'I am what I am'

Joe Paopao is hoping to get another chance to coach the Ottawa Renegades next season. (Ottawa...

Joe Paopao is hoping to get another chance to coach the Ottawa Renegades next season. (Ottawa Sun/Tony Caldwell)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Losing 13 of his last 15 games has not caused Joe Paopao to also lose faith in his coaching ability.

So while he will make some adjustments if offered the chance to guide the Renegades for a fourth year, he won't come back a new man.

Taking "full responsibility" for a 5-13 season even though it's obvious the football gods who dole out injuries had it in for his team, Paopao made it clear he'd like to return in 2005 and that he'll wait for a definitive word from ownership here before contemplating other opportunities.

A decision on whether he is wanted back isn't expected to be publicly announced until after the Grey Cup.

"I am what I am," said Paopao, who assumed some of Tillman's power when he was named director of football operations in March. "To me, a team has to play physical, be aggressive. And when it's time to make a play, the playmakers have to make a play.

"You always try to develop chemistry, but it takes time, and with all the changes we had to make, we never got the consistency we were looking for.

"We ask the players to come back 10% bigger, faster, stronger, and you have to get better as a coaching staff, too. We have to make better presentations, have better communication with the players ... could I have done better this season? It's human nature to say yes. But would there be radical changes (next year)? No."

Many an armchair quarterback has questioned Paopao's offence this season, saying it was too predictable.

When questioned about his tendencies and designs yesterday, Paopao shrugged rather than point to his resume as QB and coach.

'GUYS GOT INJURED'

"There were no questions when we won the first three games, and we were calling the same plays," he said. "Then, it didn't matter what we called, it worked. But after that, guys got injured."

One of them was QB Kerry Joseph. But even when he returned from a foot sprain that kept him out for three games, the offence could not get untracked. Joseph has suggested part of the problem was that plays were sent in from three sources -- Paopao and assistants Kani Kauahi and Tommy Condell.

"No, he's not right," Paopao said. "Since I've been a co-ordinator, (play calling) has always been a collaboration of the staff regarding certain roles. Prior to me getting sick (with the flu in September), I was making all the calls. And when I did, I turned it over to Coach K and he ran with the things we collectively talked about.

"In my mind, coaches coach and players play. Everybody has an opinion, but his job is to go find an open receiver ... to play quarterback."

Despite the heartaches of losing and the toll it takes on a head coach's personal life, Paopao said he likes his job.

"As tough as it was, I enjoy coming to work," he said.

Paopao plans on waiting until the Renegades' situation "sorts itself out" rather than actively pursue other employment opportunities. He disputed suggestions that -- with uncertain ownership and management configurations and after such a dismal season -- the franchise here is in trouble.

"The only time a franchise is really in trouble is when there is no owner," said Paopao, who lived that situation with B.C. in the mid-'90s.

"For Ottawa to be back in the CFL is a win-win deal.

"Every year, there are always some type of adjustments, some recalculating, and we're no different. We fell far short of our goals, but I don't think this organization is in trouble. I don't think football in Ottawa is in trouble at all."


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