Thursday, February 14, 2019
O'DAY, COLLAROS MEET WITH THE MEDIA
Here are some quotes from the gathering:
HOW DID THE DEAL WITH COLLAROS COME ABOUT?
JO: Just like we do with the entire roster, we evaluated the whole roster and looked at who our free agents are and made a list, and an apporach of how we'd attack free agency. We were clear with Zach on how we were going to do that. We had our QBs ranked, who we wanted to get, in order, and once the time was right we reached out to Zach and got a deal done.
HOW MUCH OF A CONCERN ARE HIS CONCUSSIONS?
JO: Anytime a player has concussions, it's a concern for you. It's not something we'd say isn't a concern but we feel good about his recovery and where he is right now. We feel some of those hits he took last year would've been concussions for whoever would've taken those shots.
ARE YOU TALKING WITH KEVIN GLENN?
JO: We're in discussions with a couple veteran QBs currently. It's somethng we understand. With any team, you want a back-up you can win with. Those discussions are ongoing. Zach is our #1 QB. He'll come to camp as our #1. We're not going to start throwing out names of who we're talking to.
WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED NOT TO GET BO LEVI, REILLY OR HARRIS?
JO: That's free agency. You create a wishlist and there are a lot of positions you look at. This one was heavily-publicized so everyone knew what was happening. You have a plan in place, but you'll never get 100% of the guys you want. There has to be a mutual agreement; you have to want the player, they have to want to be there, and it has to fit financially.
HAVE YOU TALKED WITH NAAMAN ROOSEVELT?
JO: Discussions with Naaman are ongoing.
WHY NAME COLLAROS #1 RIGHT NOW?
JO: For the team in general, it's important knowing who's going to be the guy going into camp. I won't speak for Zach but that would weigh on your mind; not knowing where you fit in or what your role will be. It's one of the questions he asked when we were negotiating. It was ultimately Craig Dickenson's decision and I agreed with him. We're excited to move forwrd.
WERE YOU IN ON BO LEVI MITCHELL?
JO: We made an offer. A significant offer, just like I mentioned earlier. It has to be a mutual thing. The offer has to fit if they're going to leave a team. I won't speak for anyone else but we made a significant offer and he decided to stay in Calgary.
When you’re trying to get a free agent of that magnitude you have to have different plans that you’re ready to execute. So, naturally, the concern there is the timing, if you’re holding on to a salary of that significance then the timing may cost you to lose players.
WHAT WAS TUESDAY LIKE FOR YOU?
JO: Pretty unique. I've been in the room before but when you're the one making the decisions, it's a different environment. This is a free agency we won't see again for quite some time. There were a whole bunch of differnt scenarios going on but it was exciting. There were ups and downs and it was an action-packed, long day.
WHAT ABOUT LOSING WILLIE JEFFERSON?
JO: We were talking with Willie the whole time. I won't speak to why he didn't come back but we made him a fair offer. He decided he was going to free agency and we asked him to keep us in the loop. He decided to go elsewhere. We didn't think 'We won't get Willie back so we'll get Micah'. Micah is a guy we targeted and had very high on our board. He's the type of player I want, a guy who plays physically.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR FREE AGENT ACTIVITY?
I think it's important, and you guys can watch free agency, people talk about who's winning or not winning. I can promise you the Grey Cup is not won in February. If you look at our whole roster, we didn't have a lot of holes we needed to fill. We don't have a ton of offers still out there, but there are some. The offers have been presented and the players have to see if it's the right fit for them. We'll keep working away on them and hopefully it'll work out.
DO YOU NEED TO DEFEND THE ZACH SIGNING?
JO: I don't know if I need to act like a salesman. His play will speak for itself. There's things offensively we can be better at but we've had great meetings wtih our staff. There's things we can do better with our practices, which Coach Dickie has spoken about, and I think we have a very capable QB.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR RECEIVERS?
JO: We had a young receiving corps last year. When you lose Jordan Williams-Lambert, that's not going to help you out at all. We understand that's a young crew but this time last year no one knew who Jordan, Shaq Evans or those guys were. We have the ability to find good players. Free agency isn't 100% relied upon for success. We'd like to develop a system where we scout players, get them into our system, and develop them.
WAS YOUR FREE AGENCY PLAN SUCCESSFUL?
JO: I'd have to tell you everything that was in the plan! But we got together as a staff two weeks ago and we talked about every position, as we always do. We talked about positions with guys going to free agency and we talk about who may make it into free agency (from other teams). I would say that the plan that we put in place - knowing it won't always be 100% - we targeted guys that are now Roughriders. We feel good about it, we have a few pieces to add, but we feel good about it.
Our QB is back. We have to find a quality back-up, whether he's on our roster now or we add a guy. We added one of the most dynamic RBs in our league (William Powell), that's very successful. He does a lot of things very well. On the defensive line, those are two pretty good players. You guys can debate whether it's Micah or Willie. I won't get into that. I think that we're a better team than when we began free agency, and we'll continue to try to grow on that.
HOW HAS NEW ASS'T GM PAUL JONES HELPED?
JO: Paul is fantastic. We talk on the phone on a regular basis. He's been around for so long. He was dead-on. We talked at length about free agency, and how we should approach it. If you're trying to be too patient, you'll lose some good players. We wanted to be aggressive, let everyone know that we are serious, and I feel like we did that.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW DEAL?
ZC: I feel great. I'm excited to be back here today, back in this province and this facility. It's good to be back in town and excited to get back to work.
DID THE CONTRACT OFFER SURPRISE YOU?
ZC: I'm not surprised. I talked to coach Dickenson several times after he got the job and he mentioned how he felt about me. This is a place I really enjoyed playing in last year and regardless of the outcome of some things, I'm excited to be back.
ARE THERE THINGS YOU CAN DO BETTER?
ZC: Yeah of course. You want to improve every season. TD-to-INT ratio. I'm not going to stand up here and defend myself on things and I'll have to watch film and improve on things. But all that matters is wins.
WHAT'S YOUR CONCUSSION STATUS?
ZC: It's understandable that there'd be some worry about that. I took a bad hit in the preseason. A situation I shouldn't have been in in the first place. I took a bad hit in Week 20. There was a lot of time between those games. Retirement crossed my mind in the off-season, but not very much. I love this game and I'm a competitive person. I just want to get out there and play.
I love Coach Dickenson and have a great relationship with him. J.O. as well. The opportunity, when it presented itself, was just too good to pass up.
DID YOU HAVE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES?
ZC: There were a couple other teams calling after everyting sorted itself out yesterday. But the people here, the people here in the building, and the chance to build some continuity. Just the plan J.O. and Coach Dickenson laid out, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK ON OFFENSE LAST YEAR?
ZC: I don't want to really get into discussing all those things. Trying to keep that in-house. It would be a better question for Coach McAdoo. I just can control what I do and how I play. I just need to go out and manage and win games for this team.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT CRAIG DICKENSON?
ZC: I really enjoyed the 3 or 4 minutes of meetings that I could sit in with him on special teams. The little tidbits and nuggets you learn go a long way in leading men. He always had command of the room. Guys love him, want to play for him, and thats the first thing you need as a head coach.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE TEAM DO IN FREE AGENCY?
ZC: I don't know what else is out there right now. Again, I sound like a broken record, but talking to Coach Dickenson and J.O., they have a great plan and that gives you confidence going into a season, to win games.
DID ANYONE SAY YOU SHOULD RETIRE?
ZC: Not really. Just moreso outside people that don't really know me very well. My friends and family know me and know I wouldn't put myself in harm's way. They know that if I felt it was time, I'd say it's time. But I feel I have a lot of good years left in me.