October 20, 2012
Argos not good enough
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Argos have a couple of days to lick their wounds and decide what kind of team they hope to be with only two games remaining in the regular season.
Despite some stretches of solid play and glimpses of potential, it may turn out that these Argos aren’t simply good enough, talented enough and lacking in discipline to mount any serious playoff bid.
Eventually, excuses begin to wear thin, closed-door meetings turn meaningless and time, in the end, expires.
Such is the predicament the Argos find themselves, a team that has been an embarrassment in dropping three straight at home, a team that continues to believe it has the pieces to compete for this year’s 100th Grey Cup, a team that is bordering on the delusional.
In a year where virtually anything has been possible, short of the B.C. Lions playing inferior football, there’s a real possibility the Argos may not a win a game with a road kickoff looming in Regina this weekend and a season finale home date against Hamilton on Nov. 1.
Imagine the utter shame if such a scenario gets played out, a fate that must be addressed with some wholesale changes leaving no one and no area of the football operation exempt.
It has become both sad and redundant listening to officials opine on how discipline will be addressed, how ball security will he heightened, how attention to detail will be enforced.
Those words, no matter who is doing the talking, are now completely hollow because there has been no evidence suggesting this unit can play anything close to a complete game in all three facets.
“We keep talking, but we keep making the same mistakes,’’ said Ricky Ray, who was brilliant in his return from what was essentially a four-game injury absence. “Time is running out.
“It’s hard to just kind of snap your finger and become a great team. We have the guys, we have the coaches, but there’s no discipline when we play. We’ve had games, but there haven’t been too many.
“That’s been our story all year, the stuff we’ve been doing to ourselves.”
Look at Toronto’s horrific homestand as a microcosm of the entire season, a snapshot of a 7-9 team that still can’t get out of its way.
In losses to Saskatchewan, Montreal and Winnipeg, the Argos committed a total of 34 penalties.
Combined, the Argos turned the ball over eight times and forced only two fumbles, both against the Als in a game that featured inept offence and a defence that yielded two key passing plays and a penalty that negated an interception.
“We should be disappointed in ourselves and realize we have to buckle down,’’ starting middle linebacker Robert McCune added.
Particularly galling is that no one can rationally and objectively point to one area to assess the carnage that’s been allowed to unfold.
Pass protection continues to be a concern, an inability to stop the run has been problematic in all three losses, breakdowns in special teams.
Even something as routine as the opening coin toss suddenly gets scrutinized.
On Friday night, the Argos won the coin toss and decided to defer, raising eyebrows when confident teams would normally welcome the football, mount an offensive drive and put points on the board first.
When a team loses five of six and has clearly lost its ways, the magnifying glass becomes more intense and the next two games will reveal plenty.
Someone must eventually pay the price if the team continues to self-destruct and the list of casualties may expand depending on how the Argos close out their season.
With so much that could have been gained this season, the Argos are teetering, inching closer to the abyss with nowhere to turn except within.
Somewhere owner David Braley must be enraged at the state of his team.
And somehow top executive Chris Rudge must be wondering what moves he’ll have to make if this group of management, coaches and players don’t turn it around.
The Argos’ fall from grace has been painful and precipitous.
As Ray rightfully pointed out, teams don’t just go from bad to good overnight, it’s a process that requires gradual improvement and peaking at the right time.
The Argos are in complete retreat mode, the best they can now do is finish at 9-9.
Stranger things have happened in the CFL, but it would be shocking if the Argos are somehow able to rebound.
RUSHING TO CONCLUSIONS
In three straight losses, all at home where the Argos are 3-5 this season, the team has been torched by opposing tailbacks. Here’s a look at the damage.
Carries Yards Avg.
36-10 loss vs. Saskatchewan
Kory Sheets 19 113 5.9
24-12 loss vs. Montreal
Chris Jennings 10 86 8.6
44-32 loss vs. Winnipeg
Chad Simpson 20 136 6.8
William Ford 10 85 8.5