The Argos offseason is less than a month old. But the team has already seen several changes, with more on the way. Chris Jones predictably departed the Six, and he is taking three Argos’ assistants with him to Edmonton as the newly christened GM and Head Coach of the Elks rounds up familiar faces in his old stomping grounds. Jones might not be done bringing over more members from the 2021 Boatmen to Edmonton. More on that momentarily.
Dave Campbell of 630 CHED reports that the Elks will be ringing in the New Year by making some key additions to Chris Jones’ coaching staff this coming week. Edmonton is expected to announce the hiring of Argos offensive line coach Stephen McAdoo as offensive coordinator. Toronto OC & QB Coach Jarious Jackson as the Elks’ new pass game coordinator. And Argonauts Receivers Coach Markus Howell as run game coordinator for Edmonton.
Chris Jones is wasting no time getting his band back together. It’s not surprising to see Jones anoint Stephen McAdoo as the first major hire on his coaching staff. Jones and ‘Coach Mac’ have been tied to the hip for quite some time in Canada.
One of the CFL’s best offensive line coaches, McAdoo, has had mixed success as a play-caller in the CFL with Edmonton and Saskatchewan. However, when Edmonton last won the Grey Cup in 2015, Stephen McAdoo was Chris Jones’ offensive coordinator.
Jarious Jackson and Markus Howell also share a history working with and under McAdoo and Jones. So there will be plenty of symmetry in Edmonton next season.
The Argos Coaching Staff In 2022?
With Chris Jones poaching assistants away from the Argonauts. The question now becomes. What will the Argos coaching staff look like in 2022?
Although, the team hasn’t made the hiring of Corey Mace as its new defensive coordinator official. It’s the first of many changes coming for Ryan Dinwiddie’s coaching staff in Toronto.
Ryan Dinwiddie’s first foray into being a head coach has seen a lot of unique turns. Hired at the end of the 2019 CFL season, Dinwiddie had to wait nearly two years to coach his first game with the Boatmen.
Dinwiddie put together an accomplished veteran staff. And then added to it leading into the 2021 season by bringing on board Rich Stubler to assist on defence. But then things took a unique turn in mid-season, as an MLSE vaccinate mandate on employees forced out defensive coordinator Glen Young and defensive backs coach Joshua Bell.
The in-season exit of two of Double Blue’s best coaches led to the CFL return of Chris Jones. The former coach of the year in Canada was a hired gun on borrowed time. Everyone knew that it wouldn’t be long before Chris Jones ruled the roost again as a top decision-maker in the CFL. But not only has Chris Jones predictably departed Toronto, but he is bringing over some of the Argos top assistants with him.
Dinwiddie reuniting his Calgary connection with Corey Mace is a start. But with three of his top assistants gone on offence. The CFL coach of the year candidate has his work cut out for him as he reshuffles his deck again on his coaching staff.
Of the three Boatmen coaches jumping ship to join Jones. The most significant departure is Stephen McAdoo, and he won’t easily be replaced. Coach Mac did a phenomenal job with the Argos offensive line last season, particularly with rookie sensation C Peter NiCastro.
On the bright side, The Argos are bringing back their starting five offensive linemen, with Jamal Campbell, NiCastro, Philip Blake, and Dejon Allen all under contract. The Boatmen recently extended the contracts of standout Dariusz Bladek and top backup Shane Richards. So whoever joins Double Blue will be inheriting a strong group. Even still, Ryan Dinwiddie’s choice to coach the offensive line will be a crucial hire.
Jarious Jackson and Markus Howell had vital roles on the Argos staff. The latter assisted Ryan Dinwiddie with game management in 2021. However, although Jackson held a prominent title and role on the team. The truth is that the Argos offence was Dinwiddie’s, and he called the plays and designed the offense. Unless Ryan Dinwiddie decides to hand over the keys to the Argos offence, whoever is brought on under the coordinator title, will need to be in lockstep with Ryan’s vision.
Two other key coaches to watch in the coming days are defensive assistant Rich Stubler and special teams coordinator Mark Nelson.
