Seeing Red?

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Need 'em, got 'em, need 'em, need 'em.

Like football trading-card collectors, the Calgary Stampeders are already sifting through their roster, evaluating wants and needs and pondering gaping holes that must be filled before the 2005 season.

With a 4-14 record in 2004, the fewest wins in two decades, the team obviously has more need 'ems than got 'ems while preparing for training camp next May.

It isn't clear whether management agrees with that assessment, as GM/head coach Matt Dunigan continues to argue the club was "moving in the right direction" and was "continuing to improve" through the final games of the CFL season.

Granted, the Stampeders made progress on offence with late-season acquisitions Khari Jones, Joffrey Reynolds and Ronney Jenkins. But the season-ending loss to equally inept Winnipeg should provide a cold jolt of reality heading into the off-season.

This team is more than a couple of players away from being a playoff contender, let alone earning its first Grey Cup berth since 2001.

The Sun's annual You Be The Boss poll is your chance to let the Stamps braintrust know how you feel about the team's strengths and weaknesses as it reloads for 2005.

Should they keep or fire Dunigan? Is starting QB Khari Jones the saviour to lead the team back to the playoffs? Who should be encouraged to begin searching for work elsewhere?

Obvious shortcomings include Canadian content, emphasizing receivers, offensive linemen and kickers while there's a glaring need for a game-breaking import receiver and more reliable defensive backs.

Barring the sale of the franchise by owner Michael Feterik, Dunigan and president Ron Rooke will be manning the store this winter, restocking the shelves for opening day 2005. Part of that process includes a revamped scouting team after the contracts of David Williams, James West and Don Sutherin weren't renewed.

"We're going to review our scouting process -- Matt and I are meeting about it Wednesday to discuss the direction for next season and to establish a priority list and a critical path for the off-season and start getting ready for 2005," Rooke said.

Rooke also thinks the Stamps are just a few key ingredients away from providing a more palatable product next season.

"I'm very optimistic in the way this season concluded compared to last year -- it's night and day the direction Matt has taken this team," said Rooke. "Certainly, the record this season wasn't where anybody wanted it to be but I think everybody has seen the positive progressions.

"The majority of last off season was spent piecing together an outstanding defence, then working on the offence during the season. The trade for Khari has brought a lot of optimism."

So we know where Dunigan and Rooke stand on Stampeders personnel but what about the fans who pay everybody's salary through ticket sales and undying support?

You never fail to voice your opinion at McMahon Stadium, now here's your chance to tell the Stampeders what's needed to guarantee that devotion next season.

Over the next couple of weeks we'll be running our annual You Be The Boss survey and tabulating the responses.

We'll publish the results along with some of your more colourful comments.


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