Alouettes' Jason Maas credits experience for making him a better coach

While still bringing passion and determination to his role, Maas has toned down the fiery explosions he was once known for in Edmonton.

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While the Alouettes rode an oftentimes dominating defence to their first Grey Cup appearance in over a decade, head coach Jason Maas also deserves a lot of the credit.

Maas is in his first season with Montreal, but had previous head coaching experience with Edmonton. He came to his new team after being fired last year following two seasons as Saskatchewan’s offensive co-ordinator. While Maas brings passion and determination to the field and dressing room, he understood he needed to cut out the fiery explosions that marked his Edmonton tenure.

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“I wanted to personally change and represent something different about myself,” Maas told journalists in Hamilton Tuesday morning during the coaches’ Grey Cup news conference. “I felt it needed to be changed in order to be in this chair some day, to be honest with you.

“Any time you get fired or don’t have success, you’re looking at yourself first. There are things I can improve upon.”

The Als, who haven’t won a Grey Cup since 2010, meet the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Sunday’s CFL championship (6 p.m.) at Tim Hortons Field. Maas, who turns 48 that day, went 39-33 with Edmonton between 2016-19. Although he led the team to three division finals, this is his first Cup as a head coach. The former quarterback won the championship twice as a player.

Maas was known for emotional explosions and temper tantrums while patrolling the Edmonton sideline, including an August 2018 game against Saskatchewan when he took his frustration out on a Gatorade cooler. He also once smashed a headset, was seen screaming at an assistant coach during a game, could be caught swearing and was guilty of irrational behaviour.

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“Experience makes it easier, in my opinion,” Maas said. “You have to understand things have to change at times and not make it such a big deal. Life’s a learning experience. You get better or you don’t. You strive to get better.

“Noticing an awareness and growth you need to have at times,” he added. “That was something I’ve grown to understand about myself and tried to be better at this year. You can improve yourself, but it has to come from within.”

Maas was hired by general manager Danny Maciocia last December with the understanding he was walking into a tenuous situation. The CFL assumed ownership of the franchise from Gary Stern and the estate of Sid Spiegel, which led to an exodus of free agents, including starting quarterback Trevor Harris and receiver Eugene Lewis, the East Division nominee as outstanding player in 2022. Not many coaches would have walked into such a tough spot, but Maas trusted Maciocia, having played under him when he was Edmonton’s head coach.

“I didn’t hesitate,” Maas said. “I believe in Danny, the vision he had for the organization. The work he put in. The people with whom he was surrounding himself. I wasn’t shocked when the league took over or when the players decided to move on. We discussed the possibilities and the plans ahead.”

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Harris, who joined Saskatchewan, was replaced by former Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo, who signed as a free agent and, like Maas, was seeking redemption after being benched late in the season. Lewis, who signed with Edmonton, never was replaced, although rookie Austin Mack was signed and became the Als’ only 1,000-yard receiver.

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