There has been a lot of change for the Saskatchewan Roughriders following their 5-13 catastrophe in 2011, just as there should be. When a team coming off of back-to-back West Division championships finishes in last place and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2001, change is bound to happen.
In fact, there has been so much, that I’ll talk about just the team’s coaching and football operations staff in this first article and save the players for another.
The first major change was the retirement of Ken Miller (meaning no bizarre VP of Football Operations title for a man who wasn’t suited for the position) and the hiring of former Hamilton defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin. Some fans might be worried that Chamblin had little success as a coordinator, but I would argue that to be a head coach, being a hugely successful coordinator is not a prerequisite.
The all-time winningest CFL head coach, Wally Buono, was never a coordinator, while former Roughriders head coach Greg Marshall was a very successful defensive coordinator. If Chamblin can motivate his team and create a strong culture in the locker room, he’ll find some measure of success in 2012.
His staff includes a good mix of younger and older coaches, which should prove to be a good balance. He retained long-time defensive coordinator Richie Hall and special teams coordinator Craig Dickenson while promoting former receivers coach Bob Dyce to offensive coordinator. This kind of continuity could be either a good or bad thing, considering that these men were all in Regina for the 2011 disaster season, but since they have had success in their careers, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. It will be interesting to see how Chamblin, a defensive coach, influences Hall’s defense and what kind of success they’ll have there. If their philosophies line up, they’ll put a strong defense together. Craig Dickenson was a huge improvement last year and I’m looking for more of the same this year. It will be interesting to see how Dyce does because he was here last year when there was no offensive coordinator for half a season, and yet was not given control there.
Chamblin also hired former Hamilton offensive coordinator Khari Jones as his quarterbacks coach and Jason Tucker as his receivers coach. These hirings are ones I am more skeptical about considering the quarterbacks in Hamilton were underperforming last year under Jones. On the other hand, former Hamilton quarterback Kevin Glenn had an outstanding 2010 season, so it’s hard to tell how his coaching will help Durant. Considering there was no QB coach in 2011, I’ll call Jones an upgrade here. Tucker was on the coaching staff in Edmonton, following his career-ending neck injury, but was let go after the 2010 season. He didn’t coach in 2011 and I hope this all isn’t an indication that he can’t coach very well.
The Roughriders front office has gotten some much needed structure this year with Ken Miller retiring and general manager Brendan Taman getting full reign of the team. Now, there is no excuse for the type of shenanigans that occurred last year as any personnel related issues will come back to him. He and assistant general manager Jeremy O’Day have added a lot of import depth in the offseason and their performance in the upcoming college draft will be carefully examined. In his last year of his contract, Taman’s performance this year will go a long way in determining whether he will earn an extension or be looking for work in 2013.
- Cam Melnyk