Adjei: Chris Jones’ defence created mismatch for rookie QB Caleb Evans

Chris Edwards
Photo courtesy: Toronto Argonauts

Offense, defense, special teams, and I’m sure if there was another unit the Argos had they would’ve found a way to score on that as well.

That’s the type of night it was for the Double Blue in an early defensive battle. This matchup saw seven punts by both teams with the first touchdown of the game not occurring until 3:40 left in the first half. On a momentum-changing play, Argos fullback Dion Pellerin blocked a Richie Leone punt which led to the 2020 second overall pick, Dejon Brissett, scooping it up and bringing in for the major the first of his career.

The major story coming into this game was how Redblacks rookie QB Caleb Evans, who impressed in his first start against the Edmonton Elks, would fare in his second game against a Chris Jones-lead defence.

Ottawa looked to be in complete control of the first half and played the type of game that would help a young quarterback succeed. This included a strong defence, quick throws, screens and QB-designed runs. Evans looked impressive despite not putting up a first-half touchdown, helping the Redblacks get ahead with a 9-8 lead. This was only the second time all season they’ve gone into a half with a lead.

The second half turned out to be a completely different game. The Argos rallied and blew the score open with 27 points in the third quarter alone. The first major came on a perfectly-timed screen pass to DJ Foster from McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

The Argos caught the Redblacks’ defence in a blitz and once the screen pass was completed to Foster, he was gone for 63 yards after the catch. Although they failed to convert for two, the Argos secured a lead that they would not lose for the remainder of the game.

The second half also saw an Argos’ defence that clearly had Evans figured out. They forced several ill-advised throws. Notably, one of which came on an awkward snap with poor grip that ended up tipped at the line by Cordarro Law. This resulted in Dexter McCoil making the pick and taking it 71 yards for a touchdown.

After forcing a two-and-out, the Argos’ offence went to work from their own 43-yard line, driving 46 yards and capping it off on a beautiful pass on a corner route to Damion Jeanpiere for the 21-yard touchdown pass.

The Argos also did an excellent job of stopping the momentum of the effective returner, Devonte Dedmon. He was held without a touchdown for the first time in three games. Dedmon was on track to be the first Ottawa player to score a special teams touchdown in three consecutive games since 1995.

The Argos’ special teams cover units played exceptionally well, limiting one of the league’s top return men.

The end of the third quarter saw Caleb Evans attempt a short pass to Anthony Coombs. This was read well by Chris Edwards and picked off. Edwards ran this back for an impressive 81-yard touchdown, showcasing his kick-return ability.

A bright spot from the Redblacks came when Brendan Gillanders blocked a Bede punt, which led to a touchdown by Frédéric Chagnon, bringing the score to 35-16 Argos.

After the adjustments at half, it was an apparent mismatch between the rookie quarterback Evans and Chris Jones’ defence. Jones is making his mark on an already talented defensive lineup, with challenging matchups on the horizon.

It’ll be a quick turnaround for both teams after a rare Wednesday matching. Toronto will take on Hamilton on Thanksgiving Monday, while Ottawa will play against Montreal.