Changes com­ing

Ar­gos’ im­me­di­ate fu­ture murky in wake of hum­bling loss

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - Frank ZICARELLI

Corey Cham­blin in­her­ited a four-win team, or at least the rem­nants of a last-place club that un­der­went a se­ries of player and coach­ing changes in the off-sea­son.

He now pre­sides over a two-win club with four games to be played, com­pletely un­sure what di­rec­tion this fran­chise will take once the car­nage of an­other lost sea­son is as­sessed.

There will be changes, that much is sure, and per­haps a few im­me­di­ate ros­ter changes if gen­eral man­ager Jim Popp pulls the trig­ger in the days or even hours lead­ing up Wed­nes­day’s CFL trade dead­line.

The Ar­gos char­tered home on a red-eye flight fol­low­ing Satur­day’s hu­mil­i­at­ing 55-8 loss to the host B.C. Li­ons.

Their next game is Fri­day night against the vis­it­ing Ot­tawa Red­blacks.

Short weeks don’t nor­mally co­in­cide with ros­ter move­ment, but all cards are on the ta­ble with the trade dead­line loom­ing.

“It’s one thing to as­sume what’s go­ing on, it’s an­other when you’re right in it,’’ said Cham­blin, whose de­fence was chiefly re­spon­si­ble for Toronto’s 2017 Grey Cup ti­tle.

He prefers to run man cov­er­age in the back end, but the Ar­gos don’t have cover guys in the sec­ondary, of­ten re­sort­ing to zone looks that op­pos­ing of­fences have abused.

There’s been no pass rush to speak of, no play­mak­ing line­backer, a spe­cial teams that has ironed out, for the most part, its early sea­son is­sues, but one still clearly in need of an over­haul.

Of­fen­sively, the Ar­gos have never found any sem­blance of rhythm, ef­fi­ciency or iden­tity.

If you re­call, they were shut out for the first time in 10 years when the host Eski­mos de­feated them 26-0 ear­lier in the sea­son.

Had the Li­ons not taken a penalty late Satur­day night, the Ar­gos would have been blanked again — Ma­cleod Bethel-thomp­son hit­ting Ar­manti Ed­wards for a 27-yard TD with just six sec­onds re­main­ing.

In the long his­tory of Ar­gos foot­ball, there have been some rather re­gret­table games and his­tor­i­cally bad teams, but one can eas­ily make a case that no team in CFL his­tory has ever played as poorly as the Ar­gos did in Van­cou­ver.

How much falls on the shoul­der of Cham­blin is open to de­bate. But un­like Popp, he has a con­tract be­yond this sea­son.

Luck plays a huge role in any sport­ing ven­ture, but fran­chises need shrewd minds to as­sess tal­ent and pro­cure play­ers, the right coaches need to be hired and the right per­son­nel pieces need to be as­sem­bled.

Since that im­prob­a­ble 2017 cham­pi­onship, the Ar­gos have gone a com­bined 6-26 over two sea­sons.

With­out a le­git­i­mate start­ing quar­ter­back, there is no hope. Ricky Ray set the tone and no one has come even re­motely close to fill­ing his shoes.

It was then-gm Jim Barker who made the bold move in 2012 to ac­quire Ray, who would lead the fran­chise to two cham­pi­onships.

Popp tried to make a sim­i­larly bold move this past off-sea­son by try­ing to sign free-agent quar­ter­back Bo Levi Mitchell, who de­cided to stay in Cal­gary.

The eval­u­a­tion of this Ar­gos team has al­ready be­gun with Michael (Pin­ball) Cle­mons pro­vid­ing an ex­tra set of eyes for club pres­i­dent Bill Man­ning.

Cle­mons was in Ot­tawa ear­lier last month when the Ar­gos blew out the host Red­blacks. And he was at BC Place on Satur­day night when the Ar­gos were dis­man­tled.

Cle­mons has been part of some of the most ex­cit­ing, ex­plo­sive and dom­i­nant Ar­gos teams the CFL has ever seen. No doubt, he never wit­nessed any­thing quite like Satur­day night’s slaugh­ter.

Fans, es­pe­cially the diehards, are fed up and many have al­ready in­di­cated how they no longer have any in­ter­est in re­new­ing their sea­son tick­ets.

Darryl Dyck/ The cana­dian PRESS

Of­fen­sive line­man Ryan Bomben of the Ar­gos, a vet­eran of more than 150 CFL games, wipes his fore­head with the back of his glove as he sits solemnly on the bench dur­ing the se­cond half of Satur­day’s game against the B.C. Li­ons, in Van­cou­ver. In eas­ily one of the worst ef­forts ever put forth by the Dou­ble Blue, the Li­ons cruised to a 55-8 vic­tory, of­fi­cially elim­i­nat­ing the Ar­gos from the play­off pic­ture.

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