Greg Marshall has been a defensive co-ordinator for many years and this is not the first time he's been asked to turn a woeful unit around.
Marshall, hired as defensive co-ordinator by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week, is charged with re-shaping a defence that gave up a CFL record number of yards (8,249) last season.
It won't be easy, but Marshall sees potential on the Bombers, just as he did a year ago when he led the Ottawa Renegades' defensive unit to a major improvement.
"Defensively, we've got some work ahead of us, obviously," Marshall said yesterday from his home in Edmonton. "I've been in this situation before where you have to come in and try to turn it around.
"In Ottawa we managed improvement in 25 of 29 categories. If we can add some speed to the overall unit here, I think it can be a good group."
Marshall, has been a CFL assistant since 1994 and also served as defensive co-ordinator with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Eskimos.
SOLID TRACK RECORD
In 2003, his Eskimos led the CFL in fewest points allowed (367), fewest touchdowns allowed (37) and points per game (20.4).
Last year, the Renegades were among the league leaders in turnovers generated (3rd with 57) and interceptions (2nd with 25).
Marshall, who was let go when the Renegades purged Joe Paopao's coaching staff in favour of John Jenkins, was interviewed for the Bombers head coaching job and was a finalist. However, the job went to former Montreal Alouettes assistant Doug Berry, who immediately made plans to hire Marshall.
"I'm not looking at it as a consolation prize," said Marshall, who spent nine seasons as a defensive lineman in the CFL -- all with the Ottawa Rough Riders -- and was named the league's outstanding defensive player in 1983.
"Obviously, I was disappointed to not get the head coaching job, but after that you have to step back and look at the next step. This was the best opportunity for me as far as the CFL goes and it's something I'm looking forward to."
Marshall, defensive line coach Richard Harris and quarterbacks coach Mike Working were all hired this week to fill out Berry's coaching staff. Previously announced coaches include offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson, receivers coach Bob Dyce, defensive backs coach Gregg Butler and running backs coach Cory McDiarmid.
Marshall, Harris and Butler in particular will be under the microscope in an organization that has been embarrassed on defence in recent years.
Free agents, who will become available next Wednesday, may be the key.
"There's some guys we have our eye on," Marshall said.
While disappointed with the way things worked out in Ottawa, Marshall is happy to have yet another opportunity as a well-travelled CFL coach.
"I'm living up to the phrase: join the CFL, see Canada."
BLUE NOTES: The Bombers have promoted former head trainer Ross Hodgkinson to director of football operations ... Four-time all-star middle linebacker Barrin Simpson, who will be one of the most coveted free agents on the market come Feb. 15, has narrowed his list of options to six teams, including the Bombers. Simpson has said he won't return to the B.C. Lions and does not want to sign with the Alouettes or Calgary Stampeders because of their depth at middle linebacker ... While the Toronto Argonauts are still talking with the Bombers and Roughriders about a trade for a quarterback, they are also having a look at former Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch. The former Nebraska star, who tried out as a receiver in the NFL, is eyeing a backup quarterback's position with the Argos.
THE MEN IN CHARGE
The Blue Bombers rounded out their coaching staff this week, here's who they added:
* Greg Marshall, defensive co-ordinator and linebackers coach
The Skinny: Marshall, a native of Beverly, Mass., joins his fourth CFL team as defensive co-ordinator after playing his entire nine-year career as a defensive lineman with the Ottawa Rough Riders ... Previously held same position with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1994-1999), Edmonton Eskimos (2000-2004) and Ottawa Renegades (2005) ... CFL's outstanding defensive player in 1983.
* Richard Harris, defensive line coach
The Skinny: Entering sixth season as a CFL coach after playing eight seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks ... Spent four season as defensive line coach of the B.C. Lions and one with the Ottawa Renegades ... Also spent one season as head coach of the Portland Prowlers of the Indoor Professional Football League and was named coach of the year ... In 2005, Renegades defensive line allowed second fewest rushing touchdowns in the CFL (16).
* Mike Working, quarterbacks coach
The Skinny: Working is a newcomer to the CFL, but served as offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Tulsa, where he mentored current Miami Dolphins quarterback Gus Frerotte ... Also coached at Appalachian State, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Tennessee-Knoxville and Army and has worked in six bowl games ... Spent three seasons (1983-85) on the staff of the NFL's Detroit Lions (receivers coach) ... Most recently, he has been coaching at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore.
* PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED COACHES: Head coach Doug Berry; offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson; receivers coach Bob Dyce; running backs coach Cory McDiarmid; defensive backs coach Gregg Butler.