of the Argonauts fan club, outside their practice facility in Mississauga on Nov. 4, 2011. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

Steven Jyles started eight of the Argonauts’ 18 games this season.

The Argos were 3-5 in those starts.

In only two of those games did Jyles’ touchdown passes outnumber his interceptions. Fortunately, for those who favour sticking with Jyles as the opening day starter next July, those two games were the last two Jyles played before a vicious head shot, courtesy of Johnny Sears, put him on the sidelines for the final game of the season.

Jyles, you can argue, progressed as the season wore on. Argue that and you must also accept that progress was the only option from where he started.

The question Barker and the Argos must answer is how prepared are they to put the most important season in team history — everyone is feeling pressure to look good the year the Argos host the 100th Grey Cup — into the hands of a player who has yet to show them an ability to win games.

You can argue that two of the three wins Jyles was under centre for were won despite the quarterback, not because of him. Jyles threw four picks in the Calgary game and the Argos still got the W. Three weeks earlier he threw three into the hands of the other team and somehow the Argos prevailed.

The only game you can really point to that he helped win was the second Winnipeg game and he threw all of 13 passes that night, completing nine of them for 100 yards. Even with a near 70% completion rate, 100 yards of passing in the CFL normally doesn’t get the job done.

In Jyles’ defence he missed the first nine games of the schedule as his surgically repaired shoulder wasn’t ready for game action when the season began. He also missed out on all of training camp, another huge factor in his struggles to get comfortable in the Argo offence.

If there is a positive it is that Jyles has proven an adept scrambler in a league where mobile quarterbacks are a must.

But is that enough to convince anyone that Jyles should be the starter.

Sadly the alternatives are few and no more enticing.

In house Barker has Dalton Bell — he of the 10 interceptions in just over 100 pass attempts this year — or a still-raw B.J. Hall.

Calgary’s Henry Burris is likely to be available but he won’t come cheap and in all likelihood the team that signs him will be getting a Burris whose skills are declining with age.

Short of luring Tim Tebow away from the NFL — where he is ill-suited — to a better fit in the Canadian game, there really isn’t much else out there to consider.

From the outside it really does look hopeless, but that’s not what the Argos are seeing.

Andre Durie, one of the few offensive weapons in the lineup that could help a guy like Jyles improve his numbers sounded very much in his quarterback’s corner when asked what he sees down the road.

“Jyles is an amazing quarterback,” Durie said. “He continues plays. If something breaks down, he’s there to make plays with his feet or do something else that’s a little different from what Cleo’s style was. Jyles style of play is more a CFL quarterback who utilizes the size of the field with his talents and with his feet.”

Barker didn’t say it was night and day more settled than a year ago but he doesn’t have the same level of uncertainty about the position he did even after a more successful 9-9 season in 2010.

“I feel it is more settled,” Barker said. “We have one guy that we really like (Jyles). We have Dalton who played a lot better this year. He had the one bad situation that was kind of a bad situation for everyone. I was happy to see him in the last two weeks help us win games. But overall I feel it is more settled. I have a much better idea of where we are. I am anxious to get into next year.”

Barker says the process to get Jyles under contract for next year is already underway.

“I’ve said all along that there’s a lot of things I really like about Steven Jyles,” Barker said.

But what is left unsaid for the obvious reason of not wanting to tip his hand to his competitors is whether he’s willing to hand him control of his football team or whether Jyles will have to battle a guy like Burris or someone else for the job.

From this corner the options aren’t that much more exciting than what the Argos had a year ago.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca

 


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