Firstly, in the case of Stubler, there’s a chance that the accomplished and grizzled veteran coach could decide to move on elsewhere. Although, Stubler has a previous relationship with Corey Mace, stemming from his time coordinating in Calgary while Mace was a player for the Stamps. It’s possible that the Argos and Stubler could go in a different direction.
Either way, the Boatmen will need to address their defensive staff. The team made do without traditional position coaches last season. But with a first-time defensive coordinator like Mace, surrounding him with a quality support staff will be essential in his transition.
As for Mark Nelson. The Argos special teams had their fair share of ups and downs in 2021. As expected, there was a steep learning curve because of the two-year delay, no preseason, and a shortened training camp. Boris Bede had a terrific season kicking and punting, and Chandler Worthy proved to be an excellent addition to the return game. And there’s no doubt that it was impressive that the team overcame losing long snapper, Jake Reinhart. But overall, and by season’s-end, particularly in the pivotal East-Final, the Argos special teams did not perform at a high level.
Will Ryan Dinwiddie run it back with Nelson in 2022? or will both parties decide to part ways.
Another area to monitor closely is Toronto’s front office. John Murphy is gone as VP of Player Personnel, and the early scuttlebutt is that the Argos may not name a replacement. Director of Scouting Vince Magri and Football Ops Manager Alex Russell are expected to take on more responsibility within the football organization.
The front office has been busy preparing for free agency on February 8th. Re-signing several key players like defensive linemen Robbie Smith. In case you missed it, the Boatmen signed Adams State standout edge rusher Alani Putuau.
The California native, Pututau, 26, most recently spent time with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. The 6’1, 235lb small college transfer broke out at Adams State in 2019, playing in 11 games and recording 63 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble while being named First Team All-Conference. Toronto hopes that they have found a diamond in the rough in Pututau.
Will Chris Jones Raid Toronto’s Roster In Free Agency?
The Argos still have a month to try and extend their pending free agents before free agency starts. But it’s fair to wonder if some of the players that played for Double Blue in 2021 will end up joining Chris Jones in Edmonton. Particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Edmonton already had their big-name change heading into 2021. But there could be an Edmonton Argos feel to the Elks in 2022.
Even though there are now three former Argos offensive assistants on the Elks staff, it’s reasonable to suggest that Jones could target some of the defensive players he coached last season in the Six.
Toronto has several key starters on defence that are pending free agents. Some of the most prominent names are LB’s Henoc Muamba, Cameron Judge, and Dexter McCoil.
On the flip side, offensively, Coaches like McAdoo, Jarious Jackson, and Markus Howell will be reuniting with Nick Arbuckle in Edmonton. But they could also reunite with Argos’ free agents like WR’s Juwan Brescasin, Ricky Collins, DaVaris Daniels, and Eric Rogers.
Toronto’s front office will be fast at work trying to lock up several of these players. Below is the updated offseason tracker for the Argos.
2022 FREE AGENTS
|BETHEL-THOMPSON, Mcleod||A||QB||Sacramento State|
|BLADEK, Dariusz||N||OL||Bethune-Cookman||Extended 12/23/21|
|BOATENG, Matthew||N||DB||Fresno State|
|BRESCACIN, Juwan||N||WR||Northern Illinois|
|CHEVRIER, Alexandre||N||LB||Sherbrooke||Extended 12/23/21|
|COLLINS JR., Ricky||A||WR||Texas A&M Commerce|
|DANIEL, Robertson||A||DB||Brigham Young|
|DANIELS, DaVaris||A||WR||Notre Dame|
|GLENN, Cameron||A||DB||Wake Forest|
|LAW, Cordarro||A||DL||Southern Mississippi|
|MCCOIL SR., Dexter||A||LB||Tulsa|
|MUAMBA, Henoc||N||LB||St. Francis Xavier|
|NEVIS, Drake||A||DL||Louisiana State|
|RICHARDS, Shane||N||OL||Oklahoma State||Extended 12/28/21|
|RICHARDS, Jeff||A||DB||Emporia State|
|ROGERS, Eric||A||WR||California Lutheran|
|SMITH, Robbie||N||DL||Wilfrid Laurier||Extended 12/23/21|
|TUGGLE, Justin||A||DL||Kansas State|
Any player not listed above and on the Argos active roster (HERE) are under contract for the 2022 season.