October 3, 2012
Argos should give the ball to Jarious Jackson against Roughriders
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The case to start Jarious Jackson isn’t as feeble as it may appear to some, a position the Argos must embrace, a decision that should be abundantly clear by as early as Thursday.
Whether Ricky Ray shows any signs of improvement when he takes part in some individual drills is of little significance for Thanksgiving Day’s visit by Saskatchewan.
For now, the ball must be in Jackson’s court as the Argos take aim on a quirky stretch that sees the team, fresh off a three-game road travel schedule, play three times within a span of 12 days, three games all at home.
Not only does Jackson deserve an opportunity to start, but the extra time allows Ray additional time to heal his left knee, which he hurt in Montreal on Sept. 23.
Logically, it makes too much sense not to start Jackson against a very aggressive Roughriders defence that plays very much like Toronto’s head-hunting unit, between the whistle and always on the edge.
A player of Jackson’s mobility is more than equipped to elude pressure, capable of making plays on his feet and his arm strength is no slouch, either.
What the Argos should do and must do is anoint Jackson their man, eliminate all the media-driven noise and provide clarity for the rest of the team, which clearly rallied around the veteran backup.
It serves Ray no purpose in rushing his return, the extra week off a necessary bridge as the push for the regular season’s final four begins.
Only in the CFL does it take this long to have two teams play for the first time this season.
Admittedly, it takes head coach Scott Milanovich about a day to piece together a game plan, a routine that was extended by one day as the Argos had a few extra days off following last Saturday’s Jackson-led win in the Peg.
While some run plays were added to incorporate Jackson’s skill set, Milanovich said his backup pretty much followed the game plan against Winnipeg, which went conservative in the second half when it became obvious the Blue Bombers had no answers for Toronto’s defence.
By keeping Ray inactive for another week, his return will coincide with Montreal’s visit on Oct. 14.
Unlike Jackson, Ray is a drop-back passer who will release the football quickly and in rhythm.
He’s very familiar with Montreal’s defensive schemes and there’s no point in having Ray dress on Monday, unless he’s completely and entirely recovered, which borders on the unlikely.
By starting Jackson against Saskatchewan, the Argos will reward him and not merely wax poetic about a veteran backup being acquired for such circumstances.
Jackson is as proud as any athlete, accountable and dependable.
He’s not without his flaws, but his mobility is an asset the Argos must use, especially at home in a climate-controlled setting against a fast and pursuit-heavy Rider Nation defence.
“They (Roughriders) have a very, very sound defence,’’ Jackson said. “Those guys are very aggressive and when they get off the ball they get there with bad intentions.
“It’ll be a physical game, perhaps the most physical game we’ll be part of.”
Jackson wants to play and he wants to atone for the handful of bad reads and bad throws he made in Winnipeg.
In a pass-happy league, it’s rare for a winning team to throw for fewer than 200 yards, but when a defence is forcing turnovers and clock management is being executed, a road win gets produced.
Jackson managed the game to a T, inspiring his teammates by initiating contact on runs that would move the chains.
Rest Ray for one more week and put to rest any lingering concerns that may hover over Jackson, who doesn’t need to be constantly reminded of his status when it should be a no-brainer.
Of course, this is pro football and no team wants to give any opponent any insight.
PIVOT SADDENED BY LOSS OF NCAA RIVALRY
The news hit Jarious Jackson like a blitzing linebacker penetrating the backfield unblocked, a turn of events Jackson never envisioned.
Double Blue is Jackson’s current colour scheme, but there’s plenty of Irish in his football blood having played at Notre Dame, where Jackson ended his collegiate career in 1999 as a two-year starter.
“It’s a little saddening,’’ began Jackson as he continues to digest news that Notre Dame has decided to opt out of its long-standing rivalry with Michigan following 2014. “We’ve played Michigan so long, played that for all those years.
“I’d be lying if I said I’d see the day Notre Dame would go to a conference (ACC). Hopefully we can still bring in the student/athletes to ensure the program continues to be successful.”
During his run in South Bend, Ind., Jackson twice visited the Big House.
“To this day, I’d argue we were cheated,’’ Jackson said. “I remember throwing a third-down pass to a guy who fell right at the (first down) marker. There were nine seconds left and we had no timeouts. The refs never measured it (in college football the clock stops when a first down is achieved) and they ran off the field.”