Matthews: Baylis is major brick in building CFL Colts' defense

April 09, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

For all the offense that reverberates through the Canadian Football League, games are still won on defense, Don Matthews was saying yesterday.

That's why the coach of the Baltimore CFL Colts was welcoming nose tackle Jearld Baylis like a long-lost son yesterday.

"This will help," Matthews said during a news conference to introduce Baylis. "All of a sudden, I got way smarter."

Four years ago, in his first year with the Toronto Argonauts, Matthews included Baylis in a six-player trade for British Columbia Lions quarterback Matt Dunigan. Two years ago, as coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Matthews signed Baylis as a free agent to improve the CFL's worst defense.

When Matthews became director of football operations for the Colts in February, one of his first priorities was to get Baylis, a free agent.

"The reason Jearld Baylis is here is Don Matthews," Colts owner Jim Speros said. "Personally, I don't know if I'd have gone after Jearld. I don't know if I would have recognized his importance. I understand the game, but Don has given me a 16-year education in six months."

Baylis arrives as the 1993 outstanding defensive player of the league. His two-year contract and one-year option will guarantee that he'll be the team's highest-paid defensive player.

"Getting the award was great," said Baylis, who will be 32 in August. "But I haven't played my best football yet."

Baylis has dominated at a position that doesn't usually get much recognition. Last season he made 18 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, which led the league, and had 11 sacks.

In 17 CFL seasons, Matthews has coached five players who've been named outstanding defensive player, including tackle Dave Fennell, linebacker Dan Kepley, and ends James Parker and Gregg Stuman.

"In my opinion, Jearld's the most dominant of the dominant players I've been around," Matthews said.

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