The Maas Effect; Argos Loss = Redblacks Gain

By: Santino Filoso

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Christmas came early for R-Nation, as yesterday afternoon the Ottawa Redblacks announced the addition of Bryan Chiu to their coaching staff. The 40 year old Chiu becomes the Redblacks first true offensive line coach, as last season former offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson coached the offensive line in addition to calling plays.

Chiu, a 13 year CFL veteran, was a seven time all-star, winning two Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes in 2002 and 2009 and he also captured the award for the CFL’s top lineman in 2002. As a player, Chiu was known to be an offensive lineman with an edge, the kind of guy you love to have on your team but hate to play against. Hopefully Chiu can instil some of that tough mentality to an Ottawa offensive line that was simply pushed around too often last season.

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Since his retirement following the 2009 season, Chiu has gone on to coach in the CIS with the Concordia Stingers, working as their OL coach and assistant offensive co-ordinator from 2010-2013. Last season Chiu coached a Toronto Argonaut’s offensive line that allowed 42 sacks in 681 drop backs, which equals 1  sack given up every 16 passing plays. Not bad at all when you consider the Redblacks gave up  56 sacks in 591 drop backs, or a sack every 10 passing plays. In terms of the running game, the Argos averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 91 per game compared to the Redblacks 4.9 yards per carry and 82 per game.

One way to look at this addition is that Jason Maas’ hiring as the offensive co-ordinator is already paying off in spades as on he was able to lean on his relationship with the former CFL all-star and lure him away from the Argos. Head Coach Rick Campbell alluded to as much saying:

Bryan understands the CFL and specifically offensive line play in the CFL. He’s also familiar with our new offensive coordinator Jason Maas after coaching together last year in Toronto so we think that relationship will continue to build and help us be successful. Bryan is up and coming with a long successful career as a player and a promising career as a coach in the CFL.”

Having both Maas and Chiu on the Redblacks coaching staff probably also gives the Redblacks an inside track on some of the Argo’s free agents. A guy like Tyler Holmes, who Chiu coached all last season, might be more willing to sign in Ottawa as he’ll already know a few familiar faces.

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In my opinion the most important thing about this signing is that it shows R-Nation that management has watched the tape and sees what we the fans see, and isn’t afraid to spend to get better. Our offensive line was a weakness last season but bringing a guy like Chiu in directly addresses this weakness and makes the team better. Though Chiu is young and perhaps a little inexperienced in terms of coaching, I think he’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

What do you think of Bryan Chiu’s signing?

@RedBlackGade

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Jason Maas Takes the Offensive Reins

By: Santino Filoso

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Yesterday afternoon, the Ottawa Redblacks held a press conference to formally introduce Jason Maas as the team’s new offensive co-ordinator. Maas’ hiring had been rumoured since the weekend but only became official on Wednesday afternoon.

Maas, a former QB, played 11 seasons in the CFL with the Eskimos, Ticats and Alouettes. Twice he was a finalist for the league’s MOP award and also sports two Grey Cup rings from the 2003 and 2005 seasons. In 2004, Maas established a CFL record with 22 straight completions, a record that still stands to this day. After retiring in May 2011, Maas was quickly hired as a WR coach by the Toronto Argos. In 2013 he was promoted to QB coach and worked closely with Argos QB Ricky Ray.

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By choosing to hire the 39 year old (who is actually 5 months younger than Henry Burris), the Redblacks went with youth and potential over more established candidates such as Paul LaPolice or George Cortez. Here’s Head Coach Rick Campbell’s explanation of the hiring:

“Jason has many qualities that make him a great coach with a bright future.  His positive approach to teaching brings out the best in the players.  His outstanding work ethic and ‘can-do’ attitude are infectious and help to create a winning team atmosphere. He has an outstanding knowledge of the CFL, the game and its players and we know that having him as a member of our staff is going to help our team.”

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Personally, I love this move. Maas is an extremely intelligent guy known for his attention to detail and strong work ethic. The fact that he’s a proven winner and been around a guy like Ricky Ray in the Argos offensive system, one of the best in the league, is a huge positive. Furthermore, Maas has strong relationships with many current players as not too long ago he played with or against them. Those relationships could prove to be beneficial as Ottawa tries to sign free agents.

Though expectations are high, former offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson didn’t exactly leave big shoes to fill. In 2014 the Redblacks averaged 15.4 points a game and only scored a pathetic 24 touchdowns. When pressed for details about the kind of system he’s looking to implement, Maas replied by saying

“It’s not hard to figure what kind of offence I’ll run, I’ve been around some great offensive minds in the CFL, starting with Danny Maciocia and  Scott Milanovich, and the offence we’ll run is very similar to what Scott’s been running in Toronto and what Marc Trestman brought up here.”

How can a member of R-Nation not smile when hearing those words?

@RedBlackGade

P.S. Have to call out TSN1200 for failing to cover the press conference. I get that Ottawa is gripped in Alfie mania but it wouldn’t have killed them to switch gears for a few minutes.