QB Joseph benched

New coach Don Matthews is shaking things up in Argoland. (Sun Media/Craig Robertson)

New coach Don Matthews is shaking things up in Argoland. (Sun Media/Craig Robertson)

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

You've got to hand it to Don Matthews. The man doesn't mess around.

Exactly one week after taking over the head coaching reins from Rich Stubler, the owner of five Grey Cup rings decided drastic changes were needed in Argoland.

So he made the biggest change possible: He benched starting quarterback and reigning league MVP Kerry Joseph in favour of little-known backup Cody Pickett.

Everyone expected Matthews to do something drastic after the 39-9 pounding his club endured Friday night at the hands of the then 2-8 Winnipeg Blue Bombers. But when he mentioned Pickett would start Saturday night in Calgary during his daily media briefing, more than a few of the listeners laughed believing Matthews was making a joke.

But this was no joke. Matthews was as serious as a heart attack.

Joseph was not available to the media yesterday, nor were any of his teammates, but he took the news "as you would expect," Matthews said.

But that didn't deter the Don from doing what he thinks is best for the team.

"What I'm trying to do is put the best team on the field that I can with the knowledge I have," Matthews said. "It's not rocket science."

Matthews believes he saw enough promise in Pickett in the fourth quarter of Friday's blowout loss to warrant the change. Pickett, who had not seen the field all season to that point, was 9-of-13 passing for 100 yards. The Argos scored just a field goal in the quarter, but Matthews was impressed with the 28-year-old CFL neophyte -- at least more impressed than by what Joseph has accomplished this season.

"Sometimes guys are victims, not because of their poor play but the play around them, and that was certainly the case in a lot of Kerry Joseph's instance. But when we're ready to make plays, then you need to make plays as well," Matthews said.

Matthews says there is no long-term commitment to Pickett as the starter.

"Has this got a chance to flip-flop?" Matthews asked. "Depends on what we see, but right now this is the way we are going."

Matthews is adamant this is not a move designed to get his players' attention.

"I don't get attention. I don't send messages. I make decisions based on what I think is best for the football team."

But the fact remains Matthews is making this move with next to no knowledge of Pickett's ability.

"I know he's from Idaho and I went to the University of Idaho," Matthews said when asked what he knew about Pickett. "I know his dad was a great champion roper or cowboy. I've watched (Cody) in practice and he is very calm and cool. He went in (Friday) and handled the team very well. He's a smart kid and an athletic kid and we're going to see if he's ready to play football."

UNIVERSITY STANDOUT

Pickett was a standout at the University of Washington, saw limited playing time in two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers then moved on for brief stops in Houston and Oakland before joining the Argos last season.

While Pickett's promotion was the big news of the day, Matthews was not shy in announcing more changes are coming and the defence can expect some.

Along those lines, the Argos signed three-time Eastern all-star linebacker Tim Strickland and defensive lineman Claude Harriott to the practice roster.

Matthews said Strickland will not be activated for Saturday's game, but his pre-sence should have some Argo defenders looking over their shoulders.


Videos

Photos