In an off-season that has been filled with uncertainty for the BC Lions, the team announced today that the entire coaching staff from the 2022 season will be back in 2023. This should be a relief for a franchise that is seeking continuity after a 12 win campaign.
With human highlight reel receiver Bryan Burnham retiring along with the CFL Most Outstanding Canadian Nathan Rourke working out for at least a dozen NFL teams in the month of December, Leo fans were in need of some stability.
Here is a look at the coaching staff for the upcoming season.
Jordan Maksymic is back as the offensive coordinator. Maksymic started in the CFL in 2006 with the Calgary Stampeders as a water boy. From there he progressed to the video room, before heading to Northern Arizona for University. He would learn more about coaching in Arizona as a graduate assistant before returning to the CFL in 2013 becoming an offensive assistant in Edmonton. Entering his third season as offensive coordinator with LIons, expect to see more improvement as the young man in his mid 30’s continues his ascension as a top coordinator in the league.
A name very familiar with the Lions faithful is Ryan Phillips, the defensive coordinator is back for his fourth season in a coaching role with the team and second leading the defence. With all the weapons the offence possessed in 2022, the BC defence flew under the radar. They allowed the 3rd least amount of points scored in the CFL and were key contributors in the team’s 12-6.
Phillips had a lengthy career in BC, winning two Grey Cups in the process. He is still a very young man having celebrated his 40th birthday just 3 weeks ago. Look to see the constant growth for the coordinator that has adjusted seamlessly from being a player to being a coach.
If there was a theme song for the LIons special teams coordinator Don Yanowsky, it would be “I’ve been everywhere” by the late Johnny Cash. Since 1981 Yanowsky has coached at a plethora of high schools and colleges across the USA and has spent time on staff in Ottawa and Calgary. A lifetime football coach, he paid his dues working at some smaller high schools, painting fields and taping players’ ankles in the process. His football life story is great but football is a results oriented business.
Last season, even though Sean Whyte and Stefan Flintoff provided solid kicking the special teams left a lot to be desired. In his third season with the Lions, the man known as “Yano” will have a lot of pressure to have his unit step it up.
Offensive Line coach Kelly Bates will be entering his 8th year on the coaching staff. The vastly improved line in 2022 was a solid reflection on the work Bates put in. When you have a dynamic set of receivers it is always good to have a receiver who was just as dynamic in their playing days coaching them. That man is former Grey Cup MVP Jason Tucker.
Trestan Dyce did some great work with James Butler and David Mackie last season and the young coach looks to continue to have the backfield rolling. His father Bob Dyce was just named Head Coach in Ottawa and if Trestan wants to follow in his footsteps one day he just has to continue putting in quality work.
After 14 standout years in Montreal as a defensive end John Bowman passed his first year of coaching the defensive line with flying colours. The Leos ended up with the 3rd highest sack total in the league with 45 last season. Travis Brown is entering his 3rd season coaching the linebackers. In each of his two seasons he has gotten maximum value from the men in the middle of the defence. Speaking of men and defence, barrier breaking defensive assistant Tanya Henderson is back.
A major factor in defensive game planning with a great knack for breaking down film, she is proof and a great example for woman in football. Derek Oswalt was the video game coordinator last season and has added special teams assistant to his job title this season. Oswalt worked on Rick Campbell’s staff in Ottawa. Hopefully he can help improve the teams weak link, special teams, with his new appointment.
It is great to have consistency in the coaching ranks. Although good coaching is essential to winning games, they need the right players in place for it all to come together. As noted with the uncertainty of Rourke returning, the Lions management still has a lot of work to do in re-signing the backfield, offensive line and the secondary.
We will keep you updated on everything happening with the ball club throughout the off-season. For now sit back, relax and appreciate that a piece of the puzzle was taken care of early.
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