Henry Burris approves of the Ottawa Redblacks hiring Joe Paopao.
“Joe Paopao brings so much experience, so much knowledge and that’s exactly what the Redblacks need right now. We’re talking about a former offensive coordinator, a former head coach, a former quarterback, a guy who has coached pretty much every position and he’s played the game himself,” Burris said on TSN radio 1200 in Ottawa.
After an 11-year playing career as a QB, Paopao became a CFL coach with stints as an offensive coordinator in B.C., Edmonton, Winnipeg and Hamilton. During four seasons as the bench boss in the nation’s capital, Paopao went 23-49 prior to the Renegades franchise folding. The former CFL quarterback can relate from a playing aspect to Dominique Davis and Jon Jennings who will be competing for the Redblacks starting job and right to run the offence.
Davis started Ottawa’s Week 21 game against the Toronto Argonauts last season completing 16-of-23 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown in the Redblacks 24-9 victory. Throughout the 2018 schedule, Davis played 18 games completing 24-of-39 passes for 373 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while rushing 40 times for 73 yards and six touchdowns. In January Ottawa re-signed Davis for two years through the 2020 season.
Jennings inked a one-year deal during free agency with the Redblacks. He played in 10 games for the B.C. Lions in 2018 after agreeing to a restructured contract last off-season. He threw for 1,628 yards, eight touchdowns, seven interceptions while adding 36 carries for 226 yards. But the Indianapolis Colts were still interested enough to work Jennings out in December.
“They went out and found a guy that brings that positive energy. It’s all about developing players, but also it’s all about motivating them and that’s one thing Joe Paopao can do as good as any good coach out there,” Burris said.
“He’s a guy whose worked with so many young players and helped resurrect careers for even veterans that have been struggling a la Kerry Joseph who was looking for a shot to his system to reinvigorate his game.”
Burris believes Paopao can be an extra mind to relate to the young quarterbacks. Due to the expertise at the game’s most important position, Burris sees a possible scenario where Paopao could call the plays, but the role has been given to Winston October for now.
“That depends on how things go. Right now he’s the front runner to become that offensive coordinator, but I do see the fact that Joe Paopao will be there to lend that helping hand, to be a support mechanism,” Burris said.
“It’s a two-tiered system to where if things don’t go right for Winston in the game well at least you do have a guy in Joe Paopao who has been around and he possibly could become a coordinator down the road.”
Head coach Rick Campbell felt everyone of the offensive coaching staff – Paopao, October, John McDonnell and Beau Walker – were all capable of being the offensive coordinator, but the Grey Cup champion bench boss didn’t want to throw the title one any one man just for the sake of doing so.
“It’s going to be play-calling by committee. To have that experience of Joe Paopao whose been able to orchestrate some successful offences both as a player and as a coach, and more notably with Kerry Joseph and the gang with the Renegades, to see the success that he’s been around it’s definitely the type of aura or culture they’re trying to recreate, especially after the loss of Jaime Elizondo,” Burris said.
“For Joe Paopao it’s going to be a situation of how quickly can he pick up the system. Having an understanding of how to teach it makes this offence as great as any offensive system out there.”