Just one week after signing an extension, Roughriders Head Coach, General Manager and VP of Football Operations Chris Jones up and left for a job down south. Jones took a Saskatchewan squad from a 3-win team in 2015 to one that finished with 12 wins last season and finished second in the West.
Recently, former Riders offensive lineman and assistant GM Jeremy O’Day was named the new full-timee GM. Checking that off the list now leaves just one question to be asked – who will replace Chris Jones?
In my honest opinion, Trestman would be the best option to replace Jones. He’s the most successful on this list and easily the most enticing. Trestman has a career coaching record of 72-54 in the CFL through seven seasons. He also holds a postseason record of 7-3 with an impressive three Grey Cup titles.
After winning back-to-back Grey Cups with the Alouettes in 2009-10 Trestman left for a head coaching job with the Chicago Bears of the NFL. After two seasons down south, he returned to the CFL as the head coach of the Argos where he won the Grey Cup in his first year back.
Trestman’s firing this offseason after a 4-14 season came as a surprise to many. Yes, it was a rough year for Toronto, but for a coach with a track record like this to be let go after one bad season was a head-scratcher. He’s easily the best option on this list; however, many may question his ability to win without a high-quality quarterback.
All of his Championships in the CFL came with either Anthony Calvillo or Ricky Ray and when Ray went down early last year the team spiralled. The one thing the Riders need desperately is a starting QB. Will Trestman be the piece that calls in a high-calibre QB or would his hiring be all for nought without one?
Benevides has made a name for himself as one of the best defensive coaches in the league over his almost 20-year career. As a defensive coordinator for the Lions and Eskimos as well as special teams coordinator for the Stampeders, Benevides has been part of three Grey Cup champion teams.
Additionally, he has head coaching experience after taking over for Wally Buono in BC from 2012-14 prior to becoming the DC for the Eskimos. His head coaching record sits at 33-21 without winning a game in the postseason. It was a quick and mostly average stint in the head role.
Benevides didn’t light it up in Edmonton, either, with the defence falling off before he was let go last month. Despite the unimpressive showing for the Esks, bringing in a defensive minded coach to a team that was built to win on defence wouldn’t be a bad idea. The big issue would be needing a QB as Benevides’ defences have never been known to carry games.
Before being denied permission by the Bombers to interview Paul LaPolice he would have been a solid candidate. LaPolice has been coaching in the CFL since 2000 and has held mostly coordinator jobs. He was the head coach for Winnipeg from 2010-12, taking the team to the Grey Cup in 2011 before losing to BC. His overall coaching record sits at 16-28 with all but one season being losing years.
LaPolice is an offensive guy, being the run coordinator and offensive coordinator for Hamilton, Toronto, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg. He was the OC in Regina in both 2008 and 2009 and won a ring with the team in 2007 as the run game coordinator.
For a team that is stacked on the defensive side, hiring an offensive coach may not make the most sense but bringing in a guy who could help beef up anaemic offence and one who has experience as a head coach could be beneficial.
The Bombers did have the highest scoring offence last year while scoring the most touchdowns. That could be a stat that helps land LaPolice a job with a team that needs to power up on that side of the ball.
This is the wild card choice but is one that has been rumoured. Glanville has expressed an interest in coaching the Green and White despite currently being Hamilton’s defensive coordinator. The 77-year-old spent his first year in the CFL last year where the team had average numbers.
This move would make the least amount of sense with Glanville having limited head coaching experience in Canada. Additionally, you would have to think wouldn’t be a long-term solution at almost 80-years-old. Glanville hasn’t been a head coach since 2009 and that was at the collegiate level.
The last time he coached on the professional stage was 1993 with the Atlanta Falcons; however, that is what could make this move a tad enticing. He has NFL head coaching experience and a coach like this could find a way to tap into the locker room that some may not.
For me, this move seems like the most likely to happen. Jeremy O’Day is under a tremendous amount of pressure to find a replacement and to find it fast. With free agency approaching, the easiest and most seamless transition would be to hire someone already on staff. With the entire Chris Jones coaching staff returning, hiring a guy who is in that group would be the easiest.
Dickenson has been coaching in the CFL since 2002 and has won two Grey Cups. He’s never been more than a Special Teams coordinator, but the same went for Mike O’Shea and he’s proven to be very solid in the position with Winnipeg.
Dickenson has made a name for himself as the best ST coach in the league while the Riders have developed one of the best units. He’s had his name tossed around in the past as a head coaching candidate and I wouldn’t mind seeing him get his shot. Plus, who wouldn’t love to see him coach against his brother in Calgary?
No matter what decision the Riders go in the season just got a whole lot more interesting with this team now being in a cloud after what looked like one of the more impressive teams from last year. Only time will tell where they go from here, but one thing is for sure. They’re running out of it.
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