Don’t change horses mid-stream. It’s an old saying that often holds true in football.
There’s something to be said for continuity and consistency. Building your team in a smart, methodical manner.
In a perfect world, every team would be built that way. We know that’s not the case (thankfully, cause if every team in sports was run the same, well it would be pretty boring.)
The standard for continuity is different across sports and in the CFL, it’s frankly a low bar. Other than John Hufnagel’s Calgary Stampeders, for the most part, change is the name of the game in the CFL.
Those who can adapt and overcome change that is often forced upon them via free agency or player and coaching opportunities south of the border are the teams that generally succeed in the CFL.
So, when you have the opportunity to keep a coaching staff together for another — a year in which that team finished first in their division for the first time in a decade — they should do it.
It’s a no brainer. Right?
Well, not exactly.
At least when we’re talking about the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The worst kept secret in the CFL was officially revealed as the Riders named Jason Maas their new offensive coordinator.
The arguments for keeping Stephen McAdoo in green and white were valid. Take away the 2018 season, and his offences have generally been pretty good in Saskatchewan. Leading the league in touchdowns in 2017 and seeing a resurgence under Cody Fajardo, a quarterback he clearly trusted in 2019.
Would it have been beneficial for Fajardo to continue to develop under the same offence for another year? Probably. Could McAdoo have pushed Fajardo a little further as they continue to work together? Perhaps.
Despite the improvement in the offence this year, McAdoo reverted back to his old habits in the West Final. A major reason why they lost the game. It’s also the second year in a row the offence came up small in the playoffs.
A change was coming either way, Craig Dickenson admitted that he informed McAdoo after the season that a change would be made. Now that Dickenson has his guy, bringing in Maas is an instant upgrade. There’s no question about it.
Maas’ one season as the guy in control of the Ottawa offence was nothing short of brilliant. That Redblacks team lead the league in yards and yards per play. They were third in points scored. Quarterback Henry Burris threw for over 5,600 yards and the team had four 1,000-yard receivers.
Things didn’t slow down too much in Edmonton either. Despite the Eskimos’ struggles, their offences remained pretty good. Without having to think about other aspects of the game, it’s not a stretch to think that Maas can be back at the top of his game concentrating on offence alone.
This isn’t the first time the Riders made such a move to bring a high profile offensive coordinator ahead of a Grey Cup-hosting season. In 2013, then head coach Corey Chamblin woo’ed George Cortez to Saskatchewan and then offensive coordinator Bob Dyce graciously stepped in the special teams coordinator role to make room for Cortez.
This despite the fact that Dyce ran a fairly good, but not great offence in 2012. That unit was third in the league in yards per game, but middle of the pack in points.
It’s clear they hope that history can repeat itself.
This is also the first major decision to be made by Dickenson and he deserves a lot of credit for making it. It would have been easy for the second-year head coach to rest on his laurels after a first place finish. Instead, he’s made a bold move to try and make the team even better.
A good coach also brings in good coaches around him, even if they don’t have much of a history together. Something Dickenson has clearly done here.
Making a change for the sake of change wasn’t going to accomplish much but the right change could be one of the missing pieces to the championship puzzle.