Sometimes in life the answer you seek is right under your nose.
When Marcel Desjardins was fired, Jeremy Snyder was appointed interim general manager and Jean-Marc Edmé interim general manager.
Reports have recently surfaced suggesting that the Ottawa Redblacks are planning to officially name a new general manger and bolster their front office shortly after the Gray Cup.
My question is, why wait? I get the urge to do due diligence and explore all possible options, but in the month Snyder and Edmé have been at the helm, they’ve proven they’re up to the task. Plus, their resumes are piling up for the roles.
Like Desjardins, Snyder is a Day One Redblack. He joined the organization in March 2013 as the team’s director of football administration and the team’s pro and college scout. In May 2017, he was promoted to assistant GM.
The Philadelphia native has an extensive football background on both sides of the border. After spending time with the Chicago Bears as a video intern in 2003, he joined the team’s professional scouting division, college scouting, and later payroll. In 2008, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles as a pro scout.
Snyder first broke into the CFL in 2010, and spent three seasons in the Montreal scouting division before being hired as part of Desjardins’ original team.
As for Edmé, the Montreal native was a U Sports footballer before successfully transitioning to a front office career when he joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2007 as an intern. In addition to his time in Steeltown, Edmé spent eight years with the Alouettes, scouting NCAA and U Sports talent.
Since joining Ottawa in 2016, he has continued his scouting work and also conducted contract negotiations. The fact that he is trilingual also plays well in the Ottawa market; a significant percentage of the roster comes from Quebec, not to mention the large number of French-speaking season ticket holders.
Not only do the duo have extensive experience, they are both familiar with the Redblacks organization and were there for the highlights; multiple Gray Cup trips – including a win in 2016.
While much of the blame for Ottawa’s 3-11 record has fallen on Desjardins and the front office, it’s impossible to ignore the talent that’s on the roster and they own some of it.
Not much has gone well for the Redblacks this season, but the fact that Snyder and Edmé haven’t wasted time identifying those who have helped to ensure they are part of the solution going forward is positive.
Being proactive about including some of the top contributors speaks to their ability to handle the work full-time.
Since acquiring Desjardins, the duo has expanded to include Richie Leone, Lewis Ward, DeVonte Dedmon, Nigel Romick, Justin Howell, Brendan Gillanders, Avery Williams, Brandin Dandridge, Sherrod Baltimore, Anthony Gosselin, Marco Dubois and defensive lineman Kene Onyeka.
The pattern of re-signing shows a level of trust between the players and the front office. Any of those players would be wanted in the open market, they all chose to stay in the nation’s capital.
Leone and Ward are arguably the best kick duo in the league. The term “game-changer” gets used a lot, but Dedmon really is a legitimate threat to turn any ball he catches into a house call – NFL interest in him wouldn’t have been ruled out.
Romick, Howell, Gillanders, Gosselin, Dubois and Onyeka are not only key players of the Canadian special team, but they are all capable of contributing to defense and attack when asked. Howell, in particular, really came into his own when he made the start instead of the injured Antoine Pruneau.
Williams finished third in the league in tackles and is a rising star. Dandridge made four interceptions in the 11 games he started. Baltimore is a fan favorite and a difference maker when it’s healthy.
The interim duo’s ability to arm the remaining cap space for 2021 has been impressive. By redrawing these players now, everyone wins. Players benefit by receiving signing bonuses immediately, before the low season. The team benefits because those bonuses don’t count towards the 2022 cap and they have the player under contract for one more season.
The aforementioned trades help Snyder and Edmé defend their case, but perhaps the most important thing they have for them is that they are fresh blood. Not in the sense that they are unknown or new to the team, but rather two men who have worked through the ranks and taken the time to climb to the top of the ladder. Those are the kind of people who don’t want to waste their top job opportunity because they realize it’s the only one they get.
No offense to any of the names mentioned in the media, but the biggest mistake the Red Blacks can make is recycling an old name. Jim Barker, Jim Popp, Eric Tillman, Ed Hervey, Chris Jones, and John Murphy have a long life ahead of them, but there’s also a reason they’ve each moved across the country.
Sure, it might not be a big, smashing move to move in with the guys, but when it comes to hiring front office staff, are they really necessary? Why not feed the hungry?
Snyder and Edmé have paid their dues, and their recent actions show they have an understanding of what their roster is: the ones that are pieces of the puzzle and the ones that can be thrown away. That’s why I think they deserve a chance to rework it.