CFL: An exercise in humility is more than paying off for Jason Maas and the Montreal Alouettes

MONTREAL — “Everybody’s heard that story that he’s a little crazy as a coach,” William Stanback said. Jason Maas therefore took the bull by the horns. At the beginning of the season, as a sign of great humility, he showed his players videos of when he lost control of his emotions. And, above all, he promised to be better.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders just fired Maas as offensive coordinator. Before that, his first experience as a head coach, in Edmonton, was too tumultuous.

But Danny Maciocia, inspired by his long-standing relationship with his former quarterback, saw fit to bet on him.

And what a bet! Since his freshman season, Maas has had a colossal impact on the Alouettes who have struggled for far too long. surveyed a wide range of players and coaches to measure their impact and the answers were eloquent.

Danny Maciocia:
“If it wasn’t for the tough year in Saskatchewan, I probably would have hired him, but maybe I wouldn’t be so convinced. It proved to me that he was mentally tested. Life is based on what you overcome. I love his passion, that’s when he’s at his best. When he is too calm, I make him angry on purpose. The joke between us is ‘You’re too quiet today, what’s wrong?’ »

Almondo Sewell:
“I’ve known him since Edmonton and it’s night and day compared to that time! I was there on the sidelines when he threw the headphones away. I had to stay away from him a little bit,” Sewell said with a laugh.

“But as you get older, you learn. I won’t lie, players appreciate a coach who respects what he says much more. He is authentic with us, he is not there shithe tells us when we’re playing bad,” Sewell added.

Darnell Sankey:
“I was with him, with the Riders, last year. His development as a coach is extraordinary! »

Jason MaasNoel Thorpe, defensive coordinator:
“By airing the video, he shows that he has realized that he has to improve and that applies to all of us. It also reveals vulnerability. Jason demanded that the team be more disciplined and led the move by example. This is why everyone wants to practice positive leadership. »

William Stanback:
“He was very solid from the start. Without disparaging anyone, I think we needed that among the Alouettes. The team stepped in and he gained unwavering trust in the group. You can always talk to him and he always asks for the player’s opinion. »

Alexandre Gagné:
“We talked about it on Tuesday between the players. We already had a good dressing room, but he pushed this vision that if we worked as a group, it would take us beyond acting like every little lone soldier. »

“I’ve rarely seen a coach give a speech about the importance of special teams, I actually told him. You often hear coaches say that soccer is played in three phases, but it doesn’t go any further. Jason, he explained how important it was to him,” Gagné continued.

Byron Archambault, assistant head coach and special teams coordinator:
“He was doing this work of introspection. It is not easy to correct defects that are a habit. I think it is extraordinary to achieve this at this age. We, players and coaches, have heard all kinds of things about his reputation, but I have never experienced such a moment. »

Philippe Gagnon:
“Jason had a reputation when he arrived. He put in a lot of effort and it’s inspiring to see that he managed to change. He worked on his flaws, it makes you want to do the same. »

Wesley Sutton:
“He’s done so much for our organization, he’s the main reason we’re here. When we first spoke, he said to me: ‘Coaches always ask their players to break down walls for them, but first I have to prove to you that I’m ready to do it for you.’ »

Ciante Evans:
“He cares about each player as a person and what we experience outside of football. We appreciate this approach, it is not common in the world of football. »

David Cote:
“I have already heard such stories (about his mood swings), but this year he had no outbursts. Besides, it’s one thing to say it, but he also knew how to apply it. It’s not so easy to respect in the heat of the moment,” remarked Côté who felt the trust that Maas and Archambault had in him when he was going through a less easy period.

Mark Weightman, President:
“Marc Trestman said it well, he and Jason have very different personalities. But each of them has the gift of mobilizing people. I will always remember what Marc told me and what I use every day. When people know we love them and will support them, then they join. »

To implement the importance of the French language

In recent weeks, we have heard more and more about the fact that Maas has adopted the culture of Quebec while insisting that the players learn the basics of French.

To be honest, it surprised us.

“I don’t think it has ever happened that a coach puts so much effort into teaching the players words in French,” praised David Côté.

“The integration of the French language in the dressing room, insisting on the fact that we represent Montreal and Quebec. This is important for us,” emphasized Alexandre Gagné.

Games to increase the competitive spirit

Already during the training camp, Maas had the brilliant idea to establish a friendly competition based on different games installed in the locker room such as pickleball, mini-basketball or mini-putt.

Teams are formed by bringing together players from different positions on the team to rally the troops.

“We have been collecting points since the camp. It’s silly, but as athletes we love competition in everything we do in life. This means that we apply this approach all the time, we want to win in every repetition on the field,” described Alexandre Gagné, citing other held activities such as boat cruises and laser marking.

“Jason talked a lot about signs, little things that would make us feel like this was a special year for us. I’m thinking about our elevator breaking down with 23 steps left while the Gray Cup is in 2023. We’ve also seen the arrival of important players like Shawn Lemon and Darnell Sankey. All this developed a very strong self-confidence,” Stanback concluded.

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