No Answer Out There
There was a time during the winter when the Argonauts didn't have a single quarterback on their off-season roster.
You could argue not much has changed since. And we're 11 games into the 2010 season.
Cleo Lemon, the undisputed starter, had his worst outing of the season on Sunday against Winnipeg, but emerged the winner anyway because, as head coach Jim Barker was pointing out all week on his edgy radio spots, the Blue Bombers are drop-dead awful.
(Maybe Rogers could bring the Bombers in to play the horrific Buffalo Bills? Just a little pick-me-up for Toronto's pseudo-NFL outfit, you know?)
Lemon was missing his key weapon, running back Cory Boyd. Then again, he had veteran receiver Jeremaine Copeland back, and while he hit Copeland for a short TD pass, Lemon accumulated only 90 yards passing on the day.
A year in which the Argos had hoped to bring a little pizzazz back to the dome, then, has fizzled, at least in terms of entertainment. The club has scored only 58 points in four games and Sunday's crowd dipped below the 20,000 mark. That's not quite as bad as a Blue Jays home audience in the same building, but then again, the Argos only have nine home games.
There are other quarterbacks on the Toronto roster, although you almost never see them. There's Dalton Bell, who has thrown six passes this season and completed three, and somewhere's there's Ken Dorsey, as well. Buried deep on the practice roster is Queen's grad Danny Branagan, and it's unclear whether Branagan will ever get a chance to face live bullets in a CFL game.
So it's Lemon, who has 10 TD passes this season and 10 interceptions. He's completed 62 per cent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 83.2. Nobody understands that stat, but remarkably, among CFL quarterbacks he's not last. Saskatchewan's Darian Durant has a lower QB rating, which might tell you that stat isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Edmonton's Ricky Ray, interestingly, is worse in every single major category to Lemon, which sort of destroys the notion that the Edmonton Eskimos might wake up tomorrow and trade Ray to the Argos for a major quarterback upgrade. Don't forget now, Erik Tillman is running the Esks as of last week, and this is the same canny CFL exec who sold the Argos on Kerry Joseph a few seasons back. That didn't turn out very well for the double blue.
Maybe the Argos and Esks could do a deal. Edmonton is known for making unusual trades at this time of year - remember that one with Hamilton a few years ago in which the unspoken barter item was quarterback Jason Maas? - and Tillman won't sit on his hands long.
But the likeliehood for the Argos is that it's going to have to be Lemon. There is no other answer in a league in which, really, only Anthony Calvillo, Henry Burris and Kevin Glenn could be said to be having good statistical years or better. Well Buck Pierce, too, but he's almost never available for duty.
Andre Durie, if you can believe it, leads the Argos in receptions with only 34, while league-leader Arland Bruce III has 65. Fourteen other receivers across the league have at least 45 catches, so there's so reason to suggest part of Lemon's struggles could also be traced to a receiving corps that, quite frankly, doesn't scare anybody.
Maybe there's a receiver out there who can help the Argos, either a possession type (Dave Stala has sure been a blessing for Glenn) or somebody to stretch the defence.
But it's sink or swim with Lemon. At least the Argos can try to make this offence better without the cloud of possibly missing the playoffs altogether hanging over their heads.