Coaching deck shuffled

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 2:55 PM ET

A Grey Cup championship doesn't breed complacency in the Edmonton Eskimo camp.

Less than three months after winning another CFL title, head coach Danny Maciocia has restructured his coaching staff by making five moves.

- Making the worst kept secret on the team official, former Saskatchewan Roughrider offensive line coach Carl Brennan is the new running back coach.

- R.D. Lancaster drops quarterback coaching duties and will now tutor receivers.

- Dan McKinnon is no longer on the coaching staff; instead, he's the new football operations manager overseeing several departments, including Canadian scouting.

- Maciocia has assumed the QB coaching role.

- Rick Campbell has been promoted to defensive co-ordinator.

The changes mean recruitment should improve and the offensive unit will receive more specialized tutoring.

"Instead of having big groups to deal with (in offensive meetings), they are smaller groups," said Maciocia, referring to the ability to have separate running back meetings with a dedicated coach.

"You can take your time, making sure you are up to speed."

A dedicated running back coach is rare in the CFL.

"Normally the running backs spend time with the receiver coach or...the offensive line coach," explained Maciocia.

"They have never really been coached."

A 41-year Quebec City native, Brennan has never been a running back tutor but carries impressive O-line coaching experience from Saskatchewan.

It's that background with last year's top offensive line - the Riders gave up a league low 23 sacks - that could really help the Green and Gold's running backs protect QB Ricky Ray.

"It's going to be huge," said Maciocia.

After weeks of speculation, Brennan's arrival from Regina is anything but a surprise.

But he adamantly denies he left the Riders because of a lack of offensive weapons or off-field turmoil.

"That is far from the truth. It was a career move for me," he said.

"And it's me coming to work with a longtime friend (Maciocia) ... and a class organization."

And the Eskimos are trying to keep up with the rest of the organizations in the league by moving McKinnon to a newly created position in the front office.

"We're the only team in the CFL right now that doesn't have a football operations guy," commented Maciocia. "Some teams have two.

"We felt we needed to get up to speed with the rest of the teams because chances are as we are speaking they're going to outwork us finding Canadian talent."

Added McKinnon, who has extensive CIS experience in Quebec: "There's a lot of American talent out there, but it is the quality of your Canadian players that will determine (your chance) to succeed against other teams."

McKinnon has two months to prepare for the CFL college draft.

"And it is not only the draft, we have to go out and find the Mike Bradleys of the world that go undrafted," continued Maciocia.

"We have to go out and find the Mathieu Bertrands of the world that get drafted as a quarterback, but gets cut after a short period of time and is sitting out there in the street."

LATE HIT: Campbell's promotion isn't a huge surprise.

"We led in 14 or 15 different (defensive) categories in the CFL (last year)," said Maciocia.

EXTRA POINT: Although Bill Macdermott loses responsibility of the running backs, he still handles the offensive line.

"As long as I am coaching, coach Mac will always have a job," stated Maciocia.

FINISH LINES: McKinnon will assist COO Rick LeLacheur in managing the salary cap ... Paul Jones remains in charge of American scouting ... The entire assistant coaching staff is working under one-year contracts.


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