February 25, 2024

Milanovich looks to add to Ticats’ culture

Mark Blinch/CFL.ca

TORONTO — Now fully back in the CFL after spending five seasons as a quarterbacks coach in the NFL, Scott Milanovich feels like an improved, more well-rounded leader. After joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year as a senior assistant coach then moving to offensive coordinator mid-season, he’s ready to bring all of his recent experiences to the team in 2024 as its head coach.

“Canada’s kind of our second home,” he told Donnovan Bennett and Henoc Muamba on this week’s edition of The Waggle.

“My girls were pretty much brought up (in Canada), between Montreal and Toronto.”

Milanovich chatted with Bennett and Muamba on a number of topics, including his move to head coach and how he’ll implement his coaching style with an organization that he’s getting to know more and more through this off-season.

Click below to listen to the entire episode of The Waggle, or find it wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.

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Milanovich worked as the quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2017 – 2019. Had the 2020 CFL season been played, Milanovich would have been the head coach of the Edmonton Elks. With the season lost to the pandemic, Milanovich found work with the Indianapolis Colts, where he served as QBs coach from 2021-2022.

Prior to that NFL venture, Milanovich had served as head coach of the Toronto Argonauts from 2012-2016. Before that, he spent five seasons working under Marc Trestman in Montreal and came to be a highly-regarded offensive coordinator.

His time away from the CFL helped him develop as a coach both on the field and off of it with his team.

“I think my time down south exposed me to some different offences than when I was in the CFL,” he said.

“I was with Mark in Montreal for all those years and then basically took his offence and kind of made it my own and really wasn’t exposed to other things until I went down to Jacksonville and then to Indianapolis. I learned a lot more football. I think the biggest change is some of the things that I’ve learned down there.

“With the coverages that you’re seeing that are trying to keep offence from getting explosive passes, I think being balanced is more critical than ever. Being able to run the ball and make them fit gaps I think is more critical than ever. Once you do that a little bit, I think you’ve got a better opportunity to throw the ball.”

With Bo Levi Mitchell, Milanovich knows he has a quarterback that goes out looking for the big throw that can change the game. Having worked with Anthony Calvillo and Ricky Ray earlier in his career, he’s looking forward to having another future hall of famer in one of his offences.

“I love that about Bo,” Milanovich said about his starter’s penchant for making the big play.

“There will be built-in opportunities for Bo to take shots when the defence aligns in a certain coverage. And I love the fact that Bo likes to do that.

“With defences getting so good with their ability to rush the passer, you don’t want to be in second-and-long. To do that, you’ve got to pick and choose, I believe, when you take your shots. You’ve got to get completions and that takes the pressure off your offensive lineman. It takes the pressure off everybody, it keeps the defence off the field. Bo and I just need some time together. I still think he can play at a very, very high level, obviously. I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

Milanovich (centre) will look to put his own stamp on the culture that’s been built up in the Ticats’ organization (Ticats.ca)

Milanovich has spent the winter working with Orlondo Steinauer, the Ticats’ president of football operations and GM Ed Hervey. Milanovich and Steinauer were a part of Jim Barker’s Argos’ staff in 2012, when they won the Grey Cup. While each personality in an organization will be different, Milanovich has been around long enough to see how good teams make that work for them.

“O and I have such a close relationship,” he said. “I believe in him and the foundation that he has set. Having said that, he and I are very different. I can’t be him, and he can’t be me so I’ll go in being me and then I’ll read the room after that.”

Milanovich wants to add to the existing culture with his expectations of accountability. He’s picked up a lot on that front from his time in the NFL.

“When I coached in Jacksonville and Tom Coughlin was basically the football czar over the whole thing, there was pressure applied to all of us all the time, and it gets the best out of you,” he said.

“Now, I think there’s a fine line there, right? I think Andy Reid’s done a great job at it. You want to push them, but you don’t want to push them away.

“I don’t want guys coming into the office in the morning dreading it. It’s going to be fun, but I’m going to be honest with them and I’m going to hold them accountable. I’m going to tell them when I think they didn’t do a good job and I’ll tell them when I think I didn’t do a good job. That’s just kind of my style. I’m pretty honest and I’m not afraid of confrontation, but they’re gonna get a lot of love too.”

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