The Toronto Argonauts have made two changes to their coaching staff with defensive coordinator Glen Young and defensive backs coach Josh Bell being placed on leave.
The moves coincided with MLSE implementing a policy requiring all staff members to be vaccinated unless their contract falls under a collective bargaining agreement.
Head coach Ryan Dinwiddie declined to specify why Young and Bell were no longer with the team when speaking to the media on Monday, indicating that it was for a “personal reason.” He does not know if either coach will be back with the team this season, suggesting “personal decisions” would play a factor in any potential return.
Defensive assistant Rich Stubler will take over Young’s role for this week’s game vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders, though he has not formally been named the team’s interim defensive coordinator.
Stubler has over 25 years of experience as a defensive coordinator in the CFL and will call plays on Friday while coaching the secondary. Kevin Eiben, a former CFL all-star linebacker who is in his fourth season on Toronto’s coaching staff, will focus primarily on coaching the front-seven.
My colleague Justin Dunk reported on Monday morning that former Saskatchewan Roughriders’ head coach and general manager Chris Jones has resigned as the head coach at South Pittsburg High School to join Toronto’s coaching staff.
Dinwiddie did not confirm or deny the hiring of Jones, suggesting that the timeline since the departure of Young and Bell has been too short to make any firm decisions. He did confirm that the team is looking to hire an extra person to help coach the defence, calling Jones a “great defensive coordinator.”
The Argos would be unable to have any new staff members from the U.S. at practice this week due to COVID-19 restrictions. A new hire would have to quarantine for four days and pass two PCR tests before joining the club, making Week 8 the earliest time at which he or she could formally join the team.
Dinwiddie denied that hiring a big-name veteran coach like Chris Jones would be a source of concern for him as a first-year head coach.
“I think some people might have those thoughts,” said Dinwiddie. “For me, I want to make sure I bring in the best guy so we can win football games. I owe that to the organization, I owe that to my players.”
Toronto currently leads the East Division at 3-2 with newcomers such as Shawn Oakman, Dexter McCoil, and Jeff Richards making a strong impact on defence. The Argos currently rank first in rushing yards allowed per game, fourth in passing yards allowed per game, and tied for fifth in sacks.
Dinwiddie appreciates the hard work that Young and Bell did, but doesn’t feel the defence will regress following their departure.
“I don’t think so. That’s not fair to say for Glen and Josh — they’d done a great job — but that’s just how I feel about our talent on defence,” said Dinwiddie. “Those guys work together and know the system. They’re a veteran group and they’ll find a way to overcome it. I feel comfortable with [Stubler]. I know he’ll put us in a favourable spot to go win this game.”