Bombers GM needs to accept share of blame

Blue Bombers GM Joe Mack faced the media Monday to reflect on a disappointing 2010 season. (QMI...

Blue Bombers GM Joe Mack faced the media Monday to reflect on a disappointing 2010 season. (QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:10 AM ET

I see Joe Mack is still saying it’s still too early to determine if he made any mistakes in his first year generally managing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Nonsense.

When your team misses the six-team playoffs in the eight-team CFL with one of the worst won-loss records in franchise history (4-14), the verdict is in.

You messed up.

If you say the inexperience of many of your players probably cost you some wins, as Mack basically did, then you should have retained some more experience.

If you say the inexperience of your coaching staff might have hurt you, as Mack did Monday, then it was your job to ensure an experienced co-ordinator or two, or at the very least a consultant, be on board.

Because there are no throwaway seasons in the CFL. No leeway to mail one in while you reload for the year after.

Sure, the Bombers turned over a large chunk of the roster, including the injection of four new quarterbacks.

But what Jim Barker did in Toronto is a good benchmark for a new regime: win half your games with defence and sound coaching, while breaking in a new quarterback and new system.

In short, win ugly — until the implants and plastic surgery take hold and you can look good again.

The Bombers, under Mack and rookie head coach Paul LaPolice, played fancy, but losing, football.

Nice stats, bad result.

Kind of like finding out that blond bombshell you’re courting is all wigs, foundation and falsies. Nice on the surface, until you get close.

Back to Mack, who during his Monday post-mortem said a few things that were bang-on.

“Not making the playoffs in the CFL is not acceptable,” was one.

So why accept it?

Because the Bombers at least were a bunch of nice guys while losing?

This seems to be a popular notion out there, that Mack’s great accomplishment this year was transforming the franchise into a more professional organization.

“We tried to redefine the culture,” he said. “Paul has great integrity. He relates well to the players. He’s been very courteous and professional with our fans, which is a plus.”

Shouldn’t that be a given?

I’m sorry, but the day Professor Kelly turned in his keys is the day the Bombers became a more professional organization.

Now, I’m not saying Mr. Mack and Coach LaPo didn’t so some things right.

There are some new players in town that are worth at least part of the price of admission, receivers Terence Jeffers-Harris and Greg Carr, for starters.

Unlike the Professor, Coach LaPo proved he has an idea of how to run a CFL offence, too.

Mack and Co. also brought in some nice-looking rookies on defence. But to throw that many out there at once was, in hindsight, a mistake.

The GM, though, wouldn’t acknowledge he cut loose too many vets.

“If they were with alternate teams and performing at an all-CFL level, you could maybe say we maybe made some mistakes on these guys,” Mack said.

Hey, just because they couldn’t make better teams doesn’t mean they couldn’t have helped a 4-14 outfit.

The GM also disagreed with the notion all those close losses suggest his team simply isn’t good enough.

“The fact we’re that close means we are good enough,” Mack said. “If we weren’t good enough, we would be losing by 28 or 35.”

Yeah, and you’d be looking for work again.

“There’s something there in the chemistry of our team at this point where we’re not getting over that hump,” Mack said. “There’s an ingredient that we have to find.”

And it’s Mr. Mack’s job to find it.

Just like it was this year.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @friesensunsport


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