Milanovich goes on the offensive

New Argos coach Scott Milanovich and GM Jim Barke. (DAVE ABEL/QMI AGENCY)

New Argos coach Scott Milanovich and GM Jim Barke. (DAVE ABEL/QMI AGENCY)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:02 PM ET

There will come a time when Scott Milanovich will have the necessary faith to entrust someone to call a play when a third-down conversion is required or when a big play inside the score zone is demanded.

Eventually, Milanovich will hand over the all-important play-calling, but that time isn’t now and nor will it occur in the immediate future — and in all likelihood during any stretch of his rookie season as Toronto’s head coach.

No one is more in tune with the Argos’ new offensive system than Milanovich, no person as familiar with its nuances and adjustments in a down and distance scenario than the man who helped design a scheme Toronto’s front office hopes will entice people to come out and attend games.

By taking ownership, Milanovich has taken the first step in putting his stamp on a program that has so much to gain this season.

With Chris Jones calling the shots on defence and Mike O’Shea, one of a handful of holdover assistants from Jim Barker’s staff, entrenched as special teams coordinator, it makes too much sense for Milanovich not to take control of the play-calling.

Even with a veteran quarterback such as Ricky Ray lining up under centre, Milanovich’s unique vantage point will help take some of the pressure off of Ray, who will still be able to make the right pre-snap audible if an opposing defence comes with a different look.

When one considers the Argos have no offensive coordinator, the decision by Milanovich is one he simply had to make, which he acknowledged during Tuesday’s pre-season conference call with reporters.

“That’s the plan,’’ said Milanovich when asked if he would call the plays during the upcoming season. “My decision to call the plays is independent of what’s happened in the past.

“As of right now, it’s an offence I know better than anyone else. I know this offence inside and out and we’ll see what happens after this year.”

Milanovich came to the Argos from Montreal, where he learned more of football’s ropes serving as Marc Trestman’s offensive coordinator.

Trestman ran the show with the Als and continues to be very hands-on, even with a quarterback such as Anthony Calvillo asked to execute the plays.

During a recent mini-camp, a setting that featured the Argos’ new passing game, players talked about the complexities of Milanovich’s offence, the attention to detail he demanded and the mental makeup required to absorb all the many facets.

In a nutshell, it’s a passing game where every receiver must know each position, where every player who lines up in a skilled position will be asked to make plays.

At this point, the biggest question is whether a go-to guy receiver will emerge, a dimension that has sorely been lacking in Argoland since Arland Bruce was sent packing to Hamilton for basically nothing in the ill-fated Bart Andrus era.

In football, playing against air is jargon for lining up against no defender, which is what the Argos did in their mini-camp when Ray and veteran backup Jarious Jackson were slinging the pigskin.

Barker has left no stone unturned in trying to acquire the right talent for Milanovich, a process Barker will continue to embrace until the proper piece gets in place.

In Edmonton, Ray had Fred Stamps as that go-to guy when a play was needed, no matter what coverage was presented.

“If you’re asking who we will be hanging our hat on, I don’t know,’’ said Milanovich. “The beauty of what’s going on in Toronto is that guys (receivers) will be going up against a press man aggressive defence on a daily basis and you can’t hide from that.”

It’s why training camp in Argoland is looming as such a critical time as the franchise that will play host to the 100th Grey Cup goes on the offensive.

ARGOS AIM FOR ALL-CANADIAN O LINE

In a perfect football universe, the Argos will line up with five Canadians on the offensive line and use that extra American by filling another need.

In Montreal, the Als have become the CFL’s measuring stick the past decade by going with an all-Canadian line.

In Edmonton, GM Eric Tillman has continued his legacy of franchise-building by embracing the same formula.

In Toronto, GM Jim Barker wants to follow suit, but there has to be a backup plan, which inevitably involves an import.

During a conference call on Tuesday, Barker inadvertently announced the team had signed import offensive tackle Chris Patrick, a free agent who started in both of Edmonton’s two playoff games last season.

In the coming days, it’s expected additional American offensive linemen will be added to the Argos, who were forced into releasing Edawn Coughman on Monday in the wake of a guns possession charge.

The 6-foot-5 Patrick played his collegiate football at Nebraska and bounced around the NFL before signing with Edmonton last August.

 


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