The Saskatchewan Roughriders held their annual State of the Franchise conference call on Tuesday featuring President Craig Reynolds, GM Brendan Taman and Head Coach Corey Chamblin. Here are some notes on the session:
ON THE FIVE RECENT SIGNINGS
Chamblin: There will be more in the next few days. There was a good crew in Florida. These guys stood out and knew what they were doing. One or two look like they can start.
Chamblin: I think Clark and Watman need to prove it on the football field. We have confidence in those two guys but there’s others on the roster. They have to prove it.
ON THE 2015 DRAFT LATE ROUNDS
Taman: I believe players can be found there. History proves in the league there’s been significant players that haven’t even been drafted. WR Alex Carroll out of Queen’s – who we signed last week – proves that. There are a number of examples of late round picks that have played very well. If you do your homework, you can get great guys in later rounds.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED AS A HEAD COACH?
Chamblin: In your freshman year, you let the news affect you. I’ve grown a lot. I’ve reflected and I knew this is my 9th year in the league overall and 4th as head coach. I feel confident I can be an elite head coach in this league and my team will be elite. That’s because of the management, staff and players. I’ve learned defense too, and how to run it and what defenses can be dominant in an offensive league. I’m ready to take the next step and for this organization to take the next step.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN PLAYERS?
Chamblin: The first year was different. Now I understand more about positions and one of those is the offensive line. I understand the tangibles that make that position good. I understand now what makes good teams better, and the ratio and things like that.
ON REBUILDING THE COACHING STAFF
Chamblin: I didn’t think the changes would be this dramatic. When you remove one part, some chips just fall and that’s what happened. Somewhere along the line you need to start looking at philosophy. Goals change and sometimes with that the parts have to change. Coming off a Grey Cup year, sometimes there can be a lull and the fire isn’t there. There will need to be changes, sometimes from attrition.
I’m pleased. There’s a strong bond there. It has to be tested on the field but we have quality coaches on all three sides of the ball.
ON AN AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE
Chamblin: When you look at change, I am growing so there’s different levels. Richie Hall did a great job helping me understand a lot of things. It was time for Richie to have his own show and not be burdened by my shadow. Greg Quick will be aggressive. Greg comes with a certain mindset and will follow what I set out, and will run with it. We’ll run the same defense with some more flavour to it.
NEW O.C. JACQUES CHAPDELAINE
Chamblin: They’re different but in a lot of ways they’re the same. Cortez and Chapdelaine are both smart and know how to put points on the board. There may be some new schemes.
AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT?
Chamblin: We can’t depend on one man. With Darian or not, we need to still be a strong team. We had to change the mindset. That was the biggest thing. If someone’s having a down day, someone needs to pick up the slack.
ON CANADIANS IN THE NFL
Taman: It affects the draft substantially. We meet on a daily basis. It changes the game. Your draft board changes throughout the whole process. It’s significant in its own way. You have to make decisions based on what you know. We’ll take the best guy that’s available depending on our needs. If someone’s going to the NFL, that tells me about him that’s for sure. I’d rather be picking 9th instead of 6th. 9th means we won the Grey Cup. We’ve talked about trades but haven’t done anything yet.
Chamblin: The clearance from medical staff was one thing. The clearance from him was another. We’ve very comfortable with where he was in Florida. He’s excited in the new offense and he got the hang of it.
Chamblin: There’s some things we’ve been working on constantly. We tried to implement some things in Florida. Some worked, some didn’t. It’ll be an ongoing process.
S TYRON BRACKENRIDGE
Chamblin: He’ll be used in different spots. He’ll maintain the safety spot. I think we have the ratio figured out and guys will be pleased with their playing time.
HOW WILL THE PRESIDENT’S ROLE WORK
Reynolds: Ultimately I’m responsible for the overall success of this organization. My philosophy is you hire good football folks and we’ve got two of them in the room here. You give them all the resources they need to be successful and you hold them accountable for that success. We meet regularly on football but we have a strong business focus too.
POSITIONAL NEEDS IN THE DRAFT?
Taman: Hopefully you don’t have a lot because that means you have a strong team. I won’t say what we’re going to do. Corey’s identified those and we’ll try to fill those. It’ll depend on what happens in the draft in the picks that go before us and we’ll adjust accordingly. I won’t share our plans right now.
QB BRANDON BRIDGE
Taman: He’s very athletic. He’s with Dallas now. Canadian QBs are a big area of talk in our league and I’m sure he’ll do fine wherever he goes.
MCDOUGALL AT WILL
Chamblin: He has the size. That’s an option. He can play multiple positions like Craig Butler. There are a number of things we can do with him. We have three different ratios set up.
Keenan wants to start. You can start but that doesn’t mean you’ll finish the game. WR Cory Watson has a lot of tools. He could go into a starting role if he wants to. A lot of things go into a game day roster.
THE NEW STADIUM
Reynolds: It’s 27% complete as of two weeks ago. It’s on time and on budget. It’s scheduled for completion at the end of August, 2016. There are a couple of test events scheduled for the fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017.
ON THE NEW COMMISSIONER
Reynolds: I haven’t met with him yet but I’ve encouraged him via email to come out here and experience the Rider Nation. Certainly in terms of what we’d like is he has a mandate to attract the youth demographic and we have the same goal here so we’d like to meet and discuss that.