When Panicking is Good
The Argonauts, it's fair to say, are in a full-out state of panic.
The good news is that sometimes, panic is the correct response.
In Argo-land, players are flying in, bodies are being dumped overboard, coaches are being fired, legends are being hired and everyone is pointing the finger at somebody else.
Add in a 4-7 record with Winnipeg breathing down their necks, and the Argos are sensible to be panicking as the 2008 season threatens to turn into a total nightmare.
Enter Cody Pickett.
This, now, is not intended to in any disparage Mr. Pickett and his football-throwin', signal-callin' abilities.
But when you take the reigning league MVP - Kerry Joseph - and send him to the bench in favour of a raw CFL rookie - Pickett - it's not because you believe it gives your team the best chance to win.
You're either panicking and desperately grasping at straws, or you're using Joseph as a lightning rod to get the attention of the entire team and put the fear of God into those that have thus far treated the CFL season like a casual workout down at the local gym.
Or maybe it's a little panic and a little strategy mixed in together.
The best guess here is that by the time the Argos return to town in nine days to play the back end of their home-and-home with the Calgary Stampeders, Joseph will either be back starting or at the very least finishing that game.
The Stamps, you can bet, have a rude welcoming planned for Pickett on Saturday, and it seems unlikely he has the experience to handle what he's in for. This looks like Mike McMahon all over again. If Pickett were told, don't worry, we'll give you a few games, you're our man, that would be one thing. But if he can't make it happen immediately Joseph will be right back in, and that's a tough position for Pickett to be in. It's easier to throw Pickett to the wolves on Saturday and then come back with Joseph than to start Joseph this week, have him struggle again and then be faced with the option of returning home and starting Pickett.
When it came to shock therapy for this ailing football team, Don Matthews didn't have many options.
Benching Joseph was one, although that had already been done. Cutting veteran linebacker Mike O'Shea, who despite his years of stalwart play and leadership simply can't play at the same level anymore, would be another dramatic move. Axing receiver Arland Bruce III, who likes run the pattern that fits his mood at that moment, would have been another. Bruce made half the team laugh and half the team bitter with his Spiderman caper on Labour Day in Hamilton, and it's hard not to see his act wearing thin in T.O. despite his obvious playmaking abilities.
But moving on O'Shea or Bruce would have cost the Argos a player, while shunting Joseph to the bench for a game doesn't delete him from the lineup.
So Joseph got to be the scapegoat. The question now is not whether Pickett will play so brilliantly that it will be impossible to take him out of the lineup, but the frame of mind Joseph will be in by the time he moves back under centre.
He's not a guy likely to whine and pout. It took him forever to get his chance to play quarterback at the pro level, and he had to deal with the difficulties of being part of the Glieberguys Ottawa Renegades operation before landing out west.
TSN's outstanding football analyst Duane Ford probably has the best take on the Joseph situation, suggesting the Argos need to find ways to tailor their offence to Joseph's strengths, not try to get him to change his game to fit Steve Burrato's offence.
Benched twice this season in favour of his backups, it's not wonder Joseph might not be the most confident guy in town right now.
But if the Argos are to survive this current state of panic and make post-season play, it'll almost certainly be Joseph at the helm. It's one thing to panic and give Cody Pickett a shot, quite another to believe he's the answer to a season gone south.