CFL Pass

Khari Jones takes on heavy coaching workload for Alouettes

Khari Jones will be wearing two hats after being named interim head coach of the Alouettes.

Jones, who has been the team’s offensive coordinator, added the head coaching duties Saturday when the Alouettes announced the departure of Mike Sherman, who was beginning his second season as head coach.

“I always thought that if I was in this position this is the way I would want to do it,” the 48-year-old Jones said when asked about handling the dual responsibilities. “I’ll rely on the defensive coaches, but I’ve seen the defence by going up against them in camp and I’ve sat in on some defensive meetings.”

There is some urgency in getting up to speed because the Alouettes had to declare their opening-day roster by 10 p.m. Saturday and the team will play its first regular-season game Friday in Edmonton.

General manager Kavis Reed said he and Sherman had been talking for several days and reached a mutual agreement a change was necessary. Reed said Sherman recognized he was behind the curve when it came to adjusting to the Canadian Football League and he thought it was best for the team if he stepped down.

The CFL has taken ownership of the financially troubled team after Bob Wettenhall failed to find a new owner and the coaching change had to be approved by CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

The unanswered question is why it took so long to realize things weren’t working after Sherman posted a 5-11 record in his first season with the Als.

And, while Reed said Sherman had trouble adjusting to the Canadian game, he said he didn’t expect the same problem affecting Bob Slowik, the team’s defensive coordinator. Slowik who coached alongside Sherman during a successful run with the Green Bay Packers from 2000 to 2004, is not only a newcomer to the CFL, but is also returning to coaching after a five-year hiatus.

Reed said he wasn’t concerned about Slowik’s position.

“He started working last year, learning about the CFL and talking to former CFL players and coaches,” Reed said. “I think he had a good grasp of what has to be done.”

One of Jones’ assets is a familiarity with the CFL after more than 20 years as a player and a coach.

Jones, who joined the Alouettes coaching staff in 2018, was a CFL quarterback for 11 years, playing for the B.C. Lions, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Eskimos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

He started off as a coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2009, working with the quarterbacks in his first two seasons before being promoted to offensive coordinator. In 2012 and 2013, he coached the Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterbacks and the team won the Grey Cup in his second year.

Jones said he had a good relationship with the players and they trust him and his vision.

Jones said he hopes to open up on offence and there was a glimpse of what he hopes to do in the final preseason game Thursday against Ottawa. Quarterbacks Antonio Pipkin and Vernon Adams Jr. both produced touchdowns on long passing plays.

“It’s no secret I like to throw the ball and we’re hoping to stretch the field,” Jones said.

He said he had a good idea of who will start the season as the No. 1 quarterback, but he’ll wait until next week before making the announcement. The Als return to practice Monday.