It is now a matter of public record that the Argos offence has been under achieving. Not only are they not putting enough points on the board, but they put added pressure on both the special teams and the defence – e.g. too many punt return opportunities for the other team, and too much time on the field for a tired defence.
With the signing of Ricky Ray, Argo faithful began high-fiving one another, and touting this as our ticket to return to the high flying Flutie years. So far, it hasn’t happened. Why?
Here are some thoughts:
1. No Offensive Coordinator. It’s great to have someone with Scott Milanovich’s experience in the fold, but he is filling the dual roles of Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator. Which of these jobs is not full time? In a franchise that has been experiencing an offensive drought for at least eight years, and that has a diminishing fan base, wouldn’t having a creative, hard-working full time Offensive Coordinator be a no-brainer? In their defence, they thought they had a dandy in Jonathan Himebauch who defected at the last minute to a US college. But not only did his departure create a hole, but it meant shuffling Jason Maas away from being receivers coach, and Milanovich away from being QBs coach, which had been the preferred lineup.
2. Offensive Line. Setting a goal of an “all Canadian” offensive line is great if you have a strong base of players to start with, and if you are truly committed to recruiting/developing/trading for the best Canadian talent in the league. But with only Chris Van Zehl as a returning anchor, the only Canadian linemen added were cast-offs from other teams. And even with great talent, building cohesion on the offensive line takes time.
3. Salary Cap. Trading for a QB of Ricky Ray’s stature comes with a price. When you bring in a superstar QB out of the cold, you need to adjust personnel to build the team around him that suits his capabilities. Inheriting one of the highest paid players in the league reduces the cash available to do this.
Having said all of this, it’s not all doom and gloom. Special teams have come around, and the defence is solid. The offence is finding itself. Between Mann, Rambo and Feoli-Gudino, they may find a spark plug. The return to Canada and signing of Joel Reinders could be the most significant addition to the team since Ray.
What’s the solution?
1. Patience. Unfortunately, this has been the missing link for the league’s most historically under-performing franchise (at least since 1952). What takes time simply takes time. There is no quick fix this year. Please don’t follow previous regimes and mortgage the team’s future for a shot at short term victories that are not to be. You have a good core of fans that will stick with you even if you don’t win the Grey Cup this year.
2. Build. You already have a competitive team that is getting better. Build it incrementally – major surgery is not necessary. But from this perspective, here are some tweaks to consider:
a. Get an Offensive Coordinator next year (but hopefully not with another totally different offensive scheme. Is Jason Maas a consideration?).
b. Get the most outstanding offensive linemen you can and let them gel. With Reinders, maybe you are close talent-wise.
c. Develop your two young quarterbacks. So far the games have been close, but if the opportunity arises, give some reps to the young guys. Develop them as fast as you can.
d. Stay the course. You guys are doing a great job. Perhaps the only thing out of whack is the expectation of an automatic Grey Cup. You are on track to building a great team. We’ll stick with you ‘cause we know it’s coming.
So that’s one fan’s perspective on where we are. Many of the pieces of the puzzle are in place, and we may see our offence break out any time. Thoughts from other Argo lovers?