November 26, 2012
Youthful Argonauts defence give Stampeders nightmares
By BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Calgary Stampeders will be seeing the Argos' defence in its dreams.
Make that their nightmares.
Defensive coordinator Chris Jones' rough and tough newbies propelled the Argos to their first Grey Cup win at home in 60 years, throwing up roadblocks everywhere for Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn and the Stampeders.
The final score: 35-22.
"People underestimated how valuable team chemistry is," said defensive end/linebacker Ricky Foley, after being named the game's outstanding Canadian. "This team stuck together through the tough times. Last year guys kind of turned on each other. We didn't do that this year. When guys made mistakes, or felt bad about performance we picked guys up and we started on such a roll."
As Champagne corks popped in the background, Foley screamed: "I'm goin' to Vegas. So many guys made plays. It's just so unbelievable. The crowd was crazy. Thank you Toronto so much."
This was a night that felt more like a happening from the outset, then it did a football game.
For instance, as with all good parties there were dancing girls - some from every dance team in the league.
There was noise. And people. All 53,208 of them. And a few didn't even come just to see The Bieb as they fell in love with a Toronto defence that set up the first two scores; then settled for making life a misery for Jon Cornish, limited to 58 yards.
"We knew that Cornish was the motor," said linebacker Marcus Ball. "If he doesn't run, they can't roll. It was a mission for us because he was a big challenge. He's No. 1 in the league."
On this night, though, there was only one No. 1. And it was wearing Double Blue.
This was a defence that was near perfect. Mostly disciplined. It was a defence that proved it could walk the talk — and they talked plenty.
Foley, on this night was the inspirational leader, Ball waving the crowd on like an orchestra leader on every other play. Adriano Belli trash talking. Earlier in the week Argos' chairman Pinball Clemons said the key to an Argonauts win would be if the defence could dominate.
He called it. Guy might want to go buy a lottery ticket while hes hot.
Cornish was greeted with gang-tackling Argonauts. At times it felt like Armond Armstead was lining up in the Calgary huddle. A fumble recovery by Foley set up the first TD. A Pacino Horne interception had Toronto up 14-3.
Foley seemed at the bottom of every pile, as Toronto built a 24-6 lead at halftime, turning a night of Argomania into 40-minutes of Biebermania - and the wonderment if this young Argos team really could turn this into a magical season.
Calgary's agony began on the first play with Ball throwing Cornish for a one-yard loss. It was an omen. As the bedlam of the dressing room surrounded him, Ball sat quietly by his plastic-draped locker.
"Just soakin' in the moment, man!" he said.
"I'm from Atlanta and watched the Braves do this, I've seen Michael Jordan do this and I always wondered what it would be like. Wondered what that moment would be like. And, now it's here. Wonderful. Just wonderful. The Lakers, LeBron, I watched them.
"With all the new coaches, new players, nobody gave us a shot ... and look at us now."
The second play never even got it off, crowd noise forcing Glenn into a time count violantion.
On Calgary's second possession Foley hit Taylor for no yards covering a Prefontaine punt, jumped on Taylor on the first down play. Then with Glenn and Cornish muffing the exchange Foley — in perhaps his best series of the season, fell on the fumble. The crowd roared, he lept up, booting the ball into the stands in celebration.
"Having this kind of crowd really helped the pass rush," said Ron Flemons, who along with Foley each sacked Glenn. "How could we not be enthusiastic. We just fed off them. The lights. The sound."
There were moments of regret, even for the Argonauts, in a night of such bumptious exchanges. Belli, with 2:11 to play in the third took a seriously bad unnecessary roughness penalty and got disqualified.
But mostly the Argos' defence fed on their energy and the crowd. On second and goal from the three, Ejiro Kuale threw Romby Bryant for a seven-yard loss, forcing a Calgary field goal.
Calgary's Maurice Price, with four consecutive 100 yard games, was shut out in the first half, finishing with just 17 yards on two catches. Calgary had a net of just 53 yards rushing. So when final seconds ticked away, the players danced. Cameras popped. And the crowd began to sing — and it was good. Sweeter even, on this night, than anything the Bieb could offer up.
Future unknown for Argos defensive coach
Toronto defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones didn't say he wanted to leave Toronto be a head coach.
But he also didn't say he wouldn't consider the right job if it came along.
Jones said after Toronto's Grey Cup win he will pick his spots.
Right now that spot is in Toronto.
"I know you need a solid organization. You have to have a quarterback in place. You need a lot of things. It's not just a matter of being a head coach. I know a lot of guys who have gotten opportunities to be head coaches and aren't in the league anymore.
"So it has to be the right situation."
Jones has won Cups in ‘02 and ‘08 and now with Toronto.
This was perhaps his most impressive season, putting together a team of mostly new, untested parts.
"For them to learn all the stuff we do is fantastic. It's a tribute to them. It's been fun. I wanted to pull my hair out sometimes, but I love them."