As a player, when Marcus Crandell watched Ricky Ray from the sidelines, he was thinking something entirely different than he will be when watching now, as the Edmonton Eskimos offensive co-ordinator.
A former Eskimos quarterback before Ray arrived in Edmonton, Crandell only knew the Green and Gold’s all-time career passing yards leader as an opponent.
But he’s looking forward to getting to know Ray as a teammate.
“I don’t know him very well. We’ve always talked on the field, crossing paths,” said Crandell, whose contact with Ray over the off-season has been limited to phone conversations. “He feels good. He’s excited about the changes that we’re making and he’s excited about getting started this year.”
And Ray’s not the only one, especially with new coaches looking to put some excitement back into the Eskimos offence.
“Our plan is to be explosive on the offensive side of the ball and we have the guys in place that are going to stretch the football field and have the ability to do some things short, as well,” Crandell said.
Having the chance to work with Ray wasn’t the deciding factor in taking the job with the Eskimos, but Crandell said
“It’s not just about Ricky Ray, and I know Ricky understands that,” he said. “It’s about surrounding Ricky with the personnel as well.”
Even though Crandell isn’t very far removed from his playing days, retiring with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2008, he said he won’t try to correct Ray with things he would have done in a given situation.
“I think Ricky and I were totally different quarterbacks with different styles,” Crandell said. “One thing I learned as a quarterback from playing and from having someone coach me is that I’m not going to try and mold Ricky into things that I used to do. Ricky’s Ricky, he’s won championships, he’s been very successful throughout his career.
“You’ve got to be careful with things you try to change.”