Friday, December 13, 2019

Riders Announce 2020 Football Operations Staff

Saskatchewan Roughriders Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Jeremy O’Day has announced the Club’s 2020 Football Operations staff.

Assistant General Manager Paul Jones has been extended through 2021 and will be entering his second year with the Club.  Before joining the Riders, Jones spent 21 seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos, most recently as the Executive Director of Player Personnel. His 31-year scouting career began with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1988. He went on to spend time with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings before returning to the CFL in 1998. Jones has been a part of eight Grey Cup appearances and is a five-time Grey Cup Champion. He is widely known as one of footballs most respected talent evaluators with a keen eye for players suited for the CFL.

Kyle Carson joins the Riders as the team’s Director of Player Personnel after spending the last eight years with the Calgary Stampeders. He joined Calgary as an intern in 2012 before serving as the Scouting Assistant and Coordinator of Football Operations.  Carson was later promoted to CFL Draft Coordinator and was responsible for evaluating Canadian talent and attending NFL training camps. The Stampeders made it to four Grey Cups during his time with the team and he is a two-time Grey Cup Champion. Carson will work alongside Paul Jones and the scouting department in player personnel.

This will be Ryan Pollock’s second year as Director of Football Operations.  Pollock works closely with the General Manager on all football operations matters, as well as strategic planning.  He is responsible for the preparation, submission and registration of player contracts. Ryan is also responsible for the management of the salary cap, organization of free agent camps and support to all administrative needs of the football operations department. He has been with the club for seven years, first as the Manager of Communications before advancing to the Director of Media Relations and Football Communications. He is proudly a staff member of the Riders 2013 Grey Cup championship winning team.

Jordan Greenly has been the Riders’ Football Operations Coordinator since 2017. Greenly is responsible for all football operations logistics including team and staff travel and accommodations, organization of training camp, assisting players with housing and the onboarding process. He previously worked for the Edmonton Eskimos for three seasons as the Coordinator of Communications and Broadcast.

(Riders PR)

Bombers Extend O'Shea and Walters

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are pleased to announce contract extensions for both General Manager Kyle Walters and Head Coach Mike O’Shea. Walters had one year remaining on his contract and has been extended through the 2023 season, while O’Shea, who was working on an expiring deal, is now onboard through 2022.

The two men have played pivotal roles in not only building the 2019 Grey Cup championship team, but in helping establish a foundation for a franchise that has posted four consecutive double-digit win seasons.

“We’re thrilled to have Kyle and Mike remain at the helm of our football team for the next few seasons,” said Bombers President and CEO, Wade Miller. “Continuity in our football operations department is critical as Kyle and Mike continue to build a strong culture in and around our locker room.”

O’Shea’s role in this year’s championship has been prominent since he was first named the 30th head coach in franchise history on December 4, 2013, making him the CFL’s longest-tenured head coach. Preaching discipline and a team-first approach, he has built a culture in which his coaching staff is empowered and his players are eager to play for him.

“When Kyle, Mike and I began this journey in 2013, I stated that we would build a winning and sustainable organization,” said Miller. “Kyle and Mike have been the drivers of this success and have helped establish a championship formula.”

Walters was named the 17th GM in Bombers history on November 26, 2013 after previously working with the club as an assistant general manager and an assistant coach. His success at the Canadian Football League Draft combined with shrewd trades and signings in free agency helped turn the Bombers into champions. This year’s championship has earned him his second Grey Cup ring after winning as a player with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1999.

Over the past four seasons, the Blue Bombers have posted a 44-28 won-lost record with four consecutive playoff appearances and now a Grey Cup title. The last time the franchise previously boasted four consecutive double-digit win seasons was from 1984 t0 1987.

(Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

This And That

--Welcome to Friday and the usual assortment of things running through my muddled mind.   As always, these come in no particular order.

--It would seem now as if all CFL teams will go into Christmas having a head coach in place and as it stands right now, eight of nine teams have a GM.  The situation in Montreal is just a joke.  Does anybody want to be the Alouettes GM.  It would be nice if the team had an owner, but still.  Eric Tillman's name is being mentioned, Brendan Taman's name is being mentioned, Geroy Simon's name is being mentioned.  Why do I get the feeling none of these guys will be the one.

--As a CFL fan, what is the number one issue this league faces as the winter hits.  I don't know if Randy Ambrosie is going to have Randy's Road Tour Season 3, but if he does, what is the number one issue in your mind?  I have to think sagging attendance is front and center.  I still say that $$$$ are the root cause of that, but are teams going to drastically reduce ticket prices.  I don't think it is going to happen here.

--All is quiet in Riderville for the time being.  I keep hearing many different things.  Some of them have some validity to them, others don't.  I'll just keep things under my hat until they're announced.  Its better that way.  That being said, I continue to hear that there will be an announcement or two before Christmas hits.

--Scott Milanovich is back in the CFL.  Why does this league recycle old coaches? Nothing against Milanovich, but could the Eskimos not do what the Lions, Alouettes and Riders did last year and give an assistant a chance.  It worked in Saskatchewan with Craig Dickenson, and it worked with Khari Jones in Montreal.  It didn't work with Devone Claybrooks in BC though.  Roll the dice and give someone a chance to see if they can do it.

