BRITISH COLUMBIA

Jeff Tedford, George Cortez reunited on B.C. Lions coaching staff

01/22/2015 12:45 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - Soon after being named the head coach of the B.C. Lions, Jeff Tedford set his sights on an old colleague to help him transition back into the CFL.

He got his man Thursday when the Lions rounded out their staff by naming George Cortez as the club's new offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Cortez held the same two positions from 2002 to 2005 when Tedford was the head coach at the University of California-Berkley.

"Any time you have something like the past we've had together, I can say a term and he can know exactly what we're talking about," Tedford said on a conference call. "We're not reinventing the wheel. I think it's going to go very quickly and very smooth."

Cortez has a long CFL resume and served as the Saskatchewan Roughriders' offensive co-ordinator the last two seasons, helping the club capture the 2013 Grey Cup.

Tedford — who played and coached in the CFL in the 1980s and early 1990s, but has been south of the border ever since — said it was important to add a veteran offensive co-ordinator to help him get reacquainted with the Canadian game.

"Someone who has the background George does and has been very successful, I felt like that would be a great buffer for me to be able to shorten that learning curve so that we can hit the ground running," said Tedford. "We're kind of speaking the same language."

Getting the Lions' offence back on track will be key in 2015 after the club struggled through injuries and inconsistency last season.

B.C. finished a roller-coaster campaign 9-9 before getting blown out in the playoffs, a result that ultimately cost head coach Mike Benevides his job.

"I think there's talent there," said Tedford, who was hired in December. "I really think there's a strong foundation to be successful and it's going to be our job to go in and get the most we can out of the guys."

Tedford also elected to retain defensive co-ordinator Mark Washington after his unit performed well last season despite being left on the field for long stretches thanks to that anemic offence.

"Once I saw the numbers, got a chance to watch some tape and had a chance to meet with Mark and talk to him, I was very impressed," said Tedford. "The numbers kind of speak for themselves, but to have a chance to sit down with him and visit with him and understand that he's a great person, that's very important to me.

"I'm really exited that he chose to stay because he an excellent coach and an excellent person."

Washington will also coach the defensive backs, Johnny Holland is back to coach the linebackers and Chuck McMann will return to coach special teams and running backs.

In a bit of a twist, Khari Jones will stay on as receivers coach, a demotion from the offensive co-ordinator position he held last season.

In other moves announced Thursday, B.C. added Doug Malone, who has coached under Cortez in the past, to lead the offensive line, while Robin Ross, who worked with Tedford at both Fresno State and Oregon, will serve as the Lions' defensive line coach in his first CFL job.

Tedford's son, Quinn, will be in charge of quality control on offence, while former CFL player Willie Fields will hold the same position with the defence and also assist with the defensive backs.