Will changes make ’Cats purr?

Is the sea­son re­ally lost? Are Tues­day’s moves just shuf­fling deck chairs?

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS

“Foot­ball is a results-based busi­ness,” Jeff Reinebold, the now-de­parted for­mer de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats, would of­ten say.

And while it may have been stand­ings and the stat sheet that led to his demise — giv­ing up 39 points a game, an 0-6 record — what hap­pens next will be cru­cial.

Should new as­sis­tant head coach June Jones get the of­fence go­ing and new de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Phillip Lol­ley stem the op­po­si­tion touch­down pa­rade — while pow­er­ing the Ti­cats to some, you know, ac­tual wins — then their hir­ing will be seen as a stroke of ge­nius.

Es­pe­cially if this win­less club some­how man­ages to make the play­offs.

If not, the Ti­cats just shuf­fled the deck chairs on the Ti­tanic and none of it matters, any­way: the sea­son is al­ready lost.

Kent Austin, vice-pres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions and head coach, made Reinebold’s de­mo­tion of­fi­cial on Tues­day, an­nounc­ing the pro­mo­tion of Lol­ley from lineback­ers’ coach.

Reinebold has been of­fered an­other po­si­tion within the or­ga­ni­za­tion — though it’s un­clear what, ex­actly, that might be — and is tak­ing some time to think things over.

“Ob­vi­ously, we want to get bet­ter de­fen­sively. I have a great deal of re­spect for Jeff, I have a very strong per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with him. I think he’s an out­stand­ing coach. But we needed to get bet­ter and make some changes,” Austin said.

“It wasn’t easy. Jeff’s a very close friend and col­league.

“He knows I love him and I hope this didn’t af­fect our per­sonal re­la­tion­ship. I want Jeff here and he’s been told that. He’s cer­tainly wel­come back with open arms.”

One of the crit­i­cisms lev­elled at Reinebold, al­beit qui­etly, was that his pre­ferred de­fen­sive sys­tem was overly com­plex for the ex­pe­ri­ence level of the cur­rent crew of Ti­cats.

That’s un­likely to be an is­sue with Lol­ley, a foot­ball-lifer from Alabama who sees over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion as an art form.

“I’m a very fun­da­men­tal guy ... be ag­gres­sive, get lined up, run to the foot­ball, hit, tackle. You can draw up all the plays in the world but if you don’t ex­e­cute them, what good are they?” Lol­ley asked.

“It’s bet­ter to run one or two things right than 10 or 12 things wrong. That’s my phi­los­o­phy.”

Mean­while, over to of­fence, things were get­ting more com­pli­cated. The ad­di­tion of Jones means the Ti­cats now have Austin, the mas­ter­mind of the cur­rent of­fen­sive sys­tem, of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Ste­fan Ptaszek (who has called plays at times this sea­son) and Jones, who’s run-and-shoot con­cepts are be­ing ex­panded.

“It is part of ev­ery of­fence now. I think this is go­ing to end up be­ing a pos­i­tive sit­u­a­tion for ev­ery­body. (Kent) asked me to look at what they’re do­ing and then sit down and see what we can do without mak­ing it brand-new stuff,” Jones said.

“I would an­tic­i­pate that Kent will con­tinue to call the plays but I’ll cer­tainly have in­put with him on that.”

Jones was cer­tainly be­hav­ing like an of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor for much of Tues­day’s prac­tice, the first as the Ti­cats pre­pare for Satur­day’s home game against the Win­nipeg Blue Bombers.

Jones, 64 — whose con­tract runs through next sea­son — says he likes what he sees in quar­ter­back Zach Col­laros, who is now try­ing to learn the run-and-shoot sys­tem for the first time.

And Col­laros said: “He’s a very con­fi­dent guy, it’s his sys­tem and he can teach it like the back of his hand. There are a lot of things that guys have seen but maybe haven’t done for a long time.

“I think for the re­ceivers be­ing on the field as long as we were, just walk­ing through, it was like a train­ing camp day.”

One thing that Col­laros said might help in his tran­si­tion? Jeff Reinebold. “I think he could play a role and be very valu­able. There’s just some­thing about Reinebold. Guys want to play for him, guys want to be around him,” Col­laros said.

He added: “I sent him a text last night. I hope he stays around, I love Jeff Reinebold.” NOTES: The Ti­cats made a se­ries of ros­ter moves on Mon­day. They con­firmed the sign­ing of for­mer Eski­mos of­fen­sive line­man Tony Washington, while also adding de­fen­sive back Cariel Brooks, de­fen­sive end Mike McA­doo and wide re­ceiver Gerell Robin­son. … The team also re­leased de­fen­sive back Ethan Davis, of­fen­sive line­man Quin­ter­rius Eat­mon, re­ceiver Kevin El­liott and quar­ter­back Lo­gan Kil­gore. On the in­jury front, de­fen­sive back Emanuel Davis is prac­tis­ing with the first team and could po­ten­tially make his re­turn this week.


Phillip Lol­ley is a foot­ball lifer. His watch­words: “It’s bet­ter to run one or two things right than 10 or 12 things wrong.”

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