This just makes me more and more certain that if Chris Jones' employment ends with the Cleveland Browns that he will be back in the CFL quicker than you say WELLLLL!!   Jones doesn't really need the CFL anymore, but he won't turn down an opportunity if it comes.

--Congrats to Estevan for getting the right to host the 2022 Canadian Junior A hockey championship.  They will do a fantastic job in hosting that event.  If Estevan is doing something, chances are it gets done right.  You could say that about a lot of places in Saskatchewan.

--If Josh Donnelly isn't excited to know his quarterbacks coach with the U of R Rams will be Noah Picton than someone check his pulse.  Donnelly has a long ways to go to get into the stratosphere that some Rams quarterbacks have been in, but to learn from Noah will pay huge dividends for the football club.  Getting Noah on board is a major plus for the Rams.

--Week 15 NFL Lock Of The Week --- Packers over Bears
   Week 15 NFL Upset Of The Week --- Lions over Bucs

--If you are in an NFL Survivor Pool, is it over yet?  I was out of the three I was in a long time ago, but two of the three are done and there is still a lot of time to go in the season. Yes, it has been a season of upsets.

--The Edmonton Oilers are giving this fan a reason to believe they won't be a playoff team this season.  Despite their great start, they are now giving up goals in bunches.  How much longer till this team is on the outside looking in again.  Will they be in a playoff spot by January 1?

--What exactly did Jim Montgomery do to get fired in Dallas?  What material act of unprofessionalism as GM Jim Nill called it was committed to get Montgomery canned. It didn't involve a player and there was supposedly no racial or physical abuse so what was it?  I'm sure we'll find out soon whether we want to or not.

--I am guessing Gerrit Cole doesn't need to worry about buying anything for the next little while. That contract with the Yankees is obscene, but its not like the Yankees have ever handed out rich contracts right?

--Baseball needs its best player in the playoffs.  Anthony Rendon's signing with the Los Angeles Angels means Mike Trout is one step closer to being on a playoff team and that is good.

--The death of former Rider R-Kal Truluck at the age of 45 stunned everyone.  I remember the outrage when Bobby Jurasin was cut with Truluck stepping in to take his spot.  All R-Kal did was go out and get three sacks. The move was still unpopular, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. 

--Is it just me or has the excitement waned somewhat for the upcoming World Juniors?  I am sure once the tournament gets going and gets to games of importance, I will once again be invested, but I'm not right now.  By the way, I'm guessing Greta Thunberg won't be the only Swedish teenager getting yelled at once the tournament starts.

--I am all in favour of Andrew Harris getting snubbed for the Lou Marsh Award as Canada's top athlete.  There was no way he had a chance because of Bianca Andreescu, but voters let Harris know that his cheating was not going to be tolerated.  Had it not been for that incident, I am sure Harris would have received some votes.

--Councillor Jerry Flegel is pitching the idea of a new baseball stadium where the railyards now sit as part of the downtown revitalization plan.  If the cost is right, I'm all for it.  I would love to see the Regina Red Sox play their home games in downtown Regina and I think a lot of Reginans would like to see it as well.  Going to watch the Red Sox and then checking out one of the many establishments downtown or going to the casino would be great.  Imagine if you could get the Blue Jays to come to town for an exhibition game.  I am guessing both Gary Brotzel and Bernie Eiswirth are hoping this can happen.

--With the U of R on its Christmas break, not one team is above 500 in Cougarland.  That's not good.

--That's all I got.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Chamblin Out, Dinwiddie In As Argos Make Changes

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The Toronto Argonauts announced today the club has made a coaching change and appointed Ryan Dinwiddie the 45th head coach in team history. The team also announced Corey Chamblin has been relieved of his duties.

Dinwiddie, 39, has been the quarterbacks coach for the Calgary Stampeders the past four seasons (2016-2019) and has been instrumental in developing Bo-Levi Mitchell into a two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player under his tutelage. Under Dinwiddie, Mitchell led the league in touchdown passes twice and finished in the top three in passing yards three out of the four years including leading the league in 2016. The California native also helped Calgary QB Nick Arbuckle blossom into a potential future starting pivot after being pressed into service once Mitchell went down in 2019, throwing for over 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games. With Dinwiddie guiding the signal-callers, the Stamps reached the Grey Cup three years in a row (2016-2018), hoisting the trophy 2018.

“Ryan is one of the top young coaching minds in the CFL right now and we welcome him to the MLSE family,” said team President Bill Manning. “We believe he will set the example to establish the type of culture we need for the Argos to be successful.”

Previous to his time in Calgary, Dinwiddie coached in Montreal for three years (2013-2015) in various capacities, including offensive co-coordinator, quarterbacks, offensive quality control and running backs coach. As running backs coach for the Als in 2015, the team led the East in rushing and helped Tyrell Sutton win the league’s rushing crown.

“His exhaustive passion to prepare to win makes him a priority in setting our new culture,” said Argos General Manager Michael Clemons. “The former CFL QB is the son of a coach, smart and hard working with a winning pedigree.”

