Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Former NFL coach Mike Sherman poses for the cameras at a news conference in Montreal. The Montreal Alouettes have hired Sherman to fill their vacant head-coaching position.

New Alouettes coach Sherman glad to have staff with CFL experience

MONTREAL — Former NFL coach Mike Sherman knows he has much to learn about the Canadian Football League.

That’s why all but two of the nine-man staff he hired to begin his tenure as head coach of the Montreal Alouettes have either played, coached or done both in the CFL.

“I realized it’s a different game,” Sherman said Wednesday as the coaching staff met with the media in the Alouettes locker room. “It’s a faster game. It’s more creative.

“So to have coaches who have experienced that creativity and the tempo of the game certainly was something I was looking for. The NFL game is different from this game. It just is.”

Along with Sherman, who coached the Green Bay Packers from 2000 to 2006 and was offensive co-ordinator for other NFL squads, the only coaches with no CFL experience are defensive line coach Bert Hill and Paul Dunn, the offensive line coach and run game co-ordinator.

Sherman, hired Dec. 20 to help turn around a team that went 3-15 last season, said he has been going over the idiosyncrasies of the 12-man game with his coaches and plans to spend time with a former CFL official to go over the rules.

But one of his first tasks is basic to any football team — finding a starting quarterback, a problem the Alouettes have been unable solve since Anthony Calvillo retired after the 2013 campaign.

With the departure of Darian Durant after only one season, the Alouettes have six quarterbacks on their roster, including Drew Willy, Matt Shiltz and Antonio Pipkin returning from last year. They signed former NFL pivot Josh Freeman as well as prospects Garrett Fugale and Nick Shafnisky.

“There is no leading candidate in my mind,” said Sherman. “I want to see them all throw and I want to see them all lead.

“In the CFL, on all the really good teams they have good leaders, not just good quarterbacks. So it’s going to be a wide open camp. I don’t wait too long to make a decision. Guys better come to camp ready to play because the decision isn’t going to be too, too late. We need to move forward to get ready for the season.”

Sherman kept on only two coaches from GM/coach Kavis Reed’s staff last season — Billy Parker with the defensive backs and Andre Bolduc for the running backs. Both are former Alouettes players.

He has Khalil Carter, the former Calgary Stampeders DB coach, as defensive co-ordinator and former CFL quarterback and coach Khari Jones as offensive co-ordinator. Carter will be mentored by long-time CFL defensive guru Rich Stubler as special adviser to the defensive co-ordinator.

The special teams co-ordinator is Mickey Donovan, formerly head coach at Concordia University. Ex-Edmonton Eskimo Jason Tucker is the receivers coach.

Carter and Donovan are first-time pro co-ordinators.

“Khalil played under Rich Stubler, who has tremendous experience in the CFL and his system,” said Sherman. “Khalil was part of that system. When he explained to me their defensive package, I thought he was an excellent teacher. He’s highly intelligent.

“Mickey is also intelligent and is a great teacher.”

He has high character. I think we’ll be a very good special teams team as we grow through the season. I don’t think it will be Day One, but as we go through the games we’ll get to where our special teams will be a force.”

Donovan, an American who played at Concordia in the early 2000s, jumped at the chance to join Alouettes.

“I’m coaching, I’m doing what I love to do,” he said. “I always loved coaching special teams, no matter where I went. I always wanted my hand in the pot of doing things with special teams.”

Carter was defensive backs coach in Calgary and had a hand in the signing of former Stampeders Joe Burnett and Tommie Campbell as free agents as part of a sweeping rebuild of the Alouettes defence. They also inked DBs Dominique Ellis from Hamilton and Mitchell White from Ottawa.

“We looked at tons of film to see what guys fit the system we want to have here and those guys fit the system,” said Carter. ”I really felt like Kavis and coach Sherman supported all of our ideas and what we wanted to bring to this team.

“When you’re 3-15, you have things you need to change and I think we addressed that in free agency.”

Carter played three seasons with Stubler as his defensive co-ordinator while with the Toronto Argonauts and coached under him in Calgary.

“He’s an adviser,” said Carter. “He’s going to help me with ideas that I have.

“You can liken it to a mentor. He’s here to help me make good decisions. Everywhere I’ve been with Stubler as a player and under him as a coach before, we’ve been very successful.”

Just Posted

Spring book sale this weekend in Red Deer

Red Deerians can get lost in a world of inexpensive books this… Continue reading

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

Regional sewage line moving ahead despite concerns

Cost sharing among concerns of municipalities involved in Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer sewage line

Red Deer family who lost everything in house fire begin rebuilding

Couple had moved into north-end home only two days before basement fire

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by Maxime Bernier

MONTREAL — Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by former Tory… Continue reading

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

MONTREAL — Babe the pig spends his days sleeping, going for walks… Continue reading

WATCH: This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station… Continue reading

Plastic makers’ credit ratings may be hit by pollution rules

Plastic packaging makers may be less credit-worthy in the future as governments… Continue reading

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

‘Dining of the future’: vegan restaurant boom fuelled by meat eaters

Foodies say Canada is in the midst of a renaissance in plant-based… Continue reading

Northbound QEII traffic to return to northbound lanes as contruction continues south of Red Deer

Though the Hwy 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange still has months until completion, some… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month