When Chris Jones left all of his positions with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, one of the biggest and most difficult to fill was defensive coordinator.
As they did with the hiring’s of Jeremy O’Day as general manager and Craig Dickenson as head coach, the Green and White ended up going in the easiest and most obvious direction: after all, Jones was basically campaigning for Jason Shivers to get the job on his way out the door,
If Jones, one of the best defensive coordinators in the last 20 years in the CFL, says that someone is ready to take that role, he’s probably right.
Shivers has worked for years under Jones and was even given the opportunity to call some plays during the pre-season last year and periodically throughout the regular season as well. For this, Jones deserves a boat load of credit for giving an up and coming defensive mind a shot at growing in his position and getting him ready for the next step, whether it was with the Riders or someone else.
By all accounts, the defensive backs love Shivers as well.
Of course, thanks to the timing and salary cap implications of Jones’ exit, the Riders were left with few options. At this point, it’s far easier to hire a defensive backs coach to replace Shivers than it is to find an experienced, defensive coordinator that is going to fit into however much the Riders have left to spend.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
Much like when president Craig Reynolds hired O’Day, and when O’Day hired Dickenson, sometimes the best hires are the obvious and easy ones, even if they aren’t super splashy. It’s natural to want to look for the next big thing, or to look elsewhere in order to make an impact with your first hires.
Instead, Reynolds, O’Day and Dickenson should be commended for taking what’s in front of them, even if they’re ho-hum hirings.
By going in-house with all of the major positions left by Jones departures, the Riders are establishing a culture, one that shows younger coaches and personnel types that there’s room to grow here. If the goal is sustained success, which Reynolds said it was when Chamblin and Brendan Taman were fired, then this is how it’s done. Nothing flashy, just hiring the right people and the right people behind them.
If that becomes the norm, then there will be no seismic shifts like we saw with the hiring of Corey Chamblin and then Jones: the Rider way will be the Rider way no matter who is doing the job.