Argos must regroup

Argos coach Scott Milanovich will see what kind of character his team has as it prepares to meet...

Argos coach Scott Milanovich will see what kind of character his team has as it prepares to meet Winnipeg this week. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:46 AM ET

A moment arrived late Sunday afternoon in Montreal, a sequence that began with a missed field goal the host Als would return 129 yards for a touchdown, followed by an ability to convert on second down.

Scott Milanovich has seen his cover units yield majors — far too often, in fact — as the Argos lead the CFL by surrendering five, and given the inconsistent nature of his offence, failing to move the chains is hardly uncommon.

But there was a feel Milanovich had at that moment, one he hadn’t experienced all season, one the Argos must now move forward as Saturday’s road game in Winnipeg beckons.

“I felt the wind came out of our sails for the first time all year,’’ confided Milanovich.

By Tuesday, when the Argos return to work, Milanovich will have a better idea on whether Ricky Ray will be able to play against the Bombers after Toronto’s starting quarterback injured his left knee in the first quarter against the Als.

For obvious reasons, the Argos must be cautious and prudent with Ray and it’s why many with the club expect veteran Jarious Jackson to start in the Peg.

The Argos don’t play next until Thanksgiving Monday when they begin a stretch of playing three in a row at home.

Milanovich addressed his team following Sunday’s 31-10 loss that dropped Toronto’s record to 6-6 on an afternoon when the Argos could have taken control of the East.

“We talked as a team,’’ he added. “This is where you find out where your character is. It’s easy to stick together and be positive when things aren’t really going the wrong way.

“We’ve lost two in a row and it’s time to find our what kind of character we have and the kind of team we’re going to have. This is something we can turn into a positive. We’ve got to get it started this week.”

Up until Sunday, the Argos looked like a team poised to turn the corner, creating some separation from Hamilton in beating the Ticats twice and having a chance to win a road game against the reigning Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions.

“Obviously this (Sunday’s setback) was a step back, for whatever reason,’’ continued Milanovich. “You have those sometimes in a season. I’m not making any excuses and it’s not OK, but good teams rebound.

“We need to go to Winnipeg and rebound. We’ve had our ups and downs all season, but this is the first time we’ve lost in a row.”

All, naturally, is not lost, but the Argos clearly need to regroup in all three of football’s phases.

Swayze Waters needs to shake off a very regrettable game that began with a botched field goal.

The defence needs to tighten up, the one roster move that may be revisited involves veteran Ahmad Carroll, who was replaced in the starting lineup by T.J. Williams.

Offensively, the Argos couldn’t penetrate beyond Montreal’s 27-yard line.

“It’s not over,’’ said Jackson. “The clock is running, but we’re still in a position to make the playoffs and all that great stuff.

“Our goals are higher than just making it to the playoffs. There’s a lot of little things behind closed doors we’re working on right now and we’re going to do so until the season is over.”

JACKSON STEPS UP

A lot will be made clearer by as early as Tuesday when the Argos gather for the first time since Sunday’s letdown in Montreal.

When they do meet, it’s expected Jarious Jackson will get first-team reps as the Argos look forward to Saturday’s game in Winnipeg and life without Ricky Ray as their incumbent quarterback.

Jackson doesn’t have Ray’s release and touch on intermediate routes, but he can throw deep and his mobility allows the Argos to feature some bootleg action and rollouts.

In Winnipeg, the coin toss often looms as the game’s biggest play, but Jackson’s arm strength must be fully explored.

It’ll also help Jackson if a ground game gets featured, an area the Argos abandon on occasion during games.

Whatever game plan the Argos decide to use, it’s clear the time has arrived for the team to turn to Jason Barnes, who has been de-activated for the last four games.

A healthy Andre Durie can’t hurt, but taking advantage of Jackson’s skill set now looms as the biggest area entering this short week.

 


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