Who's to blame for the Bombers' bumbling start?
Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice (right) is congratulated by GM Joe Mack after the team won their first game of the season against the Eskimos last week. There were certainly no handshakes after the Bombers most recent game, a loss to the Montreal Alouettes on Friday.(Fred Greenslade/REUTERS)
The Bombers are technically on the bye week, but their frustrated fans have found a fun game to play while they wait for their team to return to the practice field next weekend.
The blame game.
There are no cash and prizes awarded, because this is a totally subjective venture. It seems everyone and their dog has blamed someone for the team’s embarrassing 1-5 start, and hardly anyone with the Winnipeg Football Club is immune. People within the organization’s walls are starting to look over their shoulders, too. The situation is not good on Maroons Road right now.
Then again, it’s early August. There is a lot of football to be played, and six of eight teams make the playoffs. It’s not over by any means, but it sure feels like it.
Linebacker Marcellus Bowman said after Friday’s 36-26 loss to Montreal there are “deep problems” with the organization, so here is a breakdown of who and what is to blame for the team’s 1-5 start.
GM Joe Mack (51%)
He gets the majority of the blame for putting this young and inexperienced squad together. He failed to keep several key free agents in the off-season and didn’t sign any CFL veterans who could have at least offered leadership in the locker room, which is obviously lacking. The good news for Mack is the youth on the team should only get better. It’s unlikely to get better quickly enough, though.
The players (19%)
The bulk of the team is young, and some of them are learning the rules as they go (i.e., Burke Dales recovering his own fumble 10 days ago). There are good players on this team, but not enough of them are experienced. When talking about Clarence Denmark’s fumble of Montreal’s kickoff in the third quarter on Friday, head coach Paul LaPolice said they practised that play every day last week and talked about it again during Thursday’s walk-through. It still got screwed up.
Head coach Paul LaPolice (12%)
Yes, he needs to make better in-game decisions, like replacing Alex Brink with Joey Elliott on Friday night, and he needs to do something — anything — to get his team fired up to play better in the first quarter, as they’ve been outscored 47-7 in the opening 15 minutes this season. (Then again, the Bombers did fine in the first quarter over the last two seasons.) The bottom line is LaPolice is playing the cards Mack has dealt him, and it’s not a good hand.
Board of Directors (6%)
They get a piece of this pie for whiffing on the opening of Investors Group Field by a mere 365 days or so. As a result, the Bombers played their first four games on the road this season. However, they had more preparation time than each of their opponents, so they got a break there. The board also hired Mack (see No. 1).
Offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton (5%)
What happened to the hurry-up offence? The screen passes? The air attack? Why not run Chad Simpson more? This offence looks a lot like last year’s offence. That’s not a compliment.
The Bombers have five starters currently out of the lineup, which is a decent chunk. On the other hand, only two are on the nine-game injured list — Chris Garrett and Andre Douglas — and it could be argued their replacements — Chad Simpson and Jordan Taormina — are just as good or maybe better. Every team has injuries, though.
Defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke (2%)
What’s happened? He went from being in the running to become Hamilton’s head coach to guiding the league’s seventh-best defence. Friday’s performance against the Alouettes was better, as Winnipeg held Montreal to more field goals than touchdowns, but the Blue and Gold are still giving up way too many points and it sounds like Burke’s rotational system is making the players dizzy.
CEO Garth Buchko (1%)
He needs to stop standing on the sideline during games. It doesn’t make anyone playing or coaching feel comfortable. He should be up in a booth, drinking wine and eating caviar. Isn’t that what CEOs do?