Alouettes coaching staff is far from conventional

When the Montreal Alouettes unveiled their list of coaches on Tuesday, it was obvious that they didn’t take the conventional approach when assembling their staff. There are some new faces on the coaching staff, but a lot of the coaches from last year’s staff are back, they just have different titles.

Also, it’s not every day that the head coach’s son gets a job on the same staff as his dad. If that wasn’t enough to convince you that the Als are willing to do things differently, they also kept their offensive coordinator from last year, and made him the quarterbacks coach.

Oh, and none of the defensive coaches have specific titles (they’re all defensive assistants).

The new faces on the staff are Justin Chapdelaine (receivers coach) and former player Billy Parker (defensive assistant). Anthony Calvillo, Greg Quick, Paul Charbonneau, Jason Hogan and Andre Bolduc are all back, but each of them has a different title than they did a year ago.

Here’s a quick rundown of the changes: Calvillo goes from offensive coordinator and quarterback coach to just being the QB coach. Paul Charbonneau, who was the running backs coach, will replace Kris Sweet as the offensive line coach. Greg Quick was the linebackers coach last season, but he’ll work mostly with the defensive linemen this year (his official title is senior defensive assistant). Jason Hogan goes from offensive quality control coach to the defensive side of the ball as an assistant (he’ll work primarily with the safeties) and Andre Bolduc goes from a special teams coach to running backs coach.

The Als are still searching for a special teams coordinator to replace general manager Kavis Reed. At a news conference earlier today, Chapdelaine mentioned that they’re in the process of evaluating someone to fill that role and that they’d have an announcement next month.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that none of the defensive coaches had a position title in their name. Each of the coaches are labelled as defensive assistants. It’s an a different and interesting approach for the Als to take, but one I didn’t fully comprehend at first.

After speaking to Thorpe on Friday, I got a better sense of what the team was trying to do in that regard. To put it simply, the Alouettes defence is complex and it comes with many different fronts. Different players will have multiple responsibilities in Thorpe’s scheme. So as much as Billy Parker’s main job will be to work with the secondary, there are times he’ll have to work with the linebackers because they need to work on their coverage skills too. The same goes for Quick, whose focus will be on the defensive line, but he’ll also put time in with the linebackers at certain points.

It’s a bit of a different approach, but I don’t think it’s one that will impact the team in a negative way. Each group of positions has a specific coach, it’s just that that coach will sometimes work with different guys. No big deal.

Obviously, the one hire that got people talking was Justin Chapdelaine joining the staff. I’m curious to see how this dynamic works in Montreal. Obviously, Jacques and Justin are father and son, and they’ve worked together before both at Simon Fraser University and with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2015).

At 25 years old, Chapdelaine becomes the youngest position coach on the staff. It’ll be interesting to see how handles coaching veterans like Nik Lewis and S.J. Green. There’s no doubt that the younger Chapdelaine is a smart football mind, but how well can he relay the message to guys who have a wealth of experience.

The dynamic between father and son will also be something to keep an eye on. According to Jacques, it’s important to remove the emotional part from the equation. Is that truly possible? We’ll find out over the next few months.

One thing Justin has going for him, is that he grew up in a family of coaches. His dad, his mom (track and field), his sister (basketball) and his brother (personal trainer) are all in the business of educating people in various sports. That’s quite the athletic family!

Lastly, I can tell you that Calvillo is taking this “demotion” in stride. For anyone who paid attention to the Alouettes last year, it was clear that he was overwhelmed and not ready for the responsibility of being the offensive coordinator.

During our chat on Friday, Calvillo admitted that there were small details in the passing game, running game and protection that he wasn’t even aware of last season. Now, he’ll get to sit back and work with a veteran quarterback in Darian Durant and veteran offensive mind in Chapdelaine.

How the staff has been put together doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, all that really matters is winning. If this group can win together, no one will care how they were assembled.

Joey Alfieri

Joey Alfieri

A reporter and host for TSN690 radio in Montreal, writer at Rotoworld Hockey and Pro Hockey Talk.
Joey Alfieri
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Joey Alfieri
About Joey Alfieri (17 Articles)
A reporter and host for TSN690 radio in Montreal, writer at Rotoworld Hockey and Pro Hockey Talk.

6 Comments on Alouettes coaching staff is far from conventional

  1. sounds like a mess…time will tell….

  2. Dan Bombers // February 3, 2017 at 6:50 pm //

    At least ac admits that he made mistakes last year I respect that

  3. Ron Bates // February 4, 2017 at 8:58 am //

    Well it always was an adage in hockey some coaches in controversial situations try to give the impression that he is smart, not just smart but smarter than the pack. Also hiring his son after nepotism disaster in SK indicates that success and brilliance in Montreal will open doors to that amazing league south. This sealing the family gene in football excellence. These guys and controversial changes are in a must win circumstance not a teaching or evaluation road. Montreal has demonstrated that their greatest successes were with US coaches at the helm during the fifties , and into the seventies. The awful sixties not forgotten. Canadians played and that included good ones from Quebec and Ontario. Right now it has been two catastrophic years in Montreal after clear demonstrations of excellence and Cups under two Top men who sold out stadiums. Last year it seemed a lot of “forked tongue” action from sidelines inability to coach top talent and a lot of this is a team teaching situation. Nepotism is never healthy but if employed sensibly can work. The Alouettes ownership are hoping that at least Molson is full let alone a new stadium is built in their lifetimes.

  4. Jimmy Breslin // February 4, 2017 at 12:47 pm //

    Not sure what the poster above is trying to convey or why he feels a nepotism disaster is about to befall the Als. Just look around Pro and College programs, both in the US and up here, are filled with examples of successful coaching families. To my mind someone raised in that milieu, who has the passion, is often way ahead of the game. Off the top of my head. – NCAA: the Bowdens in Fla, Steve & Scott Spurrier S.C., Monte & Lane Kiffen, Joe & Jay Paterno, Denis & Bryce Erickson. – NFL father-sons….Marty & Brian Shottenheimer, Bum & Wade Phillips, The Ryan’s, Rex, Rob & Buddy, Don & Mike Shula, the Mora’s Jim & Jim, Dick & Mike Nolan, Mike & Kyle Shanahan. In some cases the sons have far exceeded the fathers in terms of successful careers. So why blow negative smoke when the evidence of success is out there for all to see ? Unless you’re talking through your hat of course.

    Now It could be that Jacques and Justin dont work out in the end but my guess is they will do just fine.

  5. The Als – and the CFL as a whole – must increase its viewership on TSN and in the stadiums, especially the Argos. This league is very good however if I were Jeffrey Orridge I would have the urgency to review some rules in order to make the game more fluid and with higher scores to attract/retain the new generation of fans who too often merely watch the NFL because “everybody else does”…
    Another point: Why isn’t there any pre-season publication onsale such as a Fantasy or Year book for fans to keep tabs on stats, rookies, etc? I would buy one.

  6. Marc Lebut // February 6, 2017 at 11:15 am //

    Most Alouettes’ fans aren’t convinced yet this coaching staff will succeed. I doubt Paul Charbonneau is an upgrade over Kris Sweet. André Bolduc as RB coach is an upgrade over Paul Charbonneau. AC all committed to QB coach is a better situation than him too green at OC. Quick as DL coach isn’t an upgrade on Stewart. Kind of nobody and everybody as LB coach is NOT an upgrade in any way. Billy Parker may be a good addition, as he was player-coach before joining the CFL. He’s humble, technical, and can transfer his art as he did last season when injured. Hogan and Chapdelaine Jr are still very green guys.

    The Alouettes will need a DL coach sooner or later, improve their coaching at OL position and have a dedicated LB coach.

    As for nepotism, at the end of the day, whoever is hired will have to do the job. If the receivers can’t perform with Chapdelaine Jr, he should be cut as any coach would be. If his unit performs week in and week out, he should stay as any coach would. That, we’ll only know once the game will go on. But if his unit struggles and he keeps his job, THAT will be a bad decision. By the way, in 2015, the Riders’ problem was D, not O.

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