Chris Jones reset the standard for the Toronto Argonauts defence in his first week with the double blue.
Jones watched copious amounts of film during his seven-day quarantine and coached up the defensive players as best he could in a short time frame entering Week 8 against the Montreal Alouettes.
“Chris Jones came in with a standard and a level of expectations. The things that were expected of us were brought to us as normal. This is expected every play, this is not just you do it sometimes, this is not a good play — this is a regular play,” defensive back Shaquille Richardson said.
“These certain type of things were expected coming in, it’s not like those things were treated as special, those things were treated as things you should do every snap. The standard of play was set a little stronger, so that helped our defence focus in and know what we had to do.”
Jones’ unit shutout the Als in the opening 15 minutes, but Vernon Adams Jr. and William Stanback led the birds offence to 27 points in the final three quarters during a comeback effort that ultimately fell three points short. Montreal managed 560 total offensive yards versus the evolving Boatmen defence.
“Guys were a little standoffish with him at first because they’re like: ‘Well, who is this guy coming in here to change things?’ Glen Young’s gone and he’s not here so we needed to bring a guy in,” head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said.
“Just his presence, how he controls the room and his leadership, I thought he got that going. Those guys are buying into it. Chris is new, the scheme is new. We’ll continue to add more during the bye week.
The 54-year-old defensive guru was visibly upset a number of times on the sideline at BMO Field during the Argos 30-27 win. Linebacker Dexter McCoil, who won the Most Outstanding Rookie award under Jones in 2014, led the double blue with six tackles. Surefire Hall of Fame defensive end Charleston Hughes had five tackles and one sack in his first game being reunited with Jones.
“It was more intense. We had a focused intent in practice and our goals were clear. We had more focus on details, the game plan was a little bit more simple. We simplified the defence and detailed the calls that were in,” Richardson said.
All of the defensive players noticed a heightened focus on taking the football away from the opposition. That drew results in the game as Toronto forced three turnovers. Richardson and Chris Edwards intercepted Adams Jr. and Crezdon Butler recovered a fumble after the ball was knocked loose from receiver B.J. Cunningham post-catch.
“Chris did a good job. Just his presence and leadership was huge in the room, guys are starting to gravitate towards him. He’s got a great mind, likes to be creative,” Dinwiddie said.
“Chris is an established coordinator, established head coach and established general manager, but he’s really known for his defence and I played against him, coached against him, I know how good he is at it.”
Following a week off, the Argos host the Ottawa Redblacks on Wednesday, October 6 and travel to Hamilton for a game on Thanksgiving Monday to finish Week 10.