Mon Dec 05 02:58pm EST
Only days after new Toronto Argonauts' coach Scott Milanovich was officially hired himself and then found out he wouldn't be able to lure Montreal receivers coach Marcus Brady in as his new offensive coordinator, he's brought in another member of his old organization. Milanovich introduced former Alouettes' offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch (the one remaining offensive assistant in Montreal) as the Argonauts' new offensive coordinator Monday and also officially named the much-speculated-about Chris Jones (seen at left above) as defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and assistant general manager (following a $5,000 league-imposed fine for allegedly reaching out to him while he was still under contract in Calgary). There are still a few changes that could happen further down on the Argonauts' staffing chart, but their coaching picture seems remarkably settled for the moment, especially when you compare them to the rest of the league.
Himebauch (seen at right above) is an interesting addition, as he has ties to Milanovich (seen at centre above) from Montreal and has plenty of experience both playing and coaching. He played as an offensive lineman in the NCAA with USC, then played in the CFL, the NFL, the XFL and NFL Europe before taking up coaching in 1998. He's since worked as an offensive line coach at a couple of California high schools, has had stops in the NCAA with UNLV and San Diego State, served as a head coach at Harvard-Westlake High School and spent the last three seasons as Montreal's offensive line coach. He did a great job there in particular, developing a tremendous line that helped pave the way for the Alouettes' dominant offence, and two of his players won the league's most outstanding lineman award (Scott Flory in 2009, Josh Bourke in 2011). His background working with Milanovich in Montreal should enable a reasonably smooth transition, and would likely suggest that the Argonauts will attempt to run a pretty similar offence to what the Alouettes have done over the last few years.
However, that doesn't guarantee success. For one thing, the Argonauts seem likely to be going with Steven Jyles at quarterback after giving him an extension through 2014. Jyles can be a capable quarterback at times, but his stats from last season aren't exactly Anthony Calvilloesque. In 2011, Jyles completed just 56.9 per cent of his passes, threw 11 interceptions against seven touchdowns and finished with a dismal 66.9 per cent quarterback rating.
Perhaps even more troubling than the difference in numbers is the difference in styles, though. Montreal ran a high-precision, high-completion, passing-based offence that they had a perfect personnel lineup for between Calvillo, a solid offensive line and great receivers like Jamel Richardson and S.J. Green, but Toronto currently doesn't have the guys for that. Jyles' greatest assets are mobility and arm strength, not accuracy, and the Argonauts' receiving corps is also far from elite. They have a great lineup for a ground-based attack, but Milanovich and Himebauch may be unwilling to go to that, as it's so different from the systems they've worked in recently. (It's also worth noting that Milanovich has never been an offensive coordinator outside of Montreal, and Himebauch has only spent one year in a non-OL coaching position, which came in the high school ranks.) We'll see how they're able to adapt to the personnel they have on hand.
At least the Argonauts have a solidified coaching lineup, though, and that makes them practically unique in the CFL these days. Saskatchewan and Hamilton are looking for new head coaches (and presumably largely new staffs as well), and B.C. may also join them if Wally Buono elects to focus just on his general manager's role; Lions' defensive coordinator Mike Benevides is also drawing interest as a head-coaching candidate. Calgary already will need a new defensive coordinator to replace Jones, plus potentially someone to take on his role on the personnel side, and they may need an offensive coordinator as well if Dave Dickenson is chosen as a new head coach elsewhere. Edmonton assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Rick Campbell is rumoured to be on the move somewhere, perhaps to Calgary as defensive coordinator, while Winnipeg will need a new offensive coordinator to replace the fired Jamie Barresi and Montreal will have to find people to fill Brady and Himebauch's old jobs. It's been an offseason of shakeups in Toronto so far, but the ground there seems to be settling. You can't say that about the rest of the league yet.