It didn’t take long for the new starting quarterback of the Toronto Argonauts to begin preparing for his next game following a 32-14 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in his team’s home opener.
“I told [my family] I had to go and I stayed up for another four or five hours eating mozzarella sticks,” Chad Kelly laughed. “And, you know, just watched film. I was already moved on to Edmonton after I rewatched the game, so I was just anxious to get started.”
The Argos are heading to Edmonton for their second matchup of the regular season to take on the winless Elks on Sunday. Kelly was a longtime member of Edmonton’s negotiation list but never signed with the team, declining a contract offer before his rights were traded to the Double Blue in 2021. He indicated there’s no bad blood between him and the organization, but hadn’t thought about the trade until asked about it.
Instead, the 29-year-old is focused on maximizing his team’s performance against a sound Elks defence.
“They’re fast, they’re physical, they’re long, they’re aggressive,” he said. “There are some things that they do that are a little different and that is not traditional. But, I think that’s what makes Edmonton good.”
Nevertheless, Kelly is not the only one concentrating heavily on preparation. He said Toronto’s receivers, running backs, and fullbacks get together for 20 minutes to watch film of practice every day.
“As long as we keep on sticking together and staying focused on what the goal is, and that’s to win each snap, not to win every game.”
Ultimately, Kelly wants to be remembered as a winner — one who is loyal and gives confidence to other people. That’s something he learned from former Argos’ starting quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who mentored him during the 2022 season before leaving to play for the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers.
“It was such a great room to be in last year and I learned so much,” he said. “The totality of everything he did and how he handled himself, the way he prepared, the way he did things, I took so much from it.”
This season it’s Kelly who is considered a mentor to two backup quarterbacks who are brand new to the CFL. Bryan Scott out of Occidental College in Los Angeles and Cameron Dukes from Kentucky’s Lindsey Wilson College joined the Argos in March during the offseason.
“There are two young guys that are still trying to figure out how to watch film, let alone be able to bounce ideas off of. So, it’s a little different being the older guy and showing them the way.”
Kelly’s thankful for the support of the experienced people around him, such as head coach and offensive coordinator Ryan Dinwiddie, quarterbacks coach Mike Miller, and receivers coach and pass game coordinator Pete Costanza.
With that, Kelly is focused daily on preparedness and confirms that work is the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up in the morning.
“I’m ready to leave the house,” he said. “Let’s go to work, without wasting time. There’s bigger and better things to come, that’s how you got to think and approach every day.”
The hard work is paying off for Kelly thus far, as he impressed fans in his second-ever CFL regular season start and set the tone for the team’s 150th anniversary season. He completed 14-of-23 pass attempts for 208 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns while avoiding any turnovers in the afterglow of the franchise’s 18th Grey Cup banner-raising ceremony
When asked if he was afraid at all when it comes to the season ahead, Kelly turned to the surrounding staff and smiled excitedly.
“This woman just asked me if I’m afraid,” he said. “That’s why I’m the quarterback here, I’m not afraid.”