Desperate times

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

How desperate have things become in the land of the Blue Bombers?

So desperate that head coach Paul LaPolice was toying with the idea of sending Alex Brink onto the field while the game was still on the line in Vancouver, Saturday.

So desperate that Coach LaPo is considering yanking the starter’s job from Steven Jyles, his original No. 2 quarterback this season, and handing it to Brink, his No. 3, for the rematch with the B.C. Lions, here, Thanksgiving Monday.

This is the same coach that felt comfortable going into the season with Jyles as his No. 1, before the Bombers signed free agent Buck Pierce.

Translation: eight losses in nine games have shaken the very foundation of Coach LaPo’s master plan.

What’s it doing to the man, personally, you wonder?

Well, initially the coach says he’s not allowed to get discouraged, because he has to be the leader.

With a little prodding, though, the truth comes out.

“It can affect things greatly at your house,” coach LaPo began. “It just lives with you. Every loss lives with you every day. Every night, you have trouble sleeping. It obviously means a lot to the people in the community. You’re not trying to let those people down. But when you struggle, it eats away at you.”

That’s not all it eats away at, coach.

Every loss — that’s 10, and counting, now — chips away at the good will you started the season with. It chips away at the confidence the local citizenry has in you.

In short, it starts to make people wonder if you’re the right man for the job.

If Coach LaPo has begun to question whether or not Jyles, who’d never been a starter in the CFL, has what it takes, then it’s only fair, at 3-10, to reconsider whether or not the rookie sideline boss has what it takes.

“If I doubt myself, nobody’s going to believe,” LaPolice said. “Good leaders lead. That’s my job. And I believe I do a good job of that. Even through this adversity. Our players have gone through that.”

Yeah, on the surface it appears this team hasn’t quit on its coach, because it keeps hanging in there.

But it shuts down at key times during games. Players look more and more discouraged.

And they look afraid to lose. Wound so tight come crunch time they don’t stand a chance of pulling a game out of the fire.

It’s win easy or lose with this bunch, and it’s only been easy once since mid-July.

Never mind matching last year’s underwhelming, seven-win total — this team might not win again in 2010, in which case Coach LaPo will be slumming in the same neighbourhood as Coach Harley, a.k.a. Jeff Reinebold, was back in the dark days of 1997-98.

Reinebold never did have the quarterback to give himself a chance. And now coach LaPo is wondering aloud if he does.

There are cracks in the armour.

“I’m a pretty confident guy,” the coach said. “I believe in our coaches and what we’ve started to establish here. When you don’t get the results you want ... that whacks you in the face every time when you don’t.”

We’re not suggesting it’s time to consider whacking the head coach.

The GM who hired him, Joe Mack, isn’t going to give up on him this quickly.

Both will get, and should get, another chance, another training camp, to prove they do, in fact, know what they’re doing.

This isn’t a complete gong show, after all.

Of course, we reserve the right to change our minds at, say, 3-15. Or 4-14.

Playoffs or not, show us something down the stretch, gentlemen.

Please.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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