The former quarterback played five seasons in the CFL, three with Winnipeg (2006-2008) and two with Saskatchewan (2010-2011). Coincidentally, the QB’s first ever CFL start came in Toronto at SkyDome during the 2007 Grey Cup vs Saskatchewan when he was a member of the Bombers. Dinwiddie played college football at Boise State where he is widely considered to be the best quarterback in Broncos history after a record setting career there.

“I am thrilled and honoured to be part of such a historic organization and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity,” said new head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. “Winning Grey Cups are the ultimate goal and I can’t wait to get started.”

(Toronto Argonauts)

Scott Milanovich Returns To CFL as Eskimos HC

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The Edmonton Eskimos have named Scott Milanovich as head coach – the 22nd in team history.

“Scott has a wealth of football knowledge and is a great leader who is a proven winner.  He is renowned for his ability to develop and get the best out of quarterbacks.  After an exhaustive search, we know Scott is the right man to lead our franchise. We’d like to welcome Scott and his family to the Eskimo family,” says Sunderland.

Milanovich returns to the CFL from Jacksonville where served as quarterbacks coach for the Jaguars since 2017. He spent the final five weeks of the 2018 season as the team’s play caller.
“Scott has been a valuable member of our offensive staff over the last three seasons and I know he’ll do a great job in his new role with the Eskimos. I’m excited for Scott and his family to embark on a new journey in Edmonton in January, and we wish them the best,”  says Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.

A three-time Grey Cup champion (2009, 2010, 2012), Milanovich has 10 seasons of CFL coaching experience with three teams, including:
  • Calgary Stampeders, Quarterbacks Coach (2003)
  • Montreal Alouettes
    • Quarterbacks Coach (2007)
    • Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach (2008)
    • Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach (2009-11)
  • Toronto Argonauts, Head Coach (2012-16).
“I am honoured and humbled for the opportunity to lead the Edmonton Eskimos, one of the Canadian Football League’s most historic franchises, as the head coach beginning in January. Chris Presson and Brock Sunderland have an amazing vision for the organization, and I’m grateful for their trust and confidence in me. I look forward to assembling a coaching staff that will work tirelessly every day to make our fans and the people of Edmonton proud of what the Esks represent to the community. On behalf of my wife, Jaime, and my children, Macall and Maggie, we are excited to begin this new chapter of our lives in Alberta and to meet the incredible fans of the Green and Gold,” says Milanovich.

“To the Khan family, Coach Marrone, the Jaguars organization and all of the fans, thank you for the time in Jacksonville and for embracing our family. I’ll always have fond memories of our experience in North Florida, and I will work hard over the final three weeks of the season to do everything I can do to help our team win.”

During Milanovich’s time with the Alouettes, the team appeared in three consecutive Grey Cup games, winning the championship in 2009 and 2010. In 2012, he earned CFL Coach of the Year honours and a Grey Cup victory as a first-year head coach with the Argos.

Under Milanovich’s guidance, former Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo was twice named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player (2008,2009) and former Argos quarterback Ricky Ray set multiple team and league records. Milanovich also helped develop All-Stars including receiver/returner Chad Owens who was named MOP in 2012, running back Brandon Whitaker and receiver Jamal Richardson.

His experience also includes NFL Europe, serving as quarterbacks coach for the Rhein of Fire (2003, 2004) — adding offensive coordinator to his duties for a season (2005), and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Cologne Centurions (2006).

The former quarterback played four seasons with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996-99).  He also spent time with the Cleveland Browns (2000), NFL Europe’s Berlin Thunder (2000), XFL’s Los Angeles Xtreme (2001), Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm (2002) and the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders (2003) where he played six games before closing the season as QB coach.

(Edmonton Eskimos) 

Week 15 NFL Capsules

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The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets meet in what should be a mismatch to kick off Week 15 of the NFL season Thursday night.  It will be a chance to see Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, who is the favourite to win the MVP award, do his thing. 

For a look at that game and the others this weekend, click here

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Noah Picton Returning To Rams

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University of Regina Rams head coach Steve Bryce announced Wednesday that the team has added former All-Canadian and Hec Crighton Trophy recipient Noah Picton to its staff as a quarterbacks coach.

Picton was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Canadian university football history over his time with the Rams, including winning the Hec Crighton Trophy in 2016 as the national player of the year. He's the all-time U SPORTS leader with 11,494 passing yards, the Canada West all-time leader with 1235 completions, and ranks second in Canada West and school history with 71 touchdown passes.

"We're extremely happy to be able to add Noah, who's obviously been such a big part of this program for the past seven seasons," Bryce said. "He set such a great example as a player and a leader during his time with the Rams, and he's the perfect guy for our group of young, talented quarterbacks to learn from."

Besides his U SPORTS experience, Picton also participated in three training camps with CFL teams including in 2018 and 2019 with the Toronto Argonauts. He was also with the Saskatchewan Roughriders during their 2015 camp as part of the CFL's Canadian quarterback internship program.

Picton, who received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the U of R in the spring, now works at PFM Capital Inc. in Regina as a compliance and governance analyst.

(U of R Athletics)