January 25, 2019

Bennett: Special teams coaches have ‘the pulse’ on entire team

Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

TORONTO — When a team is on the hunt for a new head coach, more often times than not they choose to promote or hire offensive or defensive coordinators to fill that role.

Just look at BC, Toronto and Hamilton; all three hired defensive coordinators as head coaches this off-season. It’s not as common to see a special teams coordinator make the jump to bench boss, which is the case for newly-appointed Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson.

Episode 141: Allow us to re-introduce ourselves

EPISODE OVERVIEW: New co-host Donnovan Bennett and Davis tackle how the differing replay rules impact football on both sides of the border, take a deep dive on the Riders’ coaching search and candidates they weren’t granted access to. Later on, TSN’s Insider Dave Naylor stops by to talk about what has been a busy off-season for him, addressing the CFL in Atlantic Canada, the LFA Mexican Combine and the latest news and rumours ahead of free agency.

“When we often look at head coaching jobs, it’s like, ‘do they need a defensive guy? Do they need an offensive guy? What is their issue to get more out of the quarterback? What did they lose?'” CFL.ca’s Donnovan Bennett said on this week’s episode of The Waggle presented by Sport Clips (33:00).

“I think we should be more often looking at special teams guys because they’re someone who knows how to deal with the entire roster, deal with the entire coaching staff. (They have to say) ‘hey, is your backup running back, is he up this week? I need him on kickoffs, so and so forth.’ They know how to deal with stars in the Canadian Football League because stars, at times, on the front and back end of their careers have to play specials. They know how to deal with developmental guys. They know how to deal with the entire roster.”

With 17 years of CFL coaching experience, and 14 as a special teams coordinator, it was inevitable that Dickenson would soon be a head coach in the CFL. According to Bennett, the Riders needed to take the opportunity of a vacant spot to keep him within their organization.


“A special teams guy is always, always thinking about contingencies and moving forward,” Bennett said. “And that’s why I think (Craig) Dickenson, who is going to be a head coach in this league, if not now, in the next one to two years. You’re going to lose him at some point so you might as well just promote him internally and keep him and see if he can do the job.”

Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea was a former special teams coordinator who took over the reigns in Winnipeg successfully. He spent three seasons as special teams coordinator with the Argonauts before being hired as the blue and gold’s head coach in 2014.

“When you look at (Mike) O’Shea, a guy who’s a defensive player but as far as a coach, was a special teams guy,” said Bennett. “He has the pulse on his entire football team.”

“He’s able to watch the whole game and feel, take the pulse of his team,” CFL.ca’s Davis Sanchez added. “He doesn’t have to worry about the crazy X’s and O’s that are associated with being a DC or an OC.”