October 23, 2012
Argos look to stop opponents' run game
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
Ahmad Carroll can’t put his finger on it, but he can feel an attitude change.
How that translates into the rest of the week and into Saturday’s kickoff in Regina, only time will tell.
Clearly, though, time is beginning to run out on the Argos, at best a .500 team if wins against the Roughriders and Ticats are produced.
“I feel we’ve turned it up a little bit,’’ said Carroll, a veteran defensive back who has quietly returned to his starting halfback position.
“We know where we can be as a defence, as an offence, but we haven’t got there yet, we haven’t had that great game.
“We’re searching for that one game, that one win to get that monkey off our back.”
It may prove these Argos just aren’t quite good enough, equipped enough, deep enough, to play all three phases without committing some breakdown, mental or physical.
There have been instances of solid play, but far too often in recent weeks a combination of poor play on either side of the ball have led to losses and missteps.
When the Argos deactivated Carroll, the team went with T.J. Williams, who produced interceptions in back-to-back games, a road loss in Montreal and during an away win against the Blue Bombers.
Then came some poor tackling fundamentals and downright indifference on long touchdown runs in back-to-back home losses to Saskatchewan and Montreal.
Suddenly, Williams was shown the door, paving the way for Carroll’s return.
The defence, in particular the run defence, has been under fire, but you know defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones will come up with some scheme and personnel package to address this area.
In the back end, one of the problems continues to be an inability to locate the football on deep routes.
Whether it’s looking at a receiver’s eyes, watching the pass catcher’s hands or just playing more instinctive football, Toronto’s defensive secondary is yielding some big down-field plays.
When Jones called up a full-out blitz last week, Carroll found himself in man coverage, provided great coverage but he never turned his head to play the ball.
A week earlier, corner Pat Watkins was victimized, again with Watkins playing solid man coverage on Jamel Richardson.
The Als would score a game-changing touchdown, but many will recall the lame attempt Williams made in trying to push Richardson out of bounds, this coming a week after Williams basically gave up on a play that saw Riders running back Kory Sheets score on a long touchdown run.
“Everybody is focused,’’ continued Carroll. “We’re down to the last two games and then it’s the playoffs.”
As long as Ricky Ray gets enough time, he’s good enough to compensate for an offensive line that has to somehow take its game to another level.
Having a running game to take pressure off Ray can only help, but this week’s game may turn on a turnover with weather expected to be a factor.
The area that needs to step up the most is on defence.
Given the copy-cat nature of pro football, it’s not surprising to see teams run on the Argos, who have been vulnerable in three straight losses.
It’s often been said that football is the ultimate team game, but individual matchups must first be won to ensure success.
“You don’t want to be that guy who doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do,’’ added Carroll. “You don’t want to be that guy who misses that play on the field, that keeps your team from winning.”
Defensively, it starts up front, it begins by filling gaps and ends by being assignment sound.
“We better start playing the run better or our season will be over quickly,’’ said defensive end Ricky Foley.
INMAN LOOKS 'GOOD'
The Argos will welcome any news that doesn’t involve a breakdown in pass protection, a blown assignment on defence or a missed block on a return.
It arrived during Tuesday’s session when injured receiver Dontrelle Inman took reps with the first team offence after being hobbled by a hamstring injury, a setback some felt would prevent the first-year Inman from rejoining the team for the balance of the regular season.
Head coach Scott Milanovich wasn’t going to speculate on Inman’s status for this week’s visit to Regina, but he was encouraged at the way Inman ran his routes.
“He was looking pretty good,’’ said Milanovich, who instructed the team’s video co-ordinator to pay extra attention on Inman. “I didn’t notice any hitch in his stride. It’s (return this week) possible, but we’ll have to see how he reacts (Wednesday). He looked pretty good.”
Inman has been one of the best feel-good stories this season, a true CFL rookie who has an ability to make plays down field.
As the year has unfolded and as Inman has evolved, the Argos have moved him around on offence, positioning him closer to the line of scrimmage.