Jacques Chapdelaine as offensive coordinator, Rich Stubler as defensive coordinator, Chuck McMann as special teams coordinator and Mike Benevides as head coach.
No Lions fan can forget the miracle season of 2011! Zero wins after five starts. Only one win after seven starts! The Lions were all but done. And then something happened. I'm not sure anyone knows exactly what but whatever it was it sure felt good to watch.
When all was said and done the Lions finished 2011 in 1st place over all, hosted the Western Final and beat Calgary and then put the icing on the cake by winning the Grey Cup before the home fans at B.C. Place.
But that was 2011 and the slate has been wiped clean. It is memory now. Trades have taken place. There have been new acquisitions. The Lions have lost a few familiar faces but many of them thankfully are returning. Lulay, Simon, Phillips, Marsh, Mitchell et al.
I'll miss seeing Wally Buono on the side lines this season but look forward with anticipation to see how Mike Benevides is as the new head coach. It is not without reservations. He is operating in uncharted waters. Being the Defensive Coordinator and being head coach are not the same thing. Does he have what it takes? I don't know. I know that as DC he had a dismal start last year with only one win in seven starts but in the end the Lions had the fewest number of points scored against in the entire CFL! So, Mike needs to take some of that credit. As head coach he will be making decisions that only the head coach will make. Is he experienced enough?
Last year it was the Lions that had the best defensive team despite a dismal start to the season. Will Rich Stubler be able to say the same in November 2012?
Jacques Chapdelaine is once again offensive coordinator. He was under a lot of criticism for lack of creativity last year but he had the last word and he is wearing a Grey Cup ring to prove it. You cannot win a championship unless you score more points than the opposition.
The unknown is a thing called chemistry. All of the coaching staff are capable in their individual roles but just like on the field where the players need to gel so too does the coaching staff. It will be crucial that there is good chemistry amongst the coaching staff especially now that there is a new head coach. Benevides earned his stripes as DC. He will have to do the same as head coach by providing excellent leadership, making good coaching decisions during crucial moments of a game and earning the respect of his players and staff.
The Lions have the makings of a team that can win another Grey Cup and do what it has never done in Lions' history- actually win back to back Grey Cups! Let's hope that the coaching changes do not hinder this goal.