The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Toronto Argonauts.
Will competition be brought in for Cleo Lemon?
The Argos had arguably the best Running Back in football in Cory Boyd and unarguably the best Kick Returner in football in Chad Owens. Equally true is that they had, by far, the worst starting Quarterback in the CFL in Cleo Lemon. I don't know if Barker was trying to prove that you can win in the CFL without a quality QB, but by sticking with Lemon all season he sure tried to accomplish that feat. Cleo Lemon was terrible: more turnovers than touchdowns, fewer yards than six other QBs. The two teams' pivots behind Lemon? BC (who started two different QBs) and Winnipeg (who started four different QBs). Had BC and Winnipeg had one guy start 17 games like Lemon did, they'd have thrown for more yards than Lemon. The Argos need to bring someone – anyone – in to compete with Lemon for the starting job. I suspect that Barker will bring someone in; he must. The Argos cannot and will not win 10+ games in 2011 with Cleo Lemon as their starting Quarterback.
Can Jim Barker work his magic in 2011?
I always thought that Jim Barker got a raw deal in Toronto in 1999. He led the Boatmen to a 9-9 record and a playoff berth. He was then fired following the season. Well, not fired exactly, because he didn't know he was let go until he showed up to work and the locks to his office were changed. When Barker came back in 2010 not much was expected. He then led the Argos to a 9-9 season, except the locks won't be changed on him this time around. As much as I hate the Argos, I always respected Barker. He is a smart football coach and he makes the Argos better. I don't think any other coach could have got the Argos to nine wins. This was a four- or five-win team with another Head Coach. Let's see what Barker does with the areas that need improvement and see if he has that magic touch again in 2011.
Will Danny Brannigan be given a chance?
Short answer: No, I don't think he will. Longer answer: I think he'll get a shot, but I don't think he'll actually make the team as the #3 QB barring the trade or release of Cleo Lemon or Dalton Bell. Both of them will be back for the Argos next season, but competition must be brought in, so that makes Brannigan no better than fourth. He will be hard pressed to make the 46-man roster after Training Camp, but he might get another year on the Practice Roster.