2 mars 2023

Khari Jones prêt à aider le ROUGE et NOIR à atteindre de nouveaux sommets en matière d’attaque

There isn’t too much that Ottawa REDBLACKS Offensive Coordinator hasn’t seen or done.

He has won the CFL’s MOP award as a player, and a Grey Cup as a coach. He has been through the highs, including seasons where he threw for more than 4,300 yards, and the lows, after being fired by the Montreal Alouettes only a couple games into the 2022 season.

Rumours encircled Jones in his Alouettes tenure, as pressure mounted inside the organization, despite going to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons under his leadership. Eventually, it culminated in a firing, something Jones didn’t take personally, but it still hurt.

“It was tough,” Jones admitted. “It’s the relationships with players that you love, and I really enjoyed my time there. I felt like we did some good things, and I’m proud of the job my staff and I did. As long as I can hold my head high and know that I did right by my players and staff, I feel good about things.”

Respected around the CFL, it didn’t take long for Jones to find a new CFL home, being hired by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a Football Operations Consultant. His new role didn’t allow him to coach on game days, but presented a unique learning opportunity.

“It was like getting the opportunity to be a fly on the wall of another program,” Jones said. “It was the first time as a coach that I wasn’t really coaching a position, it wasn’t my offence or program. It was neat to see how Orlondo Steinauer ran things.”

Into the offseason, Jones knew he wanted to be back on the sidelines. Of course, he had to do his due diligence and evaluate all potential offers, but all things being equal, Ottawa was among his preferable destinations.

“[Bob Dyce and I] had talked a little bit beforehand, and knew that if he did get the job, I was somebody that he wanted here,” Jones said. “He called me, and I was very happy to be a part of this. I knew it would be a good fit.”

Not only is Jones ticking off his eighth CFL city between his playing and coaching career, but he’s also coming to a team where he knows very few of the players on the roster. On the offence, Jones has worked with only a couple of players, both of whom are receivers in Quan Brad and Lemar Durant, but that’s part of the excitement he says.

“It’s exciting for me because the best part of the job is interacting with the players and getting to know them,” Jones said. “I’ll be watching a lot of film on guys to make sure I know them the best that I can, but there’s nothing like seeing them in person to learn how they move and think.”

A chance to work with Jeremiah Masoli is another one of those perks that come with his new Offensive Coordinator role, while also serving as the Quarterbacks Coach.

“I’m really excited about working with Jeremiah,” Jones said. “He is one of those guys I have seen [from a distance] for the last few years and really admired how he plays the game. He reminds me of an old-school quarterback, like the guys I played with. He’s not afraid to let it fly.”

Along with Masoli, Nick Arbuckle and Tyrie Adams pair together to offer an exciting opportunity. Jones says that he’s thrilled to have the chance to work with Arbuckle, who he watched throw for 370 yards and four touchdowns in a game against his Alouettes in 2019.

To get where the REDBLACKS want to be, Jones says all of his quarterbacks will play a big role, and as such, they can expect to be pushed to their limits, as he tries to extract the very best out of them.

“No matter who you are or how long you have been playing the game, there’s always something you can improve upon,” Jones said. “I’ll be coaching those guys hard. I expect a lot from them, and they know that.”

Jones has a special relationship with his pivots, however. Having played the position himself, he believes that players can appreciate that at one time, he was in their shoes, and is doing everything he can to guide them to the right path.

Though the game has changed since he was slinging the pigskin, Jones still gets comments from his players about the bygone years.

“The older I get, the less they know about me,” Jones said through a laugh. “Sometimes they’ll see a game on TSN Classics, and they’ll come up to me and say ‘oh Coach, you could play a little bit.’ But I think it helps that they know that I have been in the same position [as they are].”

Believing he’s exactly where he should be, Jones is ready to help the REDBLACKS’ offence get to heights they haven’t seen for some time.