Know him well

The ca­reers of Chris Jones and Corey Cham­blin have criss-crossed for decades

Winnipeg Sun - - SPORTS - FRANK ZI­CARELLI fzi­carelli@post­media.com

Of all the peo­ple who helped Ar­gos de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Corey Cham­blin dur­ing his path as a player and later as a coach, one of the most im­pact­ful was Chris Jones, head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers, the Boat­men’s op­po­nent in Sun­day’s East Di­vi­sion semi­fi­nal at BMO Field.

As Cham­blin re­counted fol­low­ing the Ar­gos’ walk­through on Tues­day, it was in the mid-1990s while he at­tended Ten­nessee Tech whre Jones worked as a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant along the de­fen­sive line of scrim­mage un­der Mike Smith.

“That was the first time when I re­ally talked to him,’’ be­gan Cham­blin of Jones.

“The big­gest thing I al­ways say about Chris is that com­ing from a small school, I don’t think we ever had any­one who went to the pros in a num­ber of years. But af­ter the Mid­dle Ten­nessee State game, Chris is like: ‘If you get your head right and do what you need to do, you’ve got a shot to go to the pros.’

“He’s ac­tu­ally one of the first peo­ple who help set that path. Chris and I have had a long work­ing re­la­tion­ship since about that time in 1998, ’99.”

A lit­tle-known fact about Cham­blin is that he in­ter­cepted Dan Marino while play­ing in the de­fen­sive sec­ondary for the Jack­sonville Jaguars, who ate up the Dol­phins in the leg­endary QB’S fi­nal game, a play­off game no less.

The Cham­blin-jones con­nec­tion is one of many foot­ball ties sur­round­ing this Sun­day’s East fi­nal. The last time Riderna­tion cel­e­brated a Grey Cup cham­pi­onship was in 2013, the year Regina played host to the ti­tle game and Cham­blin served as head coach.

The last time the Ar­gos played host to an East fi­nal was in 2013, when Jones served as Toronto’s de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor be­fore he moved on to Ed­mon­ton as its head coach.

Toronto’s backup quar­ter­back in 2012, the year the Ar­gos last won a Grey Cup, was Jar­i­ous Jack­son, Saskatchewan’s cur­rent QBS coach. Dur­ing Toronto’s win over Cal­gary in the 100th Grey Cup, Jack­son threw a touch­down pass to An­dre Durie.

Cal­gary’s start­ing QB that evening was Kevin

Glenn, who is look­ing to win his first ti­tle.

Cham­blin’s first CFL job was in Win­nipeg, a po­si­tion Jones helped se­cure.

As a de­fen­sive back with the Stamps, it was Jones who helped Cham­blin grow.

“I’ve been around a cou­ple of de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tors in the NFL and CFL, but there are def­i­nitely some things

I’ve taken away from Chris,’’ said Cham­blin. “Chris has an ag­gres­sive mind­set. I re­mem­ber the first thing about Chris and what was pretty funny was he used to run cover zero a lot (no safety over the mid­dle). I was like: ‘Chris, you’re go­ing to give them (op­po­nents) touch­downs in cover zero.’ And he’s like: ‘Do we give up any in cover three?’ I said yeah and he says: ‘What’s the dif­fer­ence?’

“It’s one of those things where you’re go­ing to get beat, whether it’s man, zone or what­ever. You just have to get your guys pre­pared and ready to play foot­ball.”

Jones is a risk/re­ward kind of coach, un­afraid to push the en­ve­lope, un­afraid to lose, at­tack first rather than al­low an op­po­nent to im­pose its will.

Cham­blin is equally at­tack-happy, mov­ing play­ers all over the field and drop­ping into cov­er­age when nec­es­sary.

Jones loves those tall, ath­letic play­ers, es­pe­cially along the line of scrim­mage given his pen­chant for drop­ping line­men into cov­er­age.

It’s rare to see an Ar­gos down line­man drop into cov­er­age.

Cham­blin de­scribes an at­tack­ing de­fence as a mind­set.

“You can work un­der any­one, but if you’re not an ag­gres­sive per­son, you are not go­ing to at­tack,’’ said Cham­blin. “That’s just part of my mind­set. Chris and I have that. We were a match in Cal­gary be­cause we think a lot alike. He’s more of a cow-

boy now be­ing on the other side, but at the same time I’m more of a sec­ondary guy. I en­joy get­ting af­ter the quar­ter­back as much as he does. “And you can tell by look­ing at the front. In fact, I prob­a­bly spend more time with the front than I do with the sec­ondary just so that I can get af­ter the quar­ter­back.” When healthy, and the Ar­gos are healthy head­ing into Sun­day’s big game, the front four was the strength of the de­fence, book­end rush ends in Shawn Lemon and Vic­tor But­ler, stout inside line­men in Cleyon Laing and Dy­lan Wynn, who has been a rev­e­la­tion since the mo­ment he filled in for an in­jured Ken Bishop. But­ler, Laing and Wynn were each voted to the East­ern all-star team.

Ar­gos de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Corey Cham­blin (left talk­ing with Johnny Sears, and Rid­ers head coach Chris Jones (be­low) first met back in the late 1990s at Ten­nessee Tech Univer­sity.

in Toronto

JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

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