Mitchell Blair | Riderville.com
REGINA -- As the calendar reaches mid-March, there is still a lot of snow on the ground in Regina, but Khari Jones knows that snow will soon disappear and as it does, a new football season will inch closer and closer.
The Riders quarterback coach, like many others in the organization, is very excited at what the prospects of the 2013 season could hold.
While he is excited, he's still taking a calm, tempered approach towards the season saying you have to make sure that even though the pieces look great on paper, that they have work well together on the field as well.
He points back to the 2001 season when he was the league MOP while guiding his Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 14-4 season. He admits that while he felt confident going into that season feeling confident, he didn’t know if the chemistry would be there.
“There’s no doubt the pieces are there,” Jones stated. “We feel good about what we have, but we know that it doesn’t happen overnight. That 2001 season was special and we put up a lot of points that year, but we weren’t sure what we had with that offence until we went out on the field and put our game plan to work. It’s about how fast everyone can learn and how quickly everyone can get on the same page and how we can be better each and every day.”
While some of those pieces are the players on the field, a very important piece is the man who will be creating that game plan—offensive coordinator George Cortez. Jones and Cortez have been working for the past couple of months devising a blueprint.
“George has his ideas, but he is very open to some of the things we did last year that were successful.” Jones said. “I plan to keep letting him know what suggestions I have and do what I think is necessary when it comes to communication to make sure that we have the best product out there. It is great working with a guy like him. He has so much experience under his belt and his track-record is well known. It was tough playing against him, so I’m glad were on the same team now.”
With the likes of Kory Sheets, Weston Dressler and Geroy Simon at Darian Durant's disposal, there is a potential for this offence to put up a lot of points. As a quarterbacks coach, Jones realizes that Durant is sitting on a pot of gold and it’s up to him to make sure that his pivot is in the right frame of mind when on the field and what needs to be done to get him in that frame.
“With any team it starts with the quarterback,” Jones admits. “I think Darian really took a step up with his play last year and that while he may not have had the numbers, last season was maybe his best overall. The best thing is knowing that there is still a lot of room for improvement so hopefully I can push him to bigger and better things.”
While making that statement, Jones doesn’t want to say that Durant is a most outstanding player candidate or even talk about it.
“Doing that is something I don’t want to discuss right now,” Jones says with a chuckle. “Doing that puts the focus in the wrong place. I was fortunate enough to win that award in Winnipeg, but that wasn’t my goal. It was because we went 14-4 and that we were a good unit. Darian just needs to go out and win football games and be one of our catalysts. If he can do that and the wins follow, the accolades may come, but I just want him playing the best football he can play.”
Jones feels one thing that will be a benefit to Durant is the arrival of Simon.
“I think Geroy will be a huge positive to not only our offence, but our team as a whole both on the field and off of it.” Jones declared. “He learned from some great guys as he became one of the top players in our league. It is very exciting to see what he will bring to the table and how much of what he does will rub off on some of the others in that room.”
While there is a tempered approach by Jones to what the future holds, he can’t help but think 2013 will be special.
“I have a good feeling about this year. I know people have high expectations for us and we have the same expectations.” Jones said. “I’m excited at seeing these guys together. I was disappointed to see last season end the way it did because I think we were capable of doing more. If we can get the pieces in place like I think we can, I think we can be where we want to be at season’s end.”