B.C. Lions name Ryan Phillips defensive coordinator; retain six assistant coaches for 2022 season

Photo courtesy: BC Lions

B.C. Lions co-general manager and head coach Rick Campbell has named Ryan Phillips defensive coordinator and retained six of his assistant coaches for the 2022 season.

“It has been a thrill to transition into coaching with the organization that gave me a chance to play the game I love professionally,” Phillips said in a statement. “We have some great pieces already in place and I can’t wait to continue to help build a defence that will be good for a long time.”

Special teams coordinator Don Yanowsky, linebackers coach Travis Brown, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jordan Maksymic, offensive line coach Kelly Bates, receivers coach Jason Tucker and offensive assistant Trysten Dyce round out the returnees.

“Having the chance to get this number of great coaches back on our staff is significant and gives us the continuity we need in order to help get us to the next level,” Campbell said in a statement.

“Given Ryan’s impact on the defensive backs and entire unit in general, his transition to defensive coordinator will be seamless.”

Phillips was a four-time CFL all-star who adds the role of defensive coordinator after spending the last two seasons leading the Lions defensive backs. Under his guidance in 2021, the Lions’ defensive backs recorded 12 interceptions to help the defence tie for the CFL lead with a total of 17.

He was also instrumental in the development of rookies such as KiAnte Hardin, Jalon Edwards-Cooper and Austin Joyner, while ageless veteran TJ Lee earned a second West Division all-star nod. Phillips will also keep the role of defensive backs coach next season.

Yanowsky is a veteran of four decades in the coaching ranks at multiple levels, he is back for a second season in B.C. after his special teams unit performed well in 2021. Stefan Flintoft led the CFL with an average of 47.8 yards per punt while finishing third in net punting and Adam Konar finished in the top ten in special teams tackles with 13.

His previous coaching stops included the Calgary Stampeders (2012-2013), Ottawa Redblacks (2014-2015) and college stints south of the border that included his alma mater of Toledo, Arkansas State, Texas-El Paso, Minnesota, Boston College and East Carolina.

Brown helped the linebacker group make huge strides in his first season with the team as Bo Lokombo won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian award and Jordan Williams took home the league’s Most Outstanding Rookie trophy.

He will enter his third season in the CFL coaching ranks after serving in the same capacity with Edmonton in 2018 and 2019. He previously spent time at his alma mater of Fresno State as a graduate assistant after playing for Campbell in Ottawa.

His late father Dan Brown coached several years in the United States college ranks while also spending 1995 in the CFL as defensive line coach of the Birmingham Barracudas.

During Maksymic’s his first season in the offensive coordinator role, he helped Michael Reilly lead all CFL quarterbacks with 3,283 passing yards and finished second in overall completions with 276. While Bryan Burnham (965 yards) and Lucky Whitehead (932 yards) finished second and fourth, respectively, in league receiving yards to earn Western Division all-star nods. The Lions were third overall in the league with 4,846 yards of net offence, an average of 346.1 yards per game.

He began his coaching career at Northern Arizona in 2009 before stints with Edmonton and Ottawa. As Edmonton’s passing game coordinator, Reilly led the CFL in passing yards three times and won CFL Most Outstanding Player in 2017.

Bates returns for his 14th season with the Lions organization, combined with his time as a player from 2002-2008 and 2011 and first go-around on the coaching staff from 2011-2014.

His offensive line unit played a big role in helping Reilly claim the CFL passing title while also helping the running game improve over the final three games as James Butler recorded 249 of his 497 yards on the ground over that span.

Along with Tucker helping Burnham and Whitehead with their outstanding production, he helped Jevon Cottoy establish a new single-season career-high of 519 receiving yards. Tucker also was key in the development of newcomers such as Keon Hatcher and Jacob Scarfone to the new-look offence.

A three-time CFL all-star and two-time Grey Cup champion with Edmonton, Tucker began his coaching career in the Alberta capital from 2009-2010. After three seasons and another Grey Cup ring on the staff of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he moved on to a coaching position with the Tennessee Titans from 2015-2016 before returning north to coach Montreal’s receivers from 2018-2019.

Dyce was a valuable asset to the offensive staff this past season and worked primarily with Butler and the team’s other running backs. The son of long-time CFL coach Bob Dyce, Trysten enters his second year in the coaching ranks after a productive career as a receiver at the University of Manitoba from 2014-2019.