Toronto Argonauts: CFL Winter Meeting updates, Pinball, Milanovich

With CFL executives and coaches meeting, Toronto Argonauts general manager Michael “Pinball” Clemons and Scott Milanovich discuss this upcoming season.

As CFL teams like the Toronto Argonauts prepare for a crucial part of the off-season, the league held their annual winter meetings at the Blue Mountain resort in Collingwood, Ontario with a lot of business needing to get done.

One of the important thins on the agenda was to put the final stamp on the CBA which the league settled just as training camps opened last season. Of course, Randy Ambrosie is pushing forward with his vision for CFL 2.0.

What these meetings also provided was a chance to catch up with teams and what they were looking to do after the holiday season. We got a chance to talk to current Argos GM Michael “Pinball” Clemons to see where the team stands heading into free agency and former head coach Scott Milanovich who will make his return to the sidelines.

Pinball talks Argos next step after hiring Dinwiddie

While the Argos have not announced Ryan Dinwiddie’s coaching staff, they are settled on a direction and there could be some offers and agreements to talk about soon.

As for the team’s next steps, they seem to be pretty quiet on their plans for the quarterback position although Dinwiddie told CFL’s Chris O’Leary that he has a ranking of the QBs on the market. An interesting note the Argos coach made was on McLeod Bethel-Thompson saying that he put up some impressive numbers so you wonder if he is still an option.

The rest of the roster still remains a work in progress but one area Clemons wanted to address was leadership and they made a big commitment signing Bear Woods to a two-year extension.

“This young man is different right you know, it’s no other way to say it. This thing that is leadership is hard to define,” said Clemons on why it was important to bring Woods back. “Sometimes it’s better to show someone than tell them and and he does that in spades.”

“So after this past season, we came to the conclusion that he was a guy we would have benefited having in training camp from the very start. And so we didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.”

Clemons admits that the team is looking to do more to address the leadership of the team so that they can define their culture with the new direction they are going in.

When it comes to what the team wants to accomplish in the stands, Clemons admits it’s not his department but he will offer some thoughts and ideas to help in any way. He also admits that there is still a lot of work to be done.

“While we can say yes, there are younger people who attend our games and they are,” said Clemons on seeing more young people at BMO Field “But the reality is we don’t need to get marginally better, we have to get significantly better and hopefully we can start that this year.”

Toronto Argonauts

Quarterback Ricky Ray #15 and Scott Milanovich, head coach of the Toronto Argonauts, stand on the sidelines in second half action in a CFL game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Milanovich excited to reunite with Trevor Harris

Seeing all the familiar faces in Collingwood felt like a homecoming for Milanovich considering he spent the past few years in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While the new head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos has been fielding calls from many people who want to join his coaching staff, he admits that he is still in a transitional period considering the NFL season ended not too long ago.

“It’s been hectic. I just finished in Jacksonville a week ago yesterday. So that made it difficult,” said Milanovich. “Really what I’ve been doing is anytime I have free time I’ve been trying to get stuff put together. So we’re very close to that, the next thing is we’re going to be diving into our personality who we are. And you know what I think we can be [as a team and staff].”

He hasn’t had a lot of time to watch the CFL as closely but did keep in touch with the friends he made in the league but did keep an eye on Edmonton’s crossover game against the Montreal Alouettes.

One thing he anticipates being different is how things is the evolution of the X’s and O’s and what teams are doing schematically across the league. What he hopes will help is having an experienced CFL staff that can help with the transition.

While he hasn’t had an opportunity to do a deep dive on Trevor Harris’ play, just by what he knows from his time in Toronto and the few conversations they have had recently Milanovich does notice a difference.

“Just talking to him, I can tell his confidence level is higher,” said Milanovich. “Trevor has always been an accurate guy, he’s worked really hard, he loves the game and he’s taken the next step in terms of leadership and confidence.”

As he did in Toronto, Milanovich expects to have a big hand in what the Eskimos do offensively and he will probably look to hire a quarterbacks coach and one name that had come up was Ricky Ray.

There has always been the discussion that Ray would eventually get into coaching once his playing career was done and some thought that he would join Jason Maas when he was the head coach in Edmonton. Milanovich says that in his conversations with the former QB he coached to a Grey Cup in 2012, Ray is still looking to spend time with his family and not ready to coach just yet.

Next: Takeaways from Ryan Dinwiddie’s press conference

Something tells me that if the opportunity presented itself, Milanovich will be one of the first to try and recruit Ray to join his staff.

 

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