The Toronto Argonauts were arguably the CFL’s most impressive team of Week 1, beating the Calgary Stampeders by a score of 23-20 at McMahon Stadium. Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea has watched the film of the upset and gave Toronto’s defence a glowing review.
“They looked good. They obviously went out and signed a bunch of veteran players. I don’t know what the exact number is but if you look at how many guys are left on that defence from 2019, it’s not many. They’ve gone through some wholesale change and brought in veteran guys,” said O’Shea in a videoconference.
“They brought in leaders in those areas. You know me, that’s kind of our recipe. I like to keep our veterans and I like the veteran leadership, so that’s probably a good start for them.”
Toronto held Calgary’s offence to 353 yards on Saturday and limited running back Ka’Deem Carey to 4.2 yards per carry. Veteran defensive back Shaquille Richardson intercepted two-time CFL MOP Bo Levi Mitchell in the final minute of the game to seal the victory.
The unit is coached by Glen Young, who spent the past four seasons as a defensive assistant with the Blue Bombers.
“I’m excited for Glen,” said O’Shea. “I’m glad he got the opportunity he got but in terms of anything more than that, we’re pretty well focused in this building on what our task is at hand. Besides the pleasantries and a laugh before the game and maybe a handshake after, it’s pretty well business.”
O’Shea and Young were teammates with the Toronto Argonauts for two seasons (1998-99) and are both natives of Ontario — the former is from North Bay, while the latter is from Scarborough.
Young was hired as Winnipeg’s linebackers coach in 2016 after having served as the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at College at Brockport, State University of New York. A number of young players flourished under his guidance including Khalil Bass, Kyle Knox, and Jovan Santos-Knox.
The Syracuse product added the role of defensive line coach in his third season in Winnipeg and the defence continued to improve, finishing tied for first in sacks in 2018 and first in rushing yards allowed in 2019.
With the Argos scheduled for a date in Winnipeg on Friday, quarterback Zach Collaros knows the Blue Bombers have to be ready to face Toronto’s new-look defence.
“We have to be able to react and adapt to whatever they do come Friday,” said Collaros. “It’s going to be a challenge for us — they played really well against Calgary. They’re physical upfront, they get to the passer. On the backend, they do a great job of route-reading. They’re just a very talented group.”