It’s that dreaded time of year where there is little to no CFL news, fantasy football is causing much cursing and we are fighting the urge to murder someone while out and about trying to get in the “Christmas spirit”.
Today we do get to focus on a bit of Rider news. Coach Chamblin announced that 3 coaches will not be returning next year: Alex Smith, Mike Walker and Kris Sweet. Walker was hardly surprising as he has been less than impressive in his stint here. The other 2 were surprising though for very different reasons.
Alex Smith has been working with our linebackers since before games were broadcast in colour. And his body of work in that time speaks for itself. Think back to the last time we had bad LBs, it’s been a long time. In that period Smith has churned out the likes of George White, Reggie Hunt, Anton McKenzie, Mo Lloyd (back when he was good), Jerrell Freeman, Sean Lucas (again back when he was good), Abraham Kromah just to name a few. Chamblin even seemed to think highly of Smith since he invented the position of “Assistant to the Head Coach” (aka the Dwight Schrute position) for him. Sad to see a quality guy like Smith go.
Kris Sweet is surprising because he was THE prize offseason coaching assistant acquisition. It was a big deal to steal him away from Calgary (and to do so without incurring a tampering fine ala Chris Jones). So after only one season, I did not expect him to be gone. That said by all accounts Sweet was a massive asshole both on and off the field. In sports, people tend to tolerate assholes as long as they are producing on the field. Unfortunately, despite the hype our O-line wasn’t that great this year. Given how much $$$ we spent beefing it up our overt struggles in pass protection could not have impressed the bosses (though I’m still convinced that a big part of those struggles is Neufeld not being very good which is hardly Sweet’s fault but I know not everyone agrees with my Neufeld assessment). So I’m thinking that Huge Asshole + underperforming OL = no longer worth the headache.
Those 3 are the only coaching changes Chamblin is anticipating meaning that both Bob Dyce and Richie Hall have earned another year. I’m far from a Bob Dyce fan but I understand that constantly switching OC’s and offensive schemes will hurt performance of the players so the benefit of continuity outweighs any benefit bringing in an OC who knows how to run in the 2nd half or run routes beyond 7 yards would bring. I don’t particularly like it but I get it.
The return of Richie Hall shocks me. In all honesty the only reason Hall was retained as DC under Chamblin was because he had a year left on his expensive contract and the team was already paying too many people not to coach for us. It was widely expected that as soon as Hall’s contract was up, he would be shown the door and Barrin Miles (Chamblin’s real chosen guy) would get promoted. Evidently though, Hall did enough last year to convince Chamblin to change his mind. We did have the #2 D so it’s not like Richie was a train wreck. Actually for as much as I rag on Hall he is admittedly a solid DC… just with a few glaring weaknesses. If he could just figure out what a crossing route it, discover a blitz not involving the safety and stop 2nd and 20 he could easily be one of the best. That said, he’s had the same weaknesses for a decade now I’m not holding my breath that things will change. Hopefully another year of working together will bring bigger and better things for Chamblin and Hall’s D.
- WR Emmanuel Acreneaux worked out for the NY Jets and Chicago Bears
- LB Ejiro Kuale and OL Devin Tyler have been released by their respective teams to pursue NFL interests
CFL Ins and Outs
In: K Rob Maver (contract extension)
In: LB TJ Hill, OL Brian Ramsay (contract extension)
Out: Cory Boyd (released… again)
In: LB Jason Aragki, DB JR LaRose and LB Joash Gesse (contract extension)
In: FB Patrick Lavoie (contract extension)
Out: WR Danny Desriveaux (retired)