This interview was done two days before the opening of the training camp.
- After watching your team’s performance on reruns, just before your first season, what was your reaction to the CFL game style at that time?
The first time? It was very very hard for me to watch. I hadn’t watched any of it since I was a young at home. When I was a young boy we used to get some games. I was not familiar with the league at all other than my time as a consultant for Jim Popp in 2007. It was very brief but for me to watch and study it was very very difficult to start to get my eye used to the field, to the number of players and how things were done. I did try to watch TV games to try to get an idea of situations and the speed of the game and I just tried to work at it each and every day. I still don’t feel I’m there I still feel I have a long way to go.
- What can you say about game planning in the CFL? Is it different from the NFL?
It is in some cases because you don’t have as many special situations. You’re dealing with one less down which eliminates some different kind of play opportunities that you might have in a four down league. That yard off the ball changes your calls because the second down medium it cuts a little bit different in times than a second down medium in four down football. Second down is really like a third down. So there is this transitional element of being to think that way. It didn’t come easy. I still don’t believe I’m there where I can really function and still be where I want to be. So I still feel I have a long way to go.
- Because of the short time between plays, do you feel more pressure on you and the coach’s staff?
20 seconds between a play – eliminates some of the things you can do south of the border like auto ball and get him to change a play calls and certain kinds of things that you can do with a 40 second clock and you can do by talking to the quarterback in his headsets in his helmet. You don’t have that ability. Communication is different – the dynamic is much much different overall.
Do you find a difference between the NFL players and the CFL players?
None at all. When I coached in College back in 2005/06, the college people used to say aren’t you glad to get away from those premadonas and the guys I coached in the NFL were never premadonas. They were high character and hard working and I find the players exactly the same up here and in fact going to work every day is no different than going to work in Green Bay, Minnesota, or Kansas City. These guys are professionals. They are extremely passionate about the game. It’s their livelihood. It’s almost exactly the same. Only difference is we don’t spend as long during the day with them as we did with the players but as people and players they are exactly the same.
You commented the following concerning Anthony Calvillo; « Anthony rates with any of the quarterbacks I've ever coached in terms of his ability on the field to lead, to get the job done, to complete passes and compete at a high level»
- Who are the quarterbacks you’ve coached in the NFL?
Well in 20 years I coached a lot of guys. I would compare him to Bernie Kosar (Miami), Steve Young (San Francisco), Rich Gannon (Oakland), Jake Plummer (Arizona), Scott Mitchell when I was in Detroit. Coaching Anthony Calvillo is no different than coaching them and I just feel that Anthony Calvillo is as good as any of them. I really believe that.
- Why do you think Anthony didn’t make it, when he tried out for the NFL?
Well a lot of guys don’t make it. You can be in a place where they feel there is a formula for greatness. I don’t feel that is the case. There is no formula for greatness in a quarterback. If he’s got the right inherent structure and right work ethic and he gets the right coaches in the right systems with the right players. I always use this as an example, nobody thought Tom Brady was going to be a three time Super Bowl winner, he was the 199th pick of the draft, and Kirt Warner was bagging groceries the year before he became the NVP of the Super Bowl and everybody thought that Ryan Leaf was a can’t miss quarterback. There is no formula for greatness. A lot of it is that the stars are aligned correctly. The guy (Anthony) he is today is a good as anybody I have been around.
- In the CFL a QB must be able to improvise. Do you think you can teach the art of improvisation to a QB?
I would call it more being able to extend plays and have IT factor the intangibles that go beyond good. So I don’t look at a CFL quarterback any differently than the NFL quarterback. They have to have IT factor and have the ability to extend plays. And that is part of the inherent ability to play the position.
Speaking of QB, what is your plan for Adrian McPherson this year? Will he see more action?
I hope not. Not that I don’t believe that he can be a good player. He is going to get more playing time and practice time to continue to develop him and we are very very high on him but in terms of playing time, I hope that Anthony Calvillo doesn’t miss a snap. Unless we want to take him out but I don’t have a plan except that Anthony plays every single play of every single game.
- Why did you choose Marcus Brady as a coach for the receivers?
Because I thought it was in the best interest of the football team. Marcus understands or offence very well as much as anybody on our team and anybody on our staff. He is extremely bright and highly respected by his teammates and I perceive him as have a great future as an assistant coach. I felt that the pluses of bringing him in as a completely inexperienced coach outweighed the negatives of bringing in somebody new who we had to train and learn and teach our offence.
Last year I said it would be nice if Marcus Brady played as a receiver. Two QB on the field will bring confusion to the defense and special attention. Some how I was half surprise that Marcus is now a coach for the receivers!
It is not going to happen. I wouldn’t have a problem if it did but it is not going to happen.
Am I the first to ask you this question?
No we went through this in our off season. It may happen in the future but it is not going to happen this year. I have no problems with these things. I think if a guy is allowed to dress for a game he should be able to play the game and there should be no designation whether he is a quarterback or lineman or whatever. I would have no problem with that and it would be an exciting element of the game. I’m not disappointed that it’s not happening because I’m a head coach and not an offensive coach right now. It would create a lot of problems defensively but as an offensive coach I would love it.
Would you be surprised if other teams do this?
The new rule is that you can have the quarterback line up in another position but not two on the field at the same time. That is my understanding right now. You can’t have two designated quarterbacks on the field.
You also stated, «I'm glad I'm not a defensive coordinator in the CFL, the field is 53% larger and you have only one more guy to cover it and all that motion»
- Does that mean that a CFL defensive coordinator deserves a medal for bravery?
You took the word out of my mouth. I don’t know how they do it. I think they do a tremendous job on the defensive side of the ball throughout the league. They have a very difficult job and the task is tough and they do a tremendous job. They really do.
On your Blog I found this comment from Jack Tobb of the Montreal Gazette. Speaking of the CFL he said:
« If it's somehow lesser than the NFL (and I'm not convinced it is) it is by degrees so slight they are all but imperceptible. »
We have many good players in this league many of then could play in the NFL, I really believe that.
- Doug Flutie, Joe Theisman, Warren Moon and Ricky Williams feel that the CFL is under-rated. Do you share the same opinion?
I think it is. I think it’s a tremendous league. The game is fast and highly competitive. The quarterback and throwing and catching in the league is outstanding as represented last year by so many brilliant catches and plays. I think it’s a great league. It is a different league because of some of the rules and the three downs but it’s terribly exciting and competitive. It’s a thinking man’s game and the last 3 minutes are terribly competitive and I think its all good from that standpoint.
We know that you are presently absorbed in preparation for the Alouettes training camp and we would sincerely like to thank you for the time you have given to let us get to know your better.
Merci beaucoup monsieur Trestman!