REGINA — Last season may not have gone as planned for George Cortez in the win-loss column in his first year as a head coach but his work with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats offence combined with a rich history working with quarterbacks made it all too easy for the Riders to bring him on as their new offensive coordinator.
“This was an opportunity that was too good to pass up,” Riders head coach Corey Chamblin said Monday. “If it had been any other offensive co-ordinator, it wouldn’t have happened. When you have what I believe and have believed since 2007 to be one of the best, if not the best offensive minds in the league, that’s something that you have do.”
Cortez joined the Tiger-Cats as the Head Coach and Director of Football Operations. Despite only one year as sideline boss the native of Port Arthur, Texas brings over three decades of coaching experience to the green and white, including 19 seasons in the Canadian Football League with four Grey Cup championships. This will be Cortez’s second stint in Saskatchewan after spending the 2006 season as Offensive Line Coach.
Bob Dyce, who was the Riders’ offensive coordinator last season, will remain with the club in a role that is not yet defined.
“He was shocked and taken back,” Chamblin said when asked about Dyce’s reaction to the move. “He understood from a business standpoint that we’re trying to be the best. I did think we would grow and take strides as the offence. (Cortez) is one of the best in the league and we had to make that move.”
After not making the playoffs in 2011, the Riders are looking to the next steps after re-entering the post-season picture in 2012. A lot of that will depend on the play of quarterback Darian Durant who will look to thrive under Cortez who most recently revitalize the stat lines of veteran Henry Burris.
“Darian was like a kid in a candy store (when he heard the news),” Chamblin said. “He named the Doug Flutie’s and all of the other quarterbacks that have worked under George so he is excited about it. Like I told him, he is at the stage of his career where he either wants to become a superstar or someone who was forgotten about. I think he is going to take those strides under George to become somebody who is remembered.”
The Riders also acknowledged that recently hired defensive line coach Mike Sinclair has indeed accepted a role with the Chicago Bears alongside former Montreal head coach Marc Trestman but would not confirm if they have found a replacement as of yet.