I had a chance to catch up with Ticats Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Tommy Condell a few days ago to discuss how he’s preparing for a possibly shortened season, the team’s depth at the quarterback position, and how to replace Bralon Addison among various topics in our almost 15 minute conversation. Here are five takeaways that stood out from our conversation and a few quick thoughts.
1.) Enjoying more time with family.
If you stopped by a Ticats practice last season, there is a very good chance you saw a little blonde guy helping out on the sidelines, chasing down overthrown passes, and just generally being a giant ball of energy every time he hit Tim Hortons Field, meet Condell Jr.
Coach Condell will tell you he hasn’t been the biggest fan of the home school assignments throughout the fall… “With O (Coach Steinauer) and the rest of the gang it’s a well oiled machine, at home it’s a different story. My wife is the CEO of this whole deal…I have almost wanted to fire myself a few times.”
Despite his struggles with home schooling, the Ticats offensive coordinator says with the whole world on pause for a few months, he’s appreciated the time home with his wife and four boys. “I don’t want to make light of anything, but this has been really great, it really has. We’ve played a lot of games, we’ve played so much 2-on-2 hoop. Now there’s some unsanctioned WWF fights that break out, but other than that, it’s been awesome.”
2.) Depth at QB
For anyone who has watched the CFL in recent years, there has been a recurring theme when it comes to quarterbacks, and that is making sure your back up is ready to go at a moments notice. But what if both of the top quarterbacks on your roster have demonstrated they’re able to play the game at the highest level? How do you choose who your number one will be? That is the enviable position Coach Condell finds himself as he heads into play in 2020.
“Both of them, and all the quarterbacks are always being prepared, there’s really not a total off-season for them, so they’re always going to find ways… to push themselves.”
When camp starts in 2020 longtime QB Jeremiah Masoli is expected to be fully recovered from a torn ACL that thrust Dane Evans into a starting role in which he led the Ticats all the way to their first Grey Cup in six years. This will make for an exciting competition at quarterback for the league’s top ranked offence last season under Condell.
Now with an extended role as Quarterbacks Coach, Condell says it’s up to the players to decide who plays but he knows that regardless of who starts Week 1, they will have each others backs all season.
“We understand it’s a production based business. We certainly need to give the players, ie the quarterbacks, those opportunities to show their talents off and we have to do a great job as coaches to put them in a position and also efficiently and effectively evaluate each one of them.”
3.) How do you replace Bralon Addison?
It’s safe to say the skyrocket rise of Bralon Addison last season was among the most exciting storylines to watch as a Tiger-Cats fan last season. Even with a league MOP lined up on the other side, the product of Oregon had a break out season in 2019 making 95 catches for 1,236 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with more than 200 yards and a touchdown on the ground last season. The 26-year-old, who finished fifth in the league in reception yards, departed in the off-season signing with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in January.
Condell admits that it’s not as simple as replacing him with one person who can match his production but expects there to be players ready to step up. “I’m gonna miss that great smile he has, but the players we have here now, this is the way it’s supposed to be. One thing that’s constant is change, and to be comfortable in change is key. We get comfortable because we have guys that already know that and they all of a sudden step in.”
“I know everyone talks about the next man up theory or the mantra of that, but there’s a difference between talking about it and really being about it, visualizing it, believe it or not, and then actually getting an opportunity to have tangible effects of that. I’m not saying he’s not going to be missed, but I’ll say this, we wish him the best. Those are the goals he had. But I’m truly excited for the guys who are finally going to get that opportunity that Bralon had.”
4.) Reuniting with DeVier Posey
When you hear the way Coach Condell talks about newly signed receiver DeVier Posey, it’s very clear there is a strong mutual respect between the two gentleman. In an earlier conversation I had with DeVier after he signed in the Black and Gold back in February, Posey told me he credits Condell with not only making him a better football player but a better husband and a father.
Coach Condell took those words to heart and says he’s proud of the man DeVier Posey has become. “I’m getting chills. I know that’s why we get into the business, to connect with coaches and players, and fans in an intimate way. To get a chance to be reunited with DeVier is a tremendous honour for me.”
Condell continued that he thinks he’ll be able to get the best out of Posey, who he won the Grey Cup with as a member of the Toronto Argos back in 2017.
“He’s a great player, but you know it’s just not about numbers. Everyone looks at numbers, which they should, I’m not denying that, but there’s other things DeVier brings that doesn’t show up on video in a direct way. It’s the way he comes to meetings everyday, the way he practices, the perfectionism that he has progressed with.”
5.) It’s all about culture
If you hang around the Tiger-Cats for any period of time, there’s a good chance you’ll hear the word culture at least a couple of times. From the Caretaker, to management, coaches, players, stadium staff and everyone in between, the organization has prided itself on creating a culture of respect. Coach Condell mentioned the word throughout our recent interview and explained why it’s so much more than just a cliche when it comes to how the team operates.
“The thing about that (quarterbacks) room is they’re all highly intelligent and they’re all highly competitive. But they’re all supportive. And really it’s a microcosm of what we do, and O’s (Coach Steinauer) culture here that we’re competitive, but we care about each other, and the development and the growth mindset we have. It’s continuous and that’s the culture we have.”
Coach Condell says that when it comes to winning it’s important that you focus on being a good person both on and off the field.
“We believe that through the process of becoming a better man, we win. And then you flip it around and then we win because through the process of winning we become better men. And that process that we do here with O, and Mark (Washington) , and Jeff (Reinebold) and myself, it’s all generated to doing that.”