As of today, there is no number one quarterback of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
New coach June Jones said Friday morning that he had not decided yet between Zach Collaros, the anointed starter for four seasons, and Jeremiah Masoli, who’s filled in during Collaros’ injury absences, and replaced him for the final quarter of the Ticats’ recent 37-18 loss to Ottawa, their eighth defeat of the season to date without a win.
In fact, once he referred to the pair as “the two starters”.
“I haven’t spoken with the quarterbacks,” Jones said. “We’ll probably make that decision the first of the week. I really like all three kids (Everett Golson is No. 3). The two starters, for sure, are true pros and know how the game is played. They’re bright and competitive kids.
“I see positives with both players. I looked at a film last year where Jeremiah completed 24 passes in a row. I hadn’t really seen him take a rep in practice with our stuff, he’s always throwing scout team stuff.
“Zach, obviously, two and a half years ago was potentially the most valuable player in the league. I see enough good things with him: he’s very smart, very competitive.
“We’ll talk about it and see how it shakes out in the middle of the week.”
Jones says that his first job will be to address the psyche of the team which, he says, is the first building block of a return to winning. Eight losses tend to weigh heavily on the collective spirit.
“I’m going to try to do some things internally to create a positive atmosphere,” he said. “I think just the energy of the change will be a positive thing for the players.”
Jones takes over from Kent Austin who stepped down from the head coaching job he’d held for four-and-a-half seasons, but as vice-president of football operations remains Jones’ boss.
The Ticats brought the 64-year-old—who has worked with such quarterbacks as Brett Favre, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon and Bo Levi Mitchell—into the fold as assistant head coach early in the month but Jones says that he had no idea he’d quickly end up running the team on the field.
The new head coach will have a heavy influence on the offence and will call the offensive plays. But he says he will rely heavily upon Austin and Stef Ptaszek, who retains his position as offensive coordinator.
And Jones says he’ll simplify things on offence, just as the team did on defence when Phillip Lolley was promoted from linebackers coach to replace Jeff Reinebold earlier this month.
“Do less things better,” he explained. “Get the kids to hang their hats on something; that this is what we’re going to do, we don’t care what they do. And you can only manage that with repetitive action.
“I think we’ve already taken that step on defence and I see results the last two games in that: simplifying.”
He says that while he’s always embraced the run-and-shoot of its guru Mouse Davis, he’ll be tweaking the offensive systems more than changing them. He may add some extra quarterback reads from run-and-shoot but pointed out that the elements of that genre—“which 40 years ago was considered totally a drastic, communist, way to play the game”–are part of offensive play at every level of football.
He considers himself an interim coach but already wants to return for 2018.
“I’ve got 10 games for them to evaluate me for next season,” he says. “I’m kind of intrigued by some of the things that are potentially coming down the tube here. I’m going to make it fun for last 10 games and get some wins.”
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