R.D. grabs offensive reins

Edmonton Eskimos new offensive co-ordinator Ron Lancaster takes questions from the media yesterday...

Edmonton Eskimos new offensive co-ordinator Ron Lancaster takes questions from the media yesterday in the club's dressing room at Commonwealth Stadium. (Edmonton Sun/Walter Tychnowicz)

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

Life after football wasn't something R.D. Lancaster relished.

After the Winnipeg Blue Bombers declined to renew Lancaster's contract as offensive co-ordinator, the 41-year-old began contemplating a teaching career.

Introduced as the Edmonton Eskimos new offensive co-ordinator yesterday, Lancaster can put the brakes on a return to the classroom for the time being.

"My options were if I couldn't find anything within the (CFL) and I couldn't find anything within Canadian college, I had to have something that I could do," said Lancaster, who last set foot in a classroom in 1992.

"I was fully prepared. I know some people within the school system in Winnipeg. I would have called them and asked them if they were looking for a supply or full-time teacher."

Steve Buratto and Joe Paopao talked to the Esks about the position which opened up when Danny Maciocia took over as head coach last month.

Paopao passed to assume the dual portfolio of head coach and GM in Ottawa. Buratto, meanwhile, was hired on as Calgary's offensive co-ordinator earlier in the week.

Maciocia didn't fret about ranking possible candidates for the position. Lancaster was the individual he targeted from the outset.

"This was really easy for me," explained the rookie head coach. "My first choice came through and I didn't have to address a second choice. Did I have a second choice? Absolutely. But I never got to it."

SIMILAR TYPE PEOPLE

So, why Lancaster?

"There's a lot of similarities between the two of us and that's what made it so attractive when he did become available," reasoned Maciocia, who says he'll be able to step back and function more effectively as a head coach.

"I'm a no-nonsense type of guy. Especially during the course of the week when we practise and on game day. He's someone that's extremely intense.

"You'll always get the right time of day from Ronnie, which is something I preach. I preach honesty and giving the players the right time of day because in the long run it will pay dividends."

Lancaster, with 11 seasons as an assistant coach under his belt, is no stranger to the Green and Gold or the CFL.

HAD SAME ROLE IN 1996-97

The Ohio-born son of CFL Hall of Fame quarterback Ron Lancaster served as Edmonton's offensive co-ordinator during the '96 and '97 seasons.

Prior to his one-year stint with the Bombers in 2004, Lancaster spent six seasons as Hamilton's offensive co-ordinator. Calling plays from the sideline isn't in Lancaster's job description with the Esks. Maciocia will do that this season and beyond.

Despite the team's 9-9-0 finish last season, there's no plan to revamp or reinvent the overall offensive scheme. Clearly, whatever changes are forthcoming will be a co-operative effort between Lancaster and Maciocia.

"We haven't got into the real pure Xs and Os," Lancaster said. "I have some ideas. We've kind of bounced some things around but nothing really etched in stone.

"We're both very similar in a lot of ways when it comes to offensive football. We love to scheme and, at the formation, to move players around.There's some things that I've done in the past and there's some things coach (Maciocia) has done in the past. We're just trying to get a blend."

How Lancaster tweaks the Green and Gold's passing and ground attack will depend in large part on the personnel at his disposal.

With veteran running back Mike Pringle's status still unclear and receiver Ed Hervey eligible for free agency next month, the team's roster is far from set.

"We certainly have a solid foundation and ground to work from," Lancaster said. "We're excited about where we can do things."

Maciocia wasn't the only one grinning from ear to ear yesterday. Esks quarterback Jason Maas was also thrilled by Lancaster's addition to the coaching staff.

"Obviously, he's had success in this league calling plays," said Maas, alluding to Lancaster's two Grey Cup rings.

"He's got his own stuff and a lot of good stuff. It's just kind of seeing what works in our scheme of things.

"For me, someone that's been there is a valuable commodity."


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