In case you aren’t familiar with him Barron Miles is a former CFL player, and current Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Could Miles be on his way to being a head coach in the league he has been a part of since 1998?
Barron Miles originally got his start in the United States. Having been born in Roselle, New Jersey on New Year’s day 1972. He would go on to play college football as a cornerback for the University of Nebraska. During his 3 seasons in Nebraska he was able to collect 7 interceptions, including 5 interceptions in just 12 games during the 1994 season. He also saw spot duty as a return man on both kicks and punts. Miles would declare for the NFL draft following the 1994 season. He was headed to the draft known as one of the greatest defense and special teams performers for the Cornhuskers having set a school record with 7 blocked punts, and ranking among the top 10 in Nebraska history for pass deflections.
The Pittsburgh Steelers under general manager Tom Donahoe, selected Miles in the 6th round, 199th overall. However he would suffer a knee injury during a preseason game and end up missing out on his chance to make an NFL roster as a rookie. He would join the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe for the 1997 season but only saw time as a kick returner. After the 1997 season he decided to take his talents to another his 3rd country, Canada.
He would join the Montreal Allouettes for the 1998 season, and finally find the stage he needed to prove himself on the professional level. Miles would collect many awards along the way beginning with CFL East Division Rookie of the Year, followed quickly by a CFL East, and CFL All-Star nominations in the 1999 season. He didn’t stop there earning the same two awards after the 2000, and 2002 seasons. He would also be named CFL East All-Star in 2003, CFL All-Star in 2006, 2008, and 2009. Ultimately retiring as a 6 time CFL All Star, having won the Frank M. Gibson Trophy in 98, the James P. McCaffery Trophy in 02, and the Tom Pate Memorial Award in 04, with 66 interceptions on his resume.
The former CFL great immediately jumped into coaching. Joining the BC Lions in 2010 the team he had played for during the previous 5 seasons. He would serve as a defensive assistant for two seasons before moving on to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the 2012-2014 seasons. During this stretch with the Rough Riders, he was able to help Chris McKenzie find success in his last season in the CFL. He also worked with Tyron Brackenridge, and Craig Butler for multiple seasons. Both men seemed to find some of their best play under Miles in Saskatchewan, who collected 29 victories during his stretch with the team, winning the Grey Cup in 2013.
In 2015 Miles was hired by Winnipeg as a defensive backs coach. He was hired by head coach Mike O’Shea who had up to that point garnered his reputation as a linebacker for 16 seasons, and as a special teams coach with Toronto from 2010-2013. He had won 4 Grey Cups, 3 as a player, and 1 as a coach. However he was in just year 2 as a head coach, and had managed just 7 wins the year before in 2014. The Blue Bombers secondary would account for 17 of the team’s 21 interceptions, contributing 7 of 46 sacks, and 3 of 9 forced fumbles in the 2015 season but would win just 5 games, and Miles would move on after just 1 season in Winnipeg.
In 2016, he joined the Edmonton Eskimos as a defensive backs coach and player development coordinator under Mike Benevides. The Eskimos secondary didn’t perform up to the standards Miles had built as a coach and player to this point, despite a 10 win season for Edmonton. They accounted for just 8 of 15 interceptions for the team as a whole. Despite the 10 win season general manager Ed Hervey was fired and replaced by Brock Sunderland midway through the 2017 season in route to a 12 win season. The defense again accounted for 15 interceptions with the secondary this time notching 12 of them. Miles helped coax contributions from 2016 draft picks Arjen Colquhuon, and Josh Woodman in their first seasons as CFL players.
After 22 wins in his first two seasons with Edmonton, Miles coached his secondary to 14 interceptions and 1 touchdown of the 20 the team collected in 2017. Unfortunately the Eskimos stumbled to a 9-9, despite beginning the season with a 6-3 record their worst during his tenure as DB coach. Although he helped Monshadrik Hunter to the team’s Most Outstanding Rookie Award, the season still ultimately felt like a let down for Miles, and his defensive unit. 2019 would mark his last season in Edmonton with the Eskimos. His starting unit collected 9 interceptions between the 4 main players, and overall had a solid season as a unit despite the overall lack of success by the team as a whole on their way to an 8-8 season. This culminated in his stop in Edmonton accounting for 39 more wins.
In 2020 prior to the season being cancelled Miles joined the Montreal Alouettes under head coach Khari Jones who was promoted to head coach following his 2018 season as the offensive coordinator. Jones had coached with Miles during the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Roughriders. He must have made an impression because Jones brought Miles back to where he began as a CFL player, Montreal, to serve as DB Coach/Passing Game Coordinator. Bob Slowik held the title of defensive coordinator for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Despite the fact that the CFL cancelled its 2020 season, the Alouettes decided to shake up their coaching staff. Bob Slowik was demoted to defensive assistant, while Barron Miles was promoted, without ever having coached a down of football for the Alouettes in 2020. Kind of an odd move, considering the 65 year old Slowik at the time, had 10 seasons of coordinator experience at the NFL level, and 2 with Montreal at the CFL level On the other hand, Miles had never served in this role before. Looking back at the stats, Montreal had allowed the 3rd most points in the CFL under Slowik in his first season as DC.
This was kind of an odd scenario all around, as the 2019 season was a transition year for the Alouettes as ownership was transferred back to the league. Mike Sherman a former NFL head coach with the Green Bay Packers, had brought in Slowik who had once served as his DC in the NFL, prior to the 2019 season. Then shortly before the 2019 season kicked off, and a week after ownership had moved back to the CFL, Sherman and the team mutually agreed to part ways. That’s when former player, and popular offensive coordinator Khari Jones took over as head coach. He wanted to bring in his guys, which is where the Barron Miles hire came in during his first offseason as the head coach. Despite original plans for Slowik to retain the position, given a full year away to think about it Jones decided he instead wanted to live or die by the coaches he chose, not the ones he was left with, leading to Miles taking over as defensive coordinator for the 2021 season.
Miles in his first season, led a defense that surrendered just 302 points overall. Najee Murray intercepted 3 passes, while David Menard collected 8 sacks. His defense collected 17 interceptions and 2 td returns, while racking up 50 sacks led by Menard, LB Chris Ackie, and DT Woody Baron. He also continued to develop Monshadrik “Money” Hunter in his 4th season as his coach. Miles has shown the ability to develop talent at every stop in his career, and the CFL has a tendency to lean toward hiring former stars to prominent positions to continue the legacy of the league. I personally believe Miles who has 12 seasons of playing experience, and 12 seasons of coaching experience in various roles, is the next hot coaching name for the league. Although he has his work cut out for him in the 2022 season after losing many key members of his defense.
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