TORONTO — The struggling Toronto Argonauts have fired defensive co-ordinator Chip Garber.
The move came one day after a 36-23 loss to Montreal dropped the Argos record to 1-5. Garber was replaced by Orlondo Steinauer, the team’s secondary coach.
“Chip is a great man and this is never an easy thing to do,” Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker said Friday. “This decision was not based on one game, but has been an ongoing process and evaluation over the past year and a half. I feel, moving forward, this change is in the best interest of our organization.”
After winning their opening game of the season, the Argos have dropped five straight while allowing an average of 31.4 points against. Toronto is currently last in the East Division.
While Barker said the move wasn’t based solely on Thursday night’s game, it came after Montreal dominated Toronto’s defence. Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo completed 30-of-36 passes for 349 yards and a TD while the Alouettes also ran for 172 yards.
Montreal took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Toronto 9-0 to take a commanding 29-13 lead. The Alouettes’ offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage against the Argos three-man front, rushing for 101 yards in the quarter.
By comparison, Toronto finished minus-3 yards offensively in the quarter en route to losing to Montreal for the 10th time in 12 games.
Given Toronto’s struggles, it’s no surprise changes are being made. However, the backbone of Argos football for many years has been the play of the club’s stellar defence.
Inconsistency on offence plagued Toronto last year as quarterback Cleo Lemon struggled to learn the nuances of Canadian football.
Lemon’s play of late has certainly been encouraging – he was 25-of-40 passing for 314 yards with two TDs and one interception against Montreal – but still the Argos came into Thursday’s game ranked last overall in yards per game (303.4), passing yards (217 per game) and second-last in scoring (21 points per game) and sacks allowed (12).
Garber and Steinhauer were both added to Barker’s staff in February 2010. Garber was a former assistant with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with decades of experience in the U.S. college ranks while Steinauer was a former CFL safety who spent eight years playing for the Argos.
The defensive co-ordinator position represents another step in Steinauer’s progression through the coaching ranks.
“I feel Orlondo is ready for this position as he brings an in-depth knowledge of the Argo defence,” said Barker. “His experience as a player as well as the past year and a half as an assistant coach will help him transition smoothly into this expanded role.”