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Brent Monson is no stranger to being on the Calgary Stampeders’ sideline.
He joined the organization back in 2010 and has worked as a positional coach for a number of years along with being the team’s strength and conditioning coach up until 2014.
Monson took over as Calgary’s defensive coordinator in 2019 and heading into his second year in the position, he’ll be tasked with helping the Stamps return to the Grey Cup.
The team had an up-and-down season culminating with a loss in the Western Semi-Final to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but on the defensive side of the ball, it was a very solid campaign for the Stamps.
Tre Roberson finished second in interceptions with seven on the year, Wynton McManis had 86 tackles, good for a tie for fourth in the league in that respect, and Cordarro Law’s 10 sacks were the fifth-best total in 2019.
With the kind of defensive success that the Stamps experienced, there was expected to be some roster turnover in the off-season. Roberson and DaShaun Amos were released so that they could pursue NFL opportunities while veteran Brandon Smith announced his retirement.
Despite that, they do have some solid depth pieces along with players who are itching to prove themselves with more reps.
“Robertson Daniel, (Jonathan) Moxey and Lorenzo Jerome are a couple guys that we’re excited to see again,” Monson said. “They took strides last season and some of them were hit by injuries. That’s just what it is but we’re confident in those guys too.
“When you have a couple of players available that’ll help you have more depth, and I’m all for that, especially when we’re looking at injuries that have happened in the past.”
In the second level, the team also opted to not bring back veteran linebacker Cory Greenwood, leaving a gap at the MIKE linebacker position heading into the year. The team does have McManis who has proven to be able to hold down the position, along with Nate Holley, who’s the reigning Most Outstanding Rookie.
Monson said that at linebacker, he sees Holley holding down the WILL spot while he’ll wait and see how everything shakes out down the middle in camp.
The Stampeders lost the services of Chris Casher to BC during free agency. The 26-year-old was one of the key cogs in the defensive line during 2019, finishing the year with 34 tackles and seven sacks.
However, the team was able to make a big move this off-season, moving the rights of quarterback Nick Arbuckle to the Ottawa REDBLACKS for a third-rounder. There was also a swap of the first and sixth picks when Arbuckle put pen to paper with Ottawa, leaving Calgary with the top selection in the 2020 CFL Draft.
They were eyeing a defensive talent with that pick, with East Carolina linebacker Jordan Williams and Southeastern Louisiana defensive lineman Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund being the top two candidates to be taken.
They knew that there was a genuine interest in Williams at the top of the board, so they swung a deal with the BC Lions, acquiring the third and 12th picks for No. 1 and 15.
With that third pick, they were able to land Adeyemi-Berglund — a disruptive force who has experience playing SEC competition — with the third pick.
They didn’t stop there when it came to addressing their defensive line, however. In the sixth round, they got one of the better value picks in the draft in Andrew Seinet-Spaulding. The McGill product had a fantastic year, racking up 34 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery to earn the J.P. Metras Trophy as the nation’s best down lineman.
“Isaac is just a great player, he’s physical and has great effort all the time,” Monson said. “You can just tell that he’s a very intelligent player and (Corey) Mace will definitely work with him on his pass rush and we’ll improve that part of his game. He’s already a solid pass-rusher without his physicality.
“… For me, the one thing you see when you turn on (Seinet-Spaulding’s) tape, he’s disruptive. He’s in the backfield every play and he’s really athletic for a big guy. I liked his interview, I liked everything about him and I was very surprised that he fell to us that late. To me, he’s a nose tackle, he’s going to be competing for that spot with other guys and I think he’s got the athleticism to play in this league.”
Monson continues to meet daily with his fellow defensive staff, mapping out what schemes they want to install once the season gets underway.
He said that he’s been able to watch more film now that he’s been at home more and had the gameplan ready to go for June. So when camp finally kicks off, he’ll be ready to have his defence firing on all cylinders.
He’s just looking forward to a time where there will be some live games to talk about.
“There will definitely be some wrinkles, there will definitely be some stuff that I feel the guys can learn. When they’re ready to go, I’ll install more,” Monson said. “I’ll definitely have the meat and potatoes and then I’ll just play it by ear throughout the season.
“… The best thing in the world is playing a football game, especially for players and coaches. I mean just the competitiveness of it. I miss playing games too. I was excited for the preseason games, so it’s just what it is and if you’re not missing it, then you shouldn’t be playing it.”