The Toronto Argonauts did not rest on the laurels of their successful 2021 campaign. Instead of sticking with the status quo, the team made significant changes in the offseason. In many ways, the 2022 Argonauts are a brand new team. The Argos have new leaders on the field, in the locker room, and on the sidelines.
Out With The Old and In With The New Toronto Argonauts
Typically, when a team wins its division and comes up one step short of competing for a championship. When the offseason arrives, They barely tinker with their roster and make subtle changes. The idea is not to disrupt a good thing.
The Argos employed the opposite approach. They changed their coaching staff and overall philosophy. And have moved on from some of the team’s most productive players from a season ago. The team’s leading rushers in 2021, DJ Foster and John White, are both gone. The Argos’ leading receiver a year ago, Ricky Collins, wasn’t brought back. Toronto’s leading tackler, Dexter McCoil, retired, and the team’s two high-profile veteran pass rushers, Cordarro Law and Charleston Hughes, failed to live up to expectations and were shown the door.
Toronto’s actions in the offseason are a telltale sign that they didn’t think they were as good a year ago as their 9-win record indicated. They wanted to get better.
The bottom line is that Toronto took their bitter East Final loss at the hands of Hamilton to heart. They saw the Ti-Cats top players, Dane Evans and JaGared Davis, rise to the occasion and carry their team over the top against them. As a result, Toronto wanted to add leaders and difference-making players to their own locker room who can come through in the clutch when it is needed the most. Hence, the reason that JaGared Davis was lured away to the Six. And ultimately why the Boatmen made their biggest splash of the offseason by signing one of the best big-game players in CFL history Andrew Harris.
Adding players like Andrew Harris, JaGared Davis, Brandon Banks, and many others were not simple tweaks to an already established team. They were looking to change the culture.
The Argos went beyond adding new leaders on the field. They were also going to change their philosophy on their coaching staff.
Everyone knew that no matter how the Argos’ 2021 season ended, there would be a massive shake-up to the team’s coaching staff. Chris Jones was a hired gun, brought on board in midstream last season to commandeer the Boatmen’s ship on defence. As expected, Jones moved on immediately when the dust settled. He took complete control of the Edmonton franchise and whisked away several 2021 Argos assistants, and recently added some of Toronto’s players as well.
Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie foresaw this happening and was prepared. Dinwiddie revamped his entire staff almost immediately. He’s still going to call his own plays in Toronto, but he hired well-respected receivers coach Pete Costanza as his new pass game coordinator/receivers coach. Dinwiddie and Costanza have a shared history in Calgary and will work in lockstep. A different dynamic that Dinwiddie had with Jarious Jackson a season ago.
All offseason, Dinwiddie has talked about changing the team’s philosophy on offence by becoming a more downhill rushing team. Expect a brand new look to the Argos playbook in 2022. One that closely resembles the style Calgary had a few years back with Dinwiddie calling the plays.
The area that has seen the most significant change this offseason for Double Blue is their defence, now led by Corey Mace. The newly-minted defensive coordinator is also coaching Toronto’s defensive line. Kevin Eiben(Linebackers & ST assistant) remains on the staff from a year ago. But Joshua Bell, who once shared a locker room with Mace in Calgary, has returned to the Six. Newcomer Will Fields will team with Bell in coaching the Argos secondary.
A lot has changed since the last time Toronto took the field last December 5th. Five of the seven Argonauts’ defensive backs dressed for the East Final are gone. Most notably, starters Jalen Collins, Jeff Richards, Crezdon Butler, and top backup Treston Decoud. They have all been shipped out by the Boatmen’s new brass.
Changes are sure to follow whenever there is significant coaching turnover on any staff. And usually, inherited holdover players have difficulty connecting with their new coaches.
No matter how good players performed in a previous year. When a new coaching staff arrives, it’s expected that they will lean more toward players they have a comfort level with in their system. So it’s not shocking that Corey Mace handpicked former Stampeders Royce Metchie, Wynton McManis, and Dashaun Amos to join him in the Six. It’s also no surprise that new secondary coach Will Fields has two players he coached in the XFL, Tarvarus McFadden, and Robert Priester, on the roster. All these players have usurped the Argos’ old guard on defence.
The expectation in 2022 for the Toronto Argonauts is higher than it was a season ago. Philosophically and in the locker room, the team will have a brand new look.
Toronto Argonauts Bye Week News And Notes
The Toronto Argonauts will have to wait one more week for their 2022 season to start. The Boatmen are using the extra time allotted during a Week 1 bye to prepare for the Montreal Alouettes next Thursday night at BMO Field.
The Argos will resume practicing today at Lamport Stadium. And there’s no doubt that the players and coaches will be scouting their first opponent of the new season, Montreal, as they kick off the 2022 campaign in Calgary against the Stamps on Thursday night.
There are two key starters that Toronto is hoping to have in their starting lineup for the home opener against the Als. Centre Peter Nicastro and DB Shaq Richardson.
Nicastro missed the final four games of the 2021 season and training camp/preseason. But the team activated him off their injured list to the active roster on Wednesday. Perhaps a sign that Nicastro is getting closer to returning. Free-agent pickup Justin Lawrence has been handling the middle for Toronto in his stead. And would start if Nicastro isn’t ready by next Thursday. But a return of one of the CFL’s best rookies a year ago would provide an excellent boost for Double Blue’s offensive line.
Due to injury, standout defensive back Shaq Richardson has also missed all of camp and the preseason. Shaq is currently on the team’s suspended list because he has been away from the team. But sources close to the Argos indicated earlier this week that Richardson would be joining the team soon.
With all the changes in the Argos secondary from last season, especially with Chris Edwards suspended to start the year. Richardson’s experience and high level of play will be needed against Montreal’s potent passing attack.
On Wednesday, the Argos announced the re-signing of Global DB Tigie Sankoh. Less than a week after Toronto released the well-traveled 25-year-old veteran at final cuts. Last season, Sankoh played in four games and had six special teams tackles. He has versatility as someone who can play on the boundary or at safety. And with CFL teams allowed to carry a second global player on game day as the 45th player. Sankoh may dress in plenty of games this coming season.
Argos fans asked for it, and their wish was granted. Toronto’s official radio duo of Natey Adjei and Mike Hogan will be teaming up for a weekly show called the “Cover 2” Argos Podcast. It will air every Wednesday starting June 15th, the day before Toronto’s home opener. Adjei and Hogan recently teamed up for an entertaining live stream of Toronto’s preseason finale on the Argonauts’ website. The two have great chemistry on-air and should be an entertaining weekly listen. My lone gripe is that the podcast could have been called “Cover Six.”