Toronto Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie spoke for the first time, here are some takeaways.
The Toronto Argonauts introduced their new head coach Friday, in a press conference at BMO field.
Ryan Dinwiddie, the former quarterback who spent the last three years as the QB coach in Calgary, has been named the team’s fifty-ninth coach, effective immediately.
Throughout the expansive, thirty-three-minute press conference, the Argonauts explained the change in direction by citing the “three c’s” – consistency, culture, and coaching.
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This, more than anything else, drove MLSE, Manning, and Michael “Pinball” Clemons to make a change.
“When you look at the Grey cup this year, the champion hadn’t won in twenty-nine years.” Clemons began. “We’ve won six times in that time. But it’s been up-and-down, up-and down. No consistency.”
In fact, the Argos have been consistent in the wrong way, losing back to back 4-14 seasons.
“[This team] has the championships, but we need to compete at that consistent level.” Clemons said.
Knowing this, Dinwiddie’s hire makes a lot of sense. It’s hard to find a better example of consistency in the CFL than the Calgary Stampeders in the last five years. The Montreal Alouettes of the previous five are another good example. Dinwiddie worked in both organizations, and MLSE is hoping he will bring what he saw on a day-to-day basis to the Argonauts.
To achieve that level of consistency, Pinball felt a culture change was in order.
Reading between the lines, (Clemons is much too diplomatic to say it outright), Chamblin’s team philosophy did not seem to mesh with the former Grey cup winning coach.
“Ryan’s obsession with excellence and desire to win is what drove me to him.” Clemons said. “This guy’s a workaholic. I know he’ll be here before me and he’ll be here after me every day.”
So what will that culture change look like? Ryan Dinwiddie has already dropped some hints.
“I can develop [whoever plays quarterback]”. Dinwiddie said confidently. “I have the track record for it. We gotta’ protect the quarterback so he can play all 18 games. We need our quarterback playing all 18 games, and hopefully three more.”
An obvious statement on the surface, but when you consider how Chamblin handled the Qb spot down the stretch, it is refreshingly different. Chamblin always preached that the team felt they had “two starting quarterbacks”, and that either could work their way in week to week, before injuries forced his hand. The team could benefit from one clear leader moving forward.
On the other sides of the ball, Dinwiddie is looking to hire strong, independent coordinators that will play his style of football.
“I want to hire the right guy on defence who will be aggressive like me. Our special teams need to hit hard. It’s about being aggressive.”
If this means the 2020 Argos will have an abundance of fight in all three phases of the game, the fans will be happy.
Perhaps the clearest shot at the previous season’s coaching staff came when Clemons was asked to describe what he liked about Dinwiddie’s coaching style.
“We need teachers, not tellers.” He said, with his trademark Pinball smile.
“We don’t need coaches who will tell their players what happened. They can turn around and look in the stands –the fans can tell you what just happened. We need the coaches to teach the players what happened, how to avoid it, what to do next…”
In a way, Clemons is taking an analytical approach. Being able to motivate your players verbally or emotionally isn’t as important as the actual x’s and o’s in the modern CFL, and Dinwiddie clearly points to that.
“We need to be sound, schematically, and teach the right things.” Dinwiddie said when asked to explain how he planned to turn things around.
“As I said, we need to protect the quarterback. That’s personnel, but it’s also being smart schematically.”
Dinwiddie’s most outstanding coaching accomplishment came during his time in Calgary, where he was the QB coach. That has often been attributed to the success of Bo Levi Mitchell, but when Mitchell went down with an injury earlier this year, the entire offence was retooled to better benefit backup Nick Arbuckle.
Arbuckle’s success proved Dinwiddie could scheme an offence for a quarterback personally, which was again something that the 2019 Toronto Argonauts failed to do on a week to week basis.
The system was the system, and both quarterbacks were made to fit it last year. Fair or not, management clearly felt Chamblin was a teller. MLSE is hoping Dinwiddie can be a teacher.
For the most part, Clemons, Manning, and Dinwiddie seemed to be on the same page. There was only one aspect of their joint press conference that seemed to indicate the opposite – exactly when did the team’s courting of Dinwiddie begin?
“This all came together quickly.” Manning said, when asked to elaborate on the hiring process.
But Dinwiddie said earlier that he had been telling “many friends no in the last few weeks” when asked about who he will bring on as his coordinators.
If Dinwiddie has known he would be the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts for weeks, (or at the very least, that it was a possibility), then the Argonauts would have to explain why Corey Chamblin remained involved in some of the earlier signings of this off-season.
Clemons said the team did not interview anyone else, which would suggest the Argos got their man, but the discrepancy stood out in a press conference that was otherwise notable for its unity.
What’s next for the Toronto Argonauts? All three men agreed – Dinwiddie will fill in his staff in the next few weeks, before the team shifts their focus to free agency.