Five questions regarding Khari Jones' future Alouettes coaching staff
On Tuesday morning, the Montreal Alouettes confirmed that they had signed Khari Jones to a three-year contract (first report by Herb Zurkowsky).
Now that the significant move is finalized, there are a few questions that need to answered regarding Jones’ coaching staff.
Let’s break them all down:
1) Will Bob Slowik be back as defensive coordinator?
Slowik had some ups and downs during his first year in the CFL. The Als defence made some progress after their early-season struggles, but they never really found a way to get much pressure on the opposing quarterback. Is Slowik to blame for that or is there a lack of quality pass-rushers on the team? Probably a bit of both.
The Als finished last in completion percentage against at 73.6 percent and they gave up the most passing yards in the league (5,690). The Als also had the fewest sacks in the CFL with 27.
In fairness to Slowik’s unit, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. After a few rocky weeks to start the year, they managed to show some significant improvement. The defence also kept the team in a lot of games and they came up with critical stops at different times.
But keep in mind, Slowik was a Mike Sherman hire, so there’s at least a chance that Jones will want to bring in his own defensive guru.
2) Who will coach the quarterbacks?
When Jones took over as head coach six days before the season, he had the title of interim head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. In Tuesday’s press release, the team mentioned that he was going to keep the offensive coordinator title, but they made no mention of the QB coach title. That would indicate that they’ll hand those responsibilities to someone else.
3) Who will coach the offensive line?
Paul Dunn has been the offensive line coach for the last two seasons. The unit struggled in 2018, but they took some huge strides in 2019. Dunn, like Slowik, was a Sherman guy.
Luc Brodeur-Jourdain retired early last season and became an offensive assistant. His former teammates like him a lot and he’s a sharp young mind. Does Jones think he’s ready to take a step forward and become the full-time offensive line coach? I guess we’ll find out.
Both coaches found a way to get the most out of youngsters like Chris Schleuger, who was forced to play both tackle spots at different times this year. They also got former second overall pick Trey Rutherford to take his game to another level in his sophomore season.
4) Is Marcel Bellefeuille making a return to Montreal?
Alright, I want to make it clear that I have no inside information on this one. I’m just trying to piece things together. Bellefeuille was the head coach in Hamilton when Jones began his coaching career. Jones was the Ticats’ quarterbacks coach under Bellefeuille in 2009 and 2010 before serving as his offensive coordinator in 2011.
The two also worked together with the B.C. Lions in 2016 and 2017. Jones was the offensive coordinator while Bellefeuille served as the receivers coach.
The 53-year-old is currently holding down a scouting job with the Edmonton Eskimos. If Jones wanted to bring him into the fold, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to get permission from the Esks.
5) Will Mickey Donovan be back as special teams coordinator?
Look, I was critical of the special teams play early on in the season. Remember that game against Hamilton in July when William Stanback ran for over 200 yards and the Als won? Well, they nearly blew that game because they weren’t set up correctly for an on-side kick in the dying moments of the game. Thankfully, their blunder didn’t comeback to haunt them.
But after some rough stretches early, the Als got some solid play from their special teams. Shakir Ryan brought a kick back for a touchdown in the weather shortened home game against Saskatchewan and Mario Alford did some serious damage on returns when he was brought in. Alford also scored a touchdown during the East-Semi Final loss to the Esks.
Overall, Donovan’s unit got better as the season progressed. Is that enough to keep him around or does Jones have someone else in mind for the job? We should find out soon enough.