Bob Dyce was named the full-time head coach just two days ago. No one would have blamed him had he taken a moment to absorb that before moving to his next step, completing his staff. No one quite knew how he would address this given his ties to all the coaches currently on staff. Would he retain his coaches or bring in fresh faces?
Dyce Starts Puts His Fingerprints on the Staff
Well, we got an answer rather quickly. Khari Jones has been announced as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator. Jones most recently served as a Football Operations Consultant with Hamilton to finish out the 2022 season. Before that, he was the Head Coach of the Montreal Alouettes for two and a half seasons.
Jones is a former quarterback so he understands the importance of figuring out the position both at QB1, and QB2 to ensure success in 2023. Having spent 13 seasons as a player split between the AFL, WLAF, and CFL, Jones has the ability to connect with his players on their level. Jones has spent five seasons as an offensive coordinator before joining Ottawa in this role.
Coaching Experience and Influences
This will be Jones’s fourth stint as a CFL offensive coordinator. His first opportunity came in 2011 with Hamilton, this ended up just a one-year stint. In 2014 BC brought him in as their coordinator where he stayed for four years. He began his career in Montreal in 2018, as the offensive coordinator before getting promoted to head coach as well. Jones continued to call plays up until he was fired.
Jones comes from the Marcel Bellefeuille coaching tree. He was originally given a shot under Bellefeuille in 2008 as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats QB Coach. This would also bring together Jones and current Redblacks GM Shawn Burke who was the director of football operations at the time. After two seasons of coaching Jones was already his offensive coordinator. After that season Bellefeuille was let go. He would jump to the UFL under Bart Andrus, while Jones would land with the Saskatchewan Roughriders as their QB coach.
This is when he first worked under Bob Dyce. Dyce was the offensive coordinator at the time. In 2013, Dyce moved to Special Teams Coordinator while Jones stuck on offense for one more year before again getting a chance to run an offense. This time with BC. Who was the head coach at the time? Mike Benevides current Redblacks defensive coordinator. This pairing led the Lions to a 9-9 record and their 18th straight playoff appearance. Unfortunately, after that season BC moved on from Benevides.
Three Head Coaches in Three Years
After letting Benevides go, the Lions hired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford as the head coach. Tedford had previously been a Head Coach for California for a decade before joining Tampa. However, by 2016, Tedford was gone too. A 7-11 record may have been good enough for a playoff appearance but it wasn’t enough for BC who had watched three straight seasons of regression. Regarded as a quarterback whisperer Tedford would go on to be a head coach for Fresno State from 2017-2019 and returned in 2022.
Meanwhile, Jones was now coaching under his third head coach in three seasons. This time the great Wally Buono who had stepped away from the head coaching position in 2011, returned as the head coach. Buono had served as the General Manager since 2003, overseeing 14 out of 19 straight playoff runs at this point. Buono remained in the position until 2018.
Ascent With the Alouettes
Jones however left following the 2017 season. Accepting a job with Montreal as their offensive coordinator. This time he was working under former Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike Sherman. For the fifth time in just six seasons, he was under a new head coach. Sherman was always regarded as an offensive mind having served as a coordinator several times over. Despite this influence, the Lions won just 5 games and this amounted to the last time we saw Mike Sherman in professional coaching.
Shortly after the 2018 season the CFL retook possession of the Alouettes and immediately parted ways with Sherman. This marked a season of change throughout the organization. With new uniforms, a new head coach in Khari Jones, and just four games into the year they moved on from general manager Kavis Reed instead of filling his position with Joe Mack the assistant GM at the time. As if that wasn’t enough the league opted to strategically lower the stadium seating count from over 23,000 to just over 20,000.
Redblacks Hoping Change is Good
After all this change so close to the season, Jones managed to lead Montreal to a 10-win season and a home playoff game. This led to him being hired for the full-time position. However, Montreal left Jones on a short leash. He was given just 18 games following a ten-win season before being fired after five weeks in 2022. This had more to do with general manager Danny Maciocia’s entire career being spent as a coach than it did Jones’s performance in the role. With both of their jobs on the line, Maciocia chose to take things into his own hands.
After this Hamilton and Orlando Steinhauer brought Jones in to serve as a consultant. Giving Jones a chance to return to where it all began for him. This also brought him back to the forefront of Shawn Burke and company’s list of potential assistants.
Bob Dyce was the final brick of the foundation to bringing Khari Jones to Ottawa. Once he got the job full-time it was only a matter of time before Jones was hired. Now with Dyce, Jones, and Benevides in charge, the Redblacks have essentially compartmentalized the three phases of their team with a “head coach” for each phase of the game. Will it translate to victories in 2023?
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