January 3, 2019 3:59 pm
Updated: January 3, 2019 4:00 pm

Eskimos unveil 2019 coaching staff and announce reorganization of football operations

Edmonton Eskimos general manager and vice-president of football operations Brock Sunderland speaks about the changes to the coaching staff and football operations on January 3, 2019.

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The big highlight for the Edmonton Eskimos in regards to their coaching staff for the 2019 CFL season is the hiring of three new coordinators.

On Thursday, the Eskimos unveiled their coaching staff which will see Jordan Maksymic move from passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. He will retain his role as the quarterbacks coach.

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Former Eskimos linebacker A.J. Gass returns as the special team’s coordinator, he served as a defensive assistant with the Eskimos in 2008 and has a high school head for two teams in California for the last six years. He played 131 games for the Eskimos, winning two Grey Cups in 2003 and 2005.

READ MORE: Edmonton Eskimos kick off 2019 season at home against Montreal

Philip Lolley returns to the Eskimos as their defensive coordinator after spending the 2014 and 2015 seasons as the linebackers coach of the green and gold. He most recently served as the defensive coordinator of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the 2017 season. He was the linebackers coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2016.

Eskimos general manager and vice-president of football operations Brock Sunderland says he’s excited about the changes.

“There is some significant change when we have a new defensive coordinator, a new special teams coordinator and a new offensive coordinator,” Sunderland said.

“In speaking with Jason (Maas), we felt we had some standards here that we didn’t quite get to those last year and we’re always going to do what’s best for the organization and these moves were a product of that.”

Former Eskimos receiver Jason Tucker returns to the team to coach the receivers, a role he previously had with the team in 2009 and 2010. Tucker has also worked in the same capacity with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Montreal Alouettes. He spent two seasons as the assistant wide receivers coach with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL. Along with running backs coach Tim Prinsen, that gives Maas three former teammates on his coaching staff; Sunderland says it’s good to have familiarity but all are qualified.

“He (Maas) knows them extremely well, he’s been to battle with these guys, and he knows who they are as people. It’s important that they’re former Eskimos but we feel that’s icing on the cake,” Sunderland said.

“These guys are qualified coaches, we’re not going to hire someone simply because they played here and had some success as players. These guys have good resumes, they’ve been at prominent organizations even if it’s a high school in California where A.J. Gass has been. It’s a lot of experience, he’s been a head coach.

“Obviously Jason Tucker has been with multiple teams, I first met him with the Titans in 2015 so they know their stuff. It’s not just because they are Eskimos, they are qualified coaches.”

Listen below: Eskimos general manager and VP of football operations Brock Sunderland discusses the changes to the coaching staff and football operations.

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Another coach joining the Eskimos is former CFL defensive back William Fields who joins the team as a defensive assistant. He played six seasons for the Calgary Stampeders (2001-2004) and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2005-2006). He coached at Simon Fraser University, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the B.C. Lions and the Montreal Alouettes.

Mike Gibson has been promoted to the role of assistant head coach and will remain the offensive line coach. Baron Miles will return as the defensive backs coach, Demetrious Maxie will coach the defensive line and Travis Brown will be the linebackers coach.

The Eskimos also announced their 2019 football operations staff:

  • David Turner – director of player personnel
  • Will Homer – assistant director of player personnel
  • Bobby Merritt – director of scouting
  • Kris Hagerman – director of football operations
  • Nick Pelletier – assistant director of football operations/player personnel assistant
  • Griffin Dear – head video coordinator

The Eskimos officially announced the departure of Rob Ralph as director of Canadian scouting, who spent 20 years with the organization starting out as a video assistant. Executive director of player personnel Paul Jones is leaving the Eskimos after 21 years, he will reportedly be named as the new assistant general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The team also announced scout Chris Milo has been let go.

The Eskimos have released defensive back Mercy Maston to pursue NFL opportunities a day after doing the same for defensive lineman Jake Ceresna, who signed a futures contract with the New York Giants. Sunderland expects to lose two to three more players to the NFL.

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