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The Toronto Argonauts All-In Approach Exemplified By Chris Jones Hiring

The Toronto Argonauts football club genuinely believes that they are positioned to win the Grey Cup when the smoke clears on the 2021 CFL season. The franchise has taken an all-in approach with the number of high-profile players they have acquired. And the latest example of their lofty aspirations is the team’s aggressive pursuit and hire of Chris Jones to come in and run their defense.

Chris Jones has not been brought on board to steady the Boatmen’s ship because of Glen Young’s departure as defensive coordinator. On the contrary, Jones is with Toronto to help get the Argos over the hump and propel them into elite standing.

To me, Chris Jones was the best coach available to help us win the Grey Cup….. I said, you know what? I think Chris is the best thing for our players and for us to be successful…. A lot of people were like, you are bringing in a coach with more experience…. He’s done all those things. He’s been a head coach and a general manager. I feel pretty comfortable in my own skin. And in who I am. I want to get the best guy in here to help us win.

Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie on the hiring of Chris Jones

You compete to win a championship. That’s why they brought me here. It certainly wasn’t for my looks.

Argonauts Defensive Consultant Chris Jones to Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun.

Some members of the Toronto Argonauts fanbase might be satisfied with the team’s 3-3 start to the CFL season. And understandably so. After all, the Argos are coming off of two four-win seasons in 2018/2019. Simply being in the hunt again is satisfying for some of the team’s supporters. However, for the people inside the Argonauts organization. Anything less than a playoff berth this season will be seen as a colossal failure. The expectations are very high within the Argonauts franchise.

The Boatmen will not be satisfied if the team is in the middle of the pack come season’s end. But that’s where they currently stand as they approach a pivotal division game with Montreal at home on Friday night.

During Wednesday’s media scrum. Coach Ryan Dinwiddie talked about the importance of this period of the season. And how this week’s divisional game is a must-win for their hopes in winning the East and making a strong playoff push.

Toronto Argonauts Defensive Staff Pulling Together

Although, Chris Jones doesn’t have the official title as Argos’ defensive coordinator. As expected, it will be his defense moving forward. As time progresses, Jones will be able to implement more of his system. But for now, he has been working on getting up to speed on Toronto’s talent and working on ideas on how to utilize his new players.

The Argos have a defensive coordinator in place, although that’s not Jones’s official title. The team, however, does not plan on hiring a defensive backs coach to replace Joshua Bell.

Ryan Dinwiddie told CFLNewshub today that the plan is to use a committee approach coaching the position. Toronto’s defensive staff will be living up to the team’s mantra “Pull Together.”

The all-hands-on-deck approach for the Boatmen on defense has Kevin Eiben coaching the linebackers. Chris Jones is taking on the task of coaching up the front seven. Rich Stubler is assuming the responsibilities of handling the back end of Toronto’s defense. As acting defensive coordinator, Chris Jones is overseeing all three areas.

Toronto Argonauts Injury Updates/Practice Report

Nick Arbuckle practiced today after being limited all week due to a hamstring injury, but his status for Friday night’s game is still up in the air.

However, it appears that he will play. Coach Ryan Dinwiddie told CFLNewsHub today that Arbuckle is ready to go. But the trainers will still have to clear him. McLeod Bethel-Thompson has been getting some reps in practice with the first-team, in case Arbuckle can’t go.

The injury to Arbuckle’s hamstring is slightly different than the one he sustained in training camp. It’s the same leg but in a separate area.

Arbuckle tweaked his hamstring in the 3rd quarter of last Friday’s game in Saskatchewan. He played through the injury and was able to finish the game.

Arbuckle’s injury is something to monitor closely. It didn’t affect him against SSK, but the Argos offense runs a lot of zone read and option plays, and Arbuckle is required to move quite a bit orchestrating the game plan. The injury could also affect his throwing when it comes to planting and setting his feet.

When asked about the possibility of dressing a third quarterback this Friday to guard against the possibility of an Arbuckle setback and potentially help the team with its short-yardage woes in the red zone, Dinwiddie said that it’s something that the staff has entertained. Still, with so many injuries on the roster, it’s not something that is feasible.

The CFL has several loopholes when dressing a third QB, but the restrictions also work against teams. Especially those who have multiple injuries. The Argonauts currently have two dynamic runners at quarterback in Antonio Pipkin and Cole McDonald on their practice roster.

Toronto moved their practices indoors today to the Ontario Soccer Center. They expect to resume practice tomorrow at Lamport Stadium. Their last practice of the week before facing the Alouettes at BMO on Friday night.

Double Blue Debuts On Deck

Defensive line standouts Drake Nevis and Cordarro Law are itching closer to making their debuts for Toronto.

Ryan Dinwiddie told CFLNewshub that both veterans could play now if needed. But the team has yet to determine whether they will use the upcoming bye week to give both veterans some extra time to recover. Nevis is working on his conditioning while recovering from a back injury. Law is dealing with a knee injury but looks ready to go.

WR Kendall Wright, who has reported to the team this week, has already been making a solid impression even though Toronto has several receivers dinged up like Ricky Collins (knee), DeVaris Daniels (hamstring), and Eric Rogers (hamstring). With others like Juwan Brescasin and Daniel Braverman on the shelf due to injury. It’s not likely that the NFL veteran Wright will make his debut this Friday. But the quick study could be a part of the team’s passing attack when the Argos return from their bye week.

Argonauts LB Depth

Although it hasn’t been officially announced by the team, starting linebackers, Cameron Judge and Henoc Muamba will miss Friday’s game against Montreal. Judge has a foot sprain, and Muamba is nursing a hamstring injury. Henoc wants to play, but the Argos figure to exercise caution with the superstar.

The Argos were hoping to have rookie Jack Cassar back in the lineup by now, but he is still not ready to return from the team’s six-game injured list. Veteran fan favourite Bear Woods is also on Toronto’s injured reserve. Brandon Calver is also headed towards being inactive on Friday after injuring his knee on the opening play of last week’s loss to the Riders’.

The good news for the Boatmen is that Vontae Diggs has returned to practice after dealing with an illness last week. And Dexter McCoil, who leads the team in defensive snaps, will be on tap to man the Argos linebacking corps.

The Argonauts signed CFL veteran Alex Chevrier this week to help with the team’s depth. Rookie Trevor Hoyte played the MIKE position last week and saw plenty of action on the field in relief of Muamba and Judge. Hoyte could have more on his plate this coming Friday.

Argonauts Offensive Line Depth

For Toronto, the week nine bye can’t come soon enough. Prior to the start of training camp, The Argos projected starters on the offensive line were LT Isaiah Cage, G Philip Blake, C Cody Speller, G Dariusz Bladek, and RT Jamal Campbell.

Cage injured his knee in camp. Speller didn’t show up due to personal reasons, and Philip Blake is now on the team’s six-game injured list. First-round rookie Peter Nicastro has stepped up to start all six games for Toronto at guard and center respectively. LT Dejon Allen has also done an excellent job as a CFL rookie on the blindside.

Shane Richards, who has started in the trenches for Blake in the last two games, looks like he will be out with an ankle injury. Dariusz Bladek has been limited all week with a chest and hip injury.

It’s possible that the Argos could be turning to Theren Churchill, Dylan Giffen, or maybe both to start at guard this week. The multitude of injuries on Toronto’s offensive line could result in former Tiger-Cats left tackle Trevon Tate seeing his first game action for the Argos against Montreal.

Friday’s game for the Argos is not only crucial for the team in the standings and playoff picture. But they are hoping to come away from the game still in one piece.

4-3 and on the top of East, along with maybe Hamilton, depending on the result of tonight’s Hamilton-Ottawa game, will make Toronto feel a whole lot better mentally and physically as the midway point of the season arrives.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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