The Hamilton Tiger-Cats added a familiar face to the team’s coaching staff on Monday, hiring recently-fired Montreal Alouettes’ head coach Khari Jones as a football operations consultant. The 51-year-old played for Hamilton in 2005 and started his coaching career with the team a few years later, serving as the quarterbacks coach (2009-10) and offensive coordinator (2011).
Ticats’ head coach Orlondo Steinauer spoke highly of Jones and believes that adding such an experienced coach was the right move for his club at this point of the season.
“Resources like this just aren’t available. They’re usually offensive coordinators, they’re head coaches and you just can’t gain that (midseason),” Steinauer told the media in Hamilton. “Both sides had to kind of feel comfortable with it and once we felt like there was a mutual thing and there was some roles kind of defined and some expectations set, it was really a no-brainer.”
Hamilton currently ranks sixth in the CFL in offensive points per game and eighth in offensive yards per play. The offence has had more two-and-outs than any other team in the league and committed a league-worst 20 turnovers.
Jones was hired as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Montreal in 2018 and continued to serve in both roles after taking over as head coach the following season. Steinauer realizes that hiring Jones could lead to speculation regarding the future of Tommy Condell — Hamilton’s current offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach — but was quick to dismiss it.
“We’ve got an offensive coordinator, we’ve got a quarterbacks coach. Tommy does a fantastic job. We look at this as adding value to value,” he said. “We’re excited at that, so if you think we haven’t thought through what other people are going to think, you’re wrong. We’ve thought through all that and so the answer is we’re adding value to value.”
Steinauer indicated that Jones will not be working with any particular facet of the game and will instead serve to help a number of individuals on the coaching staff.
“He’s going to be a tremendous help to me. This isn’t about optics. Selfishly, this is going to be a big help to myself and this is also going to be a big help to (defensive coordinator) Mark Washington. [Jones is] going to know how [Montreal] tried to attack us and different things. He’s going to bring an element of that and he’s also going to help special teams. He’s also game-planned the East Division for years.”
The Ticats are coming off their first victory of the season, leaving them tied for second-place in the East Division with Montreal at 1-4. When asked if Jones’ hiring has anything to do with the club’s game against the Alouettes on July 28, Steinauer denied it.
“We are so focused on B.C. (this week),” said Steinauer. “If we’re going to ask our players to be focused, I have the same expectation of myself and my staff that I haven’t even thought that far ahead.”
Franchise quarterback Dane Evans expressed his excitement about the hiring, joking that Jones has come over to “the good side.” The 28-year-old quarterback has spent a number of years admiring the former CFL Most Outstanding Player while he coached in Montreal and looks forward to working with him in Steeltown.
“Since I’ve been in the league for about five years, they’ve always either been the top offence or one of the top offences. Anybody can do that one year but to be consistently up there like that, I think that’s what is super impressive. I’m just excited to see how they did that for one, kinda pick his brain on some of the stuff we do — ’cause our offences are a little different in those aspects — but how we can make them together,” said Evans.
“It’ll be cool to just have another quarterback, for one, but another offensive mind just bouncing ideas off of each other. There can only be good things that can come of that, right? Super excited about it. I always loved playing against him, so it’ll be nice getting to have him on our side. It’ll be cool to just build that relationship and keep it going forward.”
American defensive back Cariel Brooks (back) and Canadian receiver Lemar Durant (hand) were full participants in practice on Monday after missing the first five games of the season due to injury. Perennial all-star linebacker Simoni Lawrence remains out due to an issue with his groin.