If Toronto Argonauts Offense Doesn't Improve, Andrus is Gone

Steve ThompsonAnalyst IIISeptember 8, 2009

When the Toronto-Hamilton Labor Day "Classic" ended, there was a brief 10 minute phone-in show after the Toronto radio broadcast in which the moderator made little attempt to disguise his urging that phone-callers demand that Bart Andrus be fired.

And several callers obliged, and others called for general manager Adam Rita to go too—with or without Andrus.

The Argonauts had just completed a dismal game against Hamilton in which they committed five turn-overs and over 100 minutes in penalties, losing 34-15.  The two teams play a rematch this Friday.

At the start of the season, the consensus was that the Argonauts were an improved team over the one that finished out of the playoffs last year.

By the results, this year, it appears that only 2/3 of the team is improved.

The defense, combined with inept Hamilton red-zone offense kept the score from reaching the 50s level.  But the defense can only do so much.

The special teams—even without Dominic Dorsey—are improved.    Justin Medwick and Eddie Johnson are good kickers and Andre Durie is providing respectable returns.  The Argonauts need Dorsey, but not on special teams.

The offense is God-awful.  Or at least part of it.

The running game is good—when it is used.  Jamal Robertson scored an early touchdown—then only handled the ball four times as a runner the remainder of the game.

So the problems can be narrowed down still further to the passing attack and the offensive play calling.

The passing attack can be divided into three portions; the protection, the quarterback, and the receivers.

Listening to the game on the radio, most the play descriptions seemed to imply that Cody Pickett was getting enough time.  Several of the times he was sacked or under pressure came after he had time to find somebody but no one was open.  So the offensive line gets a passing grade.

This brings us to Pickett himself.  The biggest thing in his favor is that he is not making mistakes.  Since being given the starting job, he has only thrown one interception.  But he can't get the ball into the end zone.

Each game he has nice statistics, but no wins.

How good is Pickett?  We really don't know.  He's not being helped when receivers don't get open or drop the ball, and bad play calling from the bench.  Would another quarterback do any better?  Pickett has to be graded a question mark.

Finally there are the receivers.  I don't blame the Argonauts for getting rid of Arland Bruce.  He had many disruptive moments for several years.

But the receivers remaining are ordinary at best.  Many times they don't get open on their patterns and several times they drop the ball at critical moments.  They don't get a passing grade.

That leaves Andrus and Rita.  Andrus also wants to be the offensive coordinator and he gets a failing grade.  And Rita gets a failing grade for failing to deal with the receiver situation.

First Andrus.  Everybody has wondered how he would do without much CFL experience.  He's done well with everything but the passing attack.  And in a league like the CFL, a bad passing attack can be fatal.

His receivers run routes in which they can't get open and most of the passes are fifteen yards or less.  Still worse, he won't use Robertson like the way Winnipeg uses Fred Reid to make up for passing deficiencies.   

By refusing to hire an offensive coordinator with CFL experience, he's ended up on the firing line.

His woes haven't been helped by Adam Rita not supplying enough talent at the receiver position.  Apart from bringing in P. K. Sam, the only deep threat the Argonauts have, he's done nothing to improve the position.  If they do bring Dorsey back, he'd be more useful if he could play receiver than as a kick returner.

One final knock on Andrus.  His team lacks focus and mental preparation.  The Argonauts lead the league in penalties, their receivers drop footballs, and they commit lots of turnovers.  Also noted in the Hamilton game by the Toronto radio commentators was the lack of a hurry-up offense when the Argonauts fell behind.

So a promising season has turned into a nightmare.  Unless the offense improves, Andrus and Rita could be looking for jobs